The State of Ohio: Proud

By Kyle Rowland on November 27, 2012 at 10:00a

One year ago, Urban Meyer was introduced as Ohio State’s head football coach. At his introductory press conference, he spoke of how he wanted to make the state of Ohio proud and that it could happen because the football program wasn’t broken. 

Urban Meyer gets a Gatorade shower after the Buckeyes finish 12-0Ohio shows its pride with a Gatorade shower.

Meyer proved that by leading the Buckeyes to a 12-0 season just one year removed from seven losses. As the final seconds ticked off the clock Saturday afternoon in Ohio Stadium, more than 11.5 million Ohioans celebrated in unison. From Toledo to Pomeroy, Cincinnati to Ashtabula, Meyer’s goal had come to fruition.

But now the hard part comes – sustaining that success and keeping the current players hungry. Complacency is common after teams win championships and have undefeated seasons. That’s the battle Meyer and his coaches will have to face for the next year.

Step one came Monday morning when part of the Ohio State roster reported for a 6 a.m. workout at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with strength coach Mickey Marotti. Meyer and his assistants are not permitted by NCAA rules to observe offseason drills.

Staff meetings galore have already taken place in the few hours following Saturday’s 26-21 win over Michigan. Just because the Buckeyes have no conference championship game or bowl to prepare for doesn’t mean the work stops.

“We need an angry team next year,” Meyer said. “If we have to manufacture that, we will. If something was taken from you, we’re going to use that. We’re going to use a lot of things, but we’re going to try to push that to get an angry team.”

What Meyer had in 2012 was a self-sacrificing bunch. No seniors left when the postseason ban was handed down, no one said no when the coaching staff asked for extra contributions during practice and games, players played out of position and backups stepped into leading roles. In a word, Ohio State was a team.

“The memory that I’ll always have of this season, without getting overly dramatic, is just the complete selflessness,” Meyer said. “Arguably the best I’ve ever seen. You always talk about team, and it’s a cliché that every coach dreams of.

“You’re always taught as young kids to put the team before (yourself) and all that. But how many times does that actually happen? It’s rare, but there’s example after example of this team doing that.”

It was the senior class that personified that selflessness. Zach Boren, Etienne Sabino and John Simon, all captains, did everything that was asked of them. It’s a trait that exposes itself in all great teams, including Meyer’s 2004 undefeated Utah team and 2006 and 2008 national championship teams at Florida.

Etienne Sabino, Zach Boren and John Simon at Big Ten Media Days in ChicagoThree seniors went to Chicago, hoping for a great 2012.

“This group just has incredible character, determination and genuine love for one another," said Meyer, about the 2012 Buckeyes. “For those of you who’ve never played the game or covered it or been around those kind of people, it’s real – I witnessed it, I saw it. I saw a team that had holes and filled holes.”

But those attributes didn’t always define the 2012 Ohio State football team. The first four games were sloppy affairs, though they each resulted in a win. Week Five brought the season’s first road trip, at Michigan State. At the time, the Spartans were thought to be a favorite in the Big Ten. That stock dropped throughout the season, but it didn’t diminish what happened in an East Lansing hotel ballroom on Sept. 29 at 11:22 a.m.

It was then that Meyer, his coaching staff and the players realized they were onto something.

“That’s when I saw it,” Meyer said. “Up until then, I didn’t think we had them, to be honest with you. They weren’t playing like it and they weren’t acting like it.”

Ohio State didn’t have its best game of the season that day – the Buckeyes turned the ball over three times – but it overcame the mistakes and leaned on the defense to grind out the Big Ten-style victory.

Seven games later, the Buckeyes finished just the sixth perfect season in school history. It’s a team, according to Meyer, that can play with anyone in America.

Next season, Ohio State will have the opportunity to play in the national championship game if all goes well. But it will have to do so without eight starters from the 2012 team, including six on defense. That number could grow depending on what junior defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins and redshirt sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby decide regarding their possible NFL futures.

Meyer said he has not spoken to either about their impending decisions, but added that he will do so when they ask.

With Sabino and Boren departing, the linebacker position is by far Ohio State’s biggest hole entering next season. Sophomore Ryan Shazier, the leading tackler from 2012, returns, but behind him is a group of young and inexperienced players.

“That’s the weakest area of our team,” Meyer said of the linebackers. “We’re losing a right tackle (Reid Fragel). I worry about the depth behind those guys, but next year I feel our offensive line will be very good. I worry about cornerback a little bit because we’re losing a really good player in Travis (Howard). The D-line, I think there are some good young players, but you’re losing a guy like John Simon.”

Orhian Johnson, Urban Meyer and Johnathan Hankins soak it in on the field in MadisonIt wasn't easy, but they bought in.

Ohio State’s nine assistants are assured of returning, unless, of course, other schools come calling. Meyer was used to losing talented assistants at Florida, and the same trend could develop in Columbus.

That list could include defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, someone Meyer was concerned about after Indiana scored 49 points against the Buckeyes in October. But Fickell and the rest of the defensive staff rallied and put the shiny exterior back on the Silver Bullets.

“I did have the same concerns that probably every person in America had in watching our defense play,” Meyer said. “You can see the steady growth of our defensive staff. I don’t want to use the word phenomenal, but I felt the comfort level between Everett Withers and – Mike Vrabel's never coached D-line before, and it really showed his experience as that group developed.”

The biggest piece to the Buckeyes’ 12-0 season was unquestionably the play of dynamic quarterback Braxton Miller. He accounted for 3,310 total yards, an Ohio State single-season record, breaking a 17-year mark held by Bobby Hoying. Miller threw for 2,039 yards and rushed for 1,271 yards with 28 total touchdowns. The sophomore averaged more than 275 total yards per game.

Still, while Meyer may have counted Miller among the Heisman Trophy candidates, the head coach didn’t walk away from 2012 awestruck. That’s what is in store for the future – at least he hopes.

“Our quarterback was not the most fundamental quarterback in the country, so (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) Tom Herman and I are going to have a talk about that,” Meyer said.

“A quarterback, he has to run the show, and he did not a year ago. And he certainly did not early in this year. But he began. I saw him call the team together and say some things to them. So he still has a long way to go. If he becomes the best fundamental quarterback in America, I think he’ll be the best quarterback in America. I think it'll be comical what he’ll do.”

The Meyer family is hoping for added achievements as Urban’s coaching career at Ohio State continues. But more important is the contract he lived up to. No, not the one that pays him million. The pink one he took out of his pocket last November.

A reenergized Meyer lived up to daughter Nicki’s demands and paid for doing so – literally.

“Every Sunday I busted out of here at noon and went and watched my son (Nate) play football,” Meyer said. “That would have never happened (before).

“I was 15 minutes late and getting texts from my wife (Shelley) saying, ‘You’d better get here.’ So I went through a couple of red lights. That’s 50 bucks, but it was worth it. 

“Great story, isn’t it?”


Comments Show All Comments

Larryp713's picture

Great story indeed. I am not going to worry just yet about sustaining this into next year and beyond. I am really still enjoying a team finding a way to win 12 games, no matter what it takes. Very much like 2002. We all have new heros to tell our children about. Thanks to these 2012 Buckeyes!



Poison nuts's picture

So proud!

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

Denny's picture

Anxiously awaiting the 'Urban Meyer is a scofflaw just like Jim Tressel OSU Cheatorz' articles when people get a hold of Meyer's quote about running red lights.
Man, I'm gonna miss this team :(


clogan1032's picture

Great Team, and a great year.  I would love for Hank and Roby to stay but I think Hank is gone.  I believe it is in Roby's best interest to stay another year, no way he stays for his senior year though.  Gonna miss this team, but I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

BuckeyeMark's picture

Great article but I didn't quite get this line:
That stock dropped throughout the season, but it didn’t diminish what happened in an East Lansing hotel ballroom on Sept. 29 at 11:22 a.m.
It was then that Meyer, his coaching staff and the players realized they were onto something.
Did something happen in the ballroom?  What did Meyer see there at 11:22 a.m.?

shortbus20's picture

Boren made a speech to his teammates about Buckeye pride.

  • shortbus20
BuckeyeMark's picture

ah - thanks very much!

blazers34's picture

Couldnt be more proud.  What a bounce back year!  There are great things ahead, even if each season doesnt end undefeated!

slicksickle's picture

Its my hope that the fans will sit back and enjoy this season before pressing for 'what could be' with next season. We're losing a bunch on D, all of which were our biggest motivators and people who played with the most heart, not to mention sans Shazier all of our top tacklers. Next year might not be a perfect season, and we as fans need to make sure we appreciate everything this team did this year before pressing for another perfect season. It'll be hard to do 26-0.

timdogdad's picture

i love how we can carry the 12-0 season with us throughout the next few months. during the normal day, just thinking of it is awesome.  plus the small rewards-newspaper clippings on fridges and desks, t shirts, hats.   i mean dude, 12-0 we reached the zenith, we didn't lose.  that's epic.  

Oyster's picture

And can't believe the City of Columbus has the nerve to give him those tickets.  Mike Coleman is a Communist and a closet ttun fan!

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

gosolow2000's picture

He broke the law and paid the fine. Do you really want to throw that to the media, " Coach Meyer doesn't have to pay speeding tickets "?

Oyster's picture

It was a joke, lighten up, Francis.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

Ahh Saturday's picture

Losing Simon and Boren will hurt some on the field, though I think there is talent to replace them.  What I really worry about is who will replace them in the locker room.  Who will be the leaders on this team for next season?

jrich612's picture

Braxton, Philly, Hyde, Roby and Shazier

bassplayer7770's picture

Assuming the Captains will be Seniors, I'll go with Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde, Barnett or Bryant, Philly Brown, and Kenny G.  If Hank sticks around, I'd add him to this list.  Honorable mention goes to Mewhort, Norwell, and Linsley.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Personally, given the hand that was dealt to the us, I am glad that we are not bowling this year! Why?  Here are just a few random thoughts:
Given the current rankings, I doubt that the Buckeyes would have been invited to the championship if we hadn't been banned from post season play.  The biggest, most intense emotional apex was reached on the field after kicking the shit out of michigan and I doubt it could be equaled or exceeded in a bowl game not carrying the BCS Championship as a reward. 
Although we lose several team practices, we gain a full month and 1/2 of Urban and staff racing across the country talking to recruits with little or no competition. It affords the staff way more time to contact recruits than those coaches preparing for a bowl game - and we saw how that worked out last year!  Yeah, we miss a few practices as a team, but potential upside of Urban on the recruiting trail is quite huge!!!
Right now, OSU is on extreme levels of positive waves throughout the media and the country and that will most certainly help in the minds of the recruits.  We went 12 - 0 during a complete throw away season which very few people thought was a realistic possibility.  We have Urban Meyer and staff out talking to kids about the potential once it REALLY get's up and running.  That could be heavily damaged with a poor showing in a bowl game.
After a very very very long period of time, we can now officially put the Tatgate and Vestgate scandals behind us!!!  The Tressel to Urban transitional period has ended with the victory over AACC.  There is no longer the need to backfill every single Buckeye story about this team with a brief blurb about what happened that led OSU to hiring Urban Meyer.  It is now officially Urban's team!
The football community, especially the B1G now have all year to chew on the fact that Urban f@#$ing Meyer took OSU from 6 - 7 to 12 - 0 in his first year!  The only thing that can be bouncing around their heads is JFC, this guy hasn't even remotely gotten started yet!  It is going to invoke many sleepless nights with more than a few coaches. 
The bowl ban seems to have created an up against the world mentality and it was amplified by winning every single game we could.  It illustrates the tough team, find a way to win attitude that plays out very well on the recruiting trail.  If we were bowl eligible and not invited to the big dance, or even if we were invited quite frankly, that would only evoke a months worth of chatter about how 'overrated' we are and playing in a down conference.  As it stands now, we're a 12 - 0 team that overachieved in the face of adversity!
The B1G was a joke this year and every story I've read holds up only Ohio State as the lone standing stud of the conference.  How freaking great is that publicity going to be during the bowl season - free and positive!!!
Anyway, that is just my opinion - I could be wrong.

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

buckeye76BHop's picture

I think it's up for debate if a 13-0 OSU team who twice beat a now 12th ranked NEB well and also when they were ranked 21st.  I'd put my bottom dollar that a 13-0 OSU team plays a 12-0 Notre Dame for the NC.  It will never come to fruition obviously, but I don't see a one loss SEC team over stepping an undefeated OSU team.  Most of you aren't factoring in how much revenue the blood sucking ESPN and others could get from that game.  Which would get more ND vs Bama or ND vs OSU????  Personally, I think that question is easy....OSU vs ND. 

"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 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Two 1 defeat SEC teams are already above the Buckeyes!  I'm just saying that this year, with a completely embarrassing B1G, the Buckeyes would not have been invited to the big dance even without a bowl ban.

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

Larryp713's picture

I think we need to consider Mizzou, Auburn, UT, Kentucky, and Arkansas before we start declaring how bad the B1G really was. After week 2, it was fixed that the B1G was horribly weak, but I think some of the teams (PSU, Wisky) showed some great improvement throughout the year. UCLA beating Nebraska, Ohio beating PSU in their first game with a new coach, Wisky losing to Oregon St; these losses were not as bad as originally considered. Just my thoughts.



buckeye76BHop's picture

More than anything....I'm going to miss these seniors.  They made this team and were the MAIN reason they went 12-0, even more than Brax360's yardage.   You don't win unless the entire team buys in...I'm almost guaranteeing all of you that's why some of these guys "lost their love for the game"  In other words...didn't and weren't going to buy in for one reason or another.  Hate to take a tTUN saying, but those who stay will win Championships.  I just wish this senior class could have had a chance to do so in a bowl game and go out in style.  

"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 

osubuckeye4life's picture

Awesome story :) This is just the first book in a series.
Don't forget: