Michigan Notebook: Simon Shares Team Victory

By Kyle Rowland on November 24, 2012 at 8:35p

John Simon walked slowly to midfield. It was Senior Day in Ohio Stadium, and the Buckeyes’ heart and soul, as Simon is often referred, was ready for his final act. 

John Simon closed out a legendary career.

But a serious knee injury suffered the previous week ended the captain’s career prematurely. Simon finished with a school record-tying four sacks at Wisconsin. He rehabbed throughout the week, but his knee never recovered to the level at which he could play.

Ohio State completed its perfect season without him, knocking off Michigan, 26-21. But many shared the heartbreaking circumstances with Simon.

When Urban Meyer was hired at Ohio State, he quickly grew to admire Simon for his tenacity and work ethic. In the spring, Meyer famously said Simon was “Tebowish,” evoking former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

On Saturday, though, Meyer met Simon near midfield and shared a somber embrace with the injured Buckeye.

“Words can’t describe the leadership that guy has,” senior defensive end Nathan Williams said.

It was evident on Saturday, when Simon poked his head into the defensive huddle on several occasions, exhorting them to punish the Michigan offense.

Simon’s legend grew even more after the California game – a 35-28 Ohio State win – when he played the entire game with an injured shoulder. Simon was virtually limited to only using one arm, but he still harassed Cal quarterback Zach Maynard throughout the game.

In the locker room following the Cal win, Simon delivered a postgame speech that included tears flowing down his cheeks. It impacted the team and coaching staff greatly, leading them to question what they, themselves, had done to contribute to the team.

Michael Bennett, who has also battled injuries, started in Simon’s place Saturday and had a couple missed tackles on big gains by Michigan. The sophomore settled down, though, and finished with a sack and a forced fumble.

True freshmen Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence also received time because of Simon’s absence. Washington forced Michigan’s first fumble, while Spence was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty that extended a Michigan drive in the second quarter that ultimately ended with a touchdown.

“The names (Washington and Spence) are not overrated,” Meyer said. “They’re going to be great players here. They’re going to be great players here, and I appreciate the effort. On top of it, wonderful people.”

Said Washington: “We worked hard. Knowing that I was his backup, I thought I had to live up to his standards and play my hardest.”

While Simon will be missed, it’s the entire senior class that was able to grow close and share a special bond with Meyer.

“It’s almost like you’re losing some of your children when they go away to college,” he said of the departing seniors. “Our house is going to be empty. When we have our team meeting on Tuesday, we start a new journey. The foundation's really, really strong. It couldn't be stronger because of our senior class. That's all I can think about.

“I want to make sure they're properly recognized as one of the great groups of seniors in the history of this program. Maybe we'll get 19 bronze statues somewhere.”

Jim Tressel: Still a legend in Columbus. 

The Triumphant Return

The banks of the Olentangy were rumbling much of the afternoon. But even in victory, perhaps the loudest ovation of the day was reserved for a former head coach who is responsible for Ohio State’s postseason ban.

Jim Tressel made his first appearance in Ohio Stadium since he was dismissed on Memorial Day 2010. Between the first and second quarter, the 2002 national championship team was honored to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.

“I am looking forward to seeing Coach Tressel,” senior right tackle Reid Fragel said earlier in the week. “He’s a great person who I admire very much. I don’t really think it will be awkward. I think everybody is kind of looking forward to seeing him since we haven’t really seen him in a while.

“I don’t think there’s any bad blood with him and the guys on this team at this point. What’s done is done, it happened, and I think everybody has kind of moved on. Not really thinking about the ban situation or anything like that, just looking forward to seeing him.”

The team has a special place in Ohio State history, winning the football program’s seventh and most recent national championship. And they did it in exciting fashion, winning seven of its 14 games by a touchdown or less and two in overtime.

The Fiesta Bowl win over Miami in double overtime is still considered to be one of the greatest games of all time.

As they took the field, the crowd came to its feet to offer a thunderous applause. But the decibel level was raised more when Tressel was lifted up on the shoulders of his former players.

“I just think it’s a blessing to have Coach Meyer and Coach Tressel be there on my Senior Day,” senior safety Orhian Johnson said on Monday. “I couldn’t really have it any other way. Having those 2002 guys coming out there on the field, I think it’ll be a real blessing for me.”

Also present was former running back Maurice Clarett, who has had a checkered past with the university. Clarett spent one season at Ohio State, before his career took a right turn after he filed a false police report. He was suspended for the 2003 season and then accused the university of several NCAA violations. He was eventually drafted by the Denver Broncos.

Clarett served time in prison, but has become a model citizen since his release.

There was plenty to smile about on Saturday.

The First Time is the Best Time

Urban Meyer was emotional Friday afternoon talking about his first Michigan game, and that same emotion showed up in the final minutes Saturday as Ohio State had the game in hand.

With his family at his side – wife Shelley, daughters Nicki and Gigi and son Nate – Meyer realized a moment like this is why he returned to coaching.

“Very emotional time,” Meyer said. “Obviously, this is the state I grew up in, the state that I made a comment in last November that our objective was to make the great state of Ohio proud. I imagine tonight there are a lot of people in this great state very proud of their football team.

“But to be 12-0, it really hasn't sunk in yet.”

The accomplishment is somewhat bittersweet for Meyer and the Buckeyes. When the clock hit 0:00, it not only assured a victory over Michigan - it also signified the end of the season. Instead of preparing for the Big Ten championship game and a possible Rose Bowl or national title game berth, Ohio State is forced to watch the season play out from the sideline.

It is the second time Meyer has coached a team to an undefeated season. The first came in 2004 at Utah. Barring several unexpected losses, Ohio State’s fate will be the same as Utah’s – no national championship. Ironically, each of the Florida teams that won national championships under Meyer had one loss. 

“The quote I’d like out there is I think this team could play and compete with any team in the United States of America as of now,” Meyer said. “I didn't say that several weeks ago because we couldn't. I understand, but I'm not going to get into the what ifs. You can't control what you can't control.

“We're 12-0. I'm going to see to it that when you walk into that Woody Hayes facility this team will never be forgotten, because they deserve that.”


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avail31678's picture

“We're 12-0. I'm going to see to it that when you walk into that Woody Hayes facility this team will never be forgotten, because they deserve that.”

gwalther's picture

So Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer, and Earle Bruce were all in The Shoe today. How sweet is that? And how ridiculous is our lineup of coaches?
Paul Brown. Woody Hayes. Jim Tressel. Urban Meyer. #ridiculous

Class of 2008

dubjayfootball90's picture

That last paragraph...... Meyer gets it..... That is awesome to think about, and this years team is, was, will be, whatever tense you wanna use, something special..... I love this damn team, I love this damn University... I love Ohio State!!!

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

gobucks96's picture

The stories in this article make it easy to be a proud buckeye alum and fan. Well done Johnny Simon, congrats JT on your well deserved return, and enjoy the victory Urban and the buckeyes..
Awesome indeed...

BuckeyeChief's picture

All Flannel Tops, you will be missed. I wished he could've played today.
Any pics posted of the 2002 team?

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

buckeyedude's picture

I agree Chief. I cannot imagine the dedication of John Simon. He was the leader of this 2012 Buckeye squad. On and off the field. I'm so glad that they were able to win it for him.



Arizona_Buckeye's picture

It was an incredilbe day to be at the Horseshoe that I can add to my plethora of other great Buckeye experiences.  The atmosphere is like no other and to cheer on the 2002 Championship team, that I was able to see in person in Arizona was very very special!  Nicely done Buckeyes!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

MediBuck's picture

Sooooo jealous!

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

kmp10's picture

Seeing the 2002 title team carry coach Tressel off the field on their shoulders was very special. The guy has been through so much (all his own doing to be clear) and to see him get the standing ovation and then to be carried off was very emotional. I'm hopeful that today, just maybe, took a little bit of the sting away for Jim Tressel. I hope he feels some form of closure, and knows that, while what happened was tragic and could have easily been avoided, he is a revered michigan killer, and will be remembered as one of the all-time greats in Ohio State history.

BuckeyeCrew's picture

While I agree with most of what you said, in my opinion, you come off as holier-than-thou.  It's really simple: Coach Tressel made a call to protect "his" kids, and the Ohio State University, over an issue that involved tats for autographs.  (<-- Please read that again, and let it sink in).  He took that risk and PAID for it with his OSU career.  In years to come, people will look back at it and think, "man, the NCAA was absurd with its rules, back then".
I would have done the same thing he did, and I can tell you right now, the fact that he took those actions NEVER changed my opinion of him. 
I've said it before: When one follows the rules, it doesn't mean one is always taking the right course of action.

DefendYoungstown's picture

Well said Buckeyecrew, well said.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

BuckeyeCrew's picture

Thank you.  I expect fans from other schools to bash incessantly with the likes of, "They honored a cheater", or "He's been a crook since Youngstown St.!" 
But I expect Buckeyes, especially those who live in and around Columbus, to know the true Coach Tressel.  I don't know why he made the decisions that led to his consequent demise, but I can't imagine that his reasoning was entirely self-serving.  Some of it?  Sure.  Most of it?  Not likely.
There are probably 100 stories about Coach Tressel's good character (e.g. Google "Drushawn Humphrey Tressel"); the sad fact is that most outside of Ohio just don't care.   I DO care.  Character matters to me, a lot, and I am not so brain-dead as to see the world, or an individual, in "black&white".  Furthermore, I don't let one or even five incidents change my mind about an individual who has been an exemplary human being, for his time as head coach of tOSU, and from what I have heard, his entire life. 
If people don't want to take it from me, then take it from Maurice Clarett, a man who lashed out and disparaged Coach Tressel during his (self)destructive years, even while Coach stuck by him, regardless of the denigration:
"You can’t be a fraud for 30 years. It’s impossible, you know what I’m saying? People could smell a fraud within the first few months. You’re going to be exposed. But for 30 years that man has been respected by the people who are very respectable throughout the country. It’s not right for that man to get done like that.”

brylee's picture

wish i could upvote this multiple times.
Bringing Tressel in, and going 12-0...  gotta love it...puttin it straight the noses of the ncaa, as well as all of those media bastards that have had nothing but hate for THE Ohio State University.

sb97's picture

There are a lot of sports media types that are acting all surprised the Tress received such a warm welcome.  Its time to accept that he lost a job he clearly loved and was sanctioned in his chosen profession.  He has paid for his transgressions and it is time for some folks to let it go.
It was great to send him out in style.

Hovenaut's picture

Amen to that.

The whole "timing of it all" nonsense was nothing but. I agonized over it all two years ago, made my peace with the mistakes made by those involved (especially Coach Tressel).

No question in my mind that the 02 team, with their coach, be honored today. Made a great day that much greater.

For those that hate, hate on. We're 12-0, and still the 2002 National Champions.

Can't wait to add to that, hopefully next year!

Go Bucks!

Poison nuts's picture

Yeah I'm gonna do something I do do often here, but it's warranted. Those media types complaining about Tress being welcomed back...fuck those those people.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Frankly Scarlet's picture

The national sports media once again brought out buckets of venom for JT and the OSU crowd today. I say to heck with all of them, we're 12-0, and nothing we ever do will mKe them express favorable opinions toward Ohio State or Jim Tressel.  

"Buclkle your chinstrap, we're gonna grind meat!" - Woody Hayes  

bucknut3011's picture

I got the feeling various media outlets were pullilng for TTUN.  Small things, like when TTUN scored its first TD and ABC put the words to 'Hail to Victors' on the screen.  I did not see that for us.  And all of the stories for the past couple of days seemed to focus on TTUN and what they needed to do to win.

buckeyedude's picture

I got the feeling various media outlets were pullilng for TTUN.   like when TTUN scored its first TD and ABC put the words to 'Hail to Victors' on the screen.  I did not see that for us.

Saw it. It wasn't so subtle. And I thought the same damn thing. What the hell is this?



MediBuck's picture

Me three. At least it was in that disgusting Christmasy MS Word 1995 font. Fail to the Victors indeed.

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

Doc's picture

I just got back home from the game.  WOW! What a great day.  I have a quick question.  Why did Flounder run under south stands during the second half?  My wife thinks he was either dropping a deuce or getting more nachos.  He wasn't gone long, I'm guessing nachos.  Was there anything said about it on the telecast?

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

javalen's picture

One of my favorite parts of the game was when the Tressel chant started.
Loved loved loved this game and this team :DD

gravey's picture

I am wondering if that "Hail to the Victors" thing was some kind of computer hacker thing.  It looked cheesy, like some kind of "Happy Holidays" screen overdub from a 1979 Rose Bowl or something.
I hate ESPN more than most, but having ESPN/ABC put the fight song of one team across the screen and then not do it for another is so bad only Mark May would have done it...or a hacker.
Anybody know anything?


It's called ESPN being the biggest Buckeye bashers in the entire media. Any chance they had to point out OSU wasnt going to the BCS and "whether it was appropriate Tressel attended today's game" they jumped on it. Today was a huge extended middle finger to ESPN, the NCAA, the SEC and the rest of the college football world. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Brutus&#039; Left Nut's picture

I don't think that ESPN has been nearly as bad this year as others.  With Urban here (who is a ESPN darling and former commentator), I think that the treatment of tOSU has changed.  They have to make Urban seem great or it makes their judgment in hiring him as a commentator seem poor.  Mark May is still a prick, but ESPN airing Training Days shows that ESPN is not completely anti-OSU anymore.  That show helped recruiting (and thus actually helped the team), which has a much bigger impact than putting up the words of the fight song of an inferior team and exposing TSUN for the snooty wanna be aristrocrats that they are.

KillerNut's picture

ESPiN did that on purpose. Notice that the commentating was pretty heavy Buckeyes (we salute you Mr. Spielman) yet everything from highlight reels to cheesy fight song lyrics to sideline story reporting was 90% tsun. ESPiN can't resist a little OSU hating. Heck even BTN roots against the Buckeyes. Price of being great

Brutus's picture

Spielman's commenting was fairly neutral.  The rest of the commentating was decidedly anti-OSU. McDonough brought up the sanctions and imposed bowl ban at least once a quarter and I'd bet it was more like twice a quarter.  I'm ok with that. The bowl ban is a very relevant subplot. The audience doesn't need to hear it every 15 minutes but fine. Where McDonough went over the top was the JT thing. After the ceremony during the second quarter, McDonough expresses almost shock that JT got a rousing ovation. He asks Spielman about it, Spielman gives an answer, and done.  Then for some reason, McDonough brings it up again late in the game for seemingly no good reason.  He again asks Spielman about it as if his answer is going to change.  Finally, after the game, the sideline reporter stops Meyer for post game interview and asks how it all feels now that we have nothing else to play for.  I don't remember how the question was worded, but it just seemed like it was very forced and out of context given the circumstances.
I don't believe in conspiracy theories and I've always challenged the idea that ESPN has a bias against us.  But when they scroll that JT got a standing ovation on the ticker at the bottom of the screen, as if that's somehow noteworthy, I really have to wonder.

BuckeyeCrew's picture

Brutus, I was so irritated, and frankly surprised, by McDonough's jibing commentary, that I contemplated muting for the rest of the game.  (Spielman was the only reason I did not) As you say, I wasn't so ticked-off by McDonough's first query regarding the subject, but the continued insults -and yes, he had to have known they would come off that way- masquerading as questions, were too much.  I don't know how Spiels resisted the urge to choke him. 
I mean really, wth did anyone, ESPN jackwagons included, expect?  People in Columbus know Coach Tressel as a man, not just for his victories on the field.  His players love him.  Most people do as well, in the state. 
I cannot wait until the NBC Sports network gets a couple of years under its belt; I will be watching them for sure, if they come to rival ESPNs coverage-might.

BeijingBucks's picture

I fully agree with the irritation as well. Though the 'Hail to the Victors' text scroll was the most puzzling, the sea of red on the field after the game (that even Moses couldn't part) salved all wounds.
I was pondering how only Buckeye fans can appreciate, during the culmination of Hate week no less, how Tressel...
A) reversed the Bucks fortunes against Michigan after being owned for a decade to complete domination of the little boys blue
B) won a Nat'l Champship ring which we kept 'just' missing during the Coop years (not to mention his BCS record)
C) maintained a consistently winning program that did not suffer the usual rise and fall of program success
sorry, what's not to applaud?
He even departed at the perfect moment to give us Urban Meyer. Booyah!!
all your base are belong to us

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Urban Ohio's picture

I rarely watch ESPEE'N.  I read CBS Sports online which is 10 times better than espn (check it out if you don't). The only time to watch "that OSU hater channel" is when the Bucks are on it and you have no other choice. Go Bucks!!!
Thank you Seniors, and John Simon go tear up the NFL.

Newcomerstown Trojans between Woody and Beaver.

MediBuck's picture

So excited that we were able to send Simon out with a big win. It must've killed the big guy to not be out there for such a huge occasion.

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

headina's picture

Was at the game and the atmosphere was unreal. Should have been a larger margin of victory after forcing 4 turnovers but a win is a win. 12-0 is 12-0. Seeing the 2002 team and cheering tressel was awesome. GO BUCKS



I vote for bringing Tressel back for every Michigan game. Even his mere presence spooks TSUN. Going to miss seeing Simon terrorizing opposing offenses. If you ask me we will miss him more than we will Hankins. Still holding onto the tiny sliver of hope he comes back so he can be the No. 1 player taken in the 2014 NFL draft. Roby too.
I will also admit, when I heard Simon wasnt playing today my initial reaction was horror. But Spence and Washington stepped up BIG TIME. If you would have told me before kickoff that we would have shut down Michigan in the second half without Simon I probably wouldn't have believed you.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

buckeyepastor's picture

I was very, very concerned when they announced his injury pre-game.  Such an amazing effort from our defense in the 2nd half.  Michigan helped things by not trying to do things with Denard in the 4th quarter, but still we completely swarmed and overpowered them.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

The ENTIRE stadium was very concerned and you could feel the collective 'oh god no' feeling as he limped out to meet Urban at mid-field.  It was a complete punch to the gut because 1- he would not be out on the field, but 2 - it was just so sad to know that he would not be able to play in his last game in the Shoe against TSUN.  I am just so overjoyed that the defense use him to propel this team to a huge victory!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

gwalther's picture


Class of 2008

buckeyepastor's picture

Did Hoke get to shake Meyer's hand?   On TV, Meyer was being interviewed and at the end of the interview they mentioned he was going to talk greet and shake hands with Mattison, and then they showed Hoke jogging off.  Did the interview happen after he'd already found Hoke, or did Flounder run off without any contact with Meyer?   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

KillerNut's picture

No. Early speculation is that Hoke saw a buffet and ran (or rolled, cannot tell which) for it


Sizzler must've had a special going on LOL

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Jarrett's picture

12 and O-H, can't be any better and it feels great. It also feels great to know I share a lot of the same feeling about Tressel, The Buckeyes and Coach Meyer, on this site. This feels like home in a way. I KNOW there are other's that share my same irritation (media reporting about Tressel not welcomed, that stupid ichigan lyric, ESPN's constant jabs, etc) now. Go Bucks! 

When I saw their fight song lyrics I was appalled. Really? You've gone THAT far? So, again, I'm thrilled to see so many people recognize it and comment. Screw the blue! 
The second I saw Spielman was in the booth I relaxed- you knew he was going to balance things out and I think he did a great job doing that. Good job Chris (again)!!!
Wow, Kirk Herbstreit,couldn't even wear a red tie or anything subtle w/his grey suite? Purple? Even Desomnd Howard didn't have the guts to wear his teams colors. I'm amazed any Buckeye could resist wearing our colors on The Day of The Game. WTF? *NOT that I'm a fashion plate- just know that I'd never be caught wearing anything NOT Ohio State or scarlet and grey on the biggest day of the year- how could any Buckeye not think the same way? 
The Game...I thought we were going to blow it w/the field goals vs. TD's but when you think of it, how perfect?! Tressel LOVED the kicking game/field goals! So, I totally expect us to rock that team up north by at least 21 next year, since Tress probably won't be in attendance at the big shit house! 
Proud of our kids, proud of the program and it feels good to be a Buckeye. 

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." Groucho Marx 


Jarrett's picture

Just curious- did Flounder shake the hand of The Victor post-game, or did he run off w/out doing so? I didn't seem them do it but TV coverage is sketchy after games....

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." Groucho Marx 


luckynutz's picture

I saw jabba running off the field. Moving pretty fast. Probably had to get to his box of twinkies he snagged for 70 dollars on ebay. Comfort food. Ease the pain of realizing his win last year was a fluke. Man that guys fat.

JLP36's picture

Why wouldn't the 2002 team carry him out on their shoulders.  They love him.  He came in turned it around and took them to the promised land.  All of his former players love him and say so all the time, including players currently playing - who in true ncaa style were punished for his wrongdoing.  They know him best and have the best perspective on the whole thing.  but I guess there is that rigged camp raffle issue hanging over the 2002 team...


osubuckeye4life's picture

There was so much to be happy about yesterday. 
I loved seeing JT get the fitting honor he should receive. He did great things for the school and the community. He made a few mistakes and payed for them by losing his job. 
It was heart wrenching to see Simon in street clothes. John, thanks for everything you have done on and off the field. Not many people come along with your kind of work ethic and it will be missed (hopefully, it rubbed off on some of the underclassmen).
Awesome quote in the last paragraph. Meyer truly gets it
I picked up an Urban Meyer black gold pants shirt today. It's awesome has all the scores to the games on the back also!
2012 Leaders Champs

toad1204's picture

May Mr Simon be drafted in the late second round and go on to be an All Star and Super Bowl winner.  And of course come back and relieve Vrabel.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

Alhan's picture

I didn't even know Simon was out until I saw him walking out to mid-field as the seniors were being honored before the game.  I feel bad for him that he wasn't able to get in the game and get his licks, but glad he was able to finish his career at tOSU with an undefeated season.
He will indeed be missed, but I know that some of the young'uns that he helped mold will pick up his torch and carry it on!

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke