Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
While Ohio State’s football season now has the potential to end with a trophy, sophomore wide receiver Evan Spencer said perfection was the goal anyway.
“I’m glad we can, but at the same time, we were going to go undefeated either way,” Spencer said.
Despite NCAA sanctions that barred the program from playing in the Big Ten Championship game and a bowl this postseason, Big Ten Conference spokesman Scott Chipman confirmed the Buckeyes are eligible to officially win the Leaders Division this season – and they’d even get a trophy for doing it.
The hope for a Big Ten Championship or national crown is still unachievable, but claiming their divisional is better than nothing, right?
Spencer said the battle plan for this season doesn’t change.
“We were always just trying to go undefeated and show the country that we’re the best,” Spencer said. “And now that we actually get a chance to win a trophy or something like that, it’s just kind of like a cherry on top. It’s just something extra.”
Hours after the development broke, first-year coach Urban Meyer said it was news to even him.
“That’s the first I’ve heard something like that,” Meyer said.
Meyer said there wouldn’t be talk of the matter within the program and spun the discussion to the Buckeyes’ game against Central Florida on Saturday.
“We’re 1-0, we’re not a very good team. We’re average right now,” Meyer said. “We’re playing a very good team that I think’s equal at some positions. There’s going to be zero conversation about that in our locker room.”
Meyer, who won his Buckeye debut 56-10 against Miami (Ohio) last Saturday afternoon, was adamant that he hadn’t heard the news that his team now had the potential to achieve something tangible in 2012.
“I don’t want to spend that much more time on it but yeah, I think at the end of the day … I never heard that.” Meyer said. “I’ve never even thought about it and it’s not going to make us play harder this Saturday.”
Meyer found room to interject humor into the conversation.
“I know we can’t go to the (Big Ten Championship) game. They didn’t change that did they?” Meyer said playfully.
Like their coach, a handful of players available to the media after practice on Wednesday evening insisted they were formerly unaware they could claim a divisional title.
“Do you know what happens if you have the best record in the Leaders Division?” one reporter asked sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller.
The sophomore said he hadn’t a clue.
“Nope,” Miller said. “I have no idea – just keep playing.”
When told the Buckeyes could capture their division championship, Miller said the team’s mentality wouldn’t change.
“Uhhh,” Miller started, “it’s just one game at a time. We’ll see what happens after that.”
His teammate, redshirt senior defensive back Travis Howard said he hadn’t heard the news either.
“No, all we know is just UCF right now,” Howard said. “We focused on UCF. We ready to get out there on Saturday.”
Spencer said the chance to win something – anything – was “great.”
“It was a weird atmosphere because we never really talked about it,” Spencer said. “We never really talked about, ‘Oh we can’t go to a bowl game this year, that sucks.”
Meyer said the development could serve as motivation down the line.
“I think somewhere at the point in November or something, yeah, I think that’ll be interesting,” Meyer said.
OSU was banned from this year’s postseason following NCAA violations stemming from a scandal in which players received improper benefits in the form of tattoos for memorabilia.
Spencer said the revelation is strange to hear about just less than nine months after the sanctions were handed down.
He said, however, he’ll take it.
“It’s a little bit different,” Spencer said. “It’s just – I feel like it’s never done. But, hey, it worked out for the better for us this time.”