What do you feel is Ohio State's biggest weakness heading into the season?
I think physically, this potentially could be one of the more talented teams Coach Tressel has had if you're just looking at the team on paper. You start with Terrelle and you work your way around with the offensive line and the backs, led by Brandon and Boom, and then you look at the receivers, and I know there are some concerns from the people who aren't familiar with the potential candidates, but if you look at what Posey and Sanzenbacher can do. I think Taurian Washington, Corey Brown, Chris Fields -- they're loaded at wide receiver in my opinion. I think they're going to be better top to bottom at receiver than they've been in the last few years, once people have a chance to see what some of these younger receivers can do. Even with the loss of Duron Carter, I think they're going to be okay out there.
I think offensively everything looks in order, and I think defensively, you could say maybe there are some potential concerns at safety, but I just don't see them. But getting back to your question, the big thing I have there is how do they gel? How do they grow as a team? And are the intangibles going to be able to surface and are they going to become a real team instead of a bunch of talented individuals? I think if this team gets great chemistry, then I think they're going to be a really, really dangerous team and I think they will be favored in every game they play this year.
Now, will they run the table? Will they win every game? That's where I go back to the x-factor in championship seasons is whether or not teams can grow and become a unit. I think last year was a great example. I think they were searching for it and maybe it took a loss to Purdue for them to find out who they were. If you think about their last three games and the way they won -- at Penn State, Iowa at home, and at Michigan -- it wasn't the prettiest but I think it really created a lot of confidence, so by the time they went out to Pasadena they were kind of a machine at that point. My hope for them is that they find that early in the year and maybe playing a powerhouse like Miami can be just the thing to help them grow together as a team.
And ended with a smart observation that the reputation of the Big Ten is low outside of the Midwest and that one good bowl season isn't going to change that perception:
There seems to be a little bit of an improvement in the overall national perception of the Buckeyes and the Big Ten based off of last season's bowl successes. Have you noticed that within the network and traveling around the country?
It's baby steps. When you have three or four lousy years in non-conference play as a conference and in the bowl games, you can't just have one great bowl season where you knock off four teams in the top fifteen including two BCS bowl games and say "Okay, now, people better respect the Big Ten". That's a great start, but now you have to back it up with Penn State playing well against Alabama down in Tuscaloosa. Ohio State has to play well against Miami. Arizona and Iowa: the Hawkeyes have to go out to Tucson and play well. You have these kind of games, you can't lose to the MAC consistently.
Sometimes I just feel like Big Ten fans are so myopic, that they just look at their team and when they are sitting in the stadium and hear that Michigan State is losing to Central Michigan or Michigan is losing to Appalachian State, they cheer and it's a great thing. And I want to ask them if they've ever been outside of the Great Lakes region because every time one of those Big Ten teams loses, Ohio State loses, the Big Ten loses. Even when Michigan loses one of those games, fans from Florida, USC, Texas and Oklahoma -- it might as well be Ohio State losing those games, and to me, you better be rooting as hard as you can if you want Ohio State to start getting more national respect and you want the Big Ten to get more national respect, you better start rooting for the Big Ten in every single non-conference they play and every single bowl game they play, because the way you turn around perception is you win games. That's it. That's all there is to it. And if you don't do that, then you're going to be looked at as "So, you won the Big Ten. Yay! Big deal! Our 7th place team from the SEC could win the Big Ten" and that's going to take time and a lot of wins to be able to change that, but it can happen.
Let's see if Herbstreit accounts for the performance of the Big Ten at the end of the year if Ohio State is in the running for a spot in Glendale against teams from conferences with better reputations.