COLUMBUS, Ohio — Chris “Beanie” Wells didn’t recognize the Ohio State team he saw on Saturday.
The co-host of WBNS-FM 97.1 The Fan’s “Tim & Beanie,” the former Buckeyes running back followed his alma mater closely throughout its run to the College Football Playoff. In that time, Wells had become accustomed to watching a team that could always rely on a capable run game, regardless of how its passing attack was performing.
So when Ohio State failed to score so much as a single point in its 31-0 loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, Wells — like most Buckeye fans — was stunned.
“It was a disaster,” Wells told Land of 10 on Wednesday. “That was something I wasn’t expecting at all. That was the first time that I watched Ohio State football — and I’ve been a fan of it since I was a kid — and they weren’t able to play any type of power football when needed.”
And yet for as unfamiliar as this Buckeyes team may have seemed, Wells couldn’t deny having witnessed this type of showing from an Ohio State squad before. After all, the former Arizona Cardinals player was a key member of the 2006 Buckeyes, which saw their season end with a 41-14 loss to Urban Meyer’s Florida team in the BCS National Championship Game.
As Wells watched the Tigers have their way on both sides of the ball against the Buckeyes, he couldn’t help but think about the final game of his freshman year.
“It certainly reminded me of 10 years ago in the 2006 game against Florida,” he said. “Just watching a team that didn’t look completely prepared, looked overmatched in a lot of different areas.”
If there’s anyone qualified to understand Ohio State’s mindset heading into this offseason, it’s Wells. Not only did his freshman year end with a devastating bowl loss, but his sophomore season did, too, a 38-24 defeat at the hands of LSU in another national title game.
What followed were offseasons full of regret and second-guessing. What there wasn’t, however, was a lack of motivation inside the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“The offseason’s long. I’ll tell you that much,” Wells said with a laugh. “Although you get an opportunity to go back and prepare and go through spring ball, I don’t think anything’s going to erase that taste out of those guys’ mouths until they get an opportunity to right the ship.”
And even the start of a new season isn’t enough to accomplish that.
“It’s a long process to get that taste out your mouth, because that’s the last memory for a lot of different guys who played in that game,” Wells added. “The offseason’s definitely going to be tough for these guys. The guys are going to be motivated to get better and not have a situation like that ever happen again in their careers.”
Considering the 2007 Buckeyes bounced back from the blowout that ended their 2006 campaign to play in another national title game, it’s safe to say Wells knows a thing or two about overcoming devastating defeats.
So what would his advice be for Ohio State as it finds itself embarking on a similar sort of offseason a decade later?
“Keep your head down, stay motivated and keep working. And don’t forget what happened on Dec. 31,” he says. “That should be enough fuel to drive you to be so much better than you were this season.”
It’s an offseason mindset Wells is all the too familiar with.