By osu_bill (0/2/3/1) on 12:48:35 07/22/03
I have been reading long and hard every article, news bulletin, and (as much as is possible) post on the Ozone regarding the 2002 season. The overriding theme seems to be one of magic, destiny, and pixie dust. The prevailing attitude seems to be that everything fell into place, all situations went our way, and we got all the lucky bounces and breaks.
Let me set the record straight: 2002 was not the magic carpet ride that has been portrayed.
Let me take you back to the end of the 2001 season: We had just lost a quite remarkable Outback (**choke cough gasp**) Bowl rematch to the vaunted South Carolina Gamecocks, capping a 7-5 campaign under our first-year Division I-AA callup coach. Our roster was being depleted by expiring eligibility (I hate to call it "graduation" here at OSU, har dee har) and the inexplicable decisions of Derek Ross and Darnell Sanders to turn pro.
That left us with only the following offensive positions to fill: C, LT, RT, TE, QB, FB, TB. All we had coming back were two tackles and 2 receivers. From a 7-5 team. Add to that the fact that our kickers were barely .500 and neither had established himself as remotely reliable.
Then on D, we had our savior returning in Michael Doss, along with his partner and a great DL core. But we needed to replace WLB, SLB, and both CBs and we had an open battle to find a punter.
Of the supposed replacements for some of the defensive vacancies, Marco Cooper got arrested and kicked off the team -- his replacement was a cornerback in 2001. His replacement was a backup safety in 2001. Our other new corner was so non-descript that it became a joke to start a Heisman campaign for him. Our 1 returning LB was coming off an injury-plagued junior year that made many people question whether his sophomore-season potential would be wasted.
On offense, one OT was coming off a broken ankle and the other hadn't played in a year due to a blood clot. Then our expected starting FB got arrested and suspended for the first game as well. Thankfully, we are the only team in the NCAA with 2 FBs with the same name, but one with an E. Did I mention that we had a QB battle between 2 players that couldn't even unseat a safety at the position? Or that our best returning TB ran for all of 416 yards in 2001 and he wasn't even the starter? A true freshman was?!? At OSU, the real Tailback U?!?! Yes, at OSU.
To make things worse, as the season approched, our coach lost his beloved mother to cancer. His stoic focus would be severely tested.
We were hardly starting our expected Big Ten championship run on solid footing.
Heck, we had no idea who we were and had a 500-yard, 45-point, Heisman-cantidate-led offensive juggernaut coming to Columbus to open the season and prove they were Big Time! Somehow, we survived Texas Tech's 7-point scoring barrage through 3-1/2 quarters and skulked away with a hard-fought 45-21 win.
After a breezy (British Open-esque, if you will) win, we welcomed the next season-ruining Western power with a Heisman QB for a top-10 showdown. What were we doing in the top 10 anyway? This time, we were facing a foe with not only offensive prowess, but a mighty defense to make it count for something. Again, we survived a 7-point barrage (though it lasted a full 4 quarters this time) and eked out 300 yards rushing in a 25-7 nail-biter.
After that, as luck would be on our side, things got easier. We lost our starting Heisma-oops, forget that, CB to a degenerative ankle problem. How many teenagers have degenerative ankles?!? Luckily, we replaced him with a redshirt freshman first, then a converted WR. I always thought Woody referred to TBs when he said "a pair and a spare"?!? Speaking of shich, our frosh phenom TB then went out for arthroscopic knee surgery, which would prove to be a cakewalk compared to the rest of his season. And a starting WR lost his brother to a fatal shooting.
Man, were we living easy or what?!?!
But through all this, all OSU did was persevere, hang tough, and win games. Not pretty, mind you, not always in a way that made people go "WOW!," and not often in a way that made anyone think we were the best team on the field on a given Saturday, let alone in the Big Ten or the country.
But the schedule-makers did give us a few truly big breaks, right? We missed mighty Iowa so would not have to risk losing to them in a showdown game. Of course, this also meant that one slip-up and we were going to Orlando. And we also only had to play Wisconsin, Purdue, and defending Big Ten champ Illinois on the road, then prove the M******* curse was really over with only a slight amount of pressure on us.
The magic gnomes got us through those. With plenty of luck, of course.
Then, the ultimate stamp on our "Season of Magic" -- Miami finished #2 in the BCS. Not Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, or the real best team in the country -- 10-2 USC. No, we got overrated Miami and their 34-game winning streak in the Fiesta Bowl with a still stung TB and a national TV audience waiting for us to get dismantled like so many Rutgers and BC players. I think the Canes referred to us as JAN heading into the game. Just Another Nebraska, right? Speaking of lucky... But I digress.
All we did was play the other best team in the nation with sloppy execution, poor fundamentals, and injured stars. And maybe a little help from an obviously OSU-biased officiating crew. And all we did was kick their butts!! Magical, right?
Well, people, let me tell you this: 2002 was not a season of magic. It was not the season that the public -- and a lot of the OSU faithful -- thinks it was. It was a mighty, mighty struggle for 14 grueling games and we still came out on top! We were still the only team in the NCAA to win all its games and the first to ever go 14-0. But it was not magic that did it, so don't say that anymore. It was guts, determination, heart, and an unbelievable faith in God, one another, and their coaches that won OSU the National Championship in 2002! And it will be those same attributes that will win OSU the National Championship in 2003!! Paraphrasing Vince Lombardi: winning is not an event, it is an attitude!
GO BUCKS!! REPEAT THE FEAT IN 2003!!!
Edited by original poster [12:52:00 07/22/03]
Edited by original poster [12:56:19 07/22/03]