Ohio State coach not buying in to national hype

YOUNGSTOWN – There’s not a whole lot more Urban Meyer can do next football season to impress the Ohio State University fan base.

Well, there is that thing called the national championship, which Alabama made its personal play toy the last two seasons.

Meyer, preparing for his second season as the Buckeyes coach, won’t allow himself to get caught up in preseason hype. After going 12-0 last season, there are legitimate reasons to consider Ohio State among the contenders for the national title.

“We’re just trying to win our 13th game in a row,” said Meyer, the featured speaker Monday at the PNC Bank United Way Champions Among Us banquet at the Covelli Centre. “I do worry about 18- and 19-year-old kids being told about undefeated seasons and national championships. We’re nowhere near that. I worry about when I don’t have them because they’re being told all kinds of things.”

Meyer did a great coaching job in turning the program into the right direction after a 6-7 season under interim coach Luke Fickell in 2011. The Buckeyes couldn’t cash in on more accomplishments during bowl season because of a one-year sanction imposed by the NCAA for violations committed when Jim Tressel was the coach.

It would be difficult for Meyer not to know what the preseason buzz is all about.

The undefeated record last season and another banner recruiting class have made the Buckeyes a must-follow team.

“I know I don’t (look at it), but I know my kids see it,” Meyer said. “There’s a certain way we coach and teach and lead our team. It’s really a hard program. We don’t have time to worry about what’s being said about November or December.

“I love where we’re at, though. I’ve been around our guys a little bit. It’s a good group.”

Meyer won’t have to replace many starters on offense. Four of the five starters on the line are back, including center Corey Linsley from Boardman.

The big name back on offense is junior quarterback Braxton Miller, the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2012. Meyer is expecting another outstanding season from Miller.

“When people ask me about Braxton Miller, I tell them we haven’t seen the ceiling,” Meyer said. “He can be so much better. I’m anxious to see, like everyone else, how much better he can get.

“The quarterback is a product of those around him, and the guys around him are much better.”

Meyer spoke highly of last year’s senior class. Although the group didn’t get a chance to play in a bowl game, the 12-0 record is something that has taken a place in the Woody Hayes practice center.

“If you see the tributes we have for that senior class, I’m doing the best I can to make sure that senior class goes down in history as one of the best,” Meyer said. “That’s as good a group of people that I’ve ever been around.”

Five months after Alabama’s 42-14 win over Notre Dame in the Discover BCS national championship game, Buckeyes fans are probably still wondering how an Ohio State-Alabama game would have played out.

“I was at the game and I thought Alabama was fantastic,” Meyer said. “I don’t spend much time looking in the rearview mirror and what-if, what-if. You’ll drive yourself nuts. I was just worried about recruiting.”

MAKING STRIDES: Meyer was asked about junior defensive lineman J.T. Moore of Boardman. His assessment was brutally honest.

“J.T. Moore has had a really average career,” Meyer said. “I didn’t know much about him last year. He wasn’t a factor. He wasn’t a guy that was completely committed to doing it our way. I’m proud to say he had an excellent spring. He’s involved in special teams, and he’s turned out to be one of the guys I enjoy being around. He’ll be the first one to tell you he’s wasted a lot of time there. He’s making up for a lot of lost time.”

GETTING NOTICED: Freshman defensive lineman Billy Price of Austintown Fitch has caught Meyer’s attention during his short time on campus.

“Billy is a national recruit that committed early,” Meyer said. “If he’s one of those kids that waits until the last second and puts on the hat, that would have been primetime ESPN news. There’s a good chance he’ll play this year.”

YOU CAN GO HOME: Browns guard John Greco was a special guest at the banquet. Greco, who played at Boardman, started 10 games last season and appears in line to be a starter next season.

“There’s a great reputation in this area for producing strong athletes,” Greco said. “There are also good character guys that come out of this area. I do everything I can to not tarnish the reputation of those good-character athletes that are skilled on the field and everything else, too.”