Buck it

The great expectations of Ohio State

By Marc Katz

Politicians always claim to be able to do things that can’t be done, and football coaches publically hope they can win a game they can’t possibly lose.

Why is that?

Why are politicians so sure of themselves and football coaches so cautious?

Well, I don’t really think Urban Meyer expects he’s going to lose his Ohio State opener this week to Bowling Green, but I do think he’s going to tell you the next few days how tough the Falcons will be to beat.

Two of the four previous games the teams have played against each other were close, but, of course, OSU won them all – and will win again Saturday.

Not everything else will be so certain for the Buckeyes this season, and with what appears to be a more vigorous schedule than last season, Ohio State may even lose a game or two, not that the pollsters think so.

There we go again, getting into politics.

How can we not? I don’t know anything about a rigged election process, but it appears Ohio State can throw anybody out there in its scarlet and gray colors and be expected to win.

A poll projects an expected outcome, and even if you don’t think Ohio State is as strong as it was last year before missing out on a second straight National Championship with that awful 12-1 record, look at the polls.

Pre-season 2015 had OSU No. 1 by unanimous AP acclamation. After all, there were 15 starters returning, most of them in key positions, and a downstream schedule.

Then the Buckeyes go and spoil it by not only scraping by to win a couple but losing outright 17-14 – at home – to Michigan State.

OMG you would have thought the world came to an end in Columbus.

Let me make you feel better. A 12-1 record in Ann Arbor these days would be a very happy circumstance for the school that resides in that town.

Not only is 12-1 a good record, the Buckeyes are considered the favorite to win the Big Ten with only a few starters returning and a schedule – no thanks to the first two games with Bowling Green and Tulsa – tougher.

Ohio State will enter a season with games at Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan State ranked No. 6 in the pre-season Associated Press poll. No other Big Ten team is listed ahead of them.

OSU has reached such a pinnacle, the Buckeyes are expected to win every game, every season and, frankly, if you look at the results, they usually do.

I know you’re eyeing that 6-7 season in 2011, when Jim Tressel gave way to Luke Fickell as dishonor befell the program for a moment, but you might want to look at the 10 seasons that surrounded that one. In only one of those years, 2008, did the Buckeyes lose as many as three games.

I could bore you with some numbers here – and will – but I’ll keep it short.

Since 2000, Michigan has had 14 teams lose three or more games in a season, including one team that lost nine.

During that same time span, Notre Dame has had 15 seasons of three or more losses and six of six or more losses.

The great Alabama, which hasn’t lost three since the 2010 team, began the 2000s with a record of 3-8 and followed with 7-5, then 10-3, and 4-9.

So, Ohio State expects to win and does. Please don’t let the rare losses affect you.

I reminisced a little with former Athletics Director Jim Jones the other day about current OSU Coach Urban Meyer’s plight. Not only is he a good coach, Jones explained, but he is being paid such a high salary, he is expected to win.

“Half the coaches every week lose,” Jones says. “That’s just the way it is going to be.”

He isn’t very happy about the expectations.

A 12-1 season should be celebrated, not scoffed. Besides, who set up the expectations? Well, it was sports writers and fans.

If 12-1 wasn’t enough, at least I’m being told Meyer doesn’t treat every loss like the end of the world as he must have done in Florida, where he eventually relinquished his job for health reasons.

Losing a game here and there apparently became a heart malady.

So, the world did not end with that late-game loss to MSU, and the Buckeyes can neither make up for it nor lose again late this season in East Lansing.

It shouldn’t matter to fans. They’re going to be entertained this season regardless. The Buckeyes are so strong, even though more of their star players will perform this season on Sundays instead of Saturdays, Ohio State will be favored to win.

“I remember Woody Hayes saying you’re going to lose a game for every sophomore you start [in an era when freshmen didn’t play],” says Jones, who started in the OSU athletics department in the early 1960s. “Of course, there was that 1968 team.”

That was Hayes’ last National Championship team, laden with sophomores.

Youth will play a big part this season, as well. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always next year.

The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.


Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com. 


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Marc Katz
Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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