COLUMBUS, Ohio — Even though Ohio State is fielding one of its youngest football teams in recent memory, count Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith among the optimists in Columbus.
Speaking at the Morning Sports Report in Columbus on Wednesday, Smith was asked for his thoughts on coach Urban Meyer’s group as the season rapidly approaches.
“I think we’ll win more games than we lose,” he deadpanned to laughter.
All jokes aside, the man in charge of Ohio State’s massive athletic department has good reason to believe the signature program of OSU athletic department will be able to once again deliver the goods this season. Although Ohio State returns just six starters from last year’s 12-1 campaign that ended with a Fiesta Bowl win, the Buckeyes have signed three top-10 247sports composite classes in the last three years — No. 3 in 2014, No. 7 in 2015 and No. 4 in 2016.
“I think we have unbelievable talent,” Smith said. “It’s really fun to go out there and watch the energy that is there. It’s just a different level of energy because for two years we had professionals that practiced differently and these young puppies, they’re not holding anything back. They’re going after it because they are competing for opportunities.
“We always have to keep in mind that since Urban has been here, we’ve had great recruiting classes, so these young guys have just been waiting in the wings to have this opportunity. I think we’ll be extremely talented. They’ll compete hard. I think it will be an exciting team. And the freshness of trying to get to know the new players, I think, will be pretty cool for our fans.”
Smith also addressed a few other topics during his eight-minute interview held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, giving his thoughts on each of the following topics:
- On the OSU women’s basketball team: “If you haven’t been to a women’s basketball game, this is the year to get your ticket. It’s going to be extremely exciting to watch, with a lot of great talent. I think that is going to be the challenge for our coach, managing the depth and providing all those young women the opportunity to play.”
- On the OSU men’s basketball team: “Men’s basketball is going to be much better than it was last year. We’re really excited about the development that these guys have had over the summer time. Great leadership with Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams and Keita Bates-Diop. It’s just going to be more highly competitive.”
- On the entire department’s 2015-16 performance: “We had eight conference championships, four conference tournament championships, two national championships. We were really fortunate that we had two coaches who were recognized as national coaches of the year, Pete Hanson in men’s volleyball and Ryan Tanoue in rifle. We were second in the Directors’ Cup, we tied for our highest point total ever and our goal is to knock Stanford off that perch. Hopefully this year we will get after it.”