Rough Year Made Buckeyes Better

2011 wasn't a year to write home about in any way for the Ohio State football program, as most Buckeye fans know. The team struggled on the field, ending on its first four-game, in-season losing streak in more than six decades. But while the growth wasn't there when it came to results, OSU players said they became better people and learned a lot this year.

At this point, it almost goes without saying that Ohio State's 2011 – both the year and the season – were no fun.

Unfortunately, the vibe surrounding the program continued into 2012 as Ohio State lost Monday's Gator Bowl by a 24-17 final to Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., bringing an end to the team's first losing season in 23 years and its first seven loss campaign in more than a century.

"It's been tough," Brewster said. "It would seem like thing after thing after thing for 12 months. I'm not going to miss 2011."

But the good news is, perhaps, that the Buckeyes say there were able to learn from everything they went through, from the stunning revelations about head coach Jim Tressel and his eventual dismissal to departure of quarterback Terrelle Pryor to numerous other suspensions and the rough campaign.

In other words, while the results on the field clearly weren't up to par at a university that prides itself on gridiron excellence, the Buckeyes still went through plenty of growth during the year and season.

"The record doesn't show the growth, but personally – and I know the guys feel the same way – I grew so much and I'm glad I did come back," Brewster said. "I'm glad I did come back because I'm a much better man for it. I grew up a lot this year. That's something I'm going to take into my future."

Brewster said he had gone through some minor surgeries in high school that were rough at the time, but those seemed like mere inconveniences compared to the past year.

That message might have been double for guys like Dan Herron, Mike Adams and DeVier Posey, three senior leaders who were suspended for multiple games for their part in the tattoos and memorabilia scandal that rocked the program.

"Just everything that I went through this year, I've definitely grown up and I look at things a lot different," Herron said. "What I went through this year is definitely going to help me later on in life and I think it's going to help this team also. We learned so much."

It wasn't just the seniors on the Ohio State team who were reflective after the game. Among those coming back to the squad in 2012, linebacker Etienne Sabino was asked whether it was hard to believe everything that happened to the squad up to and including the Gator Bowl loss, and he went the same direction with his answer as Brewster and Herron.

"Honestly, I think as a person and I think as a team, we didn't have the season we wanted to have, but I think we grew as a team more this year than I think we have in any year in the past," Sabino said. "Regardless of going through coaches changes and all the stuff that happened, we grew as a team and as men this year.

"We learned life is going to throw curveballs at you, and we just have to react to them, and I think we did a good job of doing that."

Those words sound like this championed all year by interim head coach Luke Fickell, who spoke as much or more about wanting to see his team focus on each day and handle the situation it was in positively as he did about specific team goals like championships and other accolades.

While it was always clear Fickell had high expectations for the Buckeyes on the field – and was disappointed when the Buckeyes didn't achieve them – he did his best to keep the focus narrow and on self-improvement.

His message didn't change much after his final game in charge before returning to assistant status on the staff of new head man Urban Meyer.

"Our guys feel bad," Fickell said. "There is no doubt. This is the tough side of athletics in general. You work and prepare so hard for everything that you do, and this feeling is not something that ever goes away, but I think that's a motivational thing. I told them afterwards in the locker room that this feeling should hurt.

"When you remember that feeling, it makes you better. You're going to be in that situation some point in your life whether it's athletically or something else, and how you handle those situations are going to be a true side of a man."

Now, Ohio State will get a fresh start with Meyer taking over and, with any luck, the funk that surrounded the 2011 season will begin to lift. Those who acknowledge the year was rough will get a chance to put the program back on the right track, and those lofty goals won't change despite this year's losing campaign.

"There's a little bit of anger, there's a little frustration, disappointment – there's a bunch of stuff everybody's feeling, but it's in the past now," tight end Reid Fragel said. "We can't change anything about it. We just have to fuel the fire and go undefeated next year."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories