Bradley Roby's return is invaluable to the Buckeye defense in 2013. But he made a bold statement on Twitter that should have us all buzzing.
Im done with the what ifs what's done is done! Bama played a weak team and got a ring but just know this A SEC team WONT win next year.— Bradley Roby (@BradRoby_1) January 8, 2013
Two days ago, Bradley Roby made his feelings regarding the national championship game – and both teams playing in it – quite clear. Two days ago, despite going largely unnoticed by the national media, Roby put every team in the country on notice. This tweet still hasn't been deleted, despite the propensity of athletes on Twitter to "press send" on even a slightly inflammatory tweet and then remove it at the first sign of backlash or trouble. So, why hasn't this open challenge to the national media's prized S-E-C dynasty gotten more run?
Consider the source – Roby is an All-American according to ESPN, on the sport's only undefeated team. He is not known for idle talk like a Chad Ochocinco or the like. He may just be the best player on the Ohio State defense entirely, if it's not Ryan Shazier. The problem is one of stardom. Roby is not Tyrann Mathieu – no nickname bestowed on him by Brent Musburger and the Internet. He has not yet made the plays – even though we know he's extremely talented – that ensure level of notoriety. Teams just don't throw at him, as he puts a blanket on half the field. However, an All-American cornerback tweeting something like the above really should deserve more attention and scrutiny.
Consider the team – Ohio State is maybe the team with the best shot to knock off the SEC's death grip on the crystal football. They are already a dominant force in the Big Ten with Urban Meyer as head coach, and they are competing for the best recruits in the country – not just in Ohio. The Buckeyes are easily the most SEC-like team north of the Mason-Dixon line (besides perhaps Oregon, but they're more Big 12 in style) and have the best chance to end their reign of terror, which has lasted since the population shifted in a southerly direction. Bradley Roby's tweet, if tweeted by an Auburn cornerback or LSU cornerback about Alabama, might get twice the attention – albeit with different context.
Consider the ramifications – especially if Ohio State has a really good or, worse, really bad season. Now, Roby did not guarantee that it would be specifically the Buckeyes ending the reign of the SEC, but really, who else could he have meant? The team with the best players coming back and the easiest schedule to navigate is Ohio State – a flawed team that still went 12-0 with some dominating wins. It's no guarantee, but Ohio State will be part of the championship picture next year.
I am of the opinion that Ohio State would have gotten beaten by about 20 points had they faced Alabama and would have beaten Notre Dame in a close game had they been bowl-eligible this year. Next year, though, Ohio State will certainly not be a "weak team". Bradley Roby's tweet is a microcosm of the confidence that Urban Meyer and the rest of the coaching staff has instilled in its players. We saw early on in the practices that some players hadn't totally bought in. The competition level wasn't quite up to Meyer's high expectations. After a full season where the "Urban renewal" brought a high-scoring offense, defensive intensity and most of all, 12-0, the players are ready to buy in. They know what works and what doesn't, and what they must do to win games. A young, hungry, angry team last year is now becoming a veteran, hungry, angry and bowl-eligible team, and they believe that they can not only compete with but beat whoever may come out of the SEC to face them in a bowl game or even national championship.
If the confidence of Roby – and the fact that this tweet, this open defiance of SEC domination, has not been deleted – doesn't get you excited for 2013, I don't know what will.