Today the Ohio State football team began spring practice. Although Urban Meyer has been the head coach of the Buckeyes for months, and has been responsible for reeling in a fine recruiting class and for setting a very demanding tone in the off-season conditioning area, today marks his first practice as coach.
There’s a lot of buzz in Columbus about the Urban Era. In many ways, he has been very different from Coach Tressel. He seems to be more open to media appearances than Coach Tressel was, he’s a lot more direct in his communications, and he’s not afraid to upset the apple cart and change how things are being done. His overarching focus seems to be on competition, competition, and competition, whether it is in winter conditioning or anything else related to football success, and he’s always thinking of ways he can motivate his players to be more competitive, more focused, and more dedicated to winning. That might mean making players who underperform in conditioning wear a special colored shirt that reflects that status, or it might mean dictating that the underperformers must drink water from a garden hose rather than quaffing chilled Gatorade. For every publicly disclosed motivational tool, there are probably dozens known only to OSU football insiders.
I don’t want to focus too much on football right now, because I want to enjoy the Final Four ride with the Buckeye basketball team. It’s worth noting, however, that a different tone has been set, and the members of Buckeye Nation welcome it. We’re glad that Coach Meyer sets high standards; now we’ll begin to see whether his players can meet them. Even though Ohio State had a disappointing season last year and is barred from going to any bowl games this year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this year’s spring game sets an all-time attendance record. We want to see Coach Meyer on the sideline at the Horseshoe for the first time, ready to lead the Buckeyes back to their rightful place atop the Big Ten.