The So-Called Nothing

By Ramzy Nasrallah on July 31, 2012 at 1:00p
LOL Oregon speed

It's the very first penalty recited every time Ohio State's current NCAA punishments are brought up - even though it was the fourth one listed in the infractions report.

It's the penalty that you were always promised would be avoided when the Tatgate nightmare finally concluded - and it would have been - until the NCAA kicked up Bobby DiGeronimo at the investigation's eleventh hour.

Accordingly, it was also one of the very first questions Urban Meyer was asked at his very first B1G media day last week.

How do motivate your team with nothing to play for?

Bowl games have steadily grown into a watered-down, corrupt relic of a bygone era when college football had to promote itself far and wide to gain exposure. On top of that abuse, achieving bowl eligibility is now anything but a landmark feat (if last year's Buckeyes could make it to New Year's Day then they're not exactly bolting the back entrance into the club).

But then you're told your team doesn't get to have a bowl game. Suddenly, they seem more important than ever.

Thanks to DiGeronimo, Tatgate and the respective enablement and cover-up that transformed them from violations to scandals, we have known for months that the Buckeyes' wins and losses this season will sum 12 instead of 13.

Even if the losses total zero - a highly-optimistic, mathematical but extremely remote possibility each year - Ohio State football for 2012 will conclude in November.

A resounding triumph over Michigan in that final game will certainly be tinged with varying degrees of regret over what could have been in January. At the same time, a loss in Columbus will stain our offseason palates like no other non-Florida loss this century. There hasn't been a more important Michigan game in five seasons.

All of that said: Bowl games aren't everything. Until a team convinces itself that they are.

"I'm sorry. Kind of."The stuff that Stockholm Syndrome is made of.

And that bowl ban is the invisible 13th opponent on the 2012 schedule Meyer will have to scheme for all season.

It's the single wound from the lost year of 2011 that still throbs. The previously-scheduled breeze to a championship was abruptly scuttled last May in exchange for that forgettable 6-7 disaster, but that's long over.

Unfortunately, its triumphant follow-up has also been neutered before its pair even had a chance to descend. The Buckeyes are going to have to get over that very quickly if they want to avoid smudging Meyer's debut.

So what's going to happen? How do motivate your team with nothing to play for, Coach Meyer?

You've been answering that question yourself since last December, and if you're like most fans you've landed on the bright idea of the 2012 Buckeyes playing MAD. They're going to play ANGRY. Michigan is going to be SO SCREWED. And even better, Meyer himself AGREES WITH YOU.

That all sounds nice. And just a little too familiar.

The Buckeyes' rallying scorn heading into the lost season of 2011 was scheduled to harness the necessary 1.21 jigawatts required to get the Buckeyes back to their previously scheduled future atop the B1G and most of college football.

Unfortunately, victories aren't fueled by anger or perceived disrespect alone. You may recall Ohio State playing LSU for the BCS title not too long ago. The angry, disrespected team was on the receiving end of a 31-0 run. HOWEVER: The Buckeyes played angry; so very angry.

But the difference this year will be competent offensive coaching that's delightfully paired with that anger. A real quarterback coach instead of last year's pretend one, and a sound offensive line coach instead of that walrus who still believes big fat guys should play interchangeably along the line of scrimmage.

And a nutritionist! And a reinvigorated strength and conditioning program! And the fact that Meyer always kills it in Year One and kills everything in Year Two!

Which brings us back to that invisible 13th foe on the schedule; the ultimate wild card - the opponent that isn't supposed to exist or permitted to be scheduled. The apparition that Meyer was asked about barely a minute into his first Big Ten media day.

He was questioned on the effect that those sanctions had on the program. Though the journalist didn't list all of the penalties, he, Meyer and everyone in attendance understood that the inquiry was specifically about the bowl ban.

How do motivate your team with nothing to play for?

Meyer answered it by bridging the still-fresh postseason ban that Penn State had just received which mirrors Ohio State's, only in quadruplicate. He said that he has had to face the challenges of the Buckeyes' bowl ban twice already with one more meeting - the longest one - left to go.

Psst...ASU probably should have covered David BostonThe opportunity to finish a season like this will take a year off.

He first dealt with Ohio State's postseason banishment in December during recruiting season when it was negatively used against him by rival schools. (In case your memory has been bleached by the sun, the bowl-ban-negative-recruiting pitch against Ohio State didn't take. At all.)

The second challenge he faced hinged on keeping veteran players - now deemed free agents in part because of the NCAA easing its usual transfer penalties - from defecting to programs where bowl eligibility was on the table.

There were no regrettable losses in that endeavor. Meyer then closed his answer by admitting that the third bridge across the postseason penalty was still on the horizon.

He referred to it as the so-called nothing at the end of the season. He doesn't appear to be conceding anything to that 13th opponent.

It's not only the bowl game; it's the lost December practice time. After the Michigan game there's nothing left to play for, which gives the football team nothing they're allowed to do. It's a double-nothing.

Meyer will try and use the so-called nothing to his advantage, just as you expect him to. The Xs and Os that will define Ohio State's offensive transformation will be paired with motivational countermeasures that specifically address the so-called nothing.

He used the perception of disrespect to his advantage in 2006 to produce a BCS title game so destructive to you personally there is no chance you'll never be able to reconcile that night regardless of what he delivers at Ohio State.

Meyer has never had to scheme against this opponent before; not at Bowling Green or anywhere else. He successfully fought it through the recruiting season, he battled it in keeping his roster intact and now he'll face it for the final time as its cloud hangs over all 12 tangible opponents on the schedule.

With each win this season the Buckeyes will methodically progress in their creep toward the so-called nothing. Ohio State will get closer and closer to the vacated end of its rainbow.

The only logical conclusion is that there will be that much more emphasis on the journey, since this team is forbidden from having a destination.

So you, the media and that inquisitive journalist at B1G media day were all, unfortunately, correct. In 2012, Ohio State is playing for nothing.

The so-called upside is that those dozen Saturdays now get to mean everything.


Comments Show All Comments

fear_the_nut70's picture

Nice write up.  I thought this was going to be a rebuilding year to some degree after a 6-7 season, new coach, whole new offense, glaring deficiencies in the passing game, etc.  Plus, UFM historically has made his biggest strides in his second season for what this is worth.  I always thouught a championship pursuit was reasonable in '13 anyway.  If this causes our guys to treat TSUN as their bowl game and we ruin their season, that's good enough for this guy.

Maestro's picture

Camp starts soon, hallelujah, holy shit, where's the Tylenol?

vacuuming sucks

LadyBuck's picture

I agree whole heartedly. Finally, it's almost time for actions to punctuate the words. 

buckeye76BHop's picture

Great article as usual Ramzy, I can see Wisky and tTUN being the bowl games for OSU.  I could see Urban and the staff making them both games of emphasis at years end (I'd say Wisky may be a bigger blow out than tTUN IMHO).Urban and Bret can act like they've kissed and made up...but I'm not buying it;-) All Wisky has is Ball...O'Brien will not be like Russell.  You can take that to the bank folks. 

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

marvorama's picture

We'll be missing out on two potential games: the B1G Championship and a bowl game!

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

That's is the only game I am upset about not being g able to participate in. If someone would have told any of us two years ago that the first two B1G championship games would NOT have tOSU in them, we would have probably strong-handed that stunad.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I didn't expect Urban Meyer to come in and compete for a national championship the first season anyway. Not with the lack of offensive fire power he needs to run his playbook. #walrus really screwed the pooch with the lack of talent and lack of development of the lack of talent on offense.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

buckeye76BHop's picture

The plays walrus ran we so predicable that I could have created a Defensive game plan to beat him.  Not to mention his recruiting (or lack there of) is a BIG reason why Dymonte Thomas is going to tTUN.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

buckeyedude's picture

Maybe a lack of development, but certainly not a lack of talent. Brewster, Adams, and Ol' False Start were three of the top OL in the country when the committed to OSU.



AltaBuck's picture

Completely agree. The opportunity to practice prior to a 2013 NC title run is what sticks in Urban's craw, not necessarily missing a bowl and/or B1G championship game.

I am Groot - Groot

fear_the_nut70's picture

I agree with this.  In his B1G interview, UFM said he was looking into NCAA rules to see if he can still hold practices after November (don't think so, but worth looking into).  That's why the Outhouse Bowl last year was so important, all the practices.  This is probalby the most important punishment for this team in terms of making a serioius championship run next year (three schollies lost for two seasons are less important IMHO).
Essentiallly a month (and a few days) from tomorrow.   I can't wait !!
Go Bucks!!

timdogdad's picture

man what a different season this would be if we just gave up that stupid bowl against fla.  just a 3 hr single game and 2012 would be more meaningful.  but i'll take a win over scum as the season's conclusion.  no bowl game/big 10 champ game     it is what it is..     

Bucksfan's picture

We are all just biding time until the 4-team playoff begins anyway, so who cares about these next couple of lame-duck BCS years?  Maybe it's different for the athletes themselves, who probably don't care whether they are in Pasadena or in long as they get a duffel bag of swag.

fear_the_nut70's picture

I don't know if skipping last year's bowl game would have saved us this year.  I just think the NCAA felt there was too much pressure to let OSU off with any punishment that seemed soft, and missing the Outback Bowl qualifies.
Bucksfan, I couldn't disagree with you more.  College football was NEVER just about the postseason, and yet, your comment seems to suggest that until we have a playoff, following CFB and OSU is a waste of time for you.  This saddens me (for you), as I can't wait for this season to start.  It amazes me how many people seem to only care about crowning a champion and how many people refuse to acknowledge that a playoff can never crown a legitimate champion with 122 teams and 8 major conferences (and no, the BCS really doesn't either.  It's going to be mythical under ANY system that has that many teams that play so few common opponents).

Bucksfan's picture

Fear, WOAH!  Hold your horses, buddy.  Following Ohio State football this year is not a waste of time.  I never said that or even alluded to it.

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

Dear fellow fans,
(Sorry if repost)
Fret Not.
Your fears and worries will be laid to rest this year.  Opposing teams will drag themselves home bewildered and wondering at what exactly had hit them.  A new phrase will emerge on the lips of our vanquished opponents.."We been simonized!"  There will be jubilant shouts from bleary-eyed Buckeye fans watching in sports bars throughout the land:  "It's Miller time!"  And Sunday morning they will regret the foolish practice of shotgunning a Miller every time its namesake has a huge play.  Opposing coaches will begin to scheme against the juggeronslaughtnaut that is John Simon, and when the bait is taken, other equally ferocious big eaters will pounce through the gaps to terrorize enemy runners.
There are only two kinds of sweat.  Fear sweat and Fat sweat.  Our opponents will know Fear sweat in 2012.
About halfway through the season, the media will begin to understand, and they will inch this team up in the standings.  By seasons end, they will be talking about the "what ifs".  We, though, already will have come to grips with that, and though we may have a few wistful moments, we will pleasure our memories with offseason replays of that last great measure of how we rendered the Maize n Blue to the Dazed n Blew.
And speaking of the Dipper Denards and his Shoe Lace Trippers, they will enter The Game genuinely scared.  Oh, they will talk some smack, but it wont get em high.  They will have watched the film and will leave the film room feeling queasy with an unexplainable germ of impending doom.  They very well may be leaving that game virtually assured of a berth in the conference championship, but they will have been so disabused physically and dislodged mentally that they will lose to whoever it is they may play.  THAT, my fellow fans, will be one very sweet outcome to the season.
Now tighten yer panties and loosen yer bras, cause it's gonna git wild!

I like cookies.

Buckeyejason's picture



schooey's picture

YEYYEYEYAH  Take No Fucking Prisoners!

buckeyedude's picture

Great post, Southernstates!  That is funny as hell. I think you should be the pre-season motivational guest speaker instead of Earle Bruce (with all due respect to the Earle). 
I am old enough to remember Simoniz Car Wax  from when I was a whipper snapper.
It fits. OSU's opponents are going to get "waxed" by Simon. They will be "Simonized!"



BuckeyeNation's picture

Lmao. @Southern: not sure if it's your name or the way you worded that last sentence (maybe both), but I just read this comment like a was a narrator in the wild west before a John Wayne showdown... rotfflmao! 
In my best Troy Landry voice (Swamp People)... shoot'em  shoot'em  shoot'em, HA!

burkmon's picture

Thanks for the laugh as well as the pep talk!


OldColumbusTown's picture

I tend to believe I would be just fine with Urban Meyer having a first season similar to OSU's last major coaching hire, who also had to endure a postseason ban during his initial season. 
That man did not allow his team to use NCAA violations as an excuse not to strive for the best season outcome they could possibly muster.  Suddenly, a team who had struggled the year before began to believe in itself, and grasped a new-found identity.  In their last game, the biggest and most talked about of the season, the Buckeyes took down an undefeated #1 ranked opponent.  That season laid a foundation for future sustained greatness in the program.
Of course, that man is Thad Matta.  Urban Meyer has to look no further than a half mile down the road to gain some perspective on what it is like to push a team through a season that means "nothing."
There is too much pride on the line for everyone involved with this program to allow for a negative outcome, just because of the so-called nothing.  The foundation laid during this first season of adversity will carry on long after the dust settles on a postseason ban.

grant87's picture

we can spend the nothing time cleaning up Wolverine blood!  We can send a message to UW and scUM who the real champs are to close the season.  Go Bucks
Enjoyed the read THANKS

Maybe tomorrow, when today will be yesterday things will be clearer.


Buki-4-life's picture

We should just have another Scarlet Grey game in December, why not?