“The Process” is a term Alabama head coach Nick Saban has made famous in recent years, stressing the importance of the future rather than dwelling on each successful check mark along the way. This emotionless pitch has been the guiding voice throughout Alabama’s ceiling-less dynasty, yet another way Saban has motivated his team to avoid getting cozy in success.
For Ohio State, however, the process is significant. And at the very least, the process should get the appreciation it most certainly lacks in its current state, regardless of what the postseason future entails.
As we line up each week for our regularly scheduled clobbering of Ohio State’s powder-puff 2013 schedule, we lose sight of what’s taking place in Columbus: Urban Meyer has yet to lose sporting scarlet and gray.
Think about that.
Twenty-two wins, zero losses.
I don’t care if you’re playing a team full of cardboard cutouts—and you could argue that a handful of Big Ten teams aren’t far off—the current winning streak is newsworthy and impressive.
Being perfect over the course of two seasons is exceedingly difficult, and Ohio State could enter 2014 with another perfect season and little to show for it. But again, we’ll get there if and when we get there.
For a moment, let’s take a break from dissecting whether the current No. 3 team BCS will stay that way. Let’s holster all talk of how the Buckeyes’ resume matches up with the Baylor Bears. Let’s forget about matching OSU’s season with a handful of potential one-loss teams—say Auburn, Missouri or Oregon—with far more difficult schedules to draw from.
And yes, let’s look past Urban Meyer’s recent criticism of the BCS, the same system that worked out just fine in his former Gainesville life.
Without spending much time on it, because it's not fair to our team for me to spend much time on it, I will say this -- I think it's a flawed system, Meyer said courtesy of ESPN.com. But when you logically think about what the BCS people have done, and which obviously we're all part of, I think it was great for a while. I think you take an imperfect system and you do the best you can without hosting a playoff.
College football’s current system is not perfect. The next one won’t be perfect, either.
Often times tremendous seasons and accomplishments are drowned in the “what ifs” due to the imperfect nature of the postseason, and our obsession with the hypothetical well before we get there.
These conversations and criticisms aren’t necessarily off, at least not always. They also give us plenty to talk about. Along the way, however, don’t forget to appreciate what successful head coaches attempt to keep their players from focusing on: the journey, the successes and in this instance, a little bit of history.
Ohio State’s current journey doesn’t go back a few months. The 22-game winning streak goes back to August of last year, the first time Meyer took the sideline in Columbus. Fast-forward more than a year later, and not much has changed.
The Buckeyes endured a bowl ban, missing out on a BCS bowl at the very least. They’ve improved dramatically over this stretch, stocking the roster with incredible youth and developing stars into bigger stars. And yes, they haven’t lost.
Since 2000, Ohio State is one of six teams to win at least 22 games in a row. It’s worth noting that all but one team to hit this mark won a national championship. The lone exception is Boise State, and like the Buckeyes, the Broncos battled ample schedule criticism throughout their win streak.
|Longest Win Streaks Since 2000|
The narrative for Ohio State’s current unbeaten journey isn’t Boise-esque, at least not yet, although the end result could be similar. Win a ton of games—taking on public denunciation when you don’t win these games by a significant enough margin—and take on criticism when this loss eventually comes. And yes, Urban Meyer will eventually lose a game in his semi-new digs.
Someone will then write a column doubting the direction of the Ohio State program, calling the team a fraud, saying they knew it was too good to be true. These columns are more or less being constructed weekly despite a perfect record.
It’s okay to wonder what the future holds for the Buckeyes and how they might stack up in the national title. Better yet, it’s worth wondering whether they’ll get there at all with help needed and a matchup against a surging Michigan State brewing.
But throughout the endless debate, schedule cracks and shots at a conference that has grown accustomed to the body blows—some of which certainly are deserved—take note of what Urban Meyer is accomplishing along the way.
While he will refuse to appreciate the process taking shape, taking after the nation’s top head coach, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Acknowledging the achievement rather than searching for the ceiling isn’t a path we often take. At the very least, we should be able to do both.
If the process includes a trip to the national championship, so be it. If not, hopefully Ohio State's streak will remembered for what it was and not what it wasn't.