Some seasons end in championships. Others, losses that make you scratch your head.
Some teams show pure dominance in their sport. Others fight just to finish with a winning record.
Ohio State sports dabbled in a bit of each of these during the 2013-14 season, as the men’s tennis, men’s lacrosse, pistol and synchronized swimming teams captured at least a share of a conference or National Championship, and redshirt-junior Logan Steiber captured his third-consecutive NCAA wrestling title in addition to senior Joe Totts winning his second individual pistol title.
Other squads, like the football, women’s volleyball and men’s basketball teams, all started hot and won at least 12 straight contests to open the season, only to falter down the stretch.
Some OSU teams are still battling to the finish off their respective seasons — baseball, softball and men’s and women’s lacrosse, to name a few — but let’s take a moment to look back at the school year that was in OSU athletics.
The main revenue sports
In what some fans could consider a down year, the Buckeye football and men’s basketball programs both started off their respective seasons well, with the football team again going 12-0 and Thad Matta’s team ripping off 15 straight wins themselves as the team ascended as high as No. 3 in the polls.
But things quickly went south for the hoops squad, as it struggled to score consistently and only won half of its remaining 20 games to close out the season. The Buckeyes fell to Dayton, 60-59, in the NCAA Tournament’s second round, marking the first time in five seasons the Buckeyes failed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
“If anything, we’ll look at this and put ourselves in positions of understanding what it takes to win on a consistent basis,” Matta said on his team’s season after the loss to the Flyers. “It’s not just putting on a uniform that says Ohio State, it’s about going out and getting the job done.”
It took 739 days for Urban Meyer to experience his first loss as OSU’s football coach — the school officially announced his hire Nov. 29, 2011, and the team ripped off 24 straight wins before losing to Michigan State, 34-24, in the Big Ten Championship Game Dec. 7.
After following that loss with another less than a month later — this time to Clemson, 40-35, in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl Jan. 3 — Meyer wasn’t pleased with how his team finished out the season.
“Is this what we expect? No,” Meyer said after the Orange Bowl loss. “We expect top 10 defense at Ohio State, top 10 offense and top 10 special teams, and I don’t believe we accomplished any of those.”
OSU Director of Athletics and Vice President Gene Smith said Meyer has got the program in an “outstanding” place, but the team must perform better in the big games.
“Every game we have a chance to win, and we were there,” Smith said in an interview with The Lantern Jan. 29. “There’s a lot of teams that wish they had the opportunities to be in those games. We have to perform better when we’re in them, because we don’t want to lose them … I feel good about where we are.”
Both programs look to rebound for next season, as Matta brought in two transfers — forward Anthony Lee, from Temple who can play next year and center Trevor Thompson from Virginia Tech, who will sit out the 2014-15 season — to help fill the void. Meyer finalized another top five recruiting class and also added defensive line coach Larry Johnson, from Penn State, and co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash, from Arkansas, to help bolster the unit.
Even though perhaps the most popular sports failed to pick up any championships this past year, other Buckeyes did.
The synchronized swimming team won the 2014 U.S. Senior National Championship; the men’s tennis team won its first ever National Team Indoor Title in February and also clinched a share of the Big Ten Title for the ninth straight year. As mentioned before, Steiber won his third consecutive wrestling National Title and the men’s lacrosse team grabbed a share of the regular season ECAC crown after defeating Air Force Saturday, 8-6. The OSU pistol team also snatched its sixth NRA Intercollegiate National Championship March 13.
Numerous programs saw a changing of the guard on their coaching staffs, as men’s hockey coach Steve Rohlik and women’s tennis coach Melissa Schaub shed their interim tags and took over on a full-time basis. Rohlik led the Buckeyes to the conference championship game of the inaugural Big Ten Tournament where the Buckeyes fell to Wisconsin in overtime, and Schaub guided her team to an 18-7 regular season record in preparation for the Big Ten Tournament, which is set to commence Thursday.
A pair of other coaches — women’s basketball’s Kevin McGuff and diving’s Justin Sochor — also came to OSU prior to their seasons’ starts. Sochor became the next man in line behind Vince Panzano, who retired after 35 years at the helm and McGuff took over for Jim Foster, who was ‘terminated without cause’ March 19, 2013. McGuff’s Buckeyes finished the season 17-18, but made a run to the Big Ten Tournament’s semifinals before falling to Iowa.
The OSU Spirit Squad also has a new head coach in Ben Schreiber, who returns to his alma mater after spending five years at the University of Delaware. Schreiber replaces former head coach Lenee Buchman, who was terminated “for cause” Nov. 25 following a sexual harassment investigation involving former coaches and a former cheerleader.
Multiple teams are knee-deep in their spring seasons — baseball, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s tennis and track and field — but the women’s rowing team and men’s and women’s golf teams are just getting their seasons going. The rowing team captured OSU’s first women’s NCAA team title in June, and is looking to add another title to the list this year. The men’s soccer team finished the year 5-8-4, while the women’s team was 10-7-3, falling to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in November.
Much like the football and men’s basketball programs, the women’s volleyball team started off well only to falter at the end of the year. After winning their first 14 matches this past season, the team finished 18-14. The men’s team fell to IPFW, 3-0, Saturday in the first round of the MIVA Tournament to end its season 11-16.