Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Buckeyes have bounced back just fine

Senior tight end Jake Stoneburner leaned back in a chair at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and took a deep breath.

It's almost as if he couldn't believe time had passed so quickly.

But the reality was there when he was asked about the one-year anniversary of Coach Jim Tressel leaving the Ohio State football program.

Wednesday morning marks the official one-year anniversary of Tressel exiting as coach of the Buckeyes after a successful 10-year run.

"Coach Tress was a great guy," Stoneburner said. "Everyone loved him, so to see him get fired or resign, it was tough. It's kind of crazy how it came around to everything working out. I didn't expect it to be like this, but I'm definitely happy about it."

Losing a legendary coach like Tressel was supposed to send the football program reeling. If not his departure alone, then for sure the scuttle surrounding the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal would have rocked the program to its foundation, right?

"It's pretty crazy," Stoneburner said. "It's almost like it didn't happen."

After a 6-7 season under interim coach Luke Fickell, a season full of suspensions and a postseason ban for 2012, Ohio State has bounced back rather nicely.

With Urban Meyer bringing his high-intensity program to Columbus, and high-profile recruits from across the nation flocking to join the Buckeyes, it's safe to say there is life to Buckeye football after Jim Tressel.
Keep in mind, too, there was no mass exodus of players via transfer, either.

"For losing one of the greatest coaches at Ohio State ever just a year ago, to be where we're at now, we're pretty fortunate," Stoneburner said.

No worse for the wear, it's safe to say.

If nothing else, the focus is back on the field. Expectations are through the roof.

How much?

Consider Ohio State is coming off a 6-7 season and has an almost entirely new coaching staff this season. Yet, the Buckeyes were named preseason No. 6 by Athlon Sports on Wednesday.

One spot out of the top five.

One slot ahead of archrival Michigan.

Ahead of a handful of teams on their 2013 schedule, No. 14 Nebraska, No. 17 Wisconsin, No. 18 Michigan State and a group of teams just out of the top 25.

What does it mean?

Not much, besides what we already knew - that expectations are high.

They are also attainable.

Defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins flat-out said that the goal is to win'em all this season.

"I feel if we lose a game, it will kind of be devastating," Big Hank said. "But my goal is for us to win every game because I feel we have the potential.”

Athlon Sports agrees. And while the magazine's rankings won't put any points on the board or make a crucial stop on fourth-and-inches, it screams of one thing...

That Ohio State hasn't disappeared from the map of national prominence at all on this one-year anniversary of the darkest day in program history.

In fact, a case could be made it might have emerged from it better than it went in.

Whoda thunk it?

John Kampf


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