Andy Gottesman / The Lantern
After the offseason from hell, the Ohio State football team could enter a phase the program not seen in Columbus in a long time. Because of the recent dominance of OSU football over the last decade, these four words have been seemingly absent from the central Ohio vernacular: It’s a rebuilding year.
Tuesday, quarterback Terrelle Pryor announced that he would not be returning to OSU for his senior season.
Pryor had a 31-4 record as a starter at OSU, second most wins by a quarterback at OSU, behind Art Schlichter. Pryor passed for a career total of 6,177 yards, ran for 2,164 yards and was responsible for 74 touchdowns.
That is 444 points of offense, driving away in a Nissan 350Z.
Who is going to step up as Pryor’s replacement?
Eventually it will be Braxton Miller, a true freshman from Huber Heights, Ohio. For now, Miller is an unrefined passer, a threat on the ground and 100 percent unproven.
When Pryor announced his departure through his attorney on Tuesday, almost immediately, “Braxton Miller” was trending on Twitter in Columbus.
It is evident that Buckeye fans are ready for the next chapter, but unfortunately for them, the storybook ending is a long way off.
Miller was shaky at best in the jersey scrimmage that replaced the Spring Game this year, and got most of his production against the second-team defense.
While he has the athletic ability to succeed, Miller has yet to take a snap in front of an opposing defense at the collegiate level.
On top of being without Pryor, the 2011 squad will be without running back Dan Herron for the first five games of the season. Herron led the team in rushing in 2010 with 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Scarlet and Gray will also be without DeVier Posey for the first five games of the 2011 season. Posey was the Buckeyes’ second-leading receiver, 100 yards behind team leader Dane Sanzenbacher, who had 948 receiving yards.
OSU will also be without offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas for the first five games of the upcoming season. Linebacker Jordan Whiting earned a one-game suspension.
In those five games, OSU will play at Miami (Fla.) and at home against Michigan State. These are two teams that could be difficult to beat without a productive offense.
These deficiencies don’t even include a young squad that has to replace seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, two starters on the interior offensive line and the lack of experience at wide receiver.
If that’s not enough to scream rebuilding year, what is?
Former head coach Jim Tressel resigned from his position on Memorial Day, following conversations with athletic director Gene Smith. Tressel said it was “in the best interest of Ohio State” that he resign from his position.
Tressel amassed a 106-22 record while at OSU. He went 9-1 against Michigan. He won a National Championship in 2002.
And he is gone.
OSU announced it would not be pursuing any other coaches until the conclusion of the 2011 season. The fate of the 2011 Buckeyes lies with interim head coach Luke Fickell.
Fickell has never had a head-coaching job. Fickell is the team’s former assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach. No offense to Fickell, but with names like Urban Meyer, Bo Pelini, Jon Gruden and Mark Dantonio being thrown into the mix for 2012, his coaching experience is coming into question.
The reality of the situation is that the Buckeyes are not a top-10 team. OSU is not going to breeze its way through the regular season.
And in the first year the Big Ten has planned an official Big Ten Championship Game, OSU can count itself out of the Dec. 3 affair.