With spring ball but a distant memory and fall camp seemingly forever off in the distance, the trail of tears otherwise known as the off-season is officially upon us.
I guess the bright side is that the last two off-seasons brought nothing but pain so a quiet yet prolonged version in 2012 won't seem so bad. Still, with plenty of time before the pads start popping again we might as well reflect on some Buckeye greats from decades past.
Having been competing on the gridiron since 1890, Ohio State has a filthy rich tradition including seven national titles, 34 conference crowns, 78 All-Americans, an all-time winning percentage of 72% generating 819 wins and seven Heisman Trophy winners.
Though the history stretches back 121 years, I arbitrarily decided to focus on the last five full decades in an effort to determine the four players (coaches excluded) that are most deserving of a place on that particular decade's Mount Buckmore.
Today, we'll start with the 60s, a span that saw the scarlet and gray rack up two national titles under the guidance of Woody Hayes.
Who makes the cut on the 1960s Mount Buckmore? I actually thought it would be a little more difficult to determine but in the end it was pretty clear cut for me with just a small handful of guys capable of producing a realistic argument to supplant one of the following four who earned a spot on the mountain:
Bob Ferguson - Fullback - 1959-61
Though not all fans are as familiar with Ferguson as they should be, there's absolutely no question the bruising fullback was a top four player during the 60's.
Featured in Woody's ground attack, Ferguson lead the team in scoring and rushing in both 60's years and was the #2 all-time OSU rusher at the culmination of his career.
The two time 1st team All-B1G and All-American selection was an absolute beast in '61 leading the Buckeyes to the national title as voted by the Football Writers with an 8-0-1 record. Big Bob would've likely also blown up in the Rose Bowl but this was the season the school faculty council voted to decline the bid out of concern football was getting too big setting off minor riots and Woody's verbal venom toward the alumni club president. That year, Ferguson destroyed Michigan with four touchdowns in a 50-20 blowout and also racked up four scores against Illinois. His efforts earned a 2nd place finish to Ernie Davis in the 2nd closest vote ever at the time.
Despite losing out on the Heisman, Ferguson did capture the Maxwell Award and was voted the Player of the Year by UPI.
Elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996, Ferguson also holds a spot on Ohio State's All-Century Team.
REX KERN - QUARTERBACK - 1968-70
The leader of the Super Sophs, Kern is another guy who practically earns a spot simply for his work during the 1968 national championship run.
Woody's coach on the field, Kern engineered the run dominated attack rushing for over 500 yards in both '68 and '69 while passing for a combined 1,974 yards during the same stretch. The numbers mean nothing today but in a 60's OSU attack, Kern was just what Woody needed under center to compete for a title.
As such, Kern was at his best down the stretch of the '68 season guiding the Buckeyes to 421 yards on the ground in a 50-14 spanking of Michigan before taking center stage in the Rose Bowl matchup with USC throwing two clutch 4th quarter TD passes to earn game MVP honors. His performance was the cherry on top of a season in which he picked up 1st team All-American honors and finished in 3rd for the Heisman.
Kern helped OSU to 22 straight wins spanning '68 and '69 and went 27-2 over his career but it must be noted he threw four picks in the '69 loss to Michigan costing the Buckeyes a shot at back to back titles.
Still, Kern was the face of the franchise during one of the most dominating stretches of OSU football. Additionally, he went on to earn his Bachelor's, Masters and PHD from The Ohio State University.
Jim stillwagon - defensive tackle - 1968-1970
Stillwagon is another Super Soph and started all three years for the Buckeyes after becoming the last member of Woody's vaunted '67 recruiting haul.
Though he mostly lined up in the trenches, Stillwagon also saw time at linebacker and his dominance from any position helped him become the first player to capture both the Outland and Lombardi Awards in 1970.
The two-time All-American also won UPI's Lineman of the Year award and went on to become a three time All-Star in a five year CFL career with the Toronto Argonauts.
The Mt. Vernon product is often referred to as the best lineman to have played for Woody.
Stillwagon, who was voted Team MVP in '70, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991 and is a member of the OSU All-Century Team.
Jack tatum - defensive back - 1968-70
So, I doubt any of you are questioning this one.
Recruited by Ohio State as a running back, assistant coach Lou Holtz is the man responsible for convicing Woody that Tatum belonged on the defensive side of the ball.
Interestingly, Tatum didn't even start playing football until his sophomore year of high school but proved a quick study in the art of Taking Your Freaking Head Off.
The man known later known as The Assassin, Tatum was a star in the secondary daring receivers to catch a pass over the middle and even moved up to LB in some obvious running situations.
Tatum was 1st team All-B1G in '68, '69 and '70, a unanimous All-American his final two seasons and was recognized as the National Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
After an illustrious NFL career, Tatum was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005 and was also named as a captain of the OSU All-Century Team.
He was basically Chuck Norris in cleats and an afro.
Paul Warfield was hard to keep off the mountain as he managed to thrive in Woody's offensive system earning 1st team All-B1G in '62 and '63 before going on the star in the NFL, most notably as an impact player on the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins in addition to six 1st team All-Pro selections.
Mike Sensibaugh is a lesser known name my most Buckeye fans but makes a strong case for top four status. The defensive back was 1st team All-B1G in '69 thanks to a school record nine picks and his career total of 22 is also a school record.
Jim Otis was a two-time All-B1G selection and in '69 earned both Team MVP and All-American honors. Otis came up large in the 1969 Rose Bowl helping OSU to the national title with 101 yards and a TD on 30 carries. He led the team in scoring in both '68 and '69 and is a member of the OSU All-Century Team. In my estimation, he's clearly the 1st alternate as I look at all the players from the 60's for inclusion onto the Mount Buckmore.
Who's your four?