If Urban Meyer wasn't concerned about the perceived lack of leadership the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes have, the suspensions of three players—RB Carlos Hyde, TE Marcus Baugh and DL Tim Gardner—showed that OSU doesn't have the type of leadership Meyer expects.
He addressed it at Big Ten Media Days on Wednesday, just two days after Hyde and DB Bradley Roby, who have been with the team since 2010, ran in to legal problems.
The harsh truth is that leadership is a problem when two of your most talented and experienced players are the ones getting into trouble.
If those are supposed to be leaders of your team, how can you expect the younger guys to follow them?
It's a huge dilemma for Meyer, and one he knows can be the difference between a championship and a mediocre 8-5 or 9-4 record (from The O-Zone.net).
“Talent will get you about seven or eight wins,” Meyer said last spring when he was talking about the expectations for the 2012 Buckeyes.
“Discipline will push it to nine, maybe, and leadership is where magic starts happening. It's when you start getting rings and some really cool things are happening to your team.”
Ideally, the leadership should come from the most important player on the field: the quarterback. Braxton Miller took a huge step in his on-field production and needs to continue to progress off the field.
Meyer needs more than just Miller to step up and fill the leadership role on the team. But it's got to be concerning to see two veteran players set a poor example for the underclassmen.
It especially hurts in the case of Roby because he is one of only four returning starters on defense.
They need him more than the offense will need Hyde strictly because of the intangibles. He's a dynamic playmaker from the secondary and can change a game with one play. He has done so time and time again.
Hyde may be out for just a few weeks of camp or a few games, but OSU has plenty of depth at the RB position to soften that blow.
But for someone like Meyer who speaks highly of leadership, this has been a tough week.
It can't be good for any coach to see two of his most experienced and talented players make mistakes in one weekend. But after losing players to graduation, like John Simon, a heart-and-soul guy, it hurts more that the players you expect to replace them aren't living up to those expectations.
We'll have to see how this plays out in the season, since this could just be a speed bump for the Buckeyes.
It will take quite a few veterans and maybe even one or two underclassmen to step up and ensure that what happened to Hyde and Roby doesn't derail a potentially great season for Ohio State.
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