Under the Banner of Seven

By Ramzy Nasrallah on June 8, 2022 at 1:15 pm
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud celebrates after a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter vs. the Utah Utes at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2022. Syndication The Columbus Dispatch
© Joshua A. Bickel | USAT Sports

Gold Pants, Heisman Trophy, Conference Crown, National Championship.

This is Ohio State football's version of EGOT, which it completed as a program 78 years ago when Les Horvath brought the Buckeyes' first Heisman trophy back to Columbus. These days, they're trying to win all four each season

Pants, Heisman, B1G, Natty. Let's call it the elusive PH1N. EGOT just isn't sporty.

If you're one of those There's no I in Team guys who doesn't think the Heisman belongs among the team achievements, maybe lighten up a little. Also, the football program disagrees with you.

It's a dated photo but not much has changed - Archie's second Heisman is still the unofficial WHAC greeter. All the national championship hardware is further back in the atrium. CFP logo-embroidered Ohio State couches provide subtle messaging and comfortable seating for visiting recruits.

As for Michigan rivalry propaganda, that's been conspicuous in every hallway since the coach hired back in 2001 redecorated the office. Oh, that giant image of the Horseshoe at night on the back wall? It's from the cursed Virginia Tech game. Immaculate photo.

Anyway, 2021 was a rare one in that Ohio State went 0-4 in its PH1N pursuit. Missed every achievement for the first time since the Tatgate nuke year; the Buckeyes had not done any worse than 2-2 since 2016. Third shutout since 2000. You felt bad for four reasons.

Only at Ohio State can the football team fail all the way across its own scorecard while shattering Rose Bowl records and finishing in the top five.

Only at Ohio State can the football team fail all the way across its own scorecard while shattering Rose Bowl records and finishing in the top five. The grass may be artificial, but it is green.

The most elusive piece in the Buckeye PH1N puzzle is the Heisman, which only six Buckeyes have ever won - that unofficial WHAC greeter decided he needed a second one and nobody could stop him. Ohio State claims more national championships (8) and owns far more conference titles (41) and Gold Pants (51, including wins over Michigan from the pre-Schmidt era) than Heisman trophies.

So the best PH1N shot is when a Buckeye wins the Heisman. They've always come up short.

2006 Troy Smith 2 PH1
1995 X Eddie George X 8 H
1975 Archie Griffin 4 PH1
1974 Archie Griffin 4 PH1
1955 Howard Cassady 5 PH1
1950 X Vic Janowicz X 10 H
1944 Les Horvath 2 PH1

Smith (2002), Hop (1954) and Horvath (1942) all left Ohio State as national champions and Heisman winners, but not in the same season. Joe Burrow left Columbus with neither but won both as a grad student in leading LSU's only EGOT effort.

Horvath's Buckeyes wrecked everyone they played in 1944 yet finished 2nd behind Army, which is understandable considering how voting against Army in 1944 would have been viewed as treasonous. Ohio State doesn't claim it and neither should you.

Now acknowledge the guy in the photo atop this article, remember the offense assembled around him and accept the expectations for Ohio State's defense to be no worse than okay in 2022.

What you have is the most favorable PH1N arrangement the Buckeyes have had since 2010.

2022 C.J. Stroud Notre Dame --
2020 Justin Fields @ Oregon COVID, Alabama
2019 Justin Fields, JK Dobbins X N/A Burrow, Fiesta Bowl
2017 J.T. Barrett X Oklahoma OU, Iowa
2016 J.T. Barrett @ Oklahoma X Offensive coaching, Penn State
2015 Barrett, Jones, Miller, Elliott, Bosa X @ Virginia Tech Offensive coaching
2014 Braxton Miller X Virginia Tech X Miller injury
2013 Braxton Miller X N/A Winston, Manziel, defense
2010 Terrelle Pryor Miami Newton was a better Pryor, Wisconsin
2006 Troy Smith @ Texas Hubris
2005 A.J. Hawk X Texas Texas, Penn State
2003 Maurice Clarett X Washington, NC State Clarett

As malpracticey as the 2015 season was, five Heisman candidates on a single team is a recipe for cannibalization. The B1G's disastrous COVID response eliminated all of its players from contention in 2020. Fields still finished 7th despite Ohio State only having played in six games when ballots were due.

Barrett was Urban Meyer's Ohio State Tebow and his preseason odds were elevated accordingly each season. Carlos Hyde's suspension effectively derailed both his and Miller's campaigns. Pryor's Heisman candidacy was over with Joe Daniels' cancer diagnosis. The rest are pretty easy to figure out.

As for Stroud in 2022, he's got a familiar PH1N path. Both of Ohio State's past two Heisman winners entered the season with national title contenders and benefited from marquee non-conference performances against Notre Dame and Texas to get to the front of the pack early.

threading the neeeeeeeeeedle
Stroud firing precision passes to the nation's best receiver in 2022 will provide added promotional muscle to his campaign.

They closed their respective arguments against Illinois in 1995 and Michigan in 2006. Strong 1995/2006 vibes permeate from the 2022 schedule and roster. Hopefully not too strong.

Stroud's competition is reigning winner and friend Bryce Young, who rode Stroud's former favorite 2nd team target to the award last season. We are intimately familiar with the degree of difficulty for winning it twice.

Young and Stroud are 1A and 1B in Heisman consideration right now. Bama visits Texas the weekend after the Irish leave Columbus. Those two Saturdays will determine the early seeding.

As favorable as the conditions are for Stroud, only 13 programs have ever achieved their versions of EGOT, with Notre Dame, Florida State and Alabama nailing it multiple times.

2020 DeVonta Smith Alabama
2019 Joe Burrow LSU
2015 Derrick Henry Alabama
2013 Jameis Winston Florida State
2010 Cam Newton Auburn
2009 Mark Ingram Alabama
2004 Matt Leinart Southern Cal
1997 Charles Woodson Michigan
1996 Danny Wuerffel Florida X
1993 Charlie Ward Florida State
1976 Tony Dorsett Pittsburgh
1949 Leon Hart Notre Dame
1947 Johnny Lujack Notre Dame
1946 Doc Blanchard Army
1943 Angelo Bertelli Notre Dame*
1942 Frank Sinkwich Georgia
1941 Bruce Smith Minnesota
1938 Davey O'Brien Texas Christian

Florida gets it on a technicality after losing to Florida State to end the 1996 regular season, but winning the rematch in the Sugar Bowl - which became the de facto national title game during warm-ups, after Ohio State finished off No.2 Arizona State in Pasadena.

The Irish lost their final game in 1943 to Great Lakes Navy, which was apparently deemed a patriotic gesture and resulted in the AP awarding the Fighting Irish the national title. The other EGOT instances are all immaculate; you are free to desecrate Michigan's 1997 title with fractions in the comments.

Stroud is seasoned, prepared and equipped to lead Ohio State in 2022 to all four of its program goals - and coming off a rare and disappointing 0-4 PH1N scorecard. So if the Buckeyes fail to achieve 4-0 in 2022 - and for the first time in program history - entitlement should not be the culprit.

That said, going 3-1 wouldn't be bad. And I'm sure we can agree on which one is expendable.

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