Here it is, a mere 24 hours before the annual intrasquad squad scrimmage, and I have yet to come to grips with Urban Meyer being the coach of my favorite college sports team. I am, however, still somewhat worried this is an elaborate ruse. For the last 72 hours, I've lived in a paranoid fear that Ashton Kutcher -- or his dark apprentice, Justin Bieber -- will come lunging at me from nowhere, cameras in tow, all the while screaming things like "HAHAHA! PUNK'D! BACK TO MEDIOCRITY FOR YOUR TEAM!"
Barring a chance to become the most popular murderer since Andrew Jackson, I must ask, are the Football Gods really about to let Ohio State unleash the state's prodigal son on the rest of the country? Is this real life? And if so, have the haters of The Ohio State University bunkered themselves down for the hellacious nuclear winter which will be their existence during the rest of Urban's reign at Ohio State?
It's been fascinating to watch others in the Big Ten attempt to rationalize the scarlet shadow which has fallen over the conference. Domino's Athletic Director started the clamoring when he whined about a routine waiver which allowed Ohio State to function with two coaching staffs. There's been under-handed comments from Madison, Wisconsin, which insinuated Urban Meyer was a cheater. There's been Penn State fans talking about Penn State football as if they shouldn't have been shamed into throwing all of their Penn State memorabilia into the trash. There's people in Iowa who appear dead-seat on paying Kirk Ferentz millions of dollars to lead the Hawkeyes to another mid-table finish in the Big Ten. Urban Meyer is going to crush them all.
I don't hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I feel like all Big Ten-centric chatter outside of Columbus should center around how best to handle the new bully on the block. I'm hardly a football savant, but I am a masochist, and I watched the Big Ten last year. Last year's conference play was as if somebody stuffed all of the world's stagnant football tactics into a dumpster and set it on fire.
Unfortunately for college fans outside of Columbus, Ohio, Urban Meyer saw those flames of mediocrity against the night sky. It didn't take long for the visions of grandeur to begin dancing in his head. Remember, this man teared up when The Best Damn Band in The Land took the field during the pre-game ceremonies against Akron. Then he went on a media-sponsored scouting tour of the Big Ten and probably realized, "Holy Hell, I can come to Columbus, get paid millions while living in semi-retirement for 15 years, and in the process become a demi-God."
Only one season has passed since it was Jim Tressel, with his silk-gloved iron fist, overlording over the Big Ten like a gentleman. The only thing more irritating than getting your clock cleaned? When the guy doing the cleaning is doing it in a docile manner like Jim Tressel did.
It's why the masses took such in delight in tearing down Jim Tressel's visage. It's why they were so gleeful while Ohio State floundered to a 6-7 record. For once, Ohio State was beatable. For once, the aura behind the Scarlet and Gray had been ripped from the Buckeyes. The haters' wildest pipe-dreams about Ohio State's "dirty" program had been vindicated with some tattoos and other off-the-field "benefits". The bully had finally been dealt his death knell.
"Without ashes, there can be no phoenix," A great philosopher once said that to me, and I can't help but think of those sublime words and apply them to Ohio State's current situation. (And when I say, "great philosopher", I mean "a drunk girl at a bar explaining her unique tattoo to me.")
If Jim Tressel would have just snitched on his own players, (and assuming he wasn't on the verge of being exposed as Central Ohio's cocaine kingpin), then The Vest would still be employed as Ohio State's coach. As great as Tressel was, there is nobody who I'd rather have coaching Ohio State right now than Urban Meyer. (And yes, for those of you keeping score at home, I just threw Jim Tressel under the bus much like Gene Smith did to DeVier Posey's senior season. [And yes, Gene Smith, I'm still carrying salt over being forced to watch the 2012 Gator Bowl.])
My friend works in Columbus alongside one of Meyer's former players from Bowling Green. (Yes, this is an insight into how deep my connections around this program run.) According to my friend, and according to this player, every single one of Urban Meyer's practices felt as if it were the Super Bowl. That's one hell of a grindstone for players to sharpen their mental fortitude on. It also warms my heart to think Urban brought this environment to desolate Bowling Green, Ohio. It makes me feel like this spring has only offered a glimpse into what Urban Meyer has planned for the future.
The world saw what happened when Meyer's best was lined up against Tressel's best, just as it watched Tressel lay waste to the Big Ten for the better part of a decade. Urban has already said Ohio State will run a faster tempo than his record-setting 2008 team at Florida. So, given what we know, let's pretend Urban Meyer is "A", Jim Tressel is "B", and the pitiful Big Ten is "C". Wouldn't the equation be "A > B > C"?
And lest people think Ohio State will only return to its tinpot dictator over a rustic Midwestern hub status, Ohio State seems to be casting a much wider recruiting net than it did under Jim Tressel. Urban has brought in Kerry Coombs and Tim Hinton, two gentlemen with knee-deep connections to the Cincinnati area, to shore up the one hole in the picket fence Tressel had erected around Ohio.
Urban's forthcoming bullying of the Big Ten will hopefully pay dividends for the mired football conference. After all, it was Urban Meyer himself who unleashed the SEC-krakken upon an unsuspecting nation. While Southerners' attention spans don't go back that far, there was a time before the SEC dominated the title game.
It is my hope and belief that Urban Meyer will show not only Ohio State fans, but the Big Ten as a whole, what it takes to be competitive on a national level in 21st century collegiate football. I hope it spurns other schools, tired of losing, to open up their bank accounts and hire more young talent to the coaching ranks.
If it doesn't, well, there is always more room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for trophies.