A Year to Remember
10 Biggest Buckeye Storylines of 2012
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was quite a year for The Ohio State University. Certainly not one many people would have expected after the one the Buckeyes had in 2011.
In many ways, this year made most OSU fans forget about the trauma and emotional pain of last year, including the loss of beloved head coach Jim Tressel. With 2013 rapidly approaching, we a take a moment to stop and reflect on some of the biggest storylines surrounding the Ohio State Buckeyes during 2012.
Photo by Dan Harker
1. Urban Meyer. That was simple enough. Of all the storylines that captured our attention during the 2012 calendar year, only the Mayans made more headlines than Ohio State’s new football coach. One of the biggest names in the sport of football, Meyer took the college game by storm when he came out of his brief retirement in a blaze of glory to return to a program that has been a part of him since his earliest memories on Lake Erie.
A two-time BCS national champion, and one of the true rockstars of college football, Meyer officially took the job in Columbus last November but he didn’t really take over completely until January. On the inside, he had everyone’s attention from the very first meeting, but that was also true on the outside. From fans to media to opposing coaches, Meyer seemed to be at the center of attention in his first year with the Buckeyes.
It’s still early, but Meyer seems to have the Midas touch with everything he says and does, which has quickly won the adoration of most Ohio State fans, even the ones who swore they would hate him forever after the 2007 BCS title game in Arizona.
2. 12-0. If Meyer’s name wasn’t already big enough, his legendary status took another step towards immortality this year. The former Florida coach transformed a 6-7 football team from a year ago into an undefeated, 12-0, team in his first 12 months on the job. He did it with a little luck, and a whole lot of Braxton Miller, but Meyer and his coaches got these players to believe. Then they went out and proved it on the field, running through a 2012 schedule that included trips to East Lansing, Happy Valley and Madison. Those are three of the toughest places to win in the Big Ten, but the Buckeyes actually faced one of their toughest tests of the season over in Bloomington.
In the end, nothing could stand between this OSU football team and perfection. Even Meyer couldn’t have expected, or predicted, his team would come so far in such a short period of time.
William Buford with the East Regional trophy.
Photo by Jim Davidson
3. Run to the Final Four. It was a big year for Ohio State football, so most of the headlines will end up going to Urban Meyer and his first squad in Columbus, but who could forget the season by Thad Matta and the basketball Buckeyes? With the help of All-American Jared Sullinger, who opted to pass on the NBA for another shot at the Final Four, the Buckeyes finally accomplished their goal in 2012. They didn’t make it all the way to the pinnacle of March Madness, but Sullinger and the Buckeyes were just a few plays away from facing Kentucky for the right to be called national champs. Sophomore Aaron Craft became a household name, the Buckeyes scorched Duke in Columbus and Deshaun Thomas led all scorers in the NCAA Tournament as Ohio State beat Gonzaga, Cincinnati and Syracuse on the way to New Orleans.
4. Starting a new streak. Urban Meyer may have won his first 11 football games as the head coach at Ohio State, but he, of all people, knew that wouldn’t mean much without getting No. 12. Of course, that’s the nature of the OSU-Michigan rivalry, especially when the Buckeyes are coming off a loss against that school up north. They had not experienced the sting of defeat at the hands of those hated Wolverines since 2003, Jim Tressel’s third year on the job, before last season. Many Ohio State fans felt like the Buckeyes still should have won that game up in Ann Arbor to keep the streak alive at eight, but they will have to settle for the start of a new winning streak in The Rivalry. In his first time as the head coach in The Game, Meyer led the Buckeyes to a narrow 26-21 victory. He did it without star senior John Simon, but the OSU defense locked down on Michigan in the second half to preserve the win.
Photo by Jim Davidson
5. Baxton for Heisman. He didn't end up with the stiff-arm trophy in his possession, but Braxton Miller made a name for himself in 2012, finishing fifth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in his first season under Urban Meyer. He set an OSU school record for total yards and rushing yards by a quarterback, while also passing for over 2,000 yards on his way to a perfect 12-0 season. He has a lot of work to do as a passer, but Miller finished his sophomore year with 15 TD passes and just six interceptions, setting the stage for a serious run at the Heisman next season.
and Urban Meyer share a moment after the win over Nebraska.
Photo by Jim Davidson
6. Sticking with Fickell. While Urban Meyer was the talk of the town in Columbus this year, and in many ways around the country in college football, Ohio State fans were thrilled with their new coach’s first decision. After accepting the job last November, Meyer opted to keep interim head coach Luke Fickell on his coaching staff as the defensive coordinator. A starter for the Buckeyes in the mid 90s, Fickell had spent most of his career coaching at his alma mater and earned the respect of the entire fanbase for the way he handled a no-win situation in 2011.
7. Best coaching staff in America. Along with Fickell, Meyer went out to hire the “best coaching staff in America” when he took the job last November. There were all types of big names that popped up on his coaching search, including former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops and Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris. Eventually, Meyer settled in on guys like Tom Herman, Ed Warinner and Everett Withers to join him Columbus. Some questioned whether Meyer had really delivered on his goal, but the proof was in the pudding. This coaching staff came together during a 12-0 season, and just about everyone from Meyer’s staff was considered a hot name on the coaching search front after the season.
Photo by Jim Davidson
8. Deshaun Thomas saves the day. With the exits of Sullinger and William Buford, there were always going to be bumps in the road for this 2012-13 OSU basketball team. Imagine where they would be without Deshaun Thomas? That’s what Matta and the Buckeyes were looking at when Thomas nearly made the decision to turn pro after his impressive performance in the NCAA tournament. He was a borderline first round pick at the time, and Thomas ultimately decided to stick around for at least another year of college basketball. The decision probably saved Ohio State’s season, or any chance they have of being a legitimate contender this year.
9. Meyer makes a splash. It certainly didn’t take long for Urban Meyer to make his presence felt. Almost immediately after accepting the job, Meyer was granted what everyone seemed to think was a special waiver. It allowed him and his new staff to recruit while the old one continued to prepare the Buckeyes for their eventual beating in the Gator Bowl. Fans and coaches of opposing teams seemed to take exception to Meyer’s aggressiveness, but it paid off when he landed big commitments from Noah Spence and Tommy Schutt. Meyer also flipped a pair of Ohio kids in Taylor Decker and Se’Von Pittman, who had been committed to play elsewhere. That didn’t go over well with some of the other Big Ten coaches, but Meyer was only getting started.
10. A new sheriff in town. Urban Meyer is the unquestioned leader, president, czar and commander of Ohio State football, but he brought with him a new sheriff to take care of business in the weight room and in the locker room. Strength coach Mickey Marotti went to work immediately on re-shaping the minds and bodies of a football team coming off a 6-7 season a year ago. He implemented some unique strategies to toughen up his new players, and sometimes they pushed guys too far. A number of players left, but the Buckeyes would never be the same.
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