The Urbanization Of Ohio State Is Underway
It’s been days since Ohio State came back and beat Purdue in a thrilling game on Saturday – but I’m still fired up about this team, maybe more fired up than at any point this season. And you know why my emotions are running so high? Yep, you guessed it: Urban Meyer.
In context, Saturday’s game may be seen as some sort of failure, considering this Top-10 Ohio State team had to scramble to come back and beat lowly Purdue in overtime. But the manner of the Buckeyes’ victory – showing guts and determination to fight without their starting quarterback – made every fan in Buckeye nation forget the simple fact that they had beaten a team whose only wins on the year have come against teams from the MAC and FCS.
Besides, if there’s one thing you have to compliment this Ohio State squad on, it’s that they always make it interesting.
But really, there was one singular moment for me that sealed last weekend’s win as one that I will always remember: the head coach’s celebration.
After the final whistle, as the team made its way to the south endzone to celebrate with their fellow students and sing the alma mater, the sense of jubilation was evident among the crowd, as it has been this whole year.
But then, something took it up a notch.
I was relatively far away, but as Iocked arms with those around me I looked to the band director to see when Carmen Ohio would begin. To my surprise minutes passed by and yet nothing happened. What was going on? Did the band forget how to play? Were their mics not working?
My questions were answered quickly, as the closest group of students in the stands started going incredibly wild, and all eyes looked to the field and saw the man in the black pants celebrating like never before. It was Meyer.
The video has made the rounds on the internet, but being there was something else entirely.
To see the passion and enthusiasm in Meyer’s body language was contagious; you couldn’t help but start screaming and going mad yourself. I have never seen the student body get whipped into a frenzy as quickly as then. For me, that moment made me believe in the first-year coach more than ever before.
Meyer is building something in Columbus, something that might have been lost last year but now looks to be back for good. He’s making us proud. He’s bringing back the thunder. He’s bringing the juice.
The way he has handled this season so far has been close to flawless. Though he is nearly always positive, he is also never slow to point out obvious faults, or to tell the truth. Even in the gleeful aftermath of Saturday’s game he told ESPN that his 8-0 Buckeyes weren’t “a great team”. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have faith in this team, it just means he knows they have to improve as much as the fans or analysts do.
I’ve heard some people bemoan the fact that these players are being punished for things they didn’t do by not being able to play in the postseason, especially in a year where they are unbeaten three-fourths of the way into the season. I think that’s missing the point: this team are where it is because Meyer understood the team’s situation and gave it a platform to perform.
I think these players are under less pressure, because they know that one loss or one bad performance won’t boot them from title contention. That doesn’t mean they aren’t playing to win like always, but this year is a rare opportunity where they can continue to give their all and grow as a team without having any real negative consequences.
To say I’m excited for the final four games of this year would be an understatement. And when I think of what could happen in the years to come, my exhilaration increases exponentially. That’s because – in my view – with the man from Ashtabula at the helm, anything is possible.