NEW ORLEANS LA - JANUARY 04: (R-L) Dan Herron #1 Terrelle Pryor #2 and Mike Adams #75 of the Ohio State Buckeyes gather with teammates before taking on the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4 2011 in New Orleans Louisiana. Herron Pryor and Adams are three of the five players suspended the first five games next season for receiving improper benefits. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
2010 record: 12-1 (7-1), beat Arkansas in Sugar Bowl (all wins vacated)
Coach: Luke Fickell, first year (0-0)
Series: Ohio State leads 67-12-5
Indiana is 23 seasons removed from its last win over Ohio State, and 15 seasons removed from its last competitive game against the Buckeyes, but the Hoosiers will be facing a program in disarray when they head to Columbus in mid-November. This will be IU's second consecutive trip to Columbus, and despite the problems facing the Buckeyes, they still hold a substantial talent advantage over IU. Still, it will be interesting to watch Ohio State this season and over the next few seasons to see if the Buckeyes' current burdens are more than a minor setback.
The turmoil, of course, relates to improper sales by Buckeye players of memorabilia, and exchanging memorabilia for tattoos, and Jim Tressel's failure to communicate what he knew to his superiors and his dishonesty before the NCAA ultimately led to Tressel's resignation Tressel who led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship and returned the Buckeyes to the top of the Big Ten. He deserved to go, and now OSU will give the reins to Luke Fickell, a long-time Buckeye assistant. Here's a word of warning to Ohio State fans, having been through the "interim year" once in football and once in basketball: if Fickell has any degree of success, the media will try to shove the guy down your throat. The media loves nothing more than an "underdog interim coach takes over for successful and/or popular coach and does okay and HOW DARE YOU THINK OF FIRING THIS YOUNG MAN, YOU HEARTLESS FOOLS!" I really don't have any personal investment in the OSU program. If anything, as a Big Ten South (I don't use the official nomenclature) "rival," I hope the Buckeyes wallow for a few years. But it will be interesting to watch the coverage.
Other than Tressel's termination, the most significant fallout from the memorabilia scandal is that OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who would have been suspended to start the season in any event, has left the program. Fickell has not yet named a starter, but true freshman Braxton Miller,who enrolled for spring practice, appears to be the quarterback of the future. Senior Joe Bauserman has worked solely as a backup during his career, completing 25 of 47 passes in his first three seasons, and Kenny Guiton and Taylor Graham also appear to be in the mix. Last year's leading rusher, Dan Herron, also will be suspended for the first five games of the season. With Pryor and Brandon Saine gone to the NFL or wherever, that leaves Jaamal Berry, who ran for 265 yards and a TD last season, as OSU's leading returning rusher for the first half of the season. DeVier Posey, also one of those who is suspended for the first five games, which leaves tight end Jake Stoneburner has the leading returning receiver until Posey's suspension ends. Clearly, the suspensions and fallout from the scandal have created a big problem for the Buckeyes at the offensive skill positions. With the sort of talent Ohio State has at hand every year, they certainly won't be hurting, but there are plenty of questions. On defense, the Buckeyes were outstanding as usual in 2010, but lost nearly all of their statistical leaders to graduation. Defensive lineman Nathan Williams and John Simon, linebacker Tony Jackson, and safety Orhian Johnson are the only returning starters.
The Buckeyes begin their season with home games against Akron and Toledo before traveling to Miami (Florida) and coming home to finish the non-conference schedule against Colorado. Those four games, plus the Big Ten home opener against Michigan State, and the five games for which the four remaining members of the "Tat Five" will be suspended. The Buckeyes' first game at full strength will be on the road against Nebraska. None of their first five games are unwinnable, but a couple of losses in the first five, combined with a loss to Nebraska in game 6, could put the Buckeyes in an unusual position. Still, asking the Hoosiers to threaten OSU at the Hoseshoe, even under current circumstances, is a lot to ask.