While I sat with my friend Bob during the celebration, my mind could not help but think of the senior class who signed letters of intent with Ohio State in February 2011. Twenty-four players signed with Ohio State in February 2011, yet only seventeen remained by January 2015. Fortunately for Ohio State fans, a few of these individuals have eligibility remaining to play for Ohio State in 2015 (Chase Farris, Joel Hale, Bryce Haynes, Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller, Ron Tanner, and Nick Vannett).
While “Carmen Ohio” was naturally performed at the national championship celebration, another song has crossed my mind as I reflect upon the careers of the players who signed in 2011 ~ Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”.
“But my hand was made strong
By the ‘and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Big thanks to @JimTressel5 for recruiting these seniors and to @CoachFick for keeping the program afloat when it was under siege. #GoBucks
— Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich) January 13, 2015
My first experience watching Braxton Miller as an Ohio State Buckeye was in the 2011 Ohio State Spring Game. Enrolled as a true freshman, there were questions as to whether Miller would be the quarterback during the first five games, as returning starter Terrelle Pryor served a five game suspension, along with Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel. Little did anyone know that the 2011 Spring Game would be the last time Coach Tressel would coach Miller in any capacity.
Memorial Day 2011 dawned with the bombshell that Coach Tressel, under siege by the national media and members of the university power struggle, resigned as head coach. Former Ohio State defensive lineman and longtime Ohio State assistant coach Luke Fickell was promoted to head coach for the 2011 season, and possibly beyond.
While 2011 was a disappointing season for Ohio State and Coach Fickell, optimism for these players came into Columbus with the hiring of Urban Meyer as head football coach on November 28, 2011. In less than one full year, many of these players had experienced signing to play for one head coach, suffering through a losing season under an interim coach, and now were going to play for a coach that had not recruited the majority of them (Coach Meyer had recruited Braxton Miller while Coach Meyer was at Florida, if you recall). Even with this optimistic turn of events related to Coach Meyer’s arrival, it was only natural that a few of the players decided to look elsewhere to continue their football and educational careers.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds…”
The 2012 season under Coach Meyer resulted in a perfect 12-0 season, yet no rewards were possible as the program was under a bowl ban. The 2013 season began in tremendous fashion, yet collapsed down the stretch with a loss to Michigan State in The 2013 B1G Championship Game, and followed up with a loss to Clemson in the 2014 Orange Bowl. The 2014 season, after three years, would prove to be the last opportunity to leave a positive legacy in the archives of Ohio State football for several of these players who began in 2011.
“Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever have:
Yes, “Carmen Ohio” was on my mind, along with 45,000-50,000 other members of the Buckeye faithful on January 24th, 2015, in Ohio Stadium. But I will admit this other tune will also be on my mind and in my heart as I will fondly think back to the magical season of 2014, and to several of the Buckeyes who helped to make it that way, beginning back in February 2011.