December 10, 2012

12-OH: The Meyer Hire

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Having just wrapped up a perfect season unlike any other in program history, it's hard not to look back at the last 12 months of Ohio State football and not only marvel at the unlikeliness of what the Buckeyes accomplished in 2012, but also how far they've come since their 6-7 mark in 2011. With that in mind, I'll spend the next 12 days examining and reflecting on the 12 most important moments that helped create and stand out from just the sixth unbeaten and untied season in Ohio State history.

Today, we'll take you back to Nov. 28, 2011, when the new face of Buckeye football came to town.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It's hard to remember Columbus having ever been in a better mood, just two days after an Ohio State loss to Michigan.

Then again, at that point, it was just hard to remember the last time the Buckeyes had fallen to the Wolverines.

Ohio State was two days removed from a 40-34 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor, marking the first time in eight years that the Wolverines had defeated the Buckeyes. Yet despite the fact that the 2011 OSU squad had just hit rock bottom with a loss to its now BCS bound nemesis, optimism permeated throughout Ohio's capital city.

Rumors had spread for weeks, and only picked up steam throughout the day, but it wasn't until Urban Meyer took that podium inside the Fawcett Center that Buckeye fans could take satisfaction in knowing that the two-time national champion head coach and Ohio native was now the head coach at Ohio State.

"It's a great opportunity to come back to my home state where I was born and where I grew up, where I went to school and met my wife," Meyer said at his introductory press conference. "I welcome the opportunity to once again work with the state of Ohio high school coaches and re‑establish the many relationships that I had that existed the previous 25 years."

The marriage between Ohio State and Meyer seemed like a much needed one for both parties, which were each coming off of unusual and unfamiliar experiences in 2011.

For Ohio State, the Buckeyes had just endured a 6-6 regular season, and an eventual loss in the Gator Bowl would cap off their first losing season since 1988. Furthermore, NCAA violations committed by members of the 2010 Ohio State team and former head coach Jim Tressel left the Buckeyes with impending sanctions and a head coaching vacancy.

In Meyer's case, health issues forced him to step down as the head coach at Florida, where he won two national championships in six seasons, marking the first time since he began his career as a graduate assistant at OSU that he would not spend a college football season coaching.

"I had a health scare a couple of years ago that made me sit back, reflect," Meyer said. "I've been checked out over and over again. I feel fantastic.  And I'm ready to go."

"Go," is just what Meyer did in his first offseason as the Buckeyes' head coach, helping secure the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, despite National Signing Day coming fewer than three months from the day that he accepted the OSU job. He hadn't even coached a game yet- or held a practice for that matter- but Meyer's mere presence in Columbus that afternoon made Buckeye fans feel like winners, which was something that was hard to imagine, given the season that they had just endured.

"There's some obvious mistakes made on the grand scheme of things, mistakes that are very correctible," Meyer said of the program he was taking over. "I don't think Ohio State's broke."


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