When the lights flicker on for the incredibly early Aug. 31 Big Ten Conference opener, when the Ohio State Buckeyes visit the Indiana Hoosiers, it’s expected to be an especially hostile and dangerous setting for the highly ranked visitors.
And it probably will be.
But one thing is certain.
The Buckeyes will be well-prepared. They don’t win every game — well, it’s pretty close actually, considering the 61-6 mark in the Urban Meyer era — but they usually have a solid plan.
We’re not just talking about X’s and O’s, either. It’s relentless recruiting, but then it’s developing that talent. It’s recognizing who needs a kick in the butt. It’s developing a system, a culture, and remaining true to that infrastructure. It’s making adjustments. Meyer’s teams have lost three bowl games. Following two of those defeats — once at Florida, once at Ohio State — Meyer’s program followed with national-championship seasons (Clemson 31, Ohio State 0 at the Fiesta Bowl? Hmmmm).
Meyer is generally ahead of the curve, but at times when things go awry (Clemson 31, Ohio State 0), things are corrected pretty quickly.
Once again, the infrastructure appears to be clicking. The offense needed some changes. Two assistants left for other programs. The Buckeyes got a new offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, the former Indiana head coach who will become a prime storyline in the opener during his “homecoming.’’
No wonder Ohio State has superior planning. Who has more accomplished coordinators?
Wilson guided Indiana to back-to-back bowls for the first time in 25 years. Buckeye fans are drooling over Wilson’s proven ability to move the ball and score points. He made the Hoosiers relevant. As an offensive coordinator, he turned Northwestern into a feared unit, then had historic success at Oklahoma (the 2008 Sooners scored 58 or more points for six consecutive games).
The defensive coordinator is Greg Schiano, a former NFL head coach who once transformed Rutgers from woeful to near-wonderful in the old Big East Conference.
Meyer said Schiano, after his initial Ohio State season, was offered two head-coaching jobs in the offseason but opted to stay with the Buckeyes.
Two successful former head coaches at the coordinator spots? It’s the anchor of a stable, productive staff.
Then again, hiring assistant coaches always has been a Meyer strength.
Eleven current Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches — 11! — have been Meyer assistants:
- Steve Addazio, Boston College.
- Gary Andersen, Oregon State.
- Chris Ash, Rutgers.
- D.J. Durkin, Maryland.
- Luke Fickell, Cincinnati.
- Tom Herman, Texas.
- Doc Holliday, Marshall.
- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State.
- Charlie Strong, USF.
- Everett Withers, Texas State.
- Kyle Whittingham, Utah.
Talk about a cradle of coaches. It’s a talented stable and the current staff is carrying on that tradition.
So it’s no surprise that the Buckeyes are generally prepared for all challenges, even the different ones that this season could pose.
It’s atypical for Ohio State to open its season against a Big Ten opponent. Then there’s a home matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners, followed by a meeting against Army’s tricky option offense.
There are no cupcakes and certainly no exhibition games. In order to meet expectations, Ohio State must be ready from the jump.
No need to worry.
Such challenges are just calls to action for the Buckeyes. They will be prepared. They will have a plan. The infrastructure brings to life Ohio State’s level of talent and organization.
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