After being born into Buckeye fandom and living my entire life in Central Ohio, where Ohio State athletics are thoroughly ingrained in the culture, my husband accepted a job in the greater Atlanta metro area, and we moved in 2005 to the heart of SEC country, a few weeks before Ohio State's football season was to begin.
Of course, University of Georgia's football season was also about to begin, which meant that I was fully immersed in a football culture that I didn't care about at all. I remember going out to lunch with a couple of friends on the Friday preceding the Georgia/Florida matchup that fall, and my new friends proclaimed that I must have "never seen anything like this."
"It sure is something," I replied politely, while thinking to myself that there is no rivalry in this nation quite like The Ohio State University and That Team Up North, and how terribly uninteresting the Georgia/Florida rivalry is by comparison. But SEC fans define insanity as moving to the south and refusing to defect from what they perceive to be a lesser conference, such as the Big Ten, and they are perpetually confused by my reticence to embrace all that is the SEC.
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel wrote last week about Ohio State's plans to end the SEC national title streak, and you really should read Luke Zimmermann's take on it, if you haven't already. To summarize, linebacker Ryan Shazier and defensive back Bradley Roby have stated – and I'm paraphrasing – that they're tired of hearing about the SEC, and they would like to be the team to end their championship streak.
Roby hails from Suwanee, Georgia, about 20 minutes from where I live, and locals are still angry that he didn't choose to attend UGA, who reached out with an offer to Roby pretty late in the recruiting process, not that it matters to Bulldogs fans. The idea of local talent choosing to attend a non-SEC school blows their minds. Shazier is from Florida and was originally recruited by Urban Meyer to play for the Gators, so he certainly falls into the same category.
When Roby and Shazier say they are specifically motivated to dethrone the SEC, I am on board with that. Alabama is expected to be in a reasonable position to make a return trip to the championship game, and while Alabama should be very good again this season (no, Bama could not beat any NFL team, so please don't ask) Ohio State will be entering the season with Braxton Miller having gained more experience and confidence in Urban Meyer's power spread offense, many returning impact players, and two stellar recruiting classes filling in the blanks.
Speaking of Meyer's power spread offense, Texas A&M (who admittedly operates out of a more air raid base) was able to exploit Alabama's few weaknesses defensively to hand Bama their only loss of the season in 2012 doing some things philosophically not entirely absent from the Buckeyes' m.o.. Meyer's approach on offense could put Ohio State in a unique position to compete with Alabama, should they get the opportunity.
There's a lot of football to be played before Alabama or Ohio State could get the opportunity to compete for a championship. Alabama has, at this point, what appears to be the weakest schedule in the SEC (although, admittedly, it's partially because Alabama cannot play themselves) and Ohio State's schedule is pretty easy as well. It likely won't be an obstacle for the Tide to make it back to the national championship, as the SEC always seems to get the benefit of the doubt, but it may hinder Ohio State. This is the reason that Urban Meyer is encouraging other Big Ten coaches to step up their respective recruiting games. Nobody wants to win a national championship for Ohio State more than Meyer does, and he doesn't want sub-par Big Ten opponents to keep him from getting the opportunity.
Most SEC fans' response to the idea that Ohio State could potentially compete with Alabama, or another SEC school, for a championship, and win, will be something along the lines of, "LOL Urban Liar is a quitter; Roll Tide." I believe what they're trying to express with that mildly inarticulate sentiment is their belief that Meyer couldn't hang with the SEC, leading to his resignation at Florida, and is therefore unqualified to take on one of their lofty teams to compete for a championship.
Unless your judgment is clouded by blind loyalty to the SEC, Urban Meyer actually seems uniquely qualified to take on the SEC, and win. He's obviously familiar with the conference. He has demonstrated that he's a winner – as a matter of fact, his career win percentage is .834. Not only is that ridiculously good, but it's also better than Nick Saban's career win percentage of .742. Urban Meyer-coached teams have appeared in eight bowl games, with one loss in 2007, sandwiched between BCS Championship wins in 2006 and 2008.
Surely you're aware that Ohio State doesn't have a great record against the SEC in bowl games. What do those bowl game losses have in common? Urban Meyer wasn't coaching the Buckeyes for any of them. It's commonly accepted among SEC fans that other conferences fear playing their teams, but Ohio State's players seem eager for the opportunity to hand them a loss. It's past time for someone to step up and put an end to the SEC's championship dominance, and it very well could be Urban Meyer's 2013 Buckeyes that finally get it done.