OK, this is a very cliched way to post a Christmas story, but bear with us, because at the end we list the presents the Buckeyes have already received - national and conference awards for a number of players on the team that they can keep and display with joy.
First up are the gifts we think some with Ohio State ties can use.
For Urban Meyer … more depth on defense. The lack of talent at key places – linebacker and safety, to start – doomed the Buckeyes to fall out of the national title game as the defense struggled at the end of the season. Simply put, the team has had horrible attrition the past few seasons at linebacker, leaving the team without a lot of options once Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry got banged up, and the safety depth never really developed as Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett started the last three seasons, something that came to the fore when Bryant was hurt. The recruiting gains and young players at these spots are good signs, but those gains must show up on the field soon.
For Thad Matta … a crunch-time scorer. There are some options on the team, including senior Lenzelle Smith Jr., who was so key in the Notre Dame comeback, and LaQuinton Ross, who we know can fill up the score sheet and has no trouble with confidence. The Buckeyes have a lot going for them, including one of the best defensive teams in the country and a lot of options on the offensive end. When Big Ten play hits and highly ranked teams from Michigan State and Wisconsin hit the schedule, though, it wouldn't hurt to have someone take the lead at the end of games.
For the department of athletics … a reasonable solution to the NCAA issues facing the school and college sports in general. Gene Smith has been one of the key players among those pushing for reform, especially when it comes to giving high-resource institutions the leeway to provide cost-of-attendance stipends and more resources to student-athletes. This will be one of the top stories in college sports in 2014 so it would be a nice present for the Buckeyes to come up with meaningful reform that works for the school.
For Corey Brown … a solid final game in Scarlet and Gray. The fifth-year senior from outside Pittsburgh has been criticized for his play throughout the season, and his spot might be threatened by Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell in the bowl game. But it would be nice to see the man known as "Pitt" have a great final game in Scarlet and Gray, if only to leave Buckeye fans with a good parting performance.
For Luke Fickell … a chance to show what he can do. Fickell and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers got a lot of criticism the past couple of seasons for the team's leaky pass defense, but with Withers now gone, it appears Fickell will have the chance to be in full charge of the defense. It is a golden opportunity for the man who has basically spent the past two decades in the program to put his stamp on the Silver Bullets.
For Kevin McGuff … the patience of Buckeye fans. OK, this isn't something that can normally be found in Scarlet and Gray backers, but it seems clear that McGuff could be on the cusp of big things in Columbus as the head of the women's basketball program. Crowds at Value City Arena have been good so far for a team that is young and shorthanded but is playing hard and keeping pace with just about everyone on the schedule. Add in next year's standout recruiting class and success should be coming sooner rather than later. The rest of 2014, though, will likely be up and down until help arrives.
For Braxton Miller and Ryan Shazier … the ability to make the right choices about the NFL draft. Both are entertaining thoughts of leaving early for the professional ranks, and both have some pretty reasons on both sides of the coin. And maybe coin is the right word, as the two stand to make some pretty good money if they go after this year. Shazier is the one who seems to be a more likely first-round pick, but Miller brings loads of talent to the table and could be a dynamic quarterback at the professional level too. Best of luck to each when it comes to making the right choice, whatever that might be in the long run.
With that in mind, here are the presents members of the Ohio State football team did receive this year – a list of the national and conference awards given to Buckeye players.
There will be two new trees in the Buckeye Grove that sits in the shadows of Ohio Stadium. Shazier and senior left tackle Jack Mewhort each received at least one first-team All-America designation from a national outlet, booking their spot in the line of trees dedicated to each All-American to play for the Buckeyes.
Shazier has been listed on the first team of four All-American lists – those handed out by the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and ESPN.com. He was also named a second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America.
Over the course of 13 games, Shazier amassed a Big Ten-best 134 tackles, including 22½ for loss. He also racked up six sacks for 46 yards and forced four fumbles, and he was a finalist for the Butkus Award given to the nation's best linebacker that went to Alabama's C.J. Mosley.
Mewhort was named a first-team All-American by ESPN.com, the only listing in which he achieved the honor. He was also the recipient of second-team All-American honors by the FWAA, SI and the Walter Camp Foundation and tacked on a third-place appearance in the Associated Press team.
Senior running back Carlos Hyde, who missed the first three games of the season, also received a third-place spot on the Associated Press All-American squad. Hyde scored 14 touchdowns and has rushed for more than 100 yards in eight consecutive games.
Then there was Miller, who on Dec. 12 was named as the winner of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football for a second consecutive year.
It marks just the fourth time in history that a player has managed to win the award, given to the most valuable player in the Big Ten as voted on by league head coaches, on two occasions. Miller joined Minnesota quarterback Paul Giel (1952-53), Buckeyes running back Archie Griffin (1973-74) and Indiana running back Anthony Thompson (1988-89).
In helping the Buckeyes to a 12-1 record this season, Miller put up some staggering offensive numbers. He threw for 1,860 yards and 22 touchdowns, finishing with just five interceptions while completing 63.2 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 1,033 yards and 10 scores, topping 1,000 yards on the ground for the second straight season.
The award boosted his lead atop the all-time list of major conference awards with seven, besting former Buckeye lineman and College Football Hall of Famer Orlando Pace, who received five such honors over the course of his storied career in Columbus. Miller collected the Silver Football, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Big Ten Quarterback of the Year honors in both 2012 and 2013, while also claiming Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2011.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players, but according to the Tribune, Miller appeared on 10 of the 11 ballots in which he was eligible, with nine of those coming in as first-place votes. Wisconsin linebacker and Dayton native Chris Borland finished second, while Carlos Hyde placed third. Meyer's nod went to Borland, the only player other than Miller to collect a first-place vote.
In other Big Ten honors, Miller was first-team All-Big Ten according to both the coaches and league media, joining Hyde, who was chosen as the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year. Hyde missed the first three games of the season because of a suspension but rebounded to finish the regular season with a Big Ten-best average of 143.3 yards per contest. In 165 rushes, he gained 1,290 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.
The Buckeyes' offensive line lit up the media All-Big Ten team, with seniors Mewhort, Corey Linsley and Andrew Norwell all being chosen as first-team recipients. Linsley was also a first-team choice by coaches, with Mewhort and Norwell earning second-team nods. Senior Corey "Philly" Brown also picked up a second-team nod from the coaches at wide receiver from the coaches after catching 50 passes for 602 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensively, Shazier was named as a first-team choice by both the coaches and media but lost to Borland for the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year honor. Shazier was joined as a first-team coaches and media selection by Roby, who compiled 64 tackles, three interceptions and two blocked punts.
Sophomore defensive end Noah Spence was chosen as a first-team defensive lineman by the media and was a second-team selection on the coaches' end. Junior defensive tackle Michael Bennett earned a second-team spot on both the coaches' and media lists.
Then there's freshman defensive end Joey Bosa, whose mantle is already getting a bit full after he made 6.5 sacks while earning freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News and College Football News. CFN also put first-year punter Cameron Johnston on its second team after he downed 28 of 44 punts inside the 20.
Lastly, 19 Buckeye football players were among the 73 OSU student-athletes to earn Academic All-Big Ten honors during the fall, a list that includes Spence and starting right tackle Taylor Decker. The others are Darryl Baldwin, Warren Ball, Ivon Blackman, Jacoby Boren, Joe Burger, Kyle Dodson, Pat Elflein, Frank Epitropoulos, Craig Faga, Peter Gwilym, Bryce Haynes, Cameron Kinzig, Chris Rock, Nik Sarac, Ben St. John, Ron Tanner and Camren Williams.