2012 was one crazy year in the wild wacky world of Cleveland Sports. Some would tell you 2012 was as bad as it has ever been here. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last four years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. We started earlier today with the Buckeyes Final Four trip . Number nine was the trade of Shin-Soo Choo.
Twelve months ago the Buckeyes were a hot mess. They were on their way to losing the Gator Bowl and finishing 6-7. The offense was abysmal. The defense not a lot better. We knew Urban Meyer would be taking over as head coach, but what kind of turn around could he really do with this group?
It turns out he could do quite a bit.
The first thing Meyer did on his way to an undefeated first season at Ohio State was surround himself with quality assistant coaches and then hit the recruiting trail. Meyer started flipping recruits at a pace that alarmed other Big Ten coaches. Without the luxury of SEC over-signing, Meyer had to make his recruits count. And my were there holes to fill.
From where the Buckeys were during spring practice, to where they ended up is remarkable. The transformation was televised-
Ohio State’s pre-conference schedule was pretty soft. They struggled a bit with a Cal team that would finish 3-9. The toughest out of conference game was UCF, who would finish 10-4.
Let’s face it, the Big Ten conference wasn’t exactly tough this year either. But, it needs to be pointed out that the Buckeyes played the top teams in the conference- Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin and beat them all. This included tough road games at Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes were Nebraska’s only regular season conference loss.
On the field, the Buckeyes were led by John Simon, whom Urban Meyer would call the heart and soul of this Buckeye team. On offense, Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde were the two-headed running monster.
The Buckeyes had their share of injuries and adversary to overcome. Jordan Hall missed most of the season. The line-backing unit was decimated. It took a switch of position from Zach Boren to solidify the middle of the defense.
In the end, the Buckeyes had an 11 game win streak and an undefeated season on the line as they took on Michigan. Despite good games from Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and Corey Brown. And despite their “heart and soul” John Simon watching from the sidelines, the Buckeyes’ defense rose to the occasion shutting down Michigan to the tune of 39 second half yards. Game over. Undefeated season achieved.
There could have been many ‘what ifs’ and ‘should have beens’, but truthfully, this isn’t the best football team in the country. And that’s fine. The Buckeyes may have over-achieved a little this season. And that’s fine. If the players feel cheated or slighted in some way because they aren’t playing in a bowl or for the National Championship, maybe that’s good. Maybe they carry a little bit of an edge, a chip on their shoulder heading into next year.
We’ll be waiting to see how they respond to a 12-0 first season.