With 40 seconds left on the clock, head coach Urban Meyer was smiling from ear-to-ear as he was drenched in orange Gatorade and preparing to hold the Big Ten Championship trophy. Just over 12 hours later, he learned that one of the best games in recent, or any, Ohio State history was in fact enough to sway the College Football Playoff committee's vote; the Buckeyes will face Alabama on New Year's Day.
The team's plane landed in Columbus around 4 a.m. and with little time to rest or process what just happened, Urban Meyer took the podium to face reporters with a long list of questions.
-- Urban Meyer, "Great day for Ohio State, Big Ten Champions, outright Big Ten Champions." This is the "most improved team he has ever been around".
-- Discipline is something the coaching staff stressed to the players, on and off the field; but leadership is what gets the players a Big Ten Championship and to a Playoff game. Meyer referenced Michael Bennett, who is a "guy I can count on, a guy who doesn't moan and complain about stuff."
-- Earlier in the season, Urban Meyer wouldn't have guessed that the Buckeyes would make it to the Playoffs, but he couldn't predict HOW good this team would be. Everything that happened this season lead to him believing they had a chance after the win over Wisconsin.
-- Going into the season, Meyer was more concerned with the four new lineman than he was with Braxton Miller going down.
-- "Very appreciative of our coaching staff, a lot of effort," on what was gratifying about this successful season.
-- Last Wednesday's practice was when Urban got a feeling that his Buckeyes would have a pretty good game; several players were performing well and effectively.
-- Meyer tried to get some hints on where the College Football Playoff committee would stand from AD Gene Smith, but according to Smith, the CFP commissioner didn't even know. Meyer didn't concern himself with what TCU and Baylor looked like going into the CFP decision.
-- Seems like even though the team didn't watch the selection show together, there were a good number of the coaching staff at Urban's house waiting for the decision.
-- "I guess I'll use it for the first time, I was surprised", Meyer when asked about how well Cardale Jones played and how mature he's gotten over the past few seasons. He stressed again how important on and off the field support groups are to creating great players, and how that was a big contribution to Jones's growth.
-- "We spent an inordinate amount of time on leadership training for the coaches" - Meyer put them through a four week course to learn how to best develop their players.
-- While comparing the BCS and CFP, Meyer mentions there is still some issues with the way they choose teams.
-- Urban seems most concerned with how the players families will be able to travel and make it to watch their sons, nephews, friends play some of the most important games of their lives.
-- Meyer knows Alabama, knows the coaching (with little turnover), and their game plan; he is very confident going into the three weeks before the bowl game.