Buckeye Football Through the Eyes of a 2017 Graduate and an Incoming Freshman

By Kevin Harrish on May 16, 2017 at 10:10 am
The Urban Meyer years have been the Golden Era of Ohio State Football.
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While every graduating class has their own memories in the concrete cathedral called Ohio Stadium, none come close to those of the 2017 graduating class. 

The stretch between the 2013 and 2016 seasons is the most successful four-year period in Ohio State football history. Under Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes won 49 of 55 games (0.891), losing no more than two games in a single season.

Increase that span to five years (after all, who graduates in four years anymore?) and the numbers get even more impressive. Adding in the 12 wins during Meyer's first season at Ohio State and the Buckeyes won 61 of 67 games for an absurd win percentage of 0.910.

"They win so often that it's just normal."– Cameron Duffner

A five-year student that graduated in 2017 witnessed the improbable undefeated run in 2012 which was capped off with bowl-like home win over Michigan. In 2013, they witnessed the most prolific offense in Ohio State history led by one of the most electric players to ever wear the uniform. In 2014, they witnessed an improbable regular-season run led by a backup quarterback, and the impossible three-game postseason run by a third-string quarterback to complete the national championship. In 2015, they witnessed one of the most star-studded rosters in Buckeye history that saw 12 players drafted in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft. And in 2016, they witnessed a college football playoff appearance on a rebuilding year and saw first-hand one of the greatest Ohio State vs. Michigan games of all time.

No other graduating class' Buckeye football experience touches that one.

"I was aware of my own sense of entitlement but I don't think most people were," recalls Cameron Duffner, a five-year 2017 pre-med graduate. "They win so often that it's just normal. A loss isn't just a bad day anymore, it's cancer."

The students witnessed their first loss at the end of the 2013 season — the 25th game for five-year graduates, the 13th for four-year grads — when Michigan State dashed Ohio State's national title hopes in the Big Ten Championship game.

The Buckeyes went on to lose their second-straight game a month later, falling to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, then lost to Virginia Tech in the second game of the 2014 season. Ohio State would have to wait 23 more games for another crushing loss to Michigan State in 2015 before dropping a game to Penn State and another to eventual national champion, Clemson, in the 2016 College Football Playoff.

That's it. We just recapped all of the losses a five-year student at Ohio State witnessed from 2012-16 in two short paragraphs — two crushing losses to Michigan State, two postseason defeats at the hands of Clemson, and two relatively inconsequential losses to Virginia Tech and Penn State.

Between those six losses, there were 61 glorious wins. Since Meyer's arrival in Columbus, the Buckeyes have just won. The Buckeyes have always won. That's just the norm; that's just what has always happened.

"You get 12 wins a year," Duffner said (actually, Ohio State averaged 12.2 wins a season during his time). "When you buy student tickets, those are all wins. Two weren't wins in my five years."

The Buckeyes have won so often, so convincingly, that it's actually been detrimental to student attendance. While programs around the nation have trouble filling a student section, Ohio State has had trouble getting students to the game on time and keeping them there for the duration of games because they are expected to be (and usually are) so lopsided.

"It's to a point where it's not 'will we win?' but 'how soon will we win?'"– Cameron Duffner

To combat this, Ohio State's official student section, Block O, made "Don't Miss Ramp" and "Stay for Carmen" two of their club mottos, reminding students to get to their seats before kickoff and stay to the final whistle.

It's not very effective.

"Every single time," said Adam Watson, a former president and football director for Block O, when asked if an early exodus was frustrating. "I think one of the greatest traditions at Ohio State is the end of football games when we sing Carmen as a student body. I understand that there are sometimes better things to do (drink) than watch us crush Florida A&M, but it's better than being a team like Illinois who competes against them."

But when winning — and winning by a lot — becomes the norm, that's what happens. Between 2012 and 2017, 21 Ohio State home games were decided by three scores or more, which is well over half of the 37 total home games during that span.

"In the student section there is a lot of calculation of when the game is going to be far enough out of hand that it's safe to leave," Duffner said. "It's to a point where it's not 'will we win?' but 'how soon will we win?'"

Despite the entitlement and winning becoming the norm, Duffner still thinks most students were able to appreciate the success, especially life-long Buckeye fans, most of whom became real fans around 2006 or 2007. They were Ohio State fans through the back-to-back national championship losses, the beatdown against USC, tattoo-gate and the losing season in 2011.

Now though, that won't be the case.

while this year's graduating class got to witness Buckeye football at its absolute best, the incoming freshman class may not even remember Buckeye football otherwise.

"Now, even if you were a fan beforehand, if you're an (incoming) freshman now, the last bad OSU football year was when you were a 7th grader," Duffner said. "For me that would have been the year we lost to Florida."

Duffner said the loss to Florida is one of his earliest vivid memories of Buckeye football. He remembers 2006, but the years before that are pretty hazy.

Given that, it's likely an incoming freshman's Ohio State fandom began in 2011 or 2012, meaning they barely remember a time when Meyer did not coach the Buckeyes. Freshman cornerback Shaun Wade confirmed this on national signing day, saying that he remembers Urban Meyer as the coach of Ohio State, not Florida.

While this year's graduating class got to witness Buckeye football at its absolute best, the incoming freshman class may not even remember Buckeye football otherwise.

It may not feel like it to long-time fans, but Meyer's dominance is no longer just recent. It's more than just a hot streak, it's more than just a resurgence. This is Ohio State's new reality. This is the new normal. This is the new Buckeye football.

Welcome.

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