As the 2018 calendar year nears its close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the most memorable and entertaining from Ohio State coaches and athletes over the past 12 months.
While there are plenty of quotes from this year that might have been particularly memorable to you for one reason or another, the following 11 quotes stood out as some of those that were most worth revisiting.
“I just want to thank all the fine, clever, smart journalists that didn’t pick us. We got some great ones out there, and trust me, our guys were aware of that. So, appreciate that.”– Chris Holtmann after Ohio State’s first-round NCAA Tournament win over South Dakota State (March 15)
It was no secret last season (and hasn’t been this season, either) that the Ohio State men’s basketball team, in Chris Holtmann’s first season as head coach, that the Buckeyes used the lack of expectations that national media had for them as motivation to exceed those low expectations and prove people wrong. And even after the Buckeyes performed better in the regular season than anyone expected, finishing second in the Big Ten regular-season standings and earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, they still had plenty of doubters, as No. 12 seed South Dakota State was a popular upset pick entering their first-round game in Boise, Idaho.
There would be no upset on that day, though, as the Buckeyes earned a 81-73 win over the Jackrabbits to win their first NCAA Tournament game in three years. In response, Holtmann took a lighthearted jab at the analysts who picked against Ohio State during his postgame interview with Lisa Byington on TNT.
never has a coach been so smug about beating a 12 seed pic.twitter.com/pEGTqloiEr— Mike Tunison (@xmasape) March 15, 2018
“It is going to change the way we attack defenses.”– Urban Meyer on Dwayne Haskins becoming Ohio State’s starting quarterback (May 14)
During a speaking appearance for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Canton in May, Meyer announced publicly for the first time – following a three-way spring quarterback competition between Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow and Tate Martell – that Haskins would get the first opportunity to start for Ohio State this season. The quote above, per Joe Scalzo of the Canton Repository, came after Meyer said Haskins has “a great release, he’s got good size and he’s a mobile-enough quarterback.”
The quote ultimately proved to be apt foreshadowing for the season to come, as Haskins certainly did change the way Ohio State attacked defenses. While he hasn’t run the ball nearly as much as previous Ohio State quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, he has passed the ball at a level that is truly unprecedented for an Ohio State quarterback – completing 348 of 496 passing attempts for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns, all school records – and made the Buckeyes a bigger threat in the passing game than any of Meyer’s first six Ohio State teams.
“It’s the Buckeyes against the world, men. It’s the Buckeyes against the world. And guess what, Coach Day? That’s the way we like it. That’s the way we like it.” – Greg Schiano while speaking to players during fall camp (Aug. 15)
This quote from Ohio State’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator resonated at a time where the future of Ohio State’s football program was uncertain and the university faced scrutiny from critics throughout the nation once again. With Meyer on administrative leave as an investigation looked into how he handled domestic violence allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, and Ryan Day serving as acting head coach, the only updates the outside world were getting from the Buckeyes’ fall camp came from Ohio State’s in-house social media team, which revealed that speech from Schiano in a video on Aug. 15.
“Ohio Against the World” isn’t a new mantra – it entered the national vernacular during the 2014 College Football Playoff semifinal against Alabama, when Ohio State fan De’Nard Pinckney was shown on television wearing a sweatshirt with the phrase on it – but it particularly became a rallying cry for this year’s Buckeyes, and should be once again going into the Rose Bowl after Ohio State was left out of the College Football Playoff despite winning the Big Ten championship for the second year in a row.
“I think you guys are witnessing a legend in the making.”– Parris Campbell on Dwayne Haskins after he threw for 455 yards and six touchdowns (Oct. 7)
Another entry in the “apt foreshadowing about Dwayne Haskins” category, Campbell’s quote proclaiming Haskins’ greatness came after he tied Ohio State’s single-game passing touchdown record – and threw for what was at the time the second-most passing yards in a single game in school history – in the Buckeyes’ 49-26 win over Indiana.
“The things that he can do throwing the ball, the leader he's becoming, he's just really developing into a great leader,” Campbell continued. “And obviously the stats speak for themselves. Beyond that, just the player he's becoming and the person he's becoming is really legendary status.”
Haskins has continued to pass the ball at an elite level for the remainder of the season, since breaking Ohio State’s single-game record for passing yards twice, including a 499-yard, five-touchdown performance against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game. Between that performance, his performance against Michigan one week earlier (more to come on that) and earning an invitation to this year’s Heisman Trophy ceremony, Haskins cemented his status as an Ohio State legend for years to come – even if he only ends up starting one season for the Buckeyes.
“Put a statue of him somewhere. I told Terry, if I have another child, I'm going to name him Terry. I don't imagine that's going to happen.”– Urban Meyer on Terry McLaurin (Nov. 12)
It wasn’t hard to tell who Meyer’s favorite player was on this year’s Ohio State football team. While there were plenty of players who drew regular compliments from their head coach during press conferences this year, no player drew more glowing praise from Meyer than fifth-year senior wide receiver and punt gunner extraordinaire Terry McLaurin.
The quote above, which Meyer gave while reviewing McLaurin’s performance in the Buckeyes’ 26-6 win over Michigan State – in which McLaurin caught five passes for 63 yards and also downed two punts inside the 5-yard line – summed up how highly Meyer thinks of McLaurin, as he called for a statue of No. 83 to be built and joked that he thought so highly of McLaurin, he would name his son after him if he ever had another one.
Meyer’s wife, Shelley, later confirmed on Twitter that the couple had no plans of having another child.
Hahahahaha. Urb has good sense of humor. I like Terry and his name, but 3 kids is all we get. Lol. https://t.co/74IjEnwJ2x— Shelley eyer (@spinnershells) November 12, 2018
“Next week’s game is what I left Texas for.”– J.K. Dobbins on Ohio State’s game against Michigan (Nov. 17)
The week of anticipation leading up to the annual rivalry game always generates some good quotes from players on both sides about what it means to them to be a part of The Game, but no quote from an Ohio State player going into this year’s game resonated more than what Buckeye running back J.K. Dobbins said when he asked about the next game on the schedule after his team’s overtime win at Maryland.
While kids who grow up in Ohio are bred with an understanding of what beating Michigan means to the Buckeyes and their fans, there’s always questions about whether Buckeye players who grew up in other parts of the country truly understand how much weight the rivalry carries. Dobbins, however, made it clear with his quote that he did not only understand the rivalry, but that the opportunity to play in the rivalry game was part of what lured him to Columbus as a recruit.
“I was licking my chops. I seen one-high coverage, and that's a quarterback's dream.” – Dwayne Haskins on what he saw in Michigan’s defense (Nov. 24)
Going into this year’s rivalry game, Michigan’s defense was expected to be the toughest test of the year for Ohio State’s offense. It proved to be anything but, though, as the Buckeyes scored 62 points on 567 yards, with Haskins throwing for 396 yards and six touchdowns, the most passing yards and touchdowns ever by an Ohio State quarterback in a game against Michigan.
While Michigan’s defense certainly appeared intimidating on paper – the Wolverines had allowed the least yards per game and passing yards per game in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision at the time – Haskins revealed in one quote that he wasn’t intimidated by Michigan’s defense at all, instead sensing an opportunity to feast.
“He dropped his pads and dropped some other things probably, too. I shouldn't say that.” – Urban Meyer on Dwayne Haskins asserting himself as a runner (Nov. 26)
Perhaps an indicator that he had made up his mind that he would retire at the end of the season and come to peace with that decision, Meyer was as loose and jovial as he’s ever been in his final two Monday press conferences of the season at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center – especially in his Nov. 26 press conference, which came two days after the Buckeyes’ rivalry game win.
While Meyer elicited laughter on several occasions during that press conference, no comment was more memorable than the one above about Haskins – which actually referred to his 59-yard, three-touchdown rushing performance against Maryland two weeks earlier, though he also ran for 34 yards against Michigan – in which Meyer, who had yearned all season for his quarterback to prove he could make plays with his feet, indirectly compared the toughness he showed as a runner in the Buckeyes’ overtime win over the Terrapins to what happens when a boy goes through puberty.
“There's a few things I don't understand in life. I don't understand why airlines overbook their flights when they know how many seats they have. I do not understand that. I don't understand how Rocky III never got an Academy Award nomination. It's a heck of a movie. It's a fine film. And I can't for the life of me understand how we are No. 6 in the final College Football Playoff ranking. I don't get it.” – Chris Holtmann on Ohio State’s College Football Playoff snub (Dec. 2)
Of all the great quotes that have emerged from Holtmann’s semi-regular press conference tangents in his year-and-a-half as Ohio State’s head basketball coach, there might not have been any tangent that reflects Holtmann’s personality better than that which concluded his press conference following the Buckeyes’ win over Minnesota on Dec. 2, the same day that the Ohio State football team was not only left out of this year’s College Football Playoff, but slotted sixth in the playoff rankings behind Georgia, which had two losses to Georgia’s one.
A football fan who has initiated conversations about the Buckeyes who play on the gridiron in several press conferences – another such instance came after the Buckeyes’ win over Cleveland State, on the Friday night before the football team’s rivalry game, when he wore an Archie Griffin jersey to his postgame press conference and said he would “sit back and scream at the officials and maybe have an adult beverage” while watching the next day’s football game – Holtmann ended his above tangent with a figurative mic drop, saying “I’m out” and slamming his hands on the table (all with a smile on his face) before standing up and exiting the room.
Chris Holtmann has a bone to pick with the College Football Playoff committee. pic.twitter.com/gczCmCoqpQ— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) December 3, 2018
“That was one of the greatest moments in our, maybe, life to beat our rival seven years in a row.” – Urban Meyer on what this year’s win over Michigan meant to him (Dec. 4)
While the purpose of Meyer’s press conference at Ohio State on Dec. 4 was to announce his retirement, the question-and-answer period of that press conference led to the quote above – after Meyer was asked about the emotional embrace he shared with his wife Shelley at the conclusion of the Buckeyes’ win over Michigan – in which he illustrated just how much The Game, and the 7-0 record he accumulated against the maize and blue in his tenure as Ohio State’s head coach, meant to him as he prepares to hang up his whistle.
Later in the month, in an interview with 10TV’s Dom Tiberi, Meyer spoke to his passion for the rivalry game once again, saying that he felt like he had to win one more game against Michigan before he could retire and feel content doing so.
“Well, I looked up at the scoreboard when we beat the team up north, and the way we beat them,” Meyer said. “To be honest with you, if we didn’t win that game, I’m not sure I could leave losing that game.”
“It didn't take long for me to figure out what the expectations were of Ohio State football: No. 1, win the rivalry game, and No. 2, win every game after that.”– Ryan Day during his introductory press conference (Dec. 4)
In his introduction as Ohio State’s new head coach on the same day that Meyer announced his retirement, Day talked at length about what it means to him to be the head coach of the Buckeyes and what his vision is for the program going forward, but no quote better encapsulated his understanding of what it means to coach at Ohio State than when he commented on the expectations that surround the program.
While the comment drew some laughs in the room, there’s a lot of truth to it. Even though Day is a first-time head coach and Meyer is among college football’s all-time coaches, Ohio State’s expectations of competing for national championships aren’t going anywhere. Day won the introductory press conference by showing he has a sincere appreciation and understanding of what Ohio State football is, but as 2018 comes to a close, the big question entering 2019 will be whether he can deliver wins on the field with the incredibly high rate of consistency that Buckeye Nation expects.