When Urban Meyer returned from the NFL Draft and prior to the start of what is surely a short vacation season, he met with his motivational team — program strength coach Mickey Marotti and leadership consultant Tim Kight.
The Buckeyes unleashed a throng of talent to the next level and the folks back in Columbus were left with the task of trying to replace a massive bulk of production on both sides of the ball. Meyer brought "The Chase" with him to work ahead of the 2013 season. After winning the 2014 national championship, 2015 became The Grind. This summer, Ohio State needed to figure out something new for this season, Meyer's fifth in Columbus.
"The whole thing is going to be The Edge," Meyer said, giving credit to both Kight and Marotti for helping him come up with the new slogan.
Meyer installed the mantra with his team Sunday, its first day of 2016 training camp, tying it back to the Land Of The Wolves theme present during winter workouts.
The Buckeyes are still looked at as favorites to win the Big Ten title despite only six returning starters and a handful of seniors on the roster. The head coach said he thought the first day of work went well, but that is expected.
"The whole message today is name a team that did not have a good first day," Meyer said. "There (are) 130 teams that had a good first day. That's average, that's nothing."
Enter in The Edge.
"The Edge is where average stops and elite begins," Meyer said. "Great players that we've been around, individuals, that's when they become their best is when it gets real hard. The average player, the average coach, that's when they kind of shut her down because it gets real hard and uncomfortable. That's where the elite starts to take off."
Meyer saw the elite step to the forefront in the dream 2014 season when the Buckeyes rebounded from an early season loss to Virginia Tech to thrash Wisconsin, dethrone Alabama and run rampant over Oregon in the national title game. Defensive end Steve Miller is a player that became a key contributor in that stretch, someone Meyer brings up often when he discusses guys that turn it on late in their careers.
"Guys like Steve Miller, he's a graduate, he's a national champion, he decided in his last year to go cross that line, cross that edge and become elite at what he did," Meyer said. "I'm anxious to see who is going to cross that line, even guys that haven't been here."
One player that witnessed the growth and change in the program is quarterback J.T. Barrett. A lot is riding on the redshirt junior and 2014 Big Ten Quarterback and Freshman of the Year now the job is solely his without a shred of controversy.
Like Meyer, Barrett is anxious to see what young wide receivers are ready to make a jump during camp. The passing game must be better than it was in 2015 and though that starts with Barrett, he has to get production from guys on the outside.
"A lot of times you don’t do it for yourself; you do it for your teammates and, I guess, the bigger cause, something bigger than yourself," Barrett said. "I think with that, it’s something everybody is pushing toward. When that point comes, you don’t know when it’s going to come.
"We talked about last year it could have been Indiana for some guys and the year before that it could have been Penn State. There’s a point where you feel like you can’t go any further, but then you realize that it’s bigger than yourself and that gives you the extra motivation and push that you need to get beyond that and become elite."
"We've had a bunch of great players roll through these chairs and they had one thing in common: It wasn't height, weight, vertical jump or 40-yard dash time, it was when it got really hard they got really good," Meyer said. "There are other guys we had that just didn't materialize and it wasn't because of vertical jump and speed and whatever. It was because when it got hard they didn't like it.
He added: "And I've had teams that when it got hard they didn't like it. I've had teams that became exceptional when it got hard. That's when the average people start to disappear."