Pushing the F5 button. (wicked long) - HINYG8 [12:56:43 01/03/12]
The echoes and reverberations are astounding.
Set a marker on January 1, 2001. 11 years ago.
OSU wraps up an 8-4 season that wasn't as good as the W-L record. We had lost to TSUN, Purdue, Minnesota and then a lackluster effort in the Outback Bowl led to a beat down from South Carolina. The team appeared to have no heart, no focus, no discipline..but a TON of swagger. The program appeared to have lost its way..blinded by the spotlights from what was a reasonably successful decade. A string of 10+ win seasons and the team put together 62 wins over 6 seasons in the mid 90's and we were feeling it. Despite absurd losses to TSUN, the program was rolling. We were spinning out NFL players and the headlines caught up to the player's egos. The kids were becoming bigger than the team...or at least that is how they conducted themselves. Off field issues, academic questions..we were rapidly racing off the tracks. Now the winning had slowed down, but the attitudes inexplicably grew darker. Despite Coop's solid demeanor, the players seemed to have an overbearing sense of entitlement. Perhaps that is overstated..but if you step back in time..there were tons of issues swirling around the program. The Outback Bowl was the low watermark..the team clearly didn't want to be there and spent more time yapping than playing. We couldn't execute and despite all of the talent we looked lost. The details were eating us up..the D couldn't get off the field and the O couldn't sustain a drive. That team was loaded
Krenzel and Bellisari got reps at QB...OK..not NFL guys..but they were throwing to Sanders, Rambo (perhaps the poster child for what we had become) with J Wells and Combs toting the rock. That doesn't sound like TREMENDOUS talent given what we would see over the next 10 years...but that was plenty of firepower to expect wins over S. Carolina, Minnesota, Purdue and even a relatively pedestrian TSUN team at home. The season was squandered in a pile of believing in our own hype rather than leveraging our own talent.
It was like gasoline on a fire. The big switch was probably the discipline and focus. Suddenly special teams were critical...and the punt was labeled our most important play. It became about reps, maintaining assignments, finishing routes, sustaining blocks, holding lanes, and massive attention to detail. We took decent talent and put up some monster seasons. Suddenly the players were too busy learning the plays, learning about Buckeye history and life lessons that there was no time in the day to stray..the leash was too short for shenanigans.
Then the talent changed..we had MAJOR talent in the two and three deep. It was such a great ride...winning only came into question against premier teams..we beat everyone we should virtually every time. Victory is a habit..and we were junkies. 10 wins became average. NC was a real expectation..almost every year. We went from B10 title contender to national title contender. The heisman came back to Columbus. So too did a national title. BCS became our middle name and we owned the Big Ten..turning it from a big sea of competitive football into the one big fish demolishing all that moved in a small pond. We had so much separation that the other B10 schools actually struggled to be consistent in our shadow. Arrogant to say? Yeah...but it is true.
Until the hype started to over ride the details again. The players were given a lot of room and slack to move around in. The leashes grew long again and the players lost their focus. We were not quite so sharp as we were in the beginning of JT's era..instead relying on superior talent to hide the occasional lapses in execution to beat inferior teams. That swagger started to return..and as we saw at the end of the Cooper era..it can prove to be toxic. This time we were still playing well, but the players were less in check and the boosters were attracted by all the spotlights.
We had become the Yankees. ESPN, despite their blood lust at seeing us stumble, was stocked with Buckeyes. In fact, the media seemed to have more OSU folks than any other school and by a wide margin. OSU was everywhere. If the story wasn't about the Buckeyes, it was often being delivered by a media personality who played at OSU. The kids got caught up in it..and once again our hype proved to be the big contributor to our downfall.
2010 was a great year..but it *never happened*. Push the F5 button...refresh the picture and it looks similar:
In 2011 we were revealed to be a team that couldn't execute despite all the talent. 10 years seem to flow by like water through a broken damn. We were back where we started. But you know what? Where we started..where we stuck that marker in time 11 years ago was a pretty damn good place to be. We are some discipline and attention to detail away from winning national titles.
The difference is..we already have that top notch talent and are adding to the arms race as we read this message board.
F5: Welcome home Urban.
We all talk about how fortunate we were to have you...what a perfect hire you are. But here is the rub..I think you are just as lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of Buckeye history. OSU is built to achieve. Despite how we played yesterday..and how we struggled this season the pieces are here. The same team that struggled to cover a kick or defend a punt also beat Wisconsin, outplayed Nebraska for 3 quarters, and had some tremendous moments. Someone just needs to put the right plan in place, instill the discipline of success, and then enjoy the rewards. It isn't exactly 'can't miss' or 'too big to fail' but it is a sweet gig. Sure there is pressure to deliver, and big stakes..but that is what HCs dream of. This is a golden coin waiting to be picked up.
I am excited to have you represent and lead the football program of my alma matter. I am not worried or concerned that you won't get the job done. If I may be so bold I will just offer one piece of advice: Don't let the program be cannibalized by it's own success. Keep them hungry and on the straight path. Keep them working. Don't give them longer leashes when they succeed...keep their heads humble and let them always know the program is bigger than their grandest dreams. Putting Ohio State on their jersey doesn't mean they get to talk about how good they are instead of proving it.
F5: January 3, 2012. Oh the places we will go.... from here. Thanks Cooper for making us Big Ten relevant every year again..which gave Tressel the challenge of having to be nationally relevant every year. And thanks Tressel for building an engine that can make us nationally relevant every year. Now Urban has the reins and I am certain the next 10 years are going to be epic. The bar has been set and the parts are here to raise it.
Wake up the haters and put them on notice because the evil empire that is The Ohio State University is going to step up again....and if you didn't like the last 11 years..you are going to REALLY hate what happens next.
We are going to show you Ohio is still here.
The height of confidence is standing up in a hammock.