Thursday, May 30, 2013

Reflecting on Ohio State's football rebuild two years after Jim Tressel's resignation

Rolling off the The Ohio State University press any fall now: "How to Rebuild a Football Program in Two Years."

Friday marks the two-year anniversary of former coach Jim Tressel resigning amid a cash-for-tattoos scandal involving multiple key players. Tressel announced his resignation on Memorial Day, a move designed to minimize the news. The decision didn't work. The story generated an abundance of headlines, especially considering Ohio State president Gordon Gee didn't fire Tressel.

Almost every football-related move involving Ohio State has worked since Tressel's announcement. Luke Fickell was named interim coach for 2011 and guided a team lacking talent to a 6-7 record. The presence of an interim coach without an ego allowed Ohio State to conduct a thorough, well-funded, national coaching search.

The search yielded Urban Meyer, who won two-time national titles at Florida and cured his coaching burnout by spending 2011 in a broadcast booth. Meyer's Ohio roots and experience running a football program at Florida that doubled as a major business made him the perfect candidate for Ohio State.
Meyer's offense and coaching style offered a stark contrast to Tressel's drab ways. He brought SEC recruiting tactics to the Big Ten, immediately convincing players headed to other conference schools to commit to Ohio State.

The innovation, influx of talent and schedule filled with inferior opponents resulted in Meyer going 12-0 in 2012. Ohio State didn't play 13th or 14th games because of an NCAA-mandated postseason ban. The Buckeyes were also forced to work with 82 instead of 85 scholarships.

Consider last season a successful training camp mixed with some low-risk games.

This season will be different. Ohio State is expected to win the Big Ten title. Some envision the Buckeyes meeting the SEC champion in the BCS championship game.

Not even loyalists who create Brutus Buckeye sand sculptures on vacation expected Ohio State to return to the national title race this quickly.

Ohio State might want to start selling its how-to book soon. Meyer, after all,  makes more than $4 million per year.

Nobody said rebuilding is cheap.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy


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