The Buckeyes are back on top. Courtesy: NY Post
When the clock struck triple zero on the scoreboard in AT&T Stadium Monday night, the Buckeyes captured their eighth National Football Championship in its storied history. The road back to the top wasn’t as easy as the team made it look on the field against Oregon. In the mix of tears of joy and pride over the victory, there was also a feeling of redemption. To understand that, you must know the history of the Scarlet and Gray. All of it. The good, the bad and the ugly. For the Buckeyes it’s been a bumpy ride back to the top. There were heartaches, tragedies, close calls and scandals.
In the 1980’s after Coach Hayes was fired, the Silver Bullets disappeared from National Title scene under Coach Earle Bruce. After making it the 1980 Rose Bowl in his first season—lost to USC, 17-16—Coach Bruce struggled to get the team to double-digit win seasons throughout the rest of his nine seasons. The Buckeyes went 9-3 six consecutive seasons from 1980-1985.
So the OSU powers that be brought in John Cooper, who regained the national spotlight on the program with wins over prestigious programs in Notre Dame in 1995 & 96, the 1997 Rose Bowl victory over Arizona State, the 1999 Sugar Bowl win over Texas A&M and several top 5 finishes. Even with his success, Cooper developed the label of not being able to win the big game by going 2-10-1 in “The Game” and 3-8 in Bowl games that cost the Buckeyes a shot at a couple of National Championships.
In order to get over that hump, former Athletic Director Andy Geiger brought in unknown to most, Jim Tressel from Youngstown State, where he won several National Championships at the I-AA (now the FCS) level. Coach Tressel not only won “The Game”—8-1 versus Michigan—but in year two brought a National Championship to Columbus. The first in 22 years. The Sweater Vest could do no wrong. But, then it did go wrong. Two embarrassing loses in BCS National Title games to Florida and LSU began the chatter that OSU and the Big Ten were inferior to the SEC, and in many experts opinions the PAC-12 and Big 12 as well. You add the Maurice Clarett and Tattoogate dramas and the Buckeye program became the butt of jokes and puns nationwide. Once again, Ohio State was at a low point on and off the field and Coach Tressel resigned.
It was clear the only person to get the program back on track was another coach who revered the man who put it on the map. Urban Meyer. The first pages of his chapter is why the 2014 season is such a fairytale. Coach Meyer inherited bowl sanctions that kept the 2012 Buckeye team from competing for a National Championship with their 12-0 record. The 2013 team ran the win streak to 24 before finishing with disappointing loses in the Big Ten Championship game to Michigan State and the 2014 Orange Bowl to Clemson, that only turned up the volume on Ohio State haters.
But the tone of the chatter has changed now that Meyer just capped off his third season with the best start of any Buckeye football head coach; the Buckeyes are 38-3 in Meyer’s tenure. It’s even changed the way the Big Ten as a whole is viewed.
If Cooper revived the Buckeye program and Tressel restored them to glory, then Urban Meyer has just redeemed the program by not only slaying the SEC giant, but getting the best recruits from all around the country to bleed and sweat in “The Shoe” and bringing the first National Title of the new College Football Playoff to the 614.
What Coach Meyer has done is changed the balance of power that resembles the success of the man he admired and created the Buckeye powerhouse. The Buckeyes have returned to their rightful place, on the throne of College Football.
Urban Meyer has redeemed Buckeye Nation. Courtesy: Cleveland.com