Ohio State Football: 5 Biggest Storylines to Follow This Offseason
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Fans won't be able to see or really know much of what the Buckeyes make of the offseason until the August 31st opener.
But there are a few storylines that Buckeye fans can follow between now and then to feed their frenzy.
One of the things we won't know for sure until the 2013 season starts is whether or not QB Braxton Miller's gametime mechanics and read will improve. If he does improve, Ohio State's 2013 season could be legendary. The spring game might give us a peek, though I doubt Meyer will let his prized possession take too many risks in a live scrimmage.
But there are five other storylines that Buckeyes fans should follow. The 2013 season could be special, so get on board early.
Luke Fickell has head coaching experience and is normally a candidate for MAC openings.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer isn't going anywhere. He is at his dream job, is healthy and has a team with unlimited potential in 2013.
However, his assistants could possibly be on the move. Meyer said last week he didn't expect to lose any of his assistants this year, but that was before the coaching carousel really took off.
Co-defensive coordinators Luke Fickell and Everett Withers each have some head coaching experience and could be possibilities for jobs at smaller schools like Kent State. Co-offensive coordinator and QBs coach Tom Herman is on the rise but is likely at least a year away from consideration for a head coaching job.
I would be surprised if any of Ohio State's assistants move to another school to become coordinators. The four most experienced assistants—Fickell, Withers, Herman and Ed Warinner—are already co-coordinators and the rest are newer to college coaching.
But with the craziness of the 2012 coaching carousel so far, no one knows whether the Buckeyes' staff will all return next season.
We'll just have to wait and see.
Will They Stay or Will They Go?
Johnathan Hankins is the Buckeye most likely to go to the NFL early.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Before the season I would have given you three names—Johnathan Hankins, C.J. Barnett and Jack Mewhort—that I thought might leave for the NFL after 2012.
Barnett, a safety, battled an ankle injury. Mewhort, the Buckeyes' left tackle, had a solid season, but not the type of season needed to garner enough attention from the NFL.
Hankins came into his junior season as one of the top defensive tackles and a possible top-ten pick. While he didn't take any steps back in his production, he didn't continue his upward trajectory either. Despite possibly falling out of the top ten in the draft, Hankins will likely be a first-round pick and will likely leave. As he, or any first-round pick, should.
Bradley Roby had a great season at cornerback as a third-year sophomore. Roby has two years of eligibility left, but he might have already finished his playing days at Ohio State. Speculation of Roby leaving after 2012 didn't become a real possibility until later in the season.
Some believe Roby is a first-round talent and will go. But the 2012 class is deep at cornerback. With a shot at a national title, Roby may still come back. I expect to see No. 1 back in the secondary next season unless he gets word that he is a first-round lock.
Carlos Hyde's name has also come up in whispers about early entry. I'd be surprised if he left, because he's only been a starter for eight games. But, on the other hand, he is what he is and every carry at Ohio State is more punishment to his body at a position that usually doesn't give players long careers.
More Time on the Trail
Last year Urban Meyer came out of nowhere and got a commitment superstar defensive end Noah Spence.
Rob Christy-USA TODAY Sports
If there is one silver lining in missing a bowl game, it is that Urban Meyer and his coaching staff can spend more time out on the recruiting trail.
Last season, with only three months before signing day, Urban Meyer was able to bring in stars from all over Big Ten country. Meyer's recruiting ability played a big part in that success, but the situation at Penn State also played a large role in the commitments of Noah Spence, Tommy Schutt, Camren Williams and Armani Reeves.
But it wasn't just the Penn State leans that Meyer was able to bring to Ohio State. He also flipped Taylor Decker from Notre Dame, Se'von Pittman from Michigan State and Kyle Dodson from Wisconsin.
This year I wouldn't expect a three-month explosion like last winter, but Meyer and his assistants are still in the hunt for several big-time prospects.
James Quick, a receiver from Louisville, Ky., has Ohio State high on his list. But with Charlie Strong staying at Louisville, Quick may end up staying home. Vonn Bell, a safety from Georgia, is in a slightly different situation waiting to see who Tennessee hires before deciding between Ohio State, Alabama and Tennessee.
Ohio State is dealing with limited numbers due to sanctions and already having 17 members in the class. But don't think that will stop Meyer from finishing this class with a handful of stars, and maybe even a few who were committed to other schools.
Simon Says 'I've Shown the Way.'
John Simon's leadership in 2012 was a key to Ohio State's undefeated season.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Urban Meyer loved John Simon and the 2012 seniors. Meyer called Simon one of the hardest workers he's ever coached. He even went as far as to say "Tebow is Simonish."
Simon was a weight-room freak who would get up at 4:30 a.m. to get his lifts in and would force younger players to go with him. That is just an example of the leadership Ohio State could be missing in 2013 without Simon and the other 2012 seniors.
If Simon taught the younger Buckeyes about leadership through hard work, then Zach Boren taught them about leadership through humility. Boren gave up his role at fullback to fill a void on the Buckeye defense.
In the past two seasons, Ohio State fans have seen the importance of leadership. In 2011, several upperclassmen showed a lack of character—whether you agree with the rules or not, student-athletes have to follow them—and the team went 6-7.
In 2012, Boren, Simon and the rest of their classmates took ownership of the team. They went 12-0.
In 2013, the Buckeyes won't need trendsetters. They already have a map to success made by Meyer and the 2012 seniors. But every team is different, and the upperclassmen need to choose to take ownership and follow in the footsteps of this season's seniors.
If they do, 14-0 is possible.
If they don't...I don't even want to go there.
No More Chip, Still Angry?
Ryan Shazier (10) and Christian Bryant (2) are two Buckeyes who play with a chip on their shoulder.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Buckeyes will likely be ranked in the top five in the preseason.
They will feature one of the top Heisman candidates in Braxton Miller.
They will be a favorite to win the Big Ten.
They will see themselves on the front cover of magazines.
But can they keep the chip on their shoulder that allowed them to be an angry football team that refused to lose in 2012?
Urban Meyer really used the bowl ban and the naysayers to drive the 2012 team. He won't be able to use those same techniques in 2013. No, it is his team that will be the hunted, with their opponents as the underdogs fighting for respect.
We won't know until the season starts how this team will react. But we will find out during the offseason what the team's theme is for the season. Last year, it was about being angry.
Maybe the theme will be bullying the opponent. That seems like a great role for a team with four seniors on the offensive line, Carlos Hyde at running back and a defense with Ryan Shazier and Christian Bryant laying the wood on ball carriers.
Let's just hope they learn to use their arms more while delivering blows.