One might expect Ohio State fans not to be all that excited about the 2012 football season, what with the NCAA probation the Buckeyes are on making it impossible for them to play for the Big Ten championship and in a bowl game.
But one guy I always like reading - Big Ten Network.com senior writer Tom Dienhart - came up with with 10 reasons why each conference school should be excited about this fall.
Of course, there was no doubt what Dienhart's No. 1 reason for OSU would be without even peeking, and yes, it was Urban Meyer.
''Urban Meyer brings instant credibility and a national-championship resume to Columbus. His hiring energized Buckeye Nation, and you can bet his effect on the field this fall will be every bit as powerful for a program that is priming the pump for tomorrow.''
Reason No. 2 is hungry and angry, that Dienhart said ''best describes'' the Ohio State players' mood with this season bogged down by NCAA sanctions. ''But that doesn't mean Ohio State will lack motivation to have the best record in the league. With games versus Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska and Michigan State, the Buckeyes will have a big say in who wins the title.''
No. 3 is quarterback Braxton Miller, whose physical talent and natural ability Meyer has praised to the hilt after his baptism by fire last season, being effective passing under some trying conditions and also running, with not all of his jaunts of the scripted variety.
No. 4 is the OSU secondary, in which ''there may not be a better collection of defensive backs in the Big Ten,'' penned Dienhart. All four starters return, junior safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant with senior Travis Howard and soph Bradley Roby at corners.
The OSU defensive line is reason No. 5. ''Massive tackle Johnathan Hankins is a wrecking ball inside,'' end John Simon ''is a whale of a talent who plays like his hair is on fire,'' and the return of Nathan Williams at the other end from a season-ending 2011 knee injury ''will amp up the pass rush,'' said Dienhart, with a group of touted newcomers ''making this unit even more formidable,''
Reason No. 6 is improved linebackers. ''This unit was maligned at times in 2011,'' wrote Dienhart, as ''there was a lack of playmaking ability and dynamic edge.'' But with sophomore Ryan Shazier ''coming into his own,'' senior Etienne Sabino seemingly ''playing with a new-found sense of urgency'' and soph Curtis Grant ''ready to blossom inside,'' that may change this season.
No. 7 is the schedule, which ''is built for success,'' said Dienhart. A 4-0 non-conference start would set up a huge Big Ten opener at Michigan State. ''Win that, and OSU may be able to start dreaming of-perhaps-an unbeaten season? Maybe? Possibly?''
No. 8 is TE Jake Stoneburner, over his summer suspension, who ''should be a weapon on third down and in the red zone,'' said Dienhart.
Reason 9 is a dependable kicking game with placekicker kicker Drew Basil and punter Ben Buchanan.
No. 10 is the ''strong coaching staff'' Meyer has assembled, with last year's interim head coach Luke Fickell back as co-defensive coordinator with Everett Withers, North Carolina's interim head coach last season. On offense, the coordinators are Tom Herman, ''one of the nation's brightest young coaches,'' said Dienhart, and Ed Warinner, ''a sage mind who also excels coaching the O-line.''
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org