Thursday, October 31, 2013
Planning for success: Ohio State
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There's no list of goals with everything explicitly laid out for Urban Meyer to refer to as the season progresses.
Aside from the rivalry game, the Ohio State coach has no critical matchups circled on the calendar. The expectation is certainly to claim the Big Ten title and the sights are obviously set on competing for a crystal football, but Meyer doesn't have those words clearly written down either.
Urban Meyer and Ohio State are taking it one step at a time.
But there are a few signs hanging around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center that provide strong hints about what the No. 4 Buckeyes are trying to achieve this season, even when they won't come out and address it specifically.
There's the banner with "The Chase" in bold letters hanging above the indoor practice field. The schedule posted in the team meeting room has the dates of the conference title game, the Rose Bowl and the BCS national championship all included -- along with the rest of the regular season. And while Meyer isn't spending much time talking about postseason plans directly, he's made it no secret dating back to spring practice that November is the month that matters most to having a successful season.
"If you look around, there's not a bunch of goals," Meyer said. "We don’t have a goal board, go undefeated, win the national title, we don’t put that down. There's too many variables involved.
"My concern ever since I've been head coach, you might say, ‘Let's win our goals for the year,’ but we don't have that conversation. It's always the same: compete for championships in November. Get to November, and then let's go try to find a way to win a championship."
The Buckeyes have put themselves solidly in position to claim a title in the Leaders Division as they head into the final month of the regular season. And with that, a bid to the Big Ten title game would follow. They still need some help in the BCS standings, thanks to a logjam of unbeaten teams from power conferences. However, there's plenty of football left, and there is nothing the Buckeyes can do about what happens elsewhere around the country.
Ohio State does have complete control over its destiny in the conference, and it can put itself one more step closer to locking up the Leaders Division with a win on Saturday at struggling Purdue. After missing out (due to NCAA sanctions) on a trip to Indianapolis to compete for the league title last season, that seems to be more than enough motivation for the time being.
While there may not be a checklist for the Buckeyes to tick off accomplishments as they go, they still have to work in order -- and November can set the table for everything else.
"That's our focus," Meyer said. "We're going to be in November, and we are competing for championships.
"You can bet the focus is very intense."
Right now, it's solely trained on the last month of the regular season. December and January will have to wait their turn.