Is Ohio State Talented Enough to Win a National Championship?

Aesculus.'s picture
January 18, 2014 at 4:23p

I think we focused on the bowl ban because it had an immediate impact.  One could easily argue that it cost us the National Championship.  I'll take our chances against Notre Dame over Florida State any day. (ahh, Gene Smith)  We knew TTUN was going to be our bowl game.



                    3 star, Zach Boren was a difference maker in 2012

The 2 year probation, meh.  Forfeiting the 2010 season.  Come on, we know who won those games.  The scholarship reduction?  "Hummm... that's not good", and at the time I couldn't see the impact.  But I'm sure Urban Meyer could.  

All told, 9 scholarships were lost over a three year period.  This meant in order for us to have a normal sized recruiting class, we'd have to...ummm act like the SEC and find new homes for some upperclassmen.  And at first it didn't mean much.  The 2012 class, Urban's first, had 25 members, a big class by OSU standards.  This was because Urb knew there would be players that didn't fit into the new spread offense.  In 2013 we again signed a decent class of 24 members.  The 2010 class had a lot to do with it.  8 of the 20 members are no longer with the team.  This helped open spots for the penalized classes too.  

It looks like this years class, 2014 will end up around 23-25.  Not too bad considering that will be the last recruiting class affected by the scholarship reduction.  The 2015 football team will be at full strength, 85 scholarships.  Looks like we came out pretty good, right?  Well consider this:  

Florida State had 7 players starting on their Championship team who graded below 90pts.  This means they are not blue chip prospects, they were 3 star, low 4 star guys that worked their way into starting spots.  

Urban lost 9 chances to offer those types of guys.  The blue chip 5 stars will always have room on any team they wish.  It's the 3 and 4 stars that turn into 5 star starters that make the difference.  Some of the best players are 3 stars.  A full 1/3 of Florida State's team is of "lesser talent",  guys that other programs passed on.  

When I look at our 2014-17 teams I think they will have a distinct disadvantage for 2 reasons:

First, they will be down scholarship players.  While we return to 85 in 2015, we can never get back the lost scholarships.  This means the 2014 class will have a disadvantage of 3 less members all the way through their Sr. year in 2017.

Second, Florida St. has taken 29 players so far this year!  Tennessee, 34.  The B1G has had rules in effect on oversigning for years.   

"The Big Ten has no issue with oversigning because it banned the practice in 1956. The conference actually loosened its rule in 2002 to allow schools to oversign by three players, but even that rule is drastically different from the NCAA rule now in effect. According to Big Ten associate commissioner Chad Hawley, schools are allowed three over the 85-man limit, not the annual 25-man limit. If, for example, Michigan ends a season with 20 open scholarship spots, then Michigan may sign 23 players. No more."

When you force players to leave, you get more chances to turn your 3 stars into 5 star starters.  

Finally, we can see this played out in the rankings.  247 Composite is a ranking system that aggregates all the major recruiting services.  I averaged all the Florida State starters against the Ohio State starters.  The numbers were dead equal.  Both FSU and OSU scored an average of 92 pts. on offense and 95 pts. on defense.  That means the average ranking of each player on each team was equal.  How much impact can a solid 3 star to 5 star starter have on a team?  

Just ask Zach Boren from Pickerington, OH.  A 3 star recruit who flipped from fullback to middle linebacker.  He helped sure up a sinking Ohio State defense in the second half of an undefeated season.  Or what about Carlos Hyde, a low 4 star, 30th ranked recruit in the state of Florida.  Jaamal Berry was also a RB from Florida the same year we got Hyde.  If we had 3 less scholarships in 2010, there is no way we would have signed Hyde.  

So is Ohio State talented enough to win a National Championship?  From top to bottom?  I don't know.  It seems like we really could have used some of those scholarships this year to fill holes in the D, or to develop an elite receiver.  But going forward, our coaches must use younger, more talented kids on the field to make up for the holes the lost scholarships created.  I think they have fulfilled that on the offensive side, where Meyer has complete control.  And now with a new leader, Chris Ash, on defense, I expect those younger players to step into prime time.  If they can develop sooner, I think anything is possible.  

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CPDenn's picture

Bud Eliott over at SB Nation had a pretty interesting article on how FSU and Auburn were able to build their rosters recently:
We certainly have the talent, and when we have a full bevy of scholarships, it's only going to get better. The coaches have to develop the talent, but it's there and it's really good.

Aesculus.'s picture

Remember you have to have a complete team to win.  If it was based on blue chips, then we would know who wins every year.  I think it's equally based on how good the bottom 1/3 can make the rest of the team.  You're only as good as your weakest player.

CPDenn's picture

The top ten teams on that list have either won or played in the last ten national championships. So based on blue chip percentage, we have a pretty good idea of who is going to win every year. If you don't recruit at a high level, you aren't winning a national championship. What makes those elite teams even better is that their bottom 1/3 can compete with any other team in the nation. 

Aesculus.'s picture

I don't think there's anyone in college football that doesn't think blue chip athletes are the first block to winning national championships.  You can thank that line of thought for breaking the color barrier in baseball in the 40's.  The idea that superior athletes win championships is engrained in us from the first dodge ball game we play when the best kicker is chosen first.  I choose not to write about that because it's all been covered before.  
What I wanted to focus on is if all those teams have blue chip guys then what's separating the top tear teams?  I don't think because Alabama averages a 93 and OSU averages a 92, that makes them better on the field.  Sure coaching and scheme and play calling all go into it.  But I think what really puts a team over the top is the bottom third.  
More importantly how their bottom third can compete with any other team.  It's going to be very important for us in the next 5 years because we have a numbers disadvantage. 

cdub4's picture

I honestly think it has a lot to do with luck when you get to a certain point, at least more so than a bottom third of a roster. Also having experience at certain positions at the right time and being injury free helps win championships. The bottom third will be strong if you just recruit well for several years in a row, like FSU and Bama. OSU has had depth issues because the 2009 and 2010 classes did not pan out IMO. It may take another year or two to establish that level of depth.

Toilrt Paper's picture

This past year we must of had MORE than a complete team. Why else redshirt 12 players?

BuckRock's picture

You can have the best talented players, but if they are not DEVELOPED, and COACHED properly, you have an average team at best!
Our passing defense was ranked lower than most MAC schools, was that due to lack of talent, of course not. Until we get a proven defensive system in place we will be a one horse buggy.
Coombs and Fickel are our Achilles heel.
It's about coaching!!!  We have the talent, I could only imagine what the coaches at Alabama or Auburn would do with these kids we have. I am  Not talking about Meyer; I am speaking of the coaches responsible for our defensive play calling, planning, and player development on the defensive side of the ball.

BoFuquel's picture


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

zacisone's picture

Oh HE** yes! Go Bucks!


bleedscarlet's picture

Ironically, Hyde was recruited as a fullback by Tressel. Without tatgate, Tressel is still coaching OSU and Hyde may have never seen the RB position.

Slingin' swag since 1970


bleedscarlet's picture

After reading that it kind of looks like a jab to Coach Tressel.... it wasn't. Just a tidbit of irony. Personally I feel without tatgate OSU would have had a good chance at a BCS Title in '11 and The Vest would have been mentioned in the same breath as Saban and Meyer. Ahh what could have been and what is... unfortunate and fortunate at the same time.

Slingin' swag since 1970


Poison nuts's picture

Tressel, at least to me, will always be up there with Saban & Meyer. Some of that that bias & some of that is that Tressel had success at a very, very, high level...2006 & 2007 will never be reason enough for me forget all the other things he was able to do.

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

Run_Fido_Run's picture

In this Feb. 2010 video introducing the incoming RBs in the class of 2010, Doc Tressel gives no indication that the staff saw Hyde as a FB.  

Gray Box's picture

Nice Fido, I literally have to code for that video copied and was about to post it but, you beat me to it! I think Hyde was a recruited and even used as a running back. He even got 24 carries in 2010 as a freshman which included other backs as Hall, Berry and Rod Smith. Boren and Homan were the full backs. 
That being said BleedScartlet, I still think your points are valid. I think we would have had a good chance at the 2011 BCS Nat if Tressel was still coaching and no one had been suspended. The other question is would Hyde have emerged as a running back with all those other backs if Tressel was still there? I think so, but who knows for sure? I think an even more interesting question is how would Hyde have done if Berry had red shirted and stuck around until now in Meyer's system. A lot of what if's and hypotheticals, but it is the off season...

bleedscarlet's picture

Hey Fido ... thanks alot for peeing in my I remember seeing him listed as a FB by Scout but watching the video and scrolling through the other recruiting sites I see they have him listed as RB. I suppose it was part assumption considering his size and having Boom, Saine and Hall on campus and Berry signing soon after. Never realized he was a Cincy kid (something I read while trying to debunk you correcting me :p).

Slingin' swag since 1970


Toilrt Paper's picture

Hyde would never have come to Ohio State if they told him he was going to be a fullback. All that was required was to time him in a forty and you would know he was not a fullback.

Dougger's picture

Baby face there. Good find. I'm going to miss that man. 

I like football

Gray Box's picture

Great points Aesculus! It's so hard to evaluate recruits, especially the lower star guys, on how they will do when they get college level training, coaching and film room preparation. Football smarts is something I don't think is taken into the star system nearly as much as the coaches take it in when recruiting the players. Some may look amazing in a combine or in high school, but others just need the next level mental and physical preparation that college provides to make them go from a 3 star to a high 4 or 5 star. Zach Boren, Michael Jenkins and a lot of these guys are great examples. The star system didn't really take into account that Zach was a working out machine and football smart so with the right coaching, that split second slower forty time doesn't mean anything as Boren was already where he needed to be rather then having to rely on his speed to get him there because he could read the play. I think you're right, not having up to nine more of those guys really hurts when someone like Bryant goes down or when someone else doesn't step up and take Pitt's spot. One other thing I think you missed though, you forgot that FSU got the one and only "Six-Star" Lamarcus Joyner, giving them an obvious unfair star advantage over all other teams!

Aesculus.'s picture

Good point about how coaches put an unnecessary amount of emphasis on statistics.  Chris Borland comes to mind.  3 star.  There are so many, I mean teams like Michigan State and Wisconsin have made their living sifting through 3 stars and developing them.  I was looking at Michigan States level of recruiting and its rare that they actually get a 4 star!!  Then they go out and kick our ass!  FSU might have had 2 6 stars including Winston!

allinosu's picture

Gotta get the BIG championship game under our belt first.

d5k's picture

It wouldn't add up to 9 total missed opportunities because of math.  But your points are still great.

CC's picture

Correct, it adds up to not having 3 guys for 3 years.  Very different to USC who was 9 scholarships down a year if I remember correctly.
I would still like to have the 3 just so the coach can be a little more loose in recruiting.
I would love to hear Urban talk about recruiting at OSU/B1G vs. UF/SEC.  Obviously our scholarship reductions hurt, but I wonder how much of a difference the league rules make.

Crumb's picture

I think at Ohio State we always have the talent and potential to win it all, it's just a matter getting it done. Talent doesn't always mean championships either if you look at 2002 and 2012 there have been more talented buck teams than those in the past decade but those teams had heart like none other and they got it done on the field.
P.S. That picture of Zach Boren alone deserves and upvote.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

gm3jones's picture

Excellent points! No doubt those loss of scholarships hurt us badly. Because like you stated it is about the development of young guys that are hungry to learn and compete at a high level. Not saying we don't have that; we just have less of it, which puts us at a disadvantage in the future. That is what I was thinking about during these last two losses. Wait until Urbz is able to develop a whole recruiting class from freshman to seniors with the full 85 scholarships... The future is very bright for us. Again, excellent post. 

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Got to get some depth on the defense and get the talent that's already there developed.  If the staff can do that, then it's a definitive YES, we have enough. 

Class of 2010.

JOhio1560's picture

We are THE Ohio State University.  We have the talent.  We just need to develop it. 
Football season starts in 222 days.  Let's get that title.  Go Bucks!

I'm not finished!  Before we let you leave, your commander must cross that field, present himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse.

cdub4's picture

I think the key is building depth, and with the redshirting that occurred with this class, I think OSU will see improvement in the near future.

The link you posted about over signing is from 2011, I think the SEC and NCAA rules have changed since then. FSU has 26 verbals, 17 seniors and 4 guys leaving early. I think they expected more underclassmen to go pro early. Tennessee can sign 30 because they counted 20 last spring. It is hard to tell who is oversigning until closer to signing day to be honest. Tennessee's had like 13 early enrollees, also kids are still flipping commitments. Oversigning is not the issue it was 5 years ago.

Aesculus.'s picture

CDUB4, totally agree about the future improvement.  It does look bright.  The 2011 link was to quote the Big 10's oversigning policy, which is more strict than anything the SEC has done past or present.  I agree it's technically not the oversigning that's the issue, it's how the team got to oversign.  Attrition occurs at a much higher rate for more frivolous things in the south than in the B1G.  I don't think anyone argues that except Bama fans.  I personally think no kid should be forced out of the program. But with roster spots being so valuable, if a coach decides a kid isn't going to play for a team then the coach has an obligation to the player to tell him.  If he decides it's best for him to move on then both parties get what they want, which I think is often the case, if the kid wants to stay......not much you can do.
The B1G's policy on oversigning will always be more strict than the SEC's and that compounded with the 9 scholly reduction puts OSU in a more weakened state for to find those 3 star guys that end up 5 star starters.  This has a tremendous determination on your depth because where you don't have 5 star behind 5 star, which is often the case,  you have the lower recruited guys who didn't start.

Nashville Buckeye's picture

At a certain point, many starters at different programs are relatively equal.  The thing that separates the NC contenders from the other teams is their depth. 
So long as we continue to be a top recruiting program, we will have the TALENT to compete for NC's.  We have the coaching (Hopefully ASH is as advertised), we have the starting talent.  If we continue to develop our backups, we have the ability to be better than every team in college football

Hovenaut's picture

Yes, they are talented enough.
The trick for 2014 is for that talent to quickly overcome any inexperience, and finding chemistry to make a stretch run. I believe that's going to be more critical on defense than offense.

Aesculus.'s picture

Good answer Hovenaut;-) I'm hearing that Urbs is going to have a sink or swim attitude with Kwon.  Throw him in the Mike and see if he can swim.  When you think about it, those younger guys are going to have almost half a season to get ready.  MSU will be the first real test, and oh my it's going to be a hell of a game!

BucksFan2000's picture

It seems obvious that we'll be in the mix for the foreseeable future.  But it's football - crazy things happen and you just never know.  Looking at last year, what happens if MSU doesn't get those horrible pass interference calls against ND?
But I think we're a top 5 team for a long time to come.  You have to think one of those years will work out.

Clinger76's picture

IMO, i don't think UFM just goes for players cause they have four or five stars next to their names. He is particularly looking for something that fits his mold and prototype of the players he wants to build a dynasty around. If he can get those with three stars, then he'll do that!!
Also, believe that if you go after three star athletes consistently, it would be harder to "convince" out of state athletes to come North! Harder to show the nation we have a chance of being relevant if we don't have a top 5 recruiting class. Kinda goes hand in hand!

"If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats, But if you take no risks, you will earn no victories."

BiElEmAsDoUbLeChIn's picture

Star rating means absolutely NOTHING!! The prospects work ethic and attitude coupled with coaching is what makes the difference..OHIO STATE will always be good enough to win the National Championship especially with UFM leading the way!!

Otistruman's picture

Need a couple more years of UFM magic on recruiting trail LINEBACKERS then we will see.

otistruman master blaster

BuckRock's picture

In his first 2 seasons he was basically undefeated until the BIG game against MSU, he did that with less talent that he has going into this year!
This is the year, Braxton and company need to get on the same page, we have recruits from the past 2.5 years that will be heavily relied on this year and we definitely have the talent.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I think we are right on the verge.  This year's class will help bring in more talent.  I think a lot of younger players who have another year to get bigger, stronger and faster in the offseason will help out a lot too.  It will be a great year next year!
Go Bucks!!

Jack_Q_Football's picture

Yes. Braxton will lead this team to a NC next season.

BuckRock's picture

Our defensive Backs, safeties, and LB's, should all put on some good physical muscle mass and speed; if not they have not been developed properly,
When I was 18 and red-shirted I put on 14 lbs of muscle do to my workout program, I came in my red-shirt freshman season with 14 pounds of muscle, I was faster , leaner and stronger, oh  and I played baseball. 
I am saying that these are growing young men, and it is very easy to put on lean , strong muscle at these ages, we should see this on our young LB as well.  Putting on 10-12 lbs of lean ,& fast muscle is essential and at this level of play and it is a necessity.

BuckRock's picture

We need to be more physical on defense and these young guns coming in with 10-12 pounds of lean/fast muscle will put them where they need to be to start the season. It gives them an edge on strength and endurance. If it is done properly.

fanfarris's picture

I don't think that the issue with this past year was about muscles..IMO ,it was more about Techniques and schemes on the defensive side. on Offense, Herman bear some responsibility . Why would Braxton go to S.Cal. to some Guru there to be coached??And i thought Herman was a good Quarterback coach.I used to ride horses,and know that when you have two trainers for one horse,he will get confused no matter how good the trainers are.


BuckRock's picture

absolutely correct!  that is why I do not want Coombs around the DB or safeties; leave it to just Ash; no need to confuse these young talented players with two different coaching philosophies.