Brilliant Disguise

By Ramzy Nasrallah on April 24, 2012 at 1:09p
48 Comments
LOOK UP THERE! IT'S A BIRD. IT'S A PLANE. IT'S...SOME GUY MOONING ME FROM C-DECK Buckeye fan enthusiasm was already in mid-season form during the Spring Game despite the April mist. (Original)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this had been a recurring theme around Ohio Stadium for the past 18 months. That unfortunate period has now mercifully run its course.

Beginning with Tatgate and encompassing a dismal season capped by a surprise postseason ban that precluded a Gator Bowl no one will ever watch again (Gator fans included) no facet of Buckeye football had gone according to the preferred script with the sole exception of Urban Meyer’s hiring to save the program from a painful and prolongated recovery.

His ascention to the role of program savior singlehandedly kept Ohio State’s Beta from spiraling into volatility. Meyer began with a ferocious recruiting finish to 2012 and has continued to upgrade the roster with fat being trimmed and/or melted from his inheritance.

The wholesale reinvigoration of the beleaguered holdovers from the it wasn’t supposed to be like this era was the final piece of the turnaround. That mission became a fait accompli this month.

It’s this important context that helps outsiders understand why 81,112 fans (give or take, like, 15K) enthusiastically tailgated for several hours in frigid weather before paying actual money to sit in pea soup for the privilege of observing Ohio State’s spring drillspracticescrimmage: We needed to witness this transformation for ourselves.

Saturday’s showing was the long-awaited conclusion of the it wasn’t supposed to be like this era with Meyer’s open demonstration in just how different Buckeye football is going to be with him as its steward.

During this unique and delicate transition Meyer’s presence as figurehead has temporarily overshadowed Ohio State's bigger-than-any-one-man-brand that is still mending from its most challenging year in several decades. He has been an immediate emperor, and the program has required nothing less than that.

Saturday’s scrimmage provided not only a contrast in style to what Buckeye fans had come to embrace as its hallmark brand, but a desperately-needed reset from its most recent spring game, which was one of the most uncomfortable days in Ohio Stadium history.

A year ago the university actually considered banning Jim Tressel from spring practices, the spring game and all summer camps for 2011. He was eventually allowed to take part in all of those activities, though his involvement with summer camps went away after his coaching contract was voided the following month.


In the midst of that burgeoning scandal, Tressel took the field for his fragile football program's spring exhibition, which he had transformed several years earlier into a vehicle for something greater than football: In 2010 his Buckeyes used our football addiction to raise money for The James Cancer Center. 

Miss you, buddy.The spoils of awkwardness: $194,000 for charity.

Last year - in what would be his final afternoon patrolling the sidelines - he used it to honor the military and raised almost $200,000 for charity as his legacy was in the balance. Buckeye fans had long grown accustomed to the virtuous behind-the-scenes nature of the Tresselian way.

However, during that tenuous period when his name was in the news daily for violating the most intolerable offense in amateur athletics - fibbing to the NCAA - the guy who had written two books about living and winning the right way trotting out onto the field in camouflage fatigues was widely viewed as a gimmicky diversion.

Unfortunately, it’s also the very last image we have of him coaching: As he stood next to his suspended star quarterback who as it turned out had a penchant for loaner vehicles, Tressel in camouflage became an unfortunate pun for his now infamous cover-up.

Saturday was complete departure from both the Tresselian way of football and the use of the spring game as a vehicle for something greater: The cause being championed and promoted in that pea soup was exclusively Meyer’s vision for Buckeye football. Nobler endeavors would have to wait until this transformation is complete.

Tressel had many signature moves, from his sleeveless attire and his conservative game strategy to his penchant for hiring assistant coaches named either Jim or Tressel. As successful as he was, there is more than one way to procure the sacred glass testicle, as Meyer once proved against him and once against a similar spread-option attack two years later.

The afternoon began with that awesome gladiator circle at midfield, conducted at the behest of the new emperor. While his predecessor intentionally kept the fiery antics out of the worldview, Meyer put them front and center while deliberately giving BTN cameras a front-row view of his festivitates pugnae.

Your new Buckeye offense immediately went no-huddle with a tempo that - if it has ever been seen before in Ohio Stadium - was the product of another team’s efforts. Ohio State sent plays to scrimmage and ran them unhurriedly at a controlled, methodical and expedient pace in its debut.

If you need to be convinced of how dramatic the difference in pace was between this no-huddle and what the rare flirtation with no-huddle looked like during the previous era, go back and rewatch the first two drives of the 2011 Sugar Bowl* when the Buckeyes “surprised” Arkansas with this tactic. (SPOILER: Imagine last Saturday’s tempo slowed down to 162/3 RPM).

(EXPLANATION OF PREVIOUS SPOILER FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: That was a metaphor to communicate slowness using an ancient device called “the record player”). /liver spots

It was an absolutely breathtaking exploitation of wonderful talent that had historically been accumulated by Tressel only to be chronically underutilized or mis-purposed. Outside of the quarterback position, which he micromanaged and adjusted schemes accordingly to perfection either in cooperation with the late, great Joe Daniels or by himself under the cover of a pretend QB coach, players at other positions routinely found their skills being square-pegged/round-holed.

A quick refresher of Tresselball's puzzling personnel decisions: Neutralizing the abilities of Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine by thrusting them into power plays. Using Jake Ballard almost exclusively as a glorified tackle instead of the grotesque pass-catching mismatch against any unfortunate linebacker that he always was. Routinely sprinting bruisers like Beanie Wells out wide and essentially giving the defense an 11-on-10 advantage.

Following the game, Michael Thomas ate a stack of these for dinner.The game program didn't blow the script or the surprises.

Refresher over - let’s get back to the future, which almost certainly doesn’t include the diminutive Jordan Hall running off-tackle out of the I-formation on 3rd and short.

One constant of the past that will always transcend Ohio State eras was that of the Spring Game Legend™. The very moment that Michael Thomas caught his fourth pass you began to hear Taurian Washington’s name being whispered. When he caught his ninth, it was Bam Childress’.

As we learned last season - when Buckeye receivers were getting open about as often as Chick-fil-A on Sundays - that position is as much about catches as it is about gaining separation, being targeted and catching the ball without the slightest hint of a bobble. The last time a #83 totally surprised anyone like Thomas did during a spring game, Terry Glenn made good on that glimpse once the games began to count.

Braxton Miller played as expected and demonstrated all of the usual descriptors you want to see in an underclassman (maturity, patience, poise, etc) while Kenny Guiton also performed with the invigoration of 1,000 Sicilianos, calling into question why a player capable of his performance found himself languishing behind Joe Bauserman for the balance of 2011.

Despite the blossoming sanguinity over both Miller and Guiton realizing their high potential, they are veterans of the worst Buckeye offense of the modern era. However, they now both benefit from qualified coaching. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

The ever-maligned and enormous Chris Carter, whose nickname is The Big Hungry bull-rushed his way into many hearts on Saturday, demonstrating the potential for Ohio State to essentially play 12 guys without committing a penalty. After rumors of his impending departure, Carter actually showed signs of defensive utility as well as ample, televised butt crack, which has reportedly claimed the lives of several DVR fast-forward buttons.

The attacking Buckeye defense was business as usual; it's clear this coaching staff isn't going to tinker too heavily with the defensive philosophy that did virtually all of the heavy lifting during the most successful decade in program history. And the punt used to be the most important play in football, but for several memorable minutes during the first half, the field goal took its place

Once the exhibition ended for those fans who paid actual money for the privilege of being cold and wet all afternoon, there was a palpable sense of satisfaction throughout Ohio Stadium. Sure, spring games are as inexact as football can get, but the desired transformation into Meyer's vision was as obvious as the departure from our collective discomfort with the past.

And that’s what Ohio State football is now becoming again: Comfortable. It's supposed to be like this.

48 Comments

Comments

Grayskullsession's picture

I watched Carter push guys several yards into the backfield everytime he rushed. We need guys like that who can turn the opponents O-line into a clusterf---

"if irony were made of strawberries, we' d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now."

Baroclinicity's picture

I'm already chest deep in the process of blocking out the last season and the months preceding it.  Still painful to think about.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

BED's picture

Just remember to keep these two things when you purge:

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg-ZoyQcyX0

2) 

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Baroclinicity's picture

I have the Miller play bookmarked.  Love it.  Can you imagine the season in hindsight if he had not pulled that off and we lost the game?  That play meant so much to the season overall. 

But the UM gif... while very funny (and I sent it to a few people via email), that still reminds me of a loss.

I'll be ok  :)

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

bukyze's picture

I agree, Grayskull.  Carter could end up being a pleasant surprise as a DT, and play a few reps behind Hankins.

dan_isaacs's picture

Or next to him.  #wisconson

Dan Isaacs

bukyze's picture

I like that thought.  Let's see if Montee Ball can run through those two!

nickma71's picture

It was pretty exciting watching Earl Bruce throw on first down too. Then again, he had the most talented quarterback at OSU in my lifetime not named Troy Smith.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Earle didn't have Troy Smith - that would be Tressel

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

BrewstersMillions's picture

That's what he said homey. "Not Named Troy Smith". So he's referring to the second most talented QB in OSU history and we can assume this man thinks Troy is the best ever (and he'd be right).

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Squirrel Master's picture

Personally I would say Krentzel because I saw him win OSU a championship but that is me personally!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

BrewstersMillions's picture

I won't debate the merits of Krenzel v. Smith. Krenzel had as much to do with winning that title in 2002 as Ray Small had with losing in 2006. You can take Craig. I'll take Troy.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

William's picture

Holy Buckeye was a monumental play and Krenzel did lead the title game in rushing. That being said I'd say the order goes Schlichter, Smith, Kern, Pryor, Greene, Germaine, Krenzel.

Squirrel Master's picture

During the season, I won't argue Krentzels value. He wasn't that great of a QB. but during the championship game, when Clarret was hobbled by his ankle injury, Krentzel was the one running for first downs. Krentzel was giving them fits. All I remember is Krentzel running for first down after first down, even a couple on 3rd down. He had 2 rushing touchdowns and was co-MVP.

I will never say he was as talented as Smith or had half of the stats that Smith had. I loved Smith. But when it came time to win the biggest game of the year, Krentzel showed up immensely.

So I wouldn't compare his efforts in the championship game to Ray "I never met my potential" Small in 2006. You need to rewatch that game!

Edit: of course now I reread the original comment about the most talented. but I still will argue that Krentzel was really important to the national championship game and not compared to ray small.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

buckeyedude's picture

Met Krenzel here in Toledo, and he seemed a very nice kid. Big one, too! I know he was listed as 6'4", but damn he seemed taller than that.

I don't think CK is given enough credit for the NC on '02.  The most important position on a team, and he won the NC. (And I love the fact that he is from Sterling Heights, Mi. LOL!)

 

 

osubuckeye4life's picture

It was probably the cowboy boots that made him seem taller. 

 

Circle K was a great motivator and game manager. However, he was definitely not the more talented than Troy Smith, Prison sentance, or TP. That NC was a true team effort on both sides of the ball. 

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Krenzel as the most talented is nothign short of laughable.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Squirrel Master's picture

Yeah, I was wrong on most talented but to say he had little to do with the NC is laughable.

Smith is the most talented I have seen in my days. I didn't get a chance to see Schlichter. It is a shame Smith never really got his shot at the NFL. Combo of dumb coaches and bad luck.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

joel121270's picture

I presume you are referring to Schlister? I know Tomczak was decent but the "gambler" was the man....Troy will be the most talented I think especially that game at AACC when we came back down 9 or 11(?) with not a whole lot of time left....that shit was awesome and I've seen a lot of games on the tube in my 41 yrs.

BED's picture

Also, don't get the whole doubting the attendence number.  About 3rd quarter, it looked like there were about 80K in attendence.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

dan_isaacs's picture

Only top 215-20 rows were empty.  And about a third to half of the club seats.  I don't doubt that attendence figure.

Dan Isaacs

Doc's picture

I agree with you BED.  The stadium looked like 80+k people.  I was parked in 12B and from what I could see A and B were full and a good majority of C was as well.  South stands were also full.  My wife made a comment that there are teams that would like to have that many in attendance regularly in the fall(BG, Toledo, Nortworstern, IU, Purdont...).  Plus the fact, why would the University lie?  They have no need to.  If the weather was nice and sunny it would have been over 100K I'm sure.

"Say my name."

BED's picture

Yeah, I was in 25A, and the other side was almost full as well, well up into C deck.

If we'd had the same weather as earlier in the week, it'd have been a sell out.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

ArTbkward's picture

From my seat in D deck, the South Stands were nowhere near full.  The top half barely had any people in it.  The endzones of A deck had a fair amount of gaps in the seats too.  I don't doubt that B deck was packed solid.  C deck was much fuller on the north side than the south side- probably because people like me wanted to sit under the press box but the south side of C deck wasn't even half full.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...
(Also, I'm not a dude)

pcon258's picture

I agree. I'd say that there might not have been 81k in the stadium at one time, because people left early, came late, etc., but 81k didn't seem far off to me. THe non-paid tickets were probably all students. 

BritishBuckeye's picture

That Captain America/Buckeye dude...SO much better than Buck-i-guy or the other guy...

buckeyedude's picture

There's only one Buckeyedude.

 

 

dan_isaacs's picture

This guy was walking around the Grey sideline.  Is he a former player?  Looked familiar.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/danisaacs/6963585206/in/set-72157629890245881

Dan Isaacs

Keith's picture

Hey Dan - that's LB Dorian Bell.  He transferred out last year.   I still don't understand why he was on the sidelines (friends of #3 Corey Brown or not).

snoodogg22's picture

Yea that's kind of weird right there having a guy who transferred in Buckeye gear walking the sideline

Tough times never last, tough people do

NYC Buckeye's picture

If I remember correctly, he was a 5 * recruit, one of the top LBs in the nation couple of years ago...  Where did he transfer too again? 

Shaun OSU's picture

 Nobler endeavors would have to wait until this transformation is complete. 

To be fair, I do believe that the profits from the game were to be given to LiFE Sports, which provides summer camps at OSU for underprivledged youth. There was still a charity aspect to it.

Squirrel Master's picture

Great article. I do want to say I love that costume at the beginning! PERFECT!!! Anonymous and warrior like! Not that ridiculous cowboy or paint face guy! That was alot of work into that outfit and looks really cool. I hope he doesn't become a douche like the others. I do miss the Neutron man!!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Maestro's picture

Loved seeing the clear uptick in intensity level.  

Loved seeing some of Miller's throws, but some were really poor.  Work to do.

Meyer's presence was palpable at all times.  Even on TV.  The man burns with the white hot intensity of the sun and I give him 5 years before he blows up again.  I very much look forward to those 5 years with the white hot intensity of the sun.

Go Bucks !!

vacuuming sucks

timdogdad's picture

i was there. 80 k sounds about right. when the stadium had the most people. c deck was full except for the last 15 rows. i would say the stadium was 80% full, thus around 80 k.  anyway, if it was 75 or so. that's as much as bama this year.  and luckily the rain wasn't too bad during the game. i got to west campus at 10:30 or so and there were some bad stretches of rain.  i bet if it was 50 and just partly sunny the stadium would  have been at 100 thou.    

bhardy22132's picture

oh yeah but like you said the rain wasnt bad at all. It was a little chilly but i was wearing a spring jacket and felt fine out there. Capt. Ohio is a pretty cool guy. Gave my two year old daughter a high five and took some pictures with the kids.

BED's picture

As an aside, whatever editing was done to that first photo is clearly evil.  The two people who are in the first two rows each two people to the right of the shield look horrifying.  Like the pig face people from the Twilight Zone episode "Eye of the Beholder."

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Squirrel Master's picture

did you look at the original. The old lady looks mean as hell and miserable (as most were because of the rain). The kid I believe might have down syndrome. Not a very funny topic though.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

BED's picture

Not the handicapped kid, the dude above the old lady (next row up).

The picture in general is weird, with all the blurriness.  Creeps me out.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Squirrel Master's picture

They both look like miserable grumps! That must have been the retirement section.

It does remind me of Batman Returns movie with the hallucination gas.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

flipbuckeye's picture

They all watched The Ring video.

BED's picture

EXACTLY

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

ARMYBUCK's picture

Coming from someone who dons the uniform I cant tell you how proud I feel when I see Coach Tress in an ACU cap.  I have mad respect for the man and the fact that he is only human will never change that.  God Bless Tress.

Menexenus's picture

Amen!

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Denny's picture

'Taken with Instadrunj'

Taquitos.

Keith's picture

I quite like that photo filter...a little Thomas Hart Benton effect in that bad boy.

salberico's picture

I'd love to know where that photo effect/filter came from. Anyone?

buckeyedude's picture

I thought that Captain Ohio was computer generated? That dude is bad ass. All the others are old.

I hope Captain Ohio is around the next time we play the freakin' Bobkitties! Him and Brutus can tag team the Bobkitty and go all UFC on him.