If it seems this offseason was longer than usual, that's because it was. Literally.
That's because it began a whole month early, in December, with predictions as to how Ohio State would fare for five games without Terrelle Pryor, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey, Boom Herron or Solomon Thomas, who would be serving suspensions for the Tatgate fiasco that had been uncovered prior to the Sugar Bowl.
Then the offseason briefly veered toward the positive as National Letter of Intent day arrived in February with the Buckeyes landing one of Jim Tressel's best classes ever.
By mid-March the five player suspensions had struck an uncomfortable balance with Tressel's two-game sentence as his nefarious role in the Tatgate coverup began to emerge. Those two games in the penalty box eventually grew into a five-game suspension that matched the culprits'.
We were told for fact that TP made $20,000 to $40,000 in super secret autograph sessions and the jpegs of his endorsed personal checks were eventually going to show up on the news, but exactly how many tens of thousands did he make signing autographs? Would the IRS get involved?
And exactly how many football camp raffles did Tressel fix during Reagan's first term? THESE STORIES WERE ALL ON THE INTERNET SO WE KNEW THEY HAD TO BE AT LEAST SORT OF TRUE.
The dire prediction game accelerated once Jim Tressel was firesigtired. When would Urban Meyer leave ESPN to take the dream job at his alma mater, and would he beat Everybody's Coaching Vacancy Candidate™ Jon Gruden to the WHAC?
The NCAA's Notice of Allegations to Ohio State, which very few people actually bothered to read, should have dismissed the widely-believed notion that radioactive sanction waves were afoot, but at this point the Ohio TAINT narrative was a bullet train that every attention whoring media hack and whore wannabe were trying to commandeer for their own personal benefit.
Would OSU football be slapped with Lack of Institutional Control? How long would the inevitable bowl ban be? Was the Death Penalty in play? The gruesome, program-crippling possibilities were endless: Just ask former confident OSU verbal commitment Kyle Kalis riiiiight after his visit with Brady Hoke.
ESPN then sued Ohio State for more information with the hopes of turning its colonoscopy of the OSU Athletic Department into a full cavity search. How would America's most credible investigative reporting-slash-diligent news organization-slash-purveyor of The Decision fair in the court system?
The extended offseason that refused to end roared to a crescendo with Ohio State's meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
Noted mathematician and perpetually outraged citizen Dennis Dodd called Tressel's $52,000 final paycheck a "golden parachute." That monster payday amounted to a 1.5% of what would have been his 2011 base salary and one third of one percent of what Tressel had previously been guaranteed to make through 2014.
By using the Doddian Outrage Theorem we can calculate your golden parachute, once you inevitably get laid off from your $65,000 a year job that you only sort of like anyway: You're going to dance out of the building with a cool $965. Cash. Money. Dodd was a financial planner in his past life.
That miracle of integer math only produced more predictions: Would Tressel buy his own island with his big money payday? Or would he resign himself to attending more exotic, high-dollar events like Browns preseason camp or Terrelle Pryor's pro day instead?
It turns out that the vast majority of the manufactured drama and artificial mini-scandals from the last eight months amounted to little more than a lingering fart in a small car. Yahoo's diligent research that produced its Miami expose also exposed the Summer of JournaLOLism for what it was. Evidence matters. Anonymous sources and hearsay are only admissible in the court of public opinion.
But now all of those predictions - except for the NCAA COI's final, non-lethal judgment of the Gates Tat and Tressel - can go straight to the burning fires of forgettable offseason hell forever and stay there. It's time to predict the future we actually want to predict: The one with all of the football being played in it.
Below are the 11W staff's predictions for the 2011W season (no, we cannot type the current year without the W automatically showing up at the end. This branding anomaly only happens every hundred years, so deal with it).
2011W final scorecard: Cautiously sortofoptimistic
|Ohio State's 2011 record:||9-3||10-2||11-1||9-3||10-2||9-3||8-4||9-3||9-3|
This year's team was expected to trot to the B1G championship game in Indianapolis, and then Tatgate happened. It looks as though most of the staff sees Tressel's firesigtirement costing the Buckeyes anywhere from two to three wins, with DJ being the most optimistic and Luke turning the wayback machine to 2004.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: 9-3. Bleh. Good God are we spoiled.
|OSU Bowl Destination||Capital One||Sugar||Rose||Capital One||Fiesta||Capital One||Gator||Capital One||Capital One|
There's little nuance to this prediction; the final season record produces a mostly-straight line across the dance card to one of the postseason possibilities. At 9-3, that's probably Orlando. At ten wins, with Ohio State's desirable TV eyeballs, that's a spin on the BCS roulette wheel. Secretly, Luke just wants to see Luke Fickell perpetuate the Ohio State legacy of on-field coaching violence at the Gator Bowl by pinning an opposing player on live TV. And as lousy as the Gator Bowl would be to cap a run that delivered eight BCS trips over the last nine seasons, the idea of seeing Fickell wrestle again is at the very least...intriguing.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Capital One Bowl
B1G DIVISION CHAMPIONS
|Leaders Champ||Wisco||Wisco||Ohio State||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco|
Wisconsin is almost the consensus pick to be most appreciative beneficiary of Tatgate, while Nebraska and Michigan State are the clear 1-2 in the Legends (I had to look this up) division. You could interpret that this means that 11W sees the October 17 meeting between Wisconsin and Michigan State as the non-Ohio State B1G game of the year. The Badgers get Ohio State the following week. By the way, you should be making plans for this ASAP. <--- seriously, just get it done. Use your Doddian golden parachute money if you must.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Wisconsin vs. Nebraska for the B1G title & the trip to Pasadena
everybody get out of braxton miller's chair please kthxbye
The scenario that has played out in everybody's mind since Pryor rode off into the sunset (on a loaner horse - ZING) has been one in which Braxton Miller, the rightful heir to the throne at Not-Quarterback U, ascends to the top of the depth chart as an exercise in inevitability. The question in that scenario has always been when. Not if. When.
Standing in his way is everyone's least-favorite grandpa, the antagonist of Act VII, the villain not named Evan Turner, the tollbooth on the Autobahn, the one and only - as far as we know - Joe Bauserman.
Ironically, everyone should be rooting for Bauserman, because the longer that Miller stays in the incubator, the more powerful he should become in learning the system without being baptized by the same brand of fire that Pryor experienced in the Los Angeles Coliseum in 2008 when it became abundantly obvious Todd Boeckman's ideal passing conditions involved the 1972 Oakland Raiders offensive line or better blocking for him.
We are a reflection of society. Society demands instant gratification in the face of logic. 11W opinions range from immediate gratification to eventual gratification. But there will be gratification. No gratification is not an option.
|Starter vs. Akron||Miller||Bauserman||Bauserman||Miller||Bauserman||Bauserman||Bauserman||Bauserman||Bauserman|
|Starter vs. Nebraska||Miller||Miller||Bauserman||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller|
|Starter vs. Michigan||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller||Miller|
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Bauserman sets the table and steps aside for Ohio's Favorite Prodigy
As for the team MVP on the setting-up-the-punt side of the ball, the majority of us are going with a running back. As much as we'd all like to laugh at Johnny and Sarah for going with offensive lineman Marcus Hall, we'll assume they're referring to the more slippery Jordan Hall who is a threat to line up at every position on the field except long snapper.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: This guy says it best
defense: who are we kidding it's going to be awesome again
Jim Heacock has been running the Ohio State defense since some of his current players were too young for Pee Wee football. Tatgate's roster damage was largely confined to the setting-up-the-punt side of the ball and the recruiting has been lights-out. Add to that a defensive minded head coach who co-ran this unit last year and there's very little reason to believe that the Silver Bullets are going to deviate from their three-and-out ways.
|Defensive MVP||Simon||Sweat||Ohrian Johnson||Moeller||Moeller||Moeller||Nate Williams||Howard||Moeller|
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: The Star wins
wanted: guys for braxton to throw to
If there's any spot on the roster that is a cause for pause, it's the pass-catchers. Last year Ohio State's glorified tackles (read: Tight Ends) actually became viable receiving options, which pleased the mongrel horde that had been begging for years to involve the big fellas in the passing game. With a whole slew of green quarterbacks taking over, this is where all of the handsy experience remains until DeVier Posey is discharged from Attica in game six.
Philly Brown brings the most experience back among the un-suspended, but his hands created too many unsticky memories to keep 11W prognosticators from being bullish on his emergence. He'll probably prove us wrong, and all of us - except Joe and Sarah - will get to take credit for lighting the fire that sent him barreling toward the 2012 Biletnikoff Award. You're welcome, Philly. We're happy to be your bulletin board material.
|2 WRs Who Emerge||Reed and Smith||Reed and Smith||Reed and T.Y. Williams||Reed and Stoney||Reed and Brown||Reed and Smith||T.Y. Williams and Smith||Reed and Smith||Brown and Smith|
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Verlon Reed and Devin Smith will soothe you back into restful sleep
awwwwww isn't that cute you're contributing right away
This is normally an exercise in guesswork and trolling fall practice reports, but this year freshman contribution has been simplified. None of 11W's guesses are of the dark horse variety, though DJ's thoroughly violates the spirit of the question (he's permitted to get away with it so long as Verlon Reed emerges as the stud he expects him to be).
Otherwise, it's Braxton Miller emerging as the top freshman, just as we expected him to back in November 2007 when he got on the field as a high school freshman and refused to leave it. Johnny probably has the safest bet, and Luke puts his chips on a true freshman emerging at the position of deepest need.
|Top Freshman||Miller||Miller||Reed (RS)||Miller||Miller||Bennett||Smith||Miller||Miller|
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: It's going to be hard to take away what's rightfully Braxton's
start engraving the trophy for most inspirational player
The most important award named for the guy you should know more about is the only clean sweep of the season. We all think it's going to be the guy not named Methuselah or Bauserman who has been around the longest. He of the stapled cranium, the surgically re-attached pectoralis, the four fewer teeth as of this summer, the four Gold Pants and five championship rings (all still in his possession NO WAY OMG) and the proud manifestation of the model train jones that you've kept repressed for so many years.
If Tyler Moeller isn't this year's Bo Rein award winner, something amazing will have happened. Anything short of another player assassinating the pissed off owly-looking Al Qaeda guy who took over for Osama in the south end zone during a live game after scoring a touchdown - and then flashing his bloody Nike Block O gloves at the camera amidst the deafening cheers while he's flagged for excessive celebration - is going to result in Moeller taking home the prize he richly deserves.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Leave the vote. Take the cannoli.
your 2011w ohio state most valuable player
It's a defensive lineman! No, it's a suspended running back! NO - it's definitely a center! Or a tight end! Yeah, we have no idea.
...and we really don't care. We're just so happy that the season is back. You survived. We survived. Nobody needs a game more than we all do, and next weekend our dreams and our reality will finally intersect.
Parting thoughts from the 11W illuminati:
this season will be a success if:
Alex: Ohio State beats Michigan.
Chris: Miller wins the job and limits turnovers.
DJ: Ohio State wins the B1G and beats Michigan.
Jason: Ohio State wins every game it's favored to win. This means Fickell is more Tressel than Cooper.
Joe: Miller makes good decisions with the ball.
Johnny: Leadership emerges on offense and defense and the team doesn't implode after an early loss.
Luke: Ohio State has a season that can make fans proud, provides invaluable experience to the future of the program, and lays the stage for the next era of OSU football.
Ramzy: The transition into Fickellball is seamless and uncomplicated. Ohio State has to win in Ann Arbor by a comfortable margin, as the rosters are not close.
Sarah: This team eventually clicks like a Tressel team would.
THIs season will be a failure if:
Alex: Ohio State loses to Michigan.
Chris: No QB emerges, forcing a season-long rotation.
DJ: Losing to Brady Hoke.
Jason: Losing to Michigan or dropping five games.
Joe: QB unsettled throughout the season.
Johnny: November record is 2-2 or worse.
Luke: The pulse of the program in its current iteration is contingent on Jim Tressel as its heart valve so to speak.
Ramzy: Open tryouts at QB, RB and WR last into the Colorado game.
Sarah: Ohio State loses to Michigan.