August 9, 2012

Buckeyes on a mission to send seniors out on high note

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio - When the NCAA leveled a postseason ban against the 2012 Ohio State football team last January, the Buckeyes' seniors-to-be were given the chance to transfer from the program without the penalty of having to sit out a season.

None of them did.

Without a national- or even Big Ten- championship to chase after, this year's senior class is making sure that the Buckeyes' won't be without a goal this fall. And thanks to their commitment to the Ohio State program, the OSU seniors are eager to repay their elders.

"Win as many games as possible for the seniors is what we always talk about," center Corey Linsley said. "We want to put these guys out on a right note."

A redshirt junior, Linsley came to Ohio State in 2009, alongside many of this year's seniors, including John Simon and Zach Boren. While those players might not have the opportunity to end their college careers the way they imagined they would when they arrived in Columbus more than three years ago, Linsley is determined to help make their senior seasons as memorable as possible.

"We felt like a lot of them don't get the same opportunity as the rest of us do. That's the facts of life. It's the situation that we're in," Linsley said. "But that's what we're trying to do and we always talk about, 'What's the goal?' It's win as many games as possible for the seniors and if you ask anybody, I think that's what's going to roll off their tongue."

As it turns out, Linsley was right, and it's not just the fourth and fifth year players who are striving for that goal.

"Win as many games as possible for the seniors. That's what we're harping on every practice, every play, everything." sophomore defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. "They got a hard bargain, so we're trying to give them everything we can."

While many Buckeyes seem associate a number of wins with their goal, the fact remains that there are 12 games on their upcoming schedule. And at least one Ohio State player doesn't see why all 12 of them can't can't towards their goal.

"Our goal's to go 12-0. Even though we can't go to a bowl game, we still have to get out there and play," junior running back Carlos Hyde said. "So we're just going to get out there and play and have a chip on our shoulders since we can't go to a bowl game, so let the world know who the Buckeyes are this year."

While the Ohio State players certainly have a goal in mind, their coaching staff seems less certain about how they'll help them achieve it. Having been a head at the college level for 10 years, first-year Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer has never faced the challenge of coaching a team that's not eligible to compete for a championship.

"I thought about this: we've never not played for a championship in November. Ten years as a head coach, every November we were playing for a championship," Meyer said. "You've got the team meeting, you see guys and the coaching staff and everybody playing for a championship, so do we have create our own championship? I don't know."

Meyer has admitted that he's not opposed to using tools such as team mottos and wristbands to help motivate his teams towards accomplishing their goals. But he's also hopeful that gimmicks like that won't be necessary with the 2012 Buckeyes.

"We'll see how it goes. I'm hoping once again I've got an angry football team that'll wants to go try to win every game they play," Meyer said. "If not, then we'll just go play the game. If we have to motivate them in some way, we'll certainly do that. And we've done that before."


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