Good is the enemy of great, according to business author Jim Collins, and his philosophy is echoed by leaders everywhere, from Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, to my daughter's high school band director. Good is the enemy of great when "good" breeds complacence. The Buckeyes did some things well against the Buffalo Bulls--and they did other things just poorly enough to keep their focus in the right place as they prepare to take on San Diego State.
We all remember that the Buckeyes had some uneven performances along their way to a perfect record last season (like, I dunno, maybe this one), and perhaps it helped them remain undefeated. After all, Ohio State was rarely strong enough last season to simply coast through much of anything. Urban Meyer rarely seems satisfied regardless of how well his team performs. He does not simply tolerate "good," or allow it to interfere with "great."
Meyer said in Monday's press conference that complacency from the Buckeyes isn't going to be a factor after Saturday's win over Buffalo, even though Ohio State did win by 20, and San Diego State is coming off of a 21-point loss to an FCS opponent, Eastern Illinois University. Many teams would just assume that a win is forthcoming against the Aztecs on Saturday, and other coaches might allow their teams to hold that assumption. Not Urban Meyer.
For a team with a current 13-game winning streak, favored to win every game on their schedule, some focus and perspective is imperative if the Buckeyes want to duplicate their 2012 success. There will be no resting on their laurels for the Buckeyes this week, no looking past the San Diego State Aztecs. Everyone at every level of the organization--from Urban Meyer to the players to the trainers--is held accountable for things that weren't up to this team's standards against Buffalo.
Urban Meyer is well-known to be a perfectionist, and extremely competitive, and Ohio State's schedule supports the possibility of another undefeated season in 2013, but complacency could derail the whole thing. Meyer sees the mistakes committed by his team against the Buffalo Bulls as, "...a great opportunity for us to coach them hard and get better (today) and Wednesday."
Could Ohio State beat San Diego State if they are merely good? Well....probably, especially if the Aztecs can't get healthy, or are as cavalier with the football as they were against EIU. Could they win most of the games on their schedule by being just good? That's probably true too, especially if the lower half of the Big Ten struggles like they did last season. Ohio State's goals for this season extend beyond just being good. Being good gets you a bowl game in Tampa and a noon kickoff. This team wants to be great, and they have the potential to get there. That requires attention to all the details, and regular, consistent, execution.
Being great means winning the turnover battle. It means converting that 4th and short to extend a potentially backbreaking drive. Being great means not allowing any pick 6s, no matter how great the linebacker is. Being great means tackling well in the open field, sustaining blocks for both pass protection and to open holes, and in staying on schedule on offense and defense. Ohio State didn't meet every threshold for being great against Buffalo. It doesn't mean they were bad, no matter what any overzealous AP voter or frantic sports radio caller might say. But they weren't great. You need to be great to win a title.
Meyer will expect this team to be less good and more great against the San Diego State Aztecs on Saturday, but he likely won't be satisfied even if they do, and that's the best case scenario for the Buckeyes.
Matt Brown contributed to this report.