September 1st, that's the date. That's when Buckeyes' new head coach Urban Meyer and Ohio State weigh anchor and embark on their football odyssey in quest of redemption & past glory as they face intrastate foe Miami (OH) in both school's season-opener.
Who would've thunk just two years ago, that in 2012, the winningest coach in the history of The Ohio State University (94-22 / .810) and the most reviled in Ann Arbor (8-1) since Woody Hayes, would be out, replaced by a man of equal accolades in the person of then Gators' guru Mr. Meyer?
Sidebar: What's up with precedent "The": The Open Championship (British), The Johns Hopkins, The University of Alabama, The Championships Wimbledon, The Ohio State? I think it's what Edward de Vere (Shake-speare) expressed as "paint(ing) the lily (King John)."
And Jim Tressel, he's doing fine in Akron (VP). The transgressions that led to his exit in 2011 now pale in light of Penn State's misdeeds. Near 60 and positioned for retirement, if he gets the itch to coach again he'll have plenty of suitors. Much depends on the right opportunity knocking. That could turn on how experiments pan out at top-tier schools like Notre Dame (Kelly), Florida (Muschamp) and USC (Kiffin). We will see.
An Ohio native (Toledo '64), Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus with an armload of trophies and a perceptible SEC groove. His resume is textbook for the stepping-stone career path: multiple schools, brief tenures, varied specialties. I'm not criticizing. This is SOP for today's hot-prospect college coach. Larry Brown was ahead of his time.
And those specialties of Meyer, most cover the offensive side of the field. That means he'll have OSU matriculating nicely in short order. Given last year's atypical low national ranking (103), there's no other way to go but up.
The traditionally stout Ohio State defense (19) then figures to remain its strong suit, even with graduate attrition. As defense is not Meyer's forte this is where his skill in the fine arts of interviewing (assistants) & delegation will come into play.
It takes time to mold a team, but it wouldn't be hasty to expect quick results from Urban. This guy's accustomed to winning at a high level (.819 / 7-1). He's what they used to call a real go-getter, as evidenced by his Manifest Destiny approach to the recruitment war which can take him deep into rival territory (Michigan).
And there in may lay Meyer's biggest challenge, finding recruits that can maintain the numerous standards laid-down by his new Big Ten employer. There are the NCAA rules, then there are the school's criterion, enhanced somewhat at OSU in wake of recent troubles.
Helping matters is OSU's 2012 schedule. No cake-walk, it doesn't exactly send chills down your spin either, like a typical Notre Dame line-up. Though, I've seen more daunting Irish agendas than this fall's version. I count three bruisers on the Buckeyes' slate (MSU / UW / UM), five legitimate contests and four win-ables.
Years from now, when the victories & titles are tallied and a retired, gray-haired Urban Meyer steps onto the OSU field and joins the band to dot the 'eye,' older Buckeyes will reflect back on those trying times in 2011, nod their heads in acceptance and whisper to eachother, 'Every cloud has a silver & red lining...and it was worth every penny!'