Losing your head coach to a 3-game suspension is generally not the first step toward success.
When Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was suspended three games for keeping former receivers coach Zach Smith employed, there were questions as to how the Buckeye football team would respond. Nobody who follows the program, however, thought the team would crumble in Meyer’s absence.
After all, Meyer has built a program at Ohio State that can sustain itself for long periods of time due to the culture that has been grown.
Though to say that it’s self-sufficient would be a disservice to the coaching staff and players who have worked hard to keep moving forward despite being without their leader.
OSU lives on the mantra of “next man up” and acting head coach Ryan Day has followed through on that and stepped up and performed almost perfectly. Day also had plenty of help from Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson when Meyer wasn’t around, and together the three of them were able to hold the fort until Meyer returned 10 days ago.
Watching from afar, TCU head coach Gary Patterson wasn’t surprised that Ohio State was able to withstand such an upheaval at the top.
“People ask me about [Meyer’s] absence, well you’ve got three guys that could be a head coach there,” Patterson said. “Greg Schiano, I know really well. Kevin Wilson, we played against at Northwestern and he was at Oklahoma.
“And then you also have Coach Day that is their interim. He was offered NFL jobs and college jobs and coordinator jobs, so they have enough experience within their offices even when Coach wasn’t around. But he’s there every day now working and preparing and doing those kinds of things.”
Not only were the Buckeyes able to withstand Meyer’s absence during the entirety of fall camp, but they have exploded out of the gate, winning their two games by an average score of 64-17.
Offensively, they have been clicking more than a tap dance troupe, and defensively they responded well against Rutgers last week.
When Patterson looks at how the Buckeyes have started the season, he sees a correlation between their performance and Meyer’s absence, which is actually a testament to the football program that Urban Meyer has built.
“To me, the other thing that has happened is that it probably helped them,” Patterson said of Meyer’s suspension. “It has given them, a lot of teams that have that type of player, they roll into the season and they get better as they go, but I look at them and I think they’re already in mid-season form. Probably the sense of urgency with everything that’s happened there maybe put them in that situation. So you’ve got to get ready to go.”