Urban Meyer's first season as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes is among the biggest stories not just in college football, but all of college sports as well.
Even though the Buckeyes cannot play in a bowl game this year, that still doesn't mean there isn't anything to play for. A good first year can help steer the Buckeyes back into the national championship picture when they come off of their postseason ban in 2013.
However, most importantly, it will lay down the foundation for the next generation of Ohio State football.
The last generation of football started with a tough 7-5 year with little-known Jim Tressel as the head coach. The Buckeyes did lose five games, but they were in each of those games and only once lost by more than one possession.
It wasn't flashy except for their stunning upset of Michigan on the road, but what it did was set the stage for a run of seven BCS bowl appearances and six Big Ten championships (vacated 2010 season not included) before being forced out in 2011.
That type of run will be much tougher to have with Michigan building back up, Michigan State and Wisconsin playing at higher levels and Penn State looking to build back under Bill O'Brien.
The good thing for Ohio State is, without a doubt, that the Buckeyes have the coach with the best track record by far in the entire Big Ten.
By comparison, the rest of the head coaches in the Big Ten have combined to win just two BCS bowl games—Brady Hoke and Michigan did that in January, and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz in 2010.
Meyer has his work cut out for him as the Buckeyes have a great amount of unproven talent yet to materialize into on-field success. He has a young quarterback in Braxton Miller to mold into his next great quarterback alongside Alex Smith and Tim Tebow.
Meyer's coaching staff is loaded with new faces on offense, while keeping Luke Fickell and adding a few new, yet familiar faces on defense. Time will tell how all of those faces work and blend together, as the coaches are still more than a week away from having their first practice together.
Ohio State does have some challenges to face in order to have a strong season, including road trips to Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin in an improving Big Ten. It does, however, have the advantage of hosting Michigan at the end of the season in what will be the Buckeyes' bowl game this year.
The key to judging this year's success may not be simply in wins and losses, mostly because the record is almost irrelevant due to the postseason ban. It will be about how the team grows and the progress it will make from its opener against Miami (OH) to its finale against Michigan.
A 12-0 season is almost impossible this season, although USC had a fantastic season in 2011 despite being banned from the postseason.
The first year of the Tressel era was not very impressive, but it laid the foundation for a run not seen since the Woody Hayes era.
The first year of Urban Meyer's reign could have both substance and style. He has proved you can win not only with steak, but with some sizzle as well. How much he can do this year is something that remains to be seen. After all, we still haven't seen what the team looks like at all.
It will all be unveiled shortly. The wait is almost over.
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