And So it Begins
Meyer’s First Season Puts Buckeyes in Rare Air
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Saturday’s 26-21 victory over Michigan was not the end of all things, although it was the end of something.
It was the crescendo of an improbable first season, even for Urban Meyer, which dipped right, dodged left, nearly plummeted off a cliff and eventually landed safely at 12-0. It was not perfect, although it goes into the record book as perfectly as any season in Ohio State history.
Only three teams that came before it can claim to have accomplished what Meyer and his selfless bunch of imperfect players pulled off this season: double-digit victories, zero losses and no ties. The last was in 2002, which in many ways was just as improbable as this undefeated season by the Buckeyes.
That team was far less imperfect than the group that knocked off Michigan on Saturday in Ohio Stadium; on a day where most of those guys were on hand for a moment of recognition. Jim Tressel’s roster was loaded with future NFL players and the defense was among the best in the country all season long. He had a bright young quarterback who got the Buckeyes out of a jam on more than one occasion, and a freshman All-American tailback who could have been one of the greats.
But this isn’t about the 2002 team, which carried its former coach off the field at Ohio Stadium for the last time on Saturday, or the ones from 1954 or ’68. Those teams had their moment in the sun. This is about this team, these players and this coach, who brought a group of young men together to accomplish something most people would have thought impossible after last season.
“We're 12‑0, and I'd say at this point in time Ohio State could go play with anybody in America,” Meyer said.
“I wouldn't say that five weeks ago, but I think you've seen the growth. I’m going to see to it when you walk into that Woody Hayes facility this team will never be forgotten, because they deserve that.”
This team deserves to be recognized among the greats in school history. It joins the 1916 (7-0), 1944 (9-0), 1954 (10-0), 1968 (10-0) and 2002 (14-0) teams as the only Ohio State teams in history to complete a season unbeaten and untied.
They will always be remember for that, and they will always hold a special place in Meyer’s heart. Right up there with the Tim Tebow’s and Chris Leak’s of yesteryear.
“It's almost like you're losing some of your children when they go away to college.
Our house is going to be empty,” he said.
“When we go to a meeting after our team meeting on Tuesday, we start a new journey. And however the journey – the foundation's really, really strong. Couldn't be stronger because of our senior class. That's all I can think about.”
The theme of this week for Meyer’s team was to go where the air is rare. To make history. To kick open the door and take a whiff of what it feels like to stand on the field of battle as an undefeated team, united by that common goal.
“Once you're in there, it smells different, it tastes and looks different,” Meyer added.
“I'm hoping the guys get that taste and they want to do it again, because once you taste that, it tastes really good. And the foundation, I think, is strong. We're going to lose some really good players, really good players and really good people. Even the ones that weren't the star players, Zach Domicone and Stew Smith’s of the world, Taylor Rice’s of the world, someone's got to pick up the slack when they leave us.”
And someone undoubtedly will, because that’s the foundation that was laid by this team. By guys like Simon and Boren and Etienne Sabino. In many ways, it was a group of misfits who turned in one of the worst seasons in school history a year ago, but somehow they rediscovered the will to win.
That’s what we will always remember.
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