Urban Meyer Leads Period of “Buckeye Rebirth”

The Ohio State Buckeyes prepare to take on Michigan State tomorrow in Indianapolis(Photo: Thomas Bradley / WOSU)
The Ohio State Buckeyes prepare to take on Michigan State tomorrow in Indianapolis(Photo: Thomas Bradley / WOSU)

Not since 1942 has The Ohio State University football team played another non-bowl game after The Game, the annual matchup with their arch rival University of Michigan.

Saturday, the Buckeyes will face Michigan State in the second-ever Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. A win would all but guarantee placement in the 2013 National Championship game and a loss would shatter the team’s 24-game win streak, the longest in the history of OSU football.

The story of Ohio State’s success has also been the story of head Coach Urban Meyer’s success bringing the Buckeye’s back into winning shape after a rough 2011 season under interim head coach Luke Fickell, now a co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Some are calling this a new era, which makes sense considering Buckeye football history is often looked at in eras which correspond with the team’s head coach.

Consider the program-defining Woody Hayes era.

The bittersweet John Cooper era.

Then there was the return to glory that the Buckeyes found from 2001 to 2010 under Coach Jim Tressel. The Tressel Era, which is best known for the team’s National Championship victory in 2002, came to an end after an ugly scandal now known as “Tattoogate” where 28 players total were caught selling autographs and memorabilia in exchange for tattoos while playing for Tressel.

The ordeal cost Tressel his job and the Buckeyes scholarships and a postseason while leaving a void  at the helm of the program.

Now, under Meyer, the Buckeye’s have reached a period of “rebirth” says Bill Rabinowitz, reporter for the Columbus Dispatch and author of the new book “Buckeye Rebirth: Urban Meyer, an Inspired Team, and a New Era at Ohio State.”

Rabinowitz says that Meyer is unlike the coaches before him.

“He’s much more forthcoming and honest in press conferences than most coaches are,” Rabinowitz said on All Sides with Ann Fisher. “I remember last year, early in the year when they were still in the early stages of trying to figure out who they were and a question about their offensive line and he says they’re ‘non-functional’.”

Meyer’s success is often attributed to his command of the X’s and O’s, but Rabinowitz said there’s much more to it than that.

“People talk all the time about Urban Meyer, the guru of the spread offense, and he will just scoff at that,” he said. “People miss the point—Urban Meyer is a master psychologist. He knows how to push people’s buttons, he knows how to motivate.”

Despite a perfect record since taking over the Buckeyes, Meyer was not named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

That honor went to Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio—the man Meyer will be up against in Saturday’s conference championship.

“Michigan State was considered a decent team but certainly not what they have become, Ohio State was clearly the frontrunner in the Leaders Division,” Rabinowitz said. “And I’m sure there’s some resentment towards Urban Meyer; some of it’s just jealousy of his success at Ohio State, you know maybe his personality rubs people the wrong way—I don’t know.”

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