Just nine days away from the kickoff of the 2012 college football season and the usual excitement and anticipation has officially hit full stride. With Ohio State’s well-documented NCAA sanctions beginning to run their course this season, with reduced scholarships and the immediate serving on a one year bowl ban, the season has a different tone to it already. Surprisingly, that tone isn’t one of lost hope or the thought that the next thirteen weeks of football in Columbus will be all for naught. As a matter of fact it’s quite the opposite.
What would this year look like if we had Tim Beckman under the headset rather than Urban Meyer setting up camp in Columbus? Would half of our staff just be returning from State College, PA after a trip focused on quasi-recruiting and a Penn State Fantasy Draft?
The talk would revolve around what Beckman was or wasn’t able to accomplish at Toledo and how that might translate at Ohio Stadium, even though it’s an apples-and-oranges comparison. The discussion would, at some point, focus directly on whatever parallels we could draw in comparing the careers of Beckman versus the pre-Ohio State Jim Tressel. We would be cautiously optimistic, as that’s what Ohio State fans do, yet every message board would be filled with arguments between newly staunch Beckman supporters and those who would have chosen to scream, “we’re Ohio State, we should have hired Vince Lombardi!!”
…we got a rock star head coach and the very best on-the-spot coaching staff that could possibly be assembled. We have former head coach and Scarlet-bleeding Buckeye Luke Fickell, along with Super Bowl Champion pal Mike Vrabel, positioned exactly where they will excel within the program. Mickey Marotti is busting everyone’s ass from true freshmen to salty vets to the wives of the staff and the student body. Our Director of Player Personnel, Mark Pantoni, likes to hit the Twitter airwaves to discuss the requirements of being a Swaggernaut. A SWAGGERNAUT for crying out loud! Wide receivers coach Zach Smith, grandson of former Buckeye head coach and Meyer mentor Earle Bruce, spends his fair share of time in social media talking to fans about sarcastic Buckeye Nation Problems – and the fans love him for it. Somewhere, defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs is screaming. LOUDLY. And the players love him for it.
Have you tuned in to ESPN or ESPNU over the last week and a half? Yeah, uhm, the up-to-their-asses-in-tattoos, no-bowl-playin Beatles of Columbus above are the focus of an All-Access camp series on the Worldwide Leader, and everyone is watching.
The atmosphere is absolutely electric around the Ohio State football program, bowl or no bowl, and Braxton Miller hasn’t even taken a sophomore snap from center yet.
Who needs Vince Lombardi when you’ve got Urban Damn Meyer?
I simply can’t remember a time in the last two decades that the entire atmosphere of the largest group of college football backers in America was this amped for a season to get started. How ironic that it comes before a season which we already know will only last for twelve games? On the evening of November 24th the college football season will officially be over in Columbus. No Big Ten Championship Game – No Big Ten Championship. No televised bowl special to look forward to, or plane tickets to buy to watch a final game in January. No hotel reservations or street parties in a BCS town near you.
On the morning of November 25th we’ll pack up our freshly earned Gold Pants and begin counting down the days until August 31st, 2013 when Urban fires his initial warning shot at the SEC by piss-pounding Vanderbilt in the ‘Shoe to open up his first National Championship run in four years.
It’s a lot to look forward to, as the future sure does feel blinding from the eye of this beholder, but there’s so much to look forward to in this 2012 season and Buckeye Nation’s laser-sharp focus is aimed directly on next Saturday.
So many scenarios. So many questions. Very few answers yet discovered, but the wait is almost over.
As of noon eastern just nine days from now, there will be answers pouring out of Ohio Stadium for all to see. Just how fast is an offense created by a team of Meyer and new offensive coordinator Tom Herman, two of the best offensive minds in college football? How much has Braxton Miller improved? How much field-turf can Ryan Shazier cover with that newly chiseled physique? How pissed is Bradley Roby for the national pre-season snubs? Are freshmen Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence ready for prime time? Who gets detached from their helmet first, care of John MF Simon?
God help the Miami (OH) RedHawks.
We used to enter every ‘dream season’ filled with mountains of hope that we could possibly go undefeated and claim yet another national championship, but with one question lurking in the back of our mind: will Tresselball make it through the entire schedule unscathed, and is it enough to beat the next SEC team in line? He’s done it before. He can do it again. We knew it. He knew it. We just couldn’t get over that hump for a second time in ten years.
We enter this 2012 season with a different hope. One that inches us as close to an undefeated season as possible and the potential for an Associated Press ranking of number-one in the country to rival the BCS-contracted rankings of the Coaches’ Poll. We want a split national championship, or at least an unblemished Urban Meyer Era heading into Christmas. The questing lurking these days is much simpler than that of years past: will Urban run it up on Michigan when the opportunity presents itself this November?
You can bet your ass he won’t leave any doubt as to who the new owner of The Rivalry is.
Urban Meyer doesn’t play around. He doesn’t worry about hurt feelings, Brady Hoke’s image, ‘respect’ for the damn Wolverines or what Mark May says about his coaching philosophy – just ask Georgia’s Mark Richt.
He doesn’t care what Bret Bielema thinks of his recruiting tactics, and told him as much. He doesn’t budge when bitter Gators beat writers sling mud. Instead, the fire inside burns hotter. The desire to prove them and everyone else wrong grows exponentially. His Buckeye pride swells a little bigger and he and his men of Scarlet and Gray get back to work. At that very moment, nobody else on the college football landscape matters outside of those sweating alongside of him.
He worries about two things and two things only: making his family proud of his new approach and results, and about making The Ohio State Buckeyes the best college football team in America, bowl or no bowl.
“Juice.” It’s the one word spoken most often in and around the WHAC these days. It overflows Mickey Marotti’s bowl. Luke Fickell has relocated it. Mike Vrabel has had it spilling from his pours since he was three years old. Kerry Coombs eats, sleeps, drinks and dreams about it. The players have it, the trainers have it, the students have it and Urban Meyer for damn sure has it.
Now the Buckeye faithful have it.
That, Buckeye Nation, is why we’re so damn amped for next Saturday. To hell with a bowl game. Give me whoever’s next.
Nine days, people. NINE. MORE. DAYS.