That New Car Smell

By Ramzy Nasrallah on September 4, 2012 at 1:00p

The third head coach in three seasons led the Buckeyes out of the tunnel on Saturday.

Just two more this decade and Ohio State will quantifiably achieve the same unpleasant Graveyard of Coaches status that marked the 1940s when Francis Schmidt, Paul Brown, Carroll Widdoes, Paul Bixler and Wes Fesler all briefly wore the big whistle before departing.

The only sweating Urban did Saturday was on the new cups.

Unfortunately the grueling circumstances of coaching in that decade are 99% similar to those of today: Ohio State still unforgivingly demands a champion, the pressure to win in Columbus is just as iniquitous as it was during those turbulent years and anything short of success won't be tolerated.

It's that one percent that makes the difference this time: Ohio State is no longer a job that allows for voluntary absence. It's a life sentence now.

One percent is significant: Human and chimpanzee genomes are also almost 99% identical. It seems small but obviously that one percent can make a huge difference. The head coaching job at Ohio State has barely changed in 70 years and yet that barely matters.

This coach also knows exactly what he stepped into when he stepped out of retirement. He has the firmest grasp on what's required of him. His predecessors' predecessors during that Graveyard era weren't quite as informed or fortunate as he is.

Schmidt's problem was that he lost to Michigan too many times. WWII plucked Brown from Columbus. Widdoes and Bixler could not stand both the limelight and the pressure of the job.

Fesler was run out of town following the Snow Bowl. Don Faurot had the job for an entire weekend before deciding he didn't want it.

Without all of that happening, Woody Hayes does not land in Columbus.

Ohio State's current coach worked too hard at Florida. He didn't take care of himself. His heartburn felt more like angina than acid reflux. He walked away from a top-ten college football job about four months before Jim Tressel hit the reply button to an email from Christopher Cicero.

Without all of that happening, Urban Meyer does not land in Columbus.

Meyer's arrival at Ohio State has long been viewed as having been inevitable, going back to the stories of him openly weeping at the opportunity to be a graduate assistant under Earle Bruce. It's a job he was born to have.

As nice as that all sounds and as much as we love to romanticize Buckeye football, Meyer landing at the WHAC was 99% serendipity and one percent preordained. He can thank Cicero and Tressel, Woody and Earle, Schmidt, Brown, Widdoes, Bixler and Fesler for granting him the job vacancy, the job requirements and the occupational hazards of the job he accepted last November.

He can thank the University of Florida for a cold dose of life-saving self-awareness. He can thank his family for giving him another chance at coaching.

And he can thank Devin Smith for one of the most memorable touchdown receptions to mark the first six points of his tenure.

One game into what should be a lengthy and successful run in Columbus it appears that Meyer is doing what we all hoped he would do: Tactfully insert his methods into the massively esoteric and perplexing appointment that is Buckeye football.

Buckeye football is power football. It requires mostly Ohioans, all of the freakshow able-bodied variety, a ferocious defense and a seething hatred for the shell of a state to the north that used to be Michigan. It requires a coach who can not only handle the spotlight of 11.5MM interrogators, it requires one who is willing to stare directly into their blinding glow.

AP Photo: Jay LapreteOhio State's new O was paired with its same old attacking D.

Buckeye football is also a construct with a strong sense of respecting traditions, from the style of play to many of the trappings that adorn those six to eight holy Saturdays when Ohio Stadium is filled to serve its rightful purpose.

Ohio State played plenty of traditional power football on Saturday in its predictable deconstruction of the Miami RedHawks. It also showcased the hallmarks of the spread looks that left the Buckeyes of seven seasons ago spinning in Glendale. It ended the game singing Carmen Ohio with the band.

It didn't telegraph every single move it was making, and there wasn't any deliberately joyless football on display against Miami designed to move the clock closer to quitting time. 

Meyer's strategy was an overlay for what's been known as Buckeye football going back to when Schmidt created the I-formation: The same four trusty wheels, but with better handling and acceleration. 

The third head coach in three seasons serendipitously led the Buckeyes out of the tunnel on Saturday, but for the first time in at least that long a Saturday afternoon in Columbus didn't feature Ohio State facing an opponent while willfully keeping most of its weapons sheathed. 

However, we don't know yet if we will enjoy the actual fruits of Meyer's methods as much as we enjoyed Tressel's. But we shouldn't be in too much of a hurry to find out.

Still, this first excursion proved to be quite the joyride; it accomplished the same required outcome that Tressel notched over 80% of the time during his tenure and 100% of the time in season openers.

But there was one notable, welcome difference: It was just a lot more fun to watch.

While the aesthetics of a victory may seem small, the immediate departure from the joylessness of Tresselball makes a huge difference, and if that ends up being the only difference between the current era and that of Tressel's, Meyer's life sentence may actually end on his own terms.

And that would be the most significant change to Ohio State football in its history.


Comments Show All Comments

Buckeyeneer's picture

I always love OSU football, but you got it right, Ramzy, this was a hellova lot more fun to watch.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

cinserious's picture

I'll take the pure joy and exhillaration of the Ferrari over the dependable plugging/plodding along of the Ford. At least the FERRARI'S not made in Michigan!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

nickma71's picture

Never forget The OSU is the school that effectively showed Paul Brown the door. Only Model can also lay that claim, albeit in more direct fashion. They fired Woody Hayes, Earl Bruce who only one 75% of his games. And John Cooper who won even more, save for the last two of the season. And Jim Tressel. Graveyard of about right.

hodge's picture

Are you implying that Woody Hayes didn't deserve to be fired?
Of those aforementioned coaches, only Bruce didn't deserve to be let go.  It's the nature of the beast when you coach at an elite historical powerhouse.  I also wasn't aware that Brown was booted by OSU, he was classified 1-A in 1944, and went to serve his country.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

Sadly, Woody missed his golden opportunity to retire a champion when OSU blew the 1976 Rose Bowl. Then there never would have been a 1978 Gator Bowl. But after hitting Charlie Bauman, Woody definitely, 100%, deserved to be fired.
Earle had a nice run after that, which was highlighted by his first season in 1979 (I was at every game that season for the first time...lots of fun!). He definitely did not deserve to be fired in the manner in which he was, but he had run his course by 1987. Recruiting had been down, which is why Cooper's 1988 team was so abysmal. Unfortunately, Earle deserved to be fired too. He has been a great former coach, however.

buckeyedude's picture

I thought the firing of Earle was a hasty decision.



Run_Fido_Run's picture

Urbz is only the 5th full-time (not interim) HC since 1951, which means that average tenure at Ohio State during this period has been on the very high end of the spectrum.
The Ohio State HC is a final destination job - nobody uses it as a stepping stone to a better job because there are very few parallel jobs let alone better jobs. Sure, there is always the possibility that a highly successful coach at a powerhouse like Ohio State might opt to try his luck in the NFL, but he's not usually angling for the job at Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU, etc.
Well, if you give a coach 8+ years at one of the top programs in the country, AND you assume that the only way he'll leave is against his wishes, then statistically you significantly increase the odds that he'll eventually get fired (or "asked" to resign).
Since Bear Bryant retired, have any coaches genuinely left Bama on their own accord? Technically, Ray Perkins left to coach the TB Bucaneers, but the boosters knew better. Basically, Bama ran-out-of-town eight coaches between Bear and Saban.

SonnyDiego's picture

You Win With quote WW Hayes and Tress did not leave the cupboard bare.  What Ft. Meyer appears to grasp differently than his legendary peers is that you then just let them play in a hurry up fashion and that includes the last 10 minutes of the game.  Just remember to keep the Miller kid hydrated and bet the over if you are inclined to do so!!

frozen buckeye's picture

Another well written article, Ramzy.  Loved the chimp dna-genome analogy. 

Maestro's picture

You were born to write this article Ramzy.  Did you weep at the opportunity?

vacuuming sucks

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

I'm 99% sure you're kidding and 1% convinced you're suggesting I can go die now.

Maestro's picture

If you die I will weep, and have one fewer person to follow on twitter.  That would really cramp my style.  Don't die.

vacuuming sucks

buckeye76BHop's picture

I really liked the chimpanzee genomes reference....good stuff.  I'll always love JT...but my Dad and I said the same thing as the first Blogger, "Man that sure was fun to watch!"  I think that game sold my Pops on UFM.  I was after this...sorry but it's true (I can only handle watching the first 34 seconds).
As for Woody as stated one will be better than him despite what happened in the Gator Bowl (which of course he deserved to be did Jim...but doesn't mean you really want to see it happen.  However I've never believed Earle deserved what he got.  The Wolfe brothers among others f@#@## him over IMHO).  Sometimes coaches think they're above things...unfortunately...that was Woody's moment.  Hard to argue him being the best with 5 National Titles...and 13 B1G titles.  Tress would be a close two with Paul Brown and Earle being up there too....we'll see about the Urbanator;-)

"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 

schooey's picture

I've said it before, but thank god for that small time tattoo and drug dealing guy, without him we would still be stuck with Tressel. 

Pam's picture

Yes, you have said that before and it doesn't get less ridiculous when you repeat it.

schooey's picture

You make the site look bad. 

Pam's picture

How so?  Your comment is/was ridiculous.

schooey's picture

You are rediculous. I find it ironic that we got Urban Meyer because of this tattoo/drug dealer guy that the kids were hanging around with on a regular basis. Why you need to comment on that comment is not understandable. You are picking a fight with the wrong Buckeye. 

Pam's picture

There was no irony in your comment whatsoever. You said we were "stuck" with Jim Tressel. That is the true meaning of ridiculous. You make a comment, I respond. See how that works?

William's picture

Everybody Love Everybody. But really Pam, didn't say anything outrageous at all, so I don't see why you're continuing this discussion Schooey. Tressel was an incredible coach, so is Meyer, we were never stuck with him. He was here for so long because he was a damn good coach, that's all.

ArTbkward's picture

Stuck with the guy who won nearly 82% of his games, beat scUM nine times and won six B1G championships?  Yeah, that would be tragic.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

SonnyDiego's picture

No offense Schooey but who do you think recruited Miller, Hyde, Simon, Hankins, Shazier, Roby, Buchanan, J. Hall  and the rest of the stud Silver Bullets.  The Tressel era is we hopefully have a new great era happening!!

schooey's picture

It is really hard for me to think that Tressel's success could have continued with no offensive line recruits and Bollman etc. I give OSU's name and history (and state) credit for most of the recruiting done under Tressel. And I also think that tressel wasted much of that talent. Without Clarett there likely would not have been a NC either and he could not get Clarett in order (maybe nobody could have). Tressel had a good run but I do not think that he was all that, IMO.