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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Perfect moments: No. 4

By Austin Ward

John Simon
John Simon gave a passionate speech in the locker room after a tight win over the Golden Bears.
BuckeyeNation counts down the five biggest moments on the march to perfection for Ohio State, from the biggest games and plays to the locker room speeches and celebrations -- continuing today with the emotions from a two-time captain.

No. 4: John Simon puts his heart on his sleeve

Nobody knew just how close John Simon was to missing a nonconference contest with California, not even his coach.

That made his health as much of a secret as the Ohio State senior liked to keep his emotions in check when in public, though both of those would ultimately be revealed in the aftermath of a closer-than-expected, 35-28 victory at home over the Golden Bears on Sept. 15.

First, coach Urban Meyer indicated that the severity of a previously undisclosed shoulder ailment had nearly kept the defensive end out of the game. Meyer followed it up by offering a rare glimpse at Simon's human side, sharing that the two-time captain had just given an impassioned, tear-filled speech about how much playing means to him.

The Buckeyes rallied around that message from Simon, who gritted through the game, contributed a sack in the winning effort and then set the tone for the program for the rest of a perfect run through the season. Ohio State had long made winning as many games as possible for the senior class a priority in the face of the NCAA sanctions that barred the team from the Big Ten title game and the postseason, but it was much more clear how tight the roster and coaching staff had become after the win over Cal by following Simon's unselfish example.

"It makes us all look in the mirror and say, 'Are we doing enough for our team?' " Meyer said after the game. " 'Am I doing enough? The coaching staff, are we doing enough? Are we doing as much as he's doing? No, we've got to do more.'

"Boy, he just lost it in the locker room as far as just sharing, opening up his soul for the team."

The fiery speech itself might not have been the driving force for the Buckeyes after that. But it surely helped establish a tone that ensured there would never be a need to get emotional in the locker room after a loss.