COLUMBUS, Ohio — Raise those glasses, Ohio State. The future is secure, and the Buckeyes have ensured they aren’t going away as a powerhouse anytime soon.
Maybe it was a little early for the strong stuff on Wednesday morning. There was a bucket full of orange juice in the hallway at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Urban Meyer sheepishly grinned and held up a bottle of water after his news conference when asked what he might toast with later on. Athletic director Gene Smith suggested he’d be sipping on a Diet Coke.
Ohio State had more than enough reasons to celebrate locked up by lunchtime on National Signing Day, and it wasn’t just the eye-popping recruiting class as the program was enjoying a top-to-bottom confirmation that it’s arguably as strong as it has ever been.
Greg Schiano reaffirmed his commitment to stick with Ohio State. Kill those reports of the defensive coordinator heading to New England and start looking instead at what could be an absolutely loaded group of Silver Bullets flying around in 2018.
And, down in Florida, Nicholas Petit-Frere put his signature on a letter of intent and a scarlet hat on his head to give the Buckeyes the No. 1 tackle in the country. Ohio State had a critical need on the offensive line, and it simply filled it by landing a potential cornerstone with the best available talent on the market.
Just about the only bad news, if you want to call it that, was the number-crunching that ultimately kept the Buckeyes out of that coveted No. 1 overall spot in the class rankings. But here is the reality: Ohio State absolutely cleaned up on the recruiting trail with just about everything it possibly could have hoped for, it went toe-to-toe with the SEC machines, was clearly the best in the Big Ten — and finished miles ahead of rival Michigan.
As far as first Wednesdays in February go, good luck finding one that might mean more for the future of the program overall than this one.
“Probably a toast [Wednesday night] and move on to next year’s class,” Meyer joked about his celebration. “That’s about all you do.”
Don’t buy that for a second.
I don’t know exactly what will be in Meyer’s glass or how he will revel in the success of his assistant coaches and behind-the-scenes recruiting staffers, but it’s a safe bet that this whirlwind cycle calls for at least a little time to relax.
Think about everything that has happened during the last two months at Ohio State.
There was the crazy juggling of the first early signing period, which ultimately wound up producing 21 members of the class, while in the midst of preparing for the Cotton Bowl. Ohio State followed that up by throttling USC to win another trophy to cap 2017, then immediately started dealing with the decisions of the draft-eligible Buckeyes. At the same time, a handful of coaches were approached with various other opportunities and faced choices of their own — including cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, who left for the Tennessee Titans. Meyer apparently spent some time working on a two-year extension to his contract. He also hired Alex Grinch from Washington State and worked to get raises and new deals for the rest of his assistants. And, on top of that, they all still had to nail down the final details with the five new Buckeyes who were being pursued and signed on Wednesday.
Now think about how all of those things are going to impact the future. It is not that difficult to look back at this stretch and already see just how significant it projects to be for the coming years.
So, fill up those glasses, Ohio State.
Drink to a future that is only looking brighter.