There's no denying that Brady Hoke finally has the Michigan Wolverines - Jim Tressel's decade-long whipping boys - back on the right track after an 11-2 showing in 2011-12 that included a BCS win over (cough!) the ACC's Virginia Tech Hokies. But the Buckeyes he beat in Ann Arbor back in November aren't the same ones he'll face when he and his skunkbears venture into Ohio Stadium this November. No, this version has arguably the best head coach in college football, a sophomore quarterback with a full year of experience under his belt and a chip positioned squarely on his shoulder - and a group of pissed off athletes who will see their season end once Michigan comes and goes.
Is the rivalry back where it belongs? Was Hoke really the answer that the struggling program up north needed - or did he just temporarily stop the hemorrhaging before Urban Meyer entered the picture to go on another Vest-like run against TSUN? We pulled a few of our BHC writers together to get their two cents on The Game - the season ahead - and whether we can expect to see Urban Meyer light up the 'Shoe's scoreboard like a Christmas tree this November 24th.
Most in Buckeye Nation have given less credibility to last year's 40-34 Michigan win in Ann Arbor due to Ohio State's circumstances, but there's no denying Hoke has Michigan heading in the right direction. How do you see the next five years in the rivalry shaping up?
Carrie Janello | I think both teams will be competitive as hell ... with each other, while the rest of the B1G still tries to figure out how the whole "recruiting" thing works! Just like the days of old, there will be one game circled in red on both schedules, and that will be the game each team is coached to beat. I think it's safe to say that the paranoia Bo & Woody shared died with them so we won't have any craziness to deal with, BUT I think the states of Ohio & That Other One Up North need to stock up on perishables b/c Hokie eats for four at each meal (at least four). Honestly, though, Meyer is bringing OSU, and by extension, the B1G out of the dark ages of football & will breath some life into the conference. I think Hokie had the dream of being the coach to do that, but San Diego State doesn't exactly scream "impressive" so now that Meyer is on-board, I think they both will push B1G football forward. Let's face it, OSU & TSUN trailblazing the B1G ... that's the way it should be!
Ron Hamp | I do think that the game versus Michigan should have an asterisk next to it, but would Buckeye Nation feel the same if we were to get the win? Despite the circumstances of last season the school from up north was credited their first win since the 2003-2004 season. Brady Hoke and the Wolverines are on the right track, which is something we haven't seen in quite some time. The next five years with Urban Meyer vs Brady Hoke will be great to watch. It will add a lot of steam to a rivalry that had lost a lot of luster in the past due to the rivalry being so one sided the past ten years. Urban Meyer has a great track record in rivalry games while he was at Florida so it will be interesting to see Meyer face off against Hoke for years to come. I hope the Buckeyes go 5-0 during the next five years, but I will take 4-1 which is close to Meyer's record while at Florida playing against the likes of Georgia and Florida St.
E.B. Cooper | I see the next five years as an all out war, Hayes-Shembechler style. Hoke, while not having the resume' of Meyer, has already resurrected TSUN and turned them into a power once again in my opinion.
Recruiting has definitely heated back up between the two schools, with both putting together strong 2012 and 2013 classes. Conventional wisdom says Urban would try to close off the northern border and keep the Ohio kids at home, but he gets plenty of 'national' recruits himself, filling spots Ohio kids would have otherwise filled. Are you ready to deal with another Ohio kid succeeding up north, i.e. Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard, etc?
Janello | You know what, I want a snot-nosed brat from TSUN to strike the damn Heisman pose in our endzone (or theirs)! If we got three 15-yard penalties for "unsportsmanlike conduct" for putting our hands together to complete the "O" on our gloves two years ago, then I would LOVE to see them get bitch-slapped with a 15-yard penalty for imitating those jack-asses! Meyer is making a statement with how he's recruiting. He wants the best. Period. If Buckeye-born football players want to play for the hometown team, then the bar has raised, and it is their job to work hard enough to meet the criteria. If not, we will hand-pick the best from all over. Meyer is not putting together a team to win B1G titles ... he's putting together a team to win National titles. Yes, we will miss some Ohio-born talent, but it is an honor to wear Scarlet & Gray ... not an entitlement. If they want it, they gotta come get it ... otherwise, sure, Hokie will take those who don't wanna work for it.
Hamp | I wish that we could keep all our talent in state, but it's close to impossible. There will be players from Michigan that will benefit our program and vice versa. With our coaching staff I feel that we can get the best out of our recruits as long as they buy into the system that Urban Meyer develops. I think with Meyer's recruiting track record he will attract talent across the country that will make up for whatever players the state of Ohio will lose to other universities.
Cooper | Anyone who has read my rants knows this is my most passionate thing to talk about concerning recruiting. Jim Tressel had Ohio on lockdown and TSUN suffered from it. TSUN is nothing without players from Ohio, and with Urban Meyer at the helm, Hoke can only smile and rub his greasy hands together, raking in Ohio kids by the handful as Urban turns a blind eye to his native state. To properly build a team at Ohio State, you MUST lockdown Ohio, the instate pipeline is EVERYTHING. Hoke knows this, Urban Meyer doesn't quite get it apparently, and the Buckeyes are losing the recruiting battle to Hoke because of it. Yes it is good that Meyer is finding players for his system and that's perfectly fine...unless your at Ohio State. I don't care who you are, what system you're running, if you lock down Ohio then not only do you effectively handicap TSUN, you make sure to let everyone in Ohio know what school still dominates the state. I absolutely hate going on Rivals and seeing Ohio State offer Johnny Recruit from North Carolina or the Buckeyes showing great interest in Random Player from Massachusetts, and no words in any language can completely describe the horrifyingly sick feeling I get reading about Mike McCray, Ben Gedeon, Dymonte Thomas, Jaron Dukes, Jake Butt, Gareon Conley, Taco Charlton and Deveon Smith all committing to TSUN. TSUN has more Ohio recruits than Ohio State which is a complete and utter failure of the system and a huge victory for Hoke that will only continue to escalate until Meyer realizes the importance of the instate pipeline and shuts down the borders.
It's been said that this year's November 24th match-up with Michigan at the Horseshoe is Ohio State's 'bowl game' since it'll serve to close out Urban Meyer's first season at the helm. Any chance Meyer runs it up on the Wolverines if the opportunity presents itself?
Janello | If the opportunity is there, ABSOLUTELY! Hopefully, he'll get good practice from running the score up on Bielema's boys! Since it is the last hoorah of our season and the absolute last hoorah for our seniors, I think we will run trick plays, try things that were not seen the rest of the season, and put on a show that will last Buckeye fans through bowl season! Of course, this is assuming that Hokie even finds The Horseshoe ... I have my doubts. If they detour to Athens, I hope someone points him in the right direction!
Hamp | This game has so many implications that are personal to our team. The story lines will be epic and the game should follow suit. This is the National Championship for our group of players. Since there will be no bowl game or Big Ten Championship game for the Bucks this season the Michigan game has more significance compared to years past. This senior class is 2-1 versus Michigan and will look to go 3-1. This is also an opportunity for Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller to make their mark in Buckeye history by defeating Michigan. If we are in position to run up the score I think that Meyer will not engage in that behavior. Meyer probably can care less about Michigan, but I think he'll respect The Game. Being brought up in the coaching ranks by former Buckeye coach Earl Bruce this is something that would not be in the character of Meyer and Buckeye Nation.
Cooper | Woody Hayes once went for a two point conversion late in the game of a blowout victory of TSUN. When asked why he went for a 2 point conversion, he simply replied, "Because I couldn't go for 3". If it was good enough for Woody, it should be good enough for Urban. Let's light the damn scoreboard up like the fourth of July and sing Carmen Ohio.
Ohio State's 2012 record (12 games)?
- Janello - (9-3)
- Hamp - (9-3)
- Cooper - (9-3)
Editor's Note: The Bucks are going 12-0, b*tches!