“The Sporting News released its preseason All-America list on Tuesday, and Ohio State wasn’t particularly well represented. Don’t take that as a sign that the Buckeyes are down on talent this year, however. Instead, treat these types of lists for what they are: A compilation of the best returning players in the country.”
Preseason lists, be they of the All-America or ranking variety, are generally little more than useless reflections of the previous season and preconceived opinions. However, in college football, they are especially fraught, as time and change can quickly upend the universally expected status quo.
Case and point, over the last two seasons, the Ohio State football team has lost 19 players to the NFL; a situation that would be worrisome for even the most blue-blooded of programs. However, instead of slowly drifting back to the rest of the Big Ten pack, the Buckeyes have continued to extend their lead in on-field productivity and off-field recruiting.
While those two strengths create a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg conundrum as to which begat which, they have combined to allow Urban Meyer and his staff to routinely fly beneath the radar, despite boasting a 61-6 record, five straight division titles, two College Football Playoff berths, and a National Title in their five years in Columbus.
There doesn’t seem to be any indication that OSU’s recipe of reloading rather than rebuilding will slow down this season, so it is a safe bet that Buckeyes both heralded and un will receive recognition come season’s end.
“Holtmann got the job late. By the time he arrived in Columbus earlier this month, almost all of the potential players the Buckeyes could recruit this year had signed or committed elsewhere. Makes sense. But perhaps Ohio State is not quite done.”
Nearly every move that new Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann has made since being named Thad Matta’s replacement has been well-received and widely-praised. So, it’s easy to accept that due to his late start, that he doesn’t want to sign a player that didn’t fit his plan simply out of desperation.
However, if Eric Ayala, 2018’s No. 5 combo guard reclassifies his class after his AAU season concludes in July, one would have to assume that he would be a welcome addition to the class. With multiple scholarships still available for the upcoming season, Holtmann and company had been recruiting Ayala while they were at Butler, and the Delaware native (who plays at Connecticut’s Putnam Science Academy) said a few weeks ago that OSU is an option should he start his college career in the fall.
At 6’5, and with skills that currently have him as the 126th ranked player in the 2018 class, he would be a much-needed ball handler to go along with returning JuCo transfer C.J. Jackson and true freshman Braxton Beverly.
“For all the tangible progress he's made in two season, Jim Harbaugh has yet to beat the Buckeyes. The only coach to ever start his Michigan career 0-3 against the school's biggest rival is Rich Rodriguez.”
In his recent “B1G Ultimate Road Trip 2017” articles, Murphy lists five Buckeye games as the best of their given day or week. Since OSU kicks off its season on Thursday, August 31st against Indiana, they get that slot by default, but when you mix in games at Nebraska (October 14th), Iowa (November 4th), and Michigan (November 25th) and at home on October 28th against Penn State (not to mention the Week Two matchup with Oklahoma), you realize that this coming season has a few more exciting contests, and potential speed bumps, than in recent years.
However, knowing that OSU is the biggest game on every opponent’s schedule, I, for one, am going to keep my expectations for this Buckeye team in perspective. As my grandfather always said, “Expect the worst, and hope for the best.”
In college football, anything can happen, App State can defeat Goliath, early season losses (to VA Tech) can be eventually overcome, and despite Ohio State’s unparalleled modern dominance of Michigan (winning 14 of the last 16 match-ups), eventually the Maize and Blue will find a way to win again.
So, as we rev ourselves up for another hopefully historic season of Buckeye football, keep an eye on the big picture, because no matter how the season winds up, things still look pretty good for the Scarlet and Gray.
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