COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the Ohio State football team performed its first reps of the 2017 spring practice season, The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” blared out from the loudspeakers inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Perhaps it was a coincidence — Urban Meyer’s preference to start his spring with some early-1970s classic rock. Since taking over as the Buckeyes’ head coach six years ago, an eclectic mix of music has provided the soundtrack to Meyer’s practice sessions in Columbus.
But maybe — just maybe — there’s more to read into when it comes to Ohio State’s choice of tunes Tuesday. After all, the Buckeyes are coming off a season in which Meyer initially appeared to have it all figured out. Despite replacing 16 starters, including 12 NFL draft picks and five first-rounders, Ohio State still managed to make the College Football Playoff following an 11-1 regular season.
But after losing 31-0 to Clemson in the CFP semifinal Fiesta Bowl, it’s understandable why Meyer would be weary of being “fooled again” by any early indications of success this offseason.
“Great first day,” Meyer said after Ohio State wrapped up its two-hour practice session. “But there are a lot of great first days out there.”
The Buckeyes’ blowout loss to close their 2016 season hasn’t been the primary source of motivation one might think it would be — at least not yet — but it coincided with an interesting point in Meyer’s Ohio State tenure nonetheless.
Entering his sixth season as the Buckeyes’ head coach, Meyer already sensed a need to “refreshen” his program, despite laying claim to a 61-6 record in the past five years. As a result, those walking around the Woody might not recognize Ohio State’s football facility.
“We changed a lot of little things,” Meyer said. “We changed all the coaches’ offices and where they’re at. I just think Year 6, you’ve got to change the paint on the building a little bit. It’s been all positive so far.”
At this point, “so far” only accounts for one spring practice, but so far, it’s been so good. Even while just practicing without pads, Meyer noticed an extra “zip” from his players on Tuesday, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
That would make sense, considering Ohio State added two new offensive coaches since its loss to the Tigers, including new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. It also doesn’t hurt, of course, that for the first time in more than 60 days, the Buckeyes are finally back on the football field.
“It’s because they haven’t practiced in a while and they’ve been getting their brains kicked in in the weight room so they’re really excited to be out there and running around,” Meyer theorized. “I’m hoping they have that same zip practice 12 or in the middle of August.”
For Meyer, Tuesday marked nothing more than a starting point — but a promising one, at that.
“Journey ’17 has started,” he remarked.
But regardless of how strong the Buckeyes look this spring, the way last season ended may force Meyer to follow The Who’s lyrics and get on his knees and pray he doesn’t get fooled again.