Leaders Division Championship is the Goal

By Kyle Rowland on September 25, 2012 at 5:00p

In the lead up to the season’s second game against Central Florida, it was learned that Ohio State could win a Leaders Division title. Because of the Buckeyes' ineligibility to appear in the Big Ten championship game, any hope Ohio State had at winning some sort of championship in 2012 was lost. 

What the Buckeyes are playing for.

But when word came down that Ohio State could, in fact, add another championship to its already bloated trophy case, head coach Urban Meyer wasn’t all that interested.

“I never heard that,” said Meyer, when told of the new development on Sept. 5. “I never thought about it. And it’s not going to make us play harder on Saturday (against UCF). But I think at some point in November, yeah, that would be interesting,”

Make that late September. On Saturday, Ohio State opens conference play in East Lansing against 20th-ranked Michigan State. And so begins the march to a Leaders Division championship.

“The first time we talked about that was yesterday in our team ‘State of the Union’ meeting,” Meyer said on Monday. “(We told them) you have an opportunity to go win your side of the Big Ten. So that is a goal, and that was not a goal when we were playing UAB and Miami and Central Florida and Cal. It's a goal now. That's why we addressed it.”

The Buckeyes have won 36 conference championships in their 121-year history. Thirty-four of those have come as a member of the Big Ten, second only to Michigan’s 42. Ohio State’s 2010 conference championship was vacated due to NCAA violations. Up to that point, Ohio State had won an unprecedented six consecutive Big Ten titles.

But the Big Ten’s premier program took a step back in 2011, posting a 3-5 conference record, Ohio State’s first losing Big Ten season since 1999. One year later, Meyer has his team primed for additional hardware and rings.

“Are we playing for something? You're darned right we are,” he said. “It's really important here. Look around. Really important.”

Ohio State is still on track to be "a hell of a football team."

Bright Future?

The Big Ten is bad. There really isn’t much debating the topic; the first four weeks of the season have said enough.

Ohio State is average. Meyer has repeated that line since the season-opening win over Miami (Ohio). Undefeated and ranked in the top-15 of the country, Meyer didn’t expect to have so much uncertainty on both sides of the ball.

“I thought we'd be further ahead,” he said. “I was well aware of our shortcomings. I didn't foresee an injury to one of our defensive ends. I didn't foresee that we missed two defensive backs. I thought we'd be more aggressive in certain areas.”

But entering Big Ten play, Meyer believes his 4-0 squad is on the cusp of something big.

“I know we're Ohio State, and there's all kinds of expectations here,” he said. “And I still am not giving up. I think by the end of the year this might be hell of a football team. Might be sooner than that.”

Much will be learned Saturday at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State is the first ranked opponent the Buckeyes have faced and it also doubles as the first road and conference game. Michigan State is an early three-point favorite.

Slow starts, whether in the first quarter or coming out of the locker room after halftime, have been a theme for the 2012 Buckeyes. They’ve scored 20 points in the first quarter and 28 in the third. On defense, it’s been more of the same. The Buckeyes trailed in the first quarter to Miami and Alabama-Birmingham and allowed second-half runs by UCF and California.

“One thing about this team, when it's time to go win a game, to date they've gone and won a game,” Meyer said. “But we are what we are right now, and that's just a workmanlike team that has to get better.

“At the end of the day your job is to go win a game.”

The next two weeks will go a long way in determining the Big Ten championship race. Ohio State plays at Michigan State and hosts Nebraska at night. The games aren’t must-wins for the teams, but they’ll certainly have a leg up on the competition if they win them.

“By the end of the year I think people will be saying great things about Ohio State,” Meyer said. “I really do.”

On second thought, Saturday wasn't so bad, says Meyer.

Love Tape

Sloppy play and close victories against teams Ohio State was favored to beat by multiple touchdowns have not sat well with Meyer. The most recent win, 29-15 over UAB, was the topper in terms of being left unsatisfied.

The previous week it was co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell who couldn’t sleep soundly after a lackluster performance by the Buckeyes. After Saturday’s game, Meyer couldn’t get rid of the uneasy feeling he had.

On Sunday, he had a staff member put together a tape of Ohio State’s four scoring drives against UAB.

“I have to eat lunch, and I wasn't about to eat lunch after what I saw,” Meyer said. “I said, ‘Put together two, three, four good drives for me.’”

Meyer called those four drives “about as well done as we played all year.” So when the team came in later that afternoon, their spirits were lifted when they viewed the “good” game tape.

“That's all we're going to show them,” Meyer said. “I want these guys with a great taste in their mouth [to] get ready to go play a big-time college football game. That doesn't mean go pull out a couple of plays we have to have corrected. Let's go have a positive week.”

Meyer’s counterpart at Michigan State, Mark Dantonio, appears to have taken a different approach. He issued short answers in his postgame press conference Saturday before abruptly ending the media availability after the Spartans’ 23-7 win over Eastern Michigan. On Monday, Michigan State announced players would be off limits to the media throughout the week.

“I feel much better,” Meyer said.

The Passing of Jason Winrow

There was an unmistakable sadness to Monday, after it was reported former Ohio State offensive lineman Jason Winrow died. He was 41.

Winrow, a native of Bridgeton, N.J., was a guard for the Buckeyes from 1989-1993. He earned All-Big Ten honors as a senior and was drafted by the New York Giants in the sixth round of the 1994 NFL Draft. Winrow played for the Giants for three seasons, but retired after the 1996 season due to back and knee injuries.

Following retirement, Winrow returned to Columbus where he appeared on WBNS-Channel 10 as an Ohio State football analyst.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that a family spokesman said Winrow, who had undergone major surgical procedures on both feet in recent months, will undergo an autopsy to determine the cause of death. He was previously diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Winrow is survived by his wife and three children. Ohio State will hold a memorial service for Winrow at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Fawcett Center auditorium.


Comments Show All Comments

btalbert25's picture

So  you are saying.......TIM BRANDO WAS RIGHT!!!!!!!! That's what he'll be tweeting if he reads that now Urban is infact using this as a motivational tool.

BUCKfutter's picture

ha i was just thinking the same thing. that being said, winning our side of the conference shouldn't exactly be rocket science; conversely, if we don't, it makes us look really really bad.

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

JohnBoy's picture

Brando took another shot at us on the SEC today show at 3:30 last week....when discussing our win he said something like "29-15...UAB....really?" What an assclown.
Gotta run....I need to take a Tim and wipe my Brando before dinner.

Thank you sir! May I have another?

bigbill992001's picture

I see nothing wrong with Brando's comment.    AU f**kingB?.......29-15

Alhan's picture

I believe you mean "no-talent ass-clown".

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

buckeye76BHop's picture

Who cares what that no talent ass clown thinks...he along with Mark May should start their own "I Hate OSU" book club.  

"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 

Alhan's picture

BHOP's got it!  If I had read one more comment before posting...

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

tampa buckeye's picture

Maybe since this is a 330 start time we can get off to a better start.  

JohnBoy's picture

If this was a night game it would be off the chain!

Thank you sir! May I have another?

willshire58's picture

That is a very bland looking trophy.

phxbuck's picture

It is a very B10 trophy looking. 

bukyze's picture

It looks like a JD Power and Associates award given to a Toyota Camry.

SonOfBuckeye's picture

Not a surprise that the zombie PR staff who inflicted "Leaders" and "Legends" on us would compound the offense with a depressing knickknack like that.

tennbuckeye19's picture

My guess is that this guy designed it:


BUCKfutter's picture

striking resemblence?

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

MediBuck's picture

Oh my god. Never noticed it until now...

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

buckeyeEddie27's picture

^ this guy is more Dantonio than anyone.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

tennbuckeye19's picture

To me Dantonio is more Sling Blade than Sam the Eagle:

"Umm. Hmm. I reckon Sparty gonna be Sparty. Umm. Hmm..."

headina's picture

I reckon they taste like French fried taters too mmmm hmmmmm


Texas Buckeye's picture

Currently dying of laughter just thinking about that!

It's true... We really are a bunch of nuts!
Go Bucks!

Menexenus's picture

Delany's fly-away eyebrow creeps me out...

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Jeremy91's picture

I don't feel like we are as bad as everyone is saying. Are there problems that need to be address? No doubt. But you could say that about every team save Alabama and Oregon. The top two teams in the country. Personally, I can't wait to watch the Buckeyes open up the playbook against sparty and show everyone just what this offense is capable of doing.

"Do not pray for an easy life. Rather, pray for the the strength to endure a difficult one" - Bruce Lee

bukyze's picture

I think the key is for Braxton to be able to consistently throw a halfway decent deepball.  If we can stretch the field a little bit, we can get the TE's open underneath.  I don't know if El Guapo is playing or not, but it sure would be nice to have the bruiser back, to go along with Hall.  I think we're going to need a little bit of a power running game against Sparty.  Personally, I love seeing Boren bust open holes for Hyde.

MediBuck's picture

I wouldn't be surprised if Meyer elects to start with the ball if he wins the toss, goes aggressive and gambles on fourth down early (and tries to put a couple points on the board). I see Braxton getting 20+ touches, Hall in the slot quite a bit, and Philly motioning frequently into the backfield.
To beat Sparty, we need them to play by our rules: namely, from behind and through the air, where our opportunistic secondary can cover for our weak pass rush.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

Culp's Freaking Hill's picture

If that happens and we fail on the 4th down scenerio, we are screwed.

Twitter: @conquestnorman

bigbill992001's picture

Maybe we ARE as bad as some think.    We've had the same issues since the 1st game and they havent been resolved.

JohnBoy's picture

From your keyboard to God's inbox.....I so hope you are right.

Thank you sir! May I have another?

WC Buckeye's picture

Here, here. He was a good guy.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

CowCat's picture

Winrow graduated the same year as me. RIP.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

buckeye76BHop's picture

RIP Winrow...

"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 

BoFuquel's picture

If we win 4 more games this season, that's a 25% increase in profits year over year.Anytime my profts went up 25% in year it was time raises all around. Especially for me sense I was the top dog.That would mean Eggersmith would both be in line for a huge increase in compinsation.That's bidness,and this is big bidness.GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

headina's picture

RIP Winrow. So sad.


cajunbuckeye's picture

If the trophy is 4 feet tall it's awesome. Condolences to the Winrow family.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Alex's picture

Love Meyer showing only positive film...these guys hear all the bad in the media they can use some confidence 

dbit's picture

Psychology is the best major...
but I'm not biased, I swear.

JohnBoy's picture

I agree....even though UFM's methods are tried and true, I cringe a little when he calls out players and position groups. I guess I'm not used to it.
I think they've heard enough bad.

Thank you sir! May I have another?

bukyze's picture

I'm with you Johnboy - I'm not used to a coach calling it the way it is in public.  I was thinking too much negativity could easily be affecting the team (even though he may be completely opposite behind closed doors).  I always support being as positive as possible, and giving the players/team a personal kick in the ass when they need it.

gwalther's picture

Ending the night with 11W, and probably starting my morning with coffee and an 11W Skull Session. Gotta enjoy the small blessings in life.

Class of 2008

buckeyedude's picture

LOL. I agree GWalther. I check 11W before I check the news. One has to have their priorities in order.



Boxley's picture

^^^^ Double check agree. Besides its election time and who wants to see any of the current news crap.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

gwalther's picture

Agree. Then again, 11W IS my news.. Haha.

Class of 2008

Haybucks's picture

Most trophies are named after a great individual for whom best exemplifies that honor.  So, why can't I see JT's name anywhere on it?  Although the Leaders Trophy is not asthetically pleasing, at least it should have some class.

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Jdadams01's picture

A nice motivational tactic that Meyer can use is that OSU has never won a Leaders division trophy. They would be the first to put that trophy in the case.

Grayskullsession's picture

Hopefully Sparty is Sparty on Saturday and finds some way to choke away the game. I have to agree that the trophy is very underwhelming, but I am not surprised when someone like Jim Delany is running the conference for it to be exciting or anything.

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

RBuck's picture

When I first glanced at the tropy pic I wondered, "Why the hell is a picture of a parking meter in this article".

Long live the southend.

shortbus20's picture

Jason and Dom were great together on wall to wall sports. will miss his humor...

  • shortbus20