The More Things Change
Some Buckeyes had an inkling that change was coming, but most had no idea that Urban Meyer was going to be announcing his retirement.
They had seen the stress that this past year had put on their head coach, as well as the headaches that he was suffering, but when Meyer called an early-morning team meeting last Tuesday, retirement wasn’t something they were necessarily expecting.
“I didn’t. I knew he wasn’t totally himself, but I didn’t know he was going to step down,” junior safety Jordan Fuller said. “We were honestly caught off guard. We thought we were going to meet about the schedule for the bowl season. Then he said that. It was kind of a sad moment because you know how much he wants to be there for us and how much we love him, too.”
It was a moment that ran the gamut of emotions. Sadness for a coach who had to call it quits, but happiness for a father, grandfather, and husband who was able to step away for the right reasons.
And there was also excitement.
“It was tough, but we believe in Coach [Ryan] Day,” Fuller said. “The program is not going to change too much. All of us are very excited about the future.”
The More They Stay the Same
Urban Meyer relies on the leaders on his team to set the tone for everyone else.
They are the examples to follow, and if there are good leaders, then the team around them will be solid as well.
When Meyer was on hiatus and Ryan Day was the acting head coach, he went right to the leaders just as Meyer would have done.
“I think he relied on the leaders, too,” said running back Mike Weber. “We had several meetings, the older guys, to help him with the program, because if we do the right things, the young guys will follow us. And I thought he did a good job keeping the program going, not changing things, sticking with what we’re used to doing and telling the leaders to lead, and it worked out for us.”
What’s In a Number?
Jersey numbers are important, and that’s not a new development.
Twenty-two years ago, freshman Andy Katzenmoyer asked for — and was granted — Archie Griffin’s retired No. 45 jersey.
He wore it well for three years. Since then, the desire for certain numbers has not dissipated.
In fact, that desire for some numbers has led to double numbers for years now. This year the Buckeyes have two No. 1s, two No. 2s, two No. 6s and 7s, and so on and so forth.
One of those No. 1s — Johnnie Dixon — is in his final season with that number. It’s a number that he’s worn since high school and a number that he made sure schools knew he wanted during recruitment.
Ohio State was able to oblige his request since Dontre Wilson was changing his number from 1 to his high school number of 2.
Now that Dixon is finishing up his career, he wants to make sure his number ends up in the right hands, particularly freshman receiver Chris Olave or junior receiver Binjimen Victor.
“I think I kind of want to leave it in Chris’s hands,” he said. “Chris or Ben.”
He then paused for a moment of reflection.
“It will probably go to a recruit,” he laughed.
But then his attention turned back to the freshman Olave, who stepped up when Austin Mack went down. He caught 12 passes this season, but 10 of them came in the last four games of the year.
Against Michigan, he caught two passes — both went for 24-yard touchdowns. He also blocked a punt.
In the Big Ten Championship Game, Olave caught five passes for 79 yards and another touchdown. He has been impossible not to notice down the stretch, which is why Dixon thinks the No. 1 would suit him just fine.
“You all see him out there,” he said. “The kid’s gonna be special.”