Ohio State football outlook for the 2016 season. The Buckeyes have a massive reloading job to do, but Urban Meyer has been through this before. He’ll get it right this time around
There’s not going to be a meltdown this time around.
Urban Meyer’s 2009 Florida Gators won the national title a year too early, came back loaded with Tim Tebow, Joe Haden and Brandon Spikes leading the way – nine players off the team were drafted in 2010, and six went in the top 62 – didn’t play quite up to the hype, lost one game, and weren’t able to repeat.
Sound remotely familiar?
That 2009 Florida season ended with Meyer having health problems, retiring, unretiring, and then struggling through a clunky 8-5 year before getting out of Gainesville.
Things are fine at Ohio State after as disappointing a season as a 12-1 Fiesta Bowl-winning team could probably have, but is this going to be the year of readjustment? With Michigan rising, Penn State better, and Michigan State still terrific, this might be the time when the Buckeyes need a year off to reload with all the strong young stockpiled talent.
Or, instead of a five-loss reboot, the Buckeyes just might be the best team in the Big Ten.
Call this the calmer, cooler Urban era without the same manic obsessiveness of his time in Florida. There’s another guy in Meyer’s division who’s got the market cornered right now on insane, so all he has to do keep on doing what he’s doing, let the machine keep working, and all should be fine.
After all, in his four years in Columbus, Meyer is 50-4 with two losses to eventual Big Ten champion Michigan State, one gack against Virginia Tech, and a shootout loss to Clemson in the 2014 Orange Bowl. So what if the team just lost 13 players to the NFL Draft including five first-rounders?
At the moment I’m writing this, OSU has Scout.com’s No. 1 recruiting class of 2017 after finishing second in 2016, eighth in 2015 – but No. 1 in the Big Ten – fifth in 2014, first in 2013 and third in 2012.
Having the most talented team on the field is almost never a problem.
This year, with the quarterback situation settled and J.T. Barrett the star of the show, the offense should have a faster, better tempo behind a terrific line working around NFL talents Pat Elflein and Billy Price inside. The running backs and receivers are new in need time, but experience aside, they’re going to be better than everyone else’s skill players.
Bringing about defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was a coup – he’d be one of the best head coaches in the Big Ten if he had one of the big gigs. This is going to be an ultra-aggressive, ultra-fast defensive back seven that should make up for its mistakes with athleticism, while the pass rush – especially the end rotation – is going to be stellar.
It’s not going to be an easy road with dates at Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Penn State and Michigan State, and Michigan and Nebraska are going to be fun, but there are no excuses for a program that went 12-0 with nothing to play for in 2012.
And there are no excuses for Meyer. He’s dealt with this already, and he’s not going to make the same mistakes this time.