First Do No Harm

By Ramzy Nasrallah on August 28, 2012 at 1:00p
You look like you know something you shouldn't know.

We're told by most of the world's religions that Hell is a big lake of fire overstocked with unending suffering and punishment. It's a final destination to be avoided, if you're capable or willing to make such arrangements (it's been suggested by some of those religions that it helps if you know a certain Guy).

Since the bad afterlife is too frightening and depressing to contemplate for those of us still on this side of mortality, we construct more playful versions of Hell: Mandatory conference calls hosted by stupid people. Traffic where there should be no other cars.

That wench yammering away on her 2003 flip phone in the 12-items-or-less line who has at least two dozen damn groceries in her cart. And she's paying with a check, which she'll start writing only after she gets her total.

It's all so annoying yet decidedly tolerable and temporary. Eternal denizens of that big lake of fire should be so lucky.

Until last summer, my playful version of Hell was being stuck on a hot, crowded dance floor being forced to do the Electric Slide alongside sweaty, stinky enthusiasts of this horrible custom. This special brand of playful torture can be found at any wedding reception in the South, except that in my nightmare the song is being performed by Nickelback.

That used to be the deepest possible abyss of playful Hell for me. But that all changed with Tatgate.

Ohio State's scandal pretty much wrecked the entire 2011 calendar year for unbalanced fans like me and probably you too. Everything about it, from its media coverage to the university's handling of it to whatever Jim Tressel was thinking about when he turned that molehill into a mountain was infused with the kind stupidity normally reserved for conference calls and checkout lines.

And you'll never forget Tatgate, no matter how swiftly Urban Meyer continues to reverse Buckeye fortunes. It's game week, just one year removed from all of that awfulness, and everything about the Ohio State football program is just wonderful again. Barreling into a postseason ban probably shouldn't feel this good.

Meyer, outside of a few scorned and cartoonish sportswriters, is a media darling the likes to which we're wholly unaccustomed. ESPN, which has exploited Ohio State football for years is finally doing so in a favorable light and crediting anyone other than our new guy for this 180-degree change is lying to  themselves and the world.

But there's no happily ever after. Tempered bliss is just as temporary as playful Hell. If Meyer does something as stupid as covering up some of those non-crimes that the NCAA frowns upon as his predecessor did then everything starts to get hotter again, and quickly. Losing to Miami on Saturday would be pretty terrible too.

All of these good feelings would go away, and you don't want any part of the ones that will take their place. No one is interested in anymore playful Hell. We've had enough for a while.

UNITED STATE OF URBMERICAUndefeated and untarnished at Ohio State: 2012 - ?

Ohio State's football program sells too well to ignore good or bad news, no matter how minor or - as George Dohrmann aptly demonstrated - totally fabricated. There are no quiet, under-the-radar happenings for the Buckeyes.

Jake Stoneburner and Jack Mewhort were trending worldwide on Twitter for peeing outside after midnight and then running from a suburban cop. Jordan Hall can't even step on a piece of glass in peace.

Even non-stars like Storm Klein have their troubles aired on the national marquee because of where they happen to be non-stars. Public records requests and the insatiable appetite for Ohio State content mean that there's nowhere to hide in good times or bad.

And speaking of bad times, Meyer - despite the history of his players' propensity for collecting citations along with crystal footballs - hasn't necessarily cleaned up Ohio State. He's just distracted everyone for the time being.

Buckeye football is being reinvented and has suddenly become more interesting than Buckeye drama. Consumer appetites have changed. Urban Meyer coaching Ohio State is overwhelmingly more captivating for them than the remnants of a scandal that now looks hysterically overblown in light of the more serious and criminally tragic ones that followed it.

It used to be said that Ohio State's coach simply has to win, which is a task that has always been routine for Meyer. However, there's just too much history now for success at Ohio State to be that singular or simple.

John Cooper quipped that Buckeye fans are with you win or tie. That's no longer true with the advent of overtime, and it's no longer the case in a post-Tatgate football program either. More is required for success now.

So Meyer has to be victorious on the field just about every single Saturday, as Coop suggested. It is equally important that he also pragmatically and decisively manage the inevitability of his 18-22 year-olds making poor decisions. His predecessor got the first part right. It's his failure in that second piece that is the sole reason he now works in Akron.

The NCAA has left no slack for Ohio State, which is already a repeat-offender and will categorically remain as such until every player on the current roster has left campus. Equally unforgiving, the media will refuse to ignore any of the Buckeyes' triumphs or failures of any kind.

Those inevitable failures Meyer will face have to be extremely rare, occur mostly on fall Saturdays and can never happen in the confines of Meyer's office. The program cannot afford another playful Hell like the one that's finally in the past.

So Meyer will have to win for Ohio State. But just as importantly, he'll have to leave it clean for the next guy.



COB's picture

Here we are, at the beginning of an era.  Let's hope this one ends differently than the last 4.  

sir rickithda3rd's picture

i just hope meyer stays for 10 yrs which would = about 3 championships

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

Hoody Wayes's picture

Watching ESPN's "All-Access: Ohio State Training Days" made me worry about Urban Meyer's health. He's very intense. I hope he's taking care of himself.
Then, there's the Mark Emmert-era NCAA. 
Beyond these risks, it is difficult to glance away from visions of glory.
I know many - fans of the Buckeyes and of other teams - who can see Ohio State on the precipice of its golden age, under Urban Meyer.

Pam's picture

I agree that UFN is intense. However, he looks very relaxed and appears to have gained about 20 pds. since he left UF. I think the first time I ever saw him smile was at his presser when he was introduced. He looks as if he has been the coach at tOSU for ten years

buckeyedude's picture

I really hope that Urban doesn't gain too much weight. I'd like all our coaches to stay fit so that they can maintain that SEC speed.


timdogdad's picture

right, the program can get better.  the 80's were ok, 90's good but should have done much better(the 93,95 and 96 scum games were nightmarish)  the 2000's were awesome, but the new era could be the best.   don't know we'll go 9-1 against scum or win that many big 10 titles with the new format, but a multiple nat'l champ run would make it the best era.   the formula for braxton is simple-  heisman and crystal football= best qb ever to wear the scarlet uni     

Baroclinicity's picture

'93, '95, '96... my freshamn, junior, senior year.  Tough years.

Ken-Yon Rambo's picture

"That wench yammering away on her 2003 flip phone in the 12-items-or-less line who has at least two dozen damn groceries in her cart. And she's paying with a check, which she'll start writing only after she gets her total."
^This lady is not as bad as the 80 year old grandma that has 20 coupons, and one of them is expired, so the cashier has to call the manager over to talk about it........

How firm they friendship...

Maestro's picture

YMCA is the worst IMHO.  Electric Slide at least informs you which women on the dance floor are a definite NO GO!!!!

vacuuming sucks

Baroclinicity's picture

Yeah, but YMCA tells you where it's fun to stay...

Maestro's picture

Maybe fun to eat, but not so much to stay.

vacuuming sucks

btalbert25's picture

Oh my that is hilarious!

osu07asu10's picture

"Everything about it, from its media coverage to the university's handling of it to whatever Jim Tressel was thinking about when he turned that molehill into a mountain was infused with the kind stupidity normally reserved for conference calls and checkout lines."
Part of me feels like Tressel lied because he knew once the scab was peeled just a little, the NCAA/media wouldn't stop until the wound was wide open, and they didn't. So to him, it was probably lie and hope the compliance department doesn't shoot our own foot and continue on OR be honest and get lambasted like we did.
That is all speculation though, and it doesn't much matter's Urban's time!
Just leave er' clean

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

buckeye76BHop's picture

Great article and it's a shame that this part is so true...

His predecessor got the first part right. It's his failure in that second piece that is the sole reason he now works in Akron.

I do believe UFM will leave it better for the next coach...hmm hmmm....Fickel.  I have no doubt that he will be unless he goes elsewhere for a bit and then comes back.  He's destined to be OSU's next HC IMO.  As far as UFM...he's destined to do this job.  He used to carry around a Buckeye in his pocket at FL.  I think things happen for a reason and (no, not just because my Mom tells me this all the time) I really sincerely mean that.  Urban know's what all this means and especially 'The Game'  Go BUCKS!  

"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 

SonnyDiego's picture

The Coop era was 'unending suffering and punishment' with the 2-10-1 record against TTUN.  Follow that up with the 9-1 record of the Tressel era and, well, you are and always will be a legend in Buckeye Nation.
So, while I am sure Ft. Meyer knows the program must do no wrong, I am more positive he fully recognizes (like Tress did) that winning the last game of the regular season will define his legacy as the Buckeye leader.   

Unky Buck's picture

I think everyone's nightmare should be anything being played by those no talent ass clowns who call themselves Nickelback. Patrick Carney from the Black Keys said it best..."Rock and roll is dying because people became okay with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world, so they became okay with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit..."


OSUBias's picture

Meyer is the only 45+ year old man I "know" for whom gaining weight is universally viewed as a positive thing.
He is crazy intense, but I'm not convinced that means he's gone in 5 years. If you watched that interview with his wife, she said what a lot of us thought about Urban: he's super intense like that about everything. It wasn't the time away from coaching that made him healthier; he could have just as easily given himself a heart attack when his kid filled the wrong hole in pee wee football. It was the fact that he used that time off to learn how to live right that makes a difference. Like everyone says, I hope he keeps things in proper perspective when we lose a game or two. I hope that we the unbalanced fans do the same.
He's a great coach, but he's (more importantly in my book) a dad and a husband. Killing himself to make sure we go undefeated doesn't make him a good/great coach; it makes him a failure as a cornerstone of his family. And knowing Urban, as long as he realizes that, he won't let it happen. Because he doesn't fail... stink