“Under Meyer, the Buckeyes have one perfect season, a national title, a Big Ten Championship and two College Football Playoff appearances. It truly is a golden era of Ohio State football.”
Urban Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State has brought unprecedented success in his five seasons. With a 61-6 record, no team has had fewer losses and only Alabama has more wins in the same time frame.
Of the five teams fielded, there is little doubt that the 2014 College Football Playoff victors have been the best group under Meyer. Ending the season ranked No. 1, the Buckeyes defeated Alabama and Oregon in the first playoff. But what makes the team even more remarkable is the extremely low expectations heading into the season. With Braxton Miller sidelined with a shoulder injury, a virtually unknown J.T. Barrett, coming off his redshirt season after being sidelined with an ACL injury, earned the starting spot. Things did not improve as the Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech at home week two. But then the young team kicked it into gear as Barrett settled into his starting role and Ezekiel Elliott began running all over opponents behind a much-improved offensive line. Even Barrett’s season-ending injury against Michigan didn’t slow Ohio State’s momentum, as Cardale Jones stepped in to give the Buckeyes a 59-0 win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and, ultimately, a national title.
The 2015 squad is likely the next-best team of the Meyer era, especially given the amount of NFL talent on the roster, including Elliott, Joey Bosa, Michael Thomas, Eli Apple and Darron Lee. However, the unlikely loss to Michigan State at home ruined hopes of a repeat title. Still, the team ended the season on a high note, routing Notre Dame 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl.
The 2013 team, which lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, then fell to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, is next on the list. Last year’s team, with a regular season loss to Penn State before a horrifying shutout defeat against Clemson, is fourth. Finally, and somewhat surprisingly, Meyer’s only undefeated team at Ohio State--the 2012 Buckeyes--is last. Despire going 12-0, Ohio State was not eligible for postseason play. If they were, they likely would have faced Notre Dame for a shot at a national title.
“If Jones’ poor showing in minicamp is a foreshadow to training camp, Jones could be looking for a new team, and soon.”
Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is just two seasons removed from winning a national title at Ohio State, and one year removed from being taken in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, foregoing his final year of eligibility with the Buckeyes. But after just one season as a rookie with the Bills, Jones is fighting an uphill battle just to remain on the team.
Jones was drafted for his unique set of physical abilities. He is a massive presence in the pocket, standing at 6-foot-5, 249 pounds, but is still mobile. And he has a cannon for an arm. But issues with his accuracy have plagued him in his short time in Buffalo. After failing to impress in the preseason, Jones didn’t see much playing time until the end of the season last year, seeing the field only for the Bills’ regular season finale against the New York Jets. He completed 6-of-11 passes for 96 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in the 30-10 loss.
After ending the season with a 7-9 record, Buffalo was eliminated from playoff contention for the 17th-straight year--the longest active drought among the four major sports (yes, even longer than the Browns’ drought). The Bills then cleaned house, firing head coach Rex Ryan after just two seasons and general manager Doug Whaley, who had been one of Jones’ biggest backers during his rookie season. Even worse for jones, the Bills brought in 30-year-old veteran T.J. Yates from Miami, who played under newly-named offensive coordinator Rick Dennison while they both were in Houston. Yates is an inch shorter and more than a few pounds lighter than Jones, and his arm isn’t nearly as strong. But he knows that Dennison’s schemes require a more finesse game than Jones has proven himself able to perform. With the Bills also drafting Nathan Peterman from Pittsburgh who, like Yates, fits better in a scheme which emphasizes accuracy, and Tyrod Taylor still the projected starter, Jones is starting from the bottom of a four quarterback mix to make the roster in Buffalo.
An Aaron Craft Update
Former Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft has signed with French basketball team AS Monaco, just days after celebrating with his college head coach Thad Matta and a number of other former Buckeyes. The 6-foot-2 guard had an incredibly successful career at Ohio State from 2010-2014, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors in both 2012 and 2014 for the Big Ten. He was also named the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2011 after leading the Buckeyes in both assists and steals. But perhaps Craft’s best moment at Ohio State came in 2013, when he hit a three-point game winner with half a second left to defeat Iowa State and earn a Sweet 16 bid.
After graduating, Craft, who was also a three-time, first-team academic All-American, went undrafted, but was picked up by the summer league teams for both the Orlando Magic and Golden State Warriors. Craft did eventually earn a contract to play with Golden State, but was ultimately waived. In the fall, the Santa Cruz Warriors, affiliate of Golden State, picked up Craft for the season. While in Santa Cruz, Craft earned a D-League Championship and was named the D-League Defensive Player of the Year. For the last couple years, Craft has been playing overseas, first in Hungary with Szolnoki Olaj, then in Italy with Aquila Basket Trento. Last season, Craft was a key leader in Trento’s postseason run.
Craft is already listed as a starter for AS Monaco. He is one of two Americans on the French squad, which went 31-6 last season in French League play. The team is in the top-tier French basketball league, and participates in the newly-established Basketball Champions League, a group established by FIBA for European leagues.