Year Two: Looking Ahead to a Meyer Surge

By 11W Staff on December 11, 2012 at 12:30p
62 Comments

To help usher in the second year of the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State, 11W has asked David Wunderich, Gator expert and manager of the SEC blog Team Speed Kills, to give us an idea of what to expect.

Hi, Buckeyes. I’ve been a Gator since birth in 1985, but I actually don’t have any animus towards The Ohio State University. I have family ties to Ohio on both sides, my wife has a graduate degree in flute performance from OSU, and as a low brass guy myself, I think TBDBITL is pretty awesome.

Urban Meyer is poised for a huge second season at Ohio StateMeyer won't have Hankins, but he'll have plenty of other firepower
for a year two assault.

Anyway, you can find me around the Internet using the handle “Year2”. It dates back to my first college football blog, when in 2006 I decided to chronicle Urban Meyer’s second season in Gainesville. He experienced a big jump in team performance at his first two coaching stops with Bowling Green and Utah, and I thought he might go three-for-three. That season worked out pretty well, so the name stuck.

Meyer can’t lay claim to any kind of patent on the second year surge, of course. It’s common to the point of cliché to hear coaches say that the biggest improvement in a guy’s tenure occurs going from the first year to the second. The coaches know the players better, the players know the system better, and the malcontents will largely have found somewhere else to be.

In the BCS era, coaches that exhibited second-year improvements at their schools have won ten of the 14 national championships. Four of those coaches—Bob Stoops, Jim Tressel, Meyer, and Gene Chizik—actually won the title in their second years. Bobby Bowden’s first couple seasons at FSU in the late ‘70s went 5-6 and then 10-2. Pete Carroll jumped from 6-6 to 11-2 in his second year before winning a couple AP titles and one BCS championship. Nick Saban experienced second year improvements at both LSU and Alabama before subsequently winning his titles.

A few other notable coaches who didn’t end up winning national championships at their schools still had some remarkable second year successes. Lou Holtz at South Carolina and George O’Leary at UCF went winless in their first seasons before winning eight games apiece in their next ones. Rich Rodriguez was an awful 3-8 in his inaugural 2002 campaign at West Virginia before jumping up to 9-4 the following season. Dan Hawkins went from 8-4 in his first year to 12-1 in his second at Boise State, and the program has failed to win 10 games just once in the time since.

With that said, not all successful coaches see a big jump in record in their second years. Mike Leach at Texas Tech went 7-6 his first season and 7-5 in the next. Steve Spurrier at South Carolina only improved from 7-5 to 8-5 across his first two seasons, and he went through three six-loss campaigns before the program really took off.

That does not mean their teams didn’t improve, though. Merely looking at the record is but one way to compare consecutive teams. For instance there’s point differential, which is points scored minus points allowed. Leach’s first team finished with a point differential of 52, but his second had a point differential of 121 for a 69-point jump. Spurrier’s point differential gain was even larger, increasing 98 points from five to 103.

That night sucked.This was a year two moment for Meyer.

With Meyer having gone undefeated in 2012, his winning percentage can’t improve. The other quantifiable categories certainly can go up, though. Ohio State’s point differential was 172 this year. In Meyer’s second seasons there, Bowling Green’s was 186, Utah’s was 310, and Florida’s was 227. OSU’s yardage differential this year was 770. In his second years there, Bowling Green’s was 1006, Utah’s was 1876, and Florida’s was 1969.

Going undefeated once is really hard. Going undefeated two seasons in a row is next to impossible. It does happen, though. Pete Carroll did it two regular seasons consecutively in 2004-05 before losing the Rose Bowl. Tom Osborne pulled it off, going a combined 25-0 in 1994-95. Barry Switzer didn’t lose until his third season at Oklahoma, going 21-0-1 in his first two seasons. Frank Leahy went four seasons without losing from 1946-49 at Notre Dame.

While I don’t think I’ll ever bet that a coach will do two undefeated seasons in a row, I will give Meyer a chance to do it. He’s had undefeated regular seasons now at three of his four stops, in 2004, 2009, and 2012. The rest of the Big Ten is in a down cycle. He’s known for second year surges, and he just finished coaching his best first-year team yet. It’s hard to imagine that a massively successful Ohio State won’t be one of 2013’s biggest stories.

62 Comments

Comments

Urbstache's picture

That second picture....should be killed with fire.

Urban Warfare

RBuck's picture

Another thing about that picture is that we'll never again see a gut like that on a lineman

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

bassplayer7770's picture

I'd be lying to say I didn't think the same thing.

BuckeyeChief's picture

+1000

 

"Damn I miss El Guapo"

Urbstache's picture

True. Our linemen were...um...not up to the task on that particular night.
Or really any night, with bodies like those.

Urban Warfare

SPreston2001's picture

A product of the Walrus!!! Our Oline got destroyed that night. I get chill bumps just thinking about it...

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

A product of Eric Lichter. The Walrus was just a "yes-man".

BME_Buckeye's picture

Too many bad memories from that game. I rememebr recording over Wrestlemania because I knew we would win... Sadly I was mistaken and burned the tape. 
 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

BuckeyeSki's picture

You don't just go recording over Wrestlemania all willy-nilly BROTHER!

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

BME_Buckeye's picture

Instant like, that made me laugh. If I could give you 20 more I would. :)

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

buckeye76BHop's picture

"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 

OHBuckInCA's picture

I will always wonder what could have been if Ginn stayed in that game.  I'm not necessarily saying we would have won, but Smith just looked lost when his receivers weren't getting separation.  If he had his go to target in Ginn, I gotta think he would've gotten the ball out quicker and the terrible line wouldn't have been abused so badly.

"The time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect." - Woody Hayes

cplunk's picture

I don't think it would have made a difference, really. Our line was that overmatched, and Ginn's best thing wasn't getting quick separation on short routes- it was using his speed getting open long or on mid-distance routes. Troy was never going to have time to make those throws.
The line I saw and the Troy I saw that day couldn't have beaten Florida. If we'd played them the week after the TSUN game, I think we'd have won. That's not when the game is played though, so no excuses.

OHBuckInCA's picture

You definitely make some good points.  I always felt like all the wind went out of the sails when Ginn went down and that the team lost their drive to win, but I'm not sure there was any way we would've come out on top that day.

"The time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect." - Woody Hayes

nickma71's picture

Or framed and sent to the Walrus. He (71) is ready to kill something. Like 6 Big Macs or something.

Jdole83's picture

LOL, #Urbstache, that was a bad day.  Now, correct me if I am wrong, did not Miami have 2 back to back undefeated seasons with Ken Dorsey @ Quarterback before losing to Ohio state in their 24th game (2002 Championship)?  Can't remember the coach, but I do remember the team, on both sides. 

"Canceling your evening plans to prepare for your Fantasy Football Draft is completely normal." -via @espn

bassplayer7770's picture

Their coach was Larry Coker, and they were 12-0 in 2001.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Coker

bukyze's picture

I was going to mention this in my response as well, because I too thought Miami had 2 undefeated teams.   But Miami lost a game in 2000 to Washington on 09/09, went undefeated in 2001, and then lost to us in 2002.

Jdole83's picture

Hey, thanks for that info & fact checking. 

"Canceling your evening plans to prepare for your Fantasy Football Draft is completely normal." -via @espn

JasonBuck's picture

Larry Coker, I think that's the name of the coach

bassplayer7770's picture

David, thank you for contributing to 11W.  It was a good and encouraging read.
Urbstache, I concur.  *jabs ice picks into eyes*

Matt20Buckeye's picture

Only when Urban wins a NC for the Bucks will I be able to completely move on from that dreadful day in January of 2007.

SilverBulletNYC's picture

Agreed. So much pain...

The South will NOT rise again!

bukyze's picture

I definitely agree that going undefeated 2 years in a row is quite difficult.  But next year does set up nicely for us, with all of our tough games scheduled at the Shoe.  Although I'd be confident in beating scUM, again, at their toilet bowl, you never know.  Northwestern's offense won't be easy to handle either.  To have ANY chance at a national title, due to a weak OOC schedule and weak B1G conference in general, we are going to HAVE to go undefeated, and then win the B1G championship game as well.  I can easily see us doing it, but if there was a gun to my head and my life depended on it, I would say we probably slip up somewhere.  Winning 25 games in a row is extremely difficult no matter what conference you're in.

pcon258's picture

Agreed. Though I think alot of that can have to do with compacency after an undefeated season. I think this team has felt snubbed enough that complacency will not be an issue. Braxton not being invited to NY, the All-B1G snubs, the non-#1 AP ranking, etc. could be blessings in disguise. The urban meyer-led buckeyes could feasibly be this era's "team." Miami had the late 90's, USC had the mid-2000's, Bama and the SEC had the late 2000's to now. Whose gonna take the reins?

ATXbucknut's picture

Thanks, David. You are very gracious with this contribution. It's nice to see that Buckeyes and Gators can play nicely!
I agree with the point you make in the last graph, and I would also add that OSU's sked next year may very well be softer than this year's.  Cal probably won't be any better, we trade UCF for SDSU (a push), and Neb and MSU drop off the sked in favor of Iowa and Northwestern. 
On paper at least, we should be favored by double digits every game except tsun and maybe Wisky. Our biggest challenge will be player focus. Complacency is enemy #1 next year.

Jdole83's picture

I have to completely agree with you on several points.  First and foremost, and I know this from personal experience (I lived in both Florida and Alabama), Florida Gator fans seem to be at most, willing to cheer Meyer on and I know the contributions he made to his players, even the ones that remained under Muschamp, were all happy for him.  It is nice to see sportsmanship these days.
I also have to agree with the complacency issue.  If there's anything that college FB has taught us over the past few years is hype is hype, at the end of the day, get the W and never overlook anyone.  University of Louisianna-Monroe vs. Alabama, App State vs. Michigan, even over to the in-conference games like what bumped tOSU from #4 and the Rose Bowl with meeting LSU @ the NC game... Among that, always be prepared.  I love that the B1G added the championship game, I think ND will find this issue to be relevant when preparing for the NC game this year... going 2 months, 60 days, without any gametime, that's really rough.
Seeing Meyer prepare all of his teams, I don't think this is much of an issue for him, I really do think he looks at every week as a challenge, and I think this was even more programmed into his mind after coaching through the SEC.

"Canceling your evening plans to prepare for your Fantasy Football Draft is completely normal." -via @espn

yrro's picture

To be entirely honest, it took a fair amount of luck to make this team 12-0 instead of 10-2. Every  championship level team still has a couple games like Wisconsin or Purdue that they won as much by scrap and luck as by talent and skill.

Kevbo714's picture

Thank you for your input, David.  You provided great insight and supported your statements with good facts and examples.  I will have to check out your blog...

Tom Crean listens to Nickelback...

Run_Fido_Run's picture

No question, going 25-0 over two seasons is rare.
I suspect, however, that if you take all the undefeated teams from one season and then analyze their strength-of-schedule for the following season, the percentage of those teams with second-season schedules as favorable as Ohio State's 2013 schedule appears to be would also be very low (sorry, Big Ten).
In theory, Ohio State has about a 0.25 - 0.35 probability of going 12-0 in the regular season next year. But that's assuming that so-so teams like Cal, Wisc, NW, PSU, and Purdue will even have a pulse next year. They might not. Two of the four are going through coaching changes. PSU might be a complete wasteland. TTUN will be at least semi-tough, but they'll be figuring things out post-Denard.
Also, if Ohio State's offense turns into an evil machine, the team stays healthy, and the young defensive talent rounds into shape, the Buckeyes will simply overwhelm the normal odds - until, the finally run into a high caliber team (which might not happen until the post-season).    

BME_Buckeye's picture

Ok lets be honest the standard at OSU is to win NCs but if OSU were to win the Rose Bowl in Meyer secondar year, is that such a bad accomplishment as not winning a title? I don't wanna set the bar to high but I would like to think that we can make it to the Rose Bowl next season and then compete for the title in 2014 after we have experience. I'll take either or but it would be nice to return to the RB. Where are you setting the standard for next year? 
 

I have family ties to Ohio on both sides, my wife has a graduate degree in flute performance from OSU, and as a low brass guy myself, I think TBDBITL is pretty awesome.

+12 for praising TBDBITL

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

Doc's picture

I'm sad to type this, but the Rose Bowl is no longer the goal.  When I think of next season my sights are set on the BCS championship game.  Everything else is second fiddle.  Now, if we go to the Rose next year it means we won the B1G and had a good year.  It also means we prolly had a miss step or two.  I need a national championship, and I need Urban to deliver it for me.

"Say my name."

onetwentyeight's picture

Sorry man, it's all or nothing now. The Rose Bowl isn't going to cut it. 5 Loss Wisconsin is going there this year. What kind of accomplishment is that anymore. 
Ask yourself this. Look at the second picture in this article. Feel the life-force within your soul slowly get sucked out into blackness. Look at it some more. Remember Troy Smith being sacked by a Helmet-less freak of nature Florida DE. Remember Tim Tebow acting the fool with his garbage time TD celebrations. 
Now ask yourself again. Is the f*cking ROSE BOWL gonna atone for THAT ^? 
 
 
Hell no if you ask me. We have to win it all under Meyer. WE. HAVE TO. The Ghosts of 2007 will never die otherwise. There's no other option. 

BME_Buckeye's picture

Only thing to atone for that is to undo it. To late. We don't have to win it next year, we just have to win it! Maybe I like to low ball so that I don't get to high on myself. 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

Haybucks's picture

We have won a Rose Bowl since those MNC games and it was great, but feasting on Duck meat there and Sugar glazed ham in N'awlins hasn't taken the bitter taste away.

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

onetwentyeight's picture

Exactly this^. Think about how happy you felt after the Rose/Sugar wins. Pretty good right? But do you think about it every other day? Do you get anything more than a mild feeling of warmth nowadays when you recall those wins? 
Now contrast that to 41-14. I think about 41-14 a lot. Maybe because it was my freshman year and ever since I had set foot on campus we hadn't lost A GAME (football + bball) up until that point. Maybe because it was the sheer shock factor. I can remember every single detail about that night, where I watched the game, who was there, who drove us, the way one of the buildings in downtown Cbus had their windows lit up with GO BUCKS, everything. The various items in the spread of food at the party that I didn't wind up touching. 
 
IT was DARK, man. This is some traumatic s*it. For sports fans, I really think that loss ranks right up there. The shock factor and the way it ushered in a new Epoch of SEC Dominance... imo makes it one of the worst losses in history. 41-14. MAYBE I'm just a mentally unbalanced, obsessive fan (ROFL), but TBH from that day forth I never fully forgave Tressel. I know it wasn't all his fault obviously, but ... yeah. You just don't recover from a loss like that. A conference-shifting loss. And I always remembered finding out after the game that Urban Meyer was from OHIO and carried a BUCKEYE NUT in his pocket that game. That hurt so much. 
 
We need to win it all, against a media-darling SEC juggernaut, with Urban at the helm. And we need to win BIG. Nothing else will suffice. 

Are these expectations unrealistic? Maybe. But if you asked any Gator fans circa December 2006 if they thought they'd blow out OSU, how many of them would've believed they had the coach to pull it off? 
 
 

cplunk's picture

Whether it is Urban now or someone else later, the only thing that erases that awful game is our next championship.
I almost threw up watching that game. That was horrible. Worst I've ever felt watching a sporting event.
We have to win because there is already a whole generation that thinks of us as not-ready-for-big-time losers that beat up on a weak conference. I work with a lot of 22-26 year olds, and they don't remember 2002 very well. They all remember 2006 and 2007. One girl even remarked to me once that 2006 was the first championship game or bowl she ever watched.
No Rose Bowl or other BCS bowl is going to change that. No amount of beating SEC teams in non-championship bowls is going to change that. 
We have to win a national title to bring the program's perception back to what it should be.

Nick's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't next years championship game at the rose bowl? ofc its a different game than the rose but we definitely want to be in pasadena next year

Haybucks's picture

The rotation between the 4 bowl sites started for the 1998 season and you are correct. 
1999 at the Fiesta Bowl.
2000 at the Sugar Bowl
2001 at the Orange Bowl
2002 at the Rose Bowl, then repeat
2003 at the Fiesta Bowl - Go Bucks!
2004 at the Sugar Bowl
2005 at the Orange Bowl
2006 at the Rose Bowl, then repeat
2007 at the Fiesta Bowl - Go Bucks!
2008 at the Sugar Bowl - Go Bucks!
2009 at the Orange Bowl
2010 at the Rose Bowl, then repeat
2011 at the Fiesta Bowl 
2012 at the Sugar Bowl

2013 at the Orange Bowl
2014 at the Rose Bowl, Go Bucks!
 

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

Doc's picture

David, thank you for your time and insight.  It is going to be very difficult to run the table next year, but I honestly believe the Buckeyes can do it.  Northwestern and AACC are the tough road games.  Cal will have the "air raid" offense installed and that could be an early season test for a young defense.  Short of winning the MNC the season could possibly be looked upon as a disappointment.  It is hard to improve upon perfection.  I'm sure Urban will have the boys up for the challenge.

"Say my name."

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I get nauseated when i think of the 2007 title game. When Ginn returned the KO I didn't go crazy. I immediately got a bad feeling. I was like, "That was way too easy" Was I ever right :(
If Coach Meyer can't lead us back to that plateau nobody can. When it happens I hope it happens against Florida. That would definitely be a therapeutic moment for me and wil allow me to let 2007 go.

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

bassplayer7770's picture

Agreed.  Coach Meyer basically started the "SEC is king" talk, so it would be fitting for him to end it.  Can't wait!
O-H!

sloopy88's picture

I-O!
I'm happy with this year and I'll be happy with any year where they make good use of their talents, but I feel like if OSU wins an NC with Urban, I can finally exhale a breath I've been holding since 2007.  Looking forward to that day.

QBYBuckeye's picture

And the greatest coach ever, Bud Wilkinson, 1954, 1955, 1956

New York Buckeye

tennbuckeye19's picture

Thanks for the insight David. I really think Year 2 of the Meyer regime is gonna be really special, which seems funny to say, since Year 1 was such a success, albeit without the ability to play for a crystal football.
Also, question for a Gator fan: Why do Gator fans call their opponents "gator bait"? Seems kinda dumb since gator bait is actually used to catch gators and kill them. 

Oyster's picture

Ever actually talk with a Gator fan?

May you R.I.P. Otsego, but know this. Gaylord Rocks!

tennbuckeye19's picture

Yeah, I have talked to plenty Gator fans, and they all think I'm crazy for even questioning the "gator bait" thing. 

year2's picture

You're putting way too much thought into this. It's sports; it's more about emotion than logic. After all, I can't recall ever seeing anyone named "Sloopy" associated with Ohio State, and yet he or she is exhorted to hang on at Ohio State games quite often. Hang on to what? Where? Why?
In honor of both Sean Connery and the state where the McCoys came from: Indiana, let it go.

Haybucks's picture

Rick Derringer was originally from Fort Recovery, Ohio.

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

year2's picture

The phrase long predates me, so I can only guess. I can say that other schools use the same phrase, like LSU with Tiger Bait (pronouced, "Tigah bait"), so it's not unique to Florida.
And even if someone does use the bait to catch an alligator, the bait still got chomped up and eaten by the gator. Regardless of semantics, you don't want to be the bait.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Year2: thanks for your excellent contribution to 11W.
But I cannot agree with your take on gator/tiger bait. First, it is not always the case that the bait gets chomped up and eaten by the critter that you're hunting. Whereas, any time gator/tiger bait is deployed, the goal is always to either kill the gator/tiger, or to tag it and bag it. 
Sure, if you're trying to lure a gator into a mechanical trap, any live bait inside that cage will be devoured. But you could also take a metal frog-looking doohickey, smear it with real frogs blood, and set it by the swamp. When the gator comes out to snatch the bait, you blast him in the snout with a 12-gauge shotgun. Yeah, the frog might get a scratch, or even need to be retrieved from the gator's tummy with a bowie knife, but trust me, the gator will be worse for wear, while the bait moves on to the next prey.

tennbuckeye19's picture

So in the process of getting trapped and killed, the gator will chomp up the bait. Seems like you wouldn't want to be either the gator or the bait :)

Dougger's picture

that picture almost makes me sick to my stomach.

I like football

year2's picture

I don't want to clog up the thread with a bunch of replies, so I'll just say thanks for the kind words here. I appreciate it.

buckeye76BHop's picture

I really appreciated Tim's view points and glad he was willing to explain his experiences with Urban at the helm there in FL.  It's nice to hear a view point without jaded opinions like many other FL fans.  Thanks again Tim...much appreciated for real.
Urban's year two should be an interesting one indeed.  Can't wait...only 268 days away until 8/31/2013.

"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 

GoBucksOSU's picture

Don't forget Nick Saban had 2 undefeated regular seasons in a row in 2008 and 2009 and won the national championship in the 2009 season.

CC's picture

I know we weren't dominant but this puts it in perspective:
OSU’s yardage differential this year was 770
Bowling Green’s was 1006
Utah’s was 1876
Florida’s was 1969
Think about that, it's 2 100 yard drives a game more than your comp. Wow.

Kevbo714's picture

Really interesting and thanks for sharing... Are those all-purpose yards, or just yards from scrimmage?

Tom Crean listens to Nickelback...

year2's picture

Yards from scrimmage. No return yardage.

nickma71's picture

Miami won 34 in a row over lapping Butch and Larry.

osubuckeye4life's picture

David, thanks for the article!
Some interesting statistics to watch for in Urban's second year. 
 

dtanmango's picture

Looking at our schedule next year, this is definitely feasable! Let's go Bucks!

-dtan