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The top 10 Ohio State sports stories of 2012: Part II

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

This is the second in a two-part series by Lantern sports editor Pat Brennan, who lists the top 10 Ohio State sports stories from 2012. Part I listed stories 10-6, which were:

10. A night to remember for Samantha Prahalis
: Prahalis, the lone senior on the 2011-12 OSU women’s basketball team, set the program’s single-game scoring record with 42 points against Minnesota on Feb. 23.
9. Football recruit walks after athletic department warns of Kentucky sex offender
: Former OSU football recruit Alex Anzalone de-committed from the Buckeyes after learning he had come into contact with a convicted sex offender during a visit to Columbus. The athletic department then cautioned all OSU student-athletes about Charles Waugh, the sex offender from Kentucky. 
8. Abandon ship: Men’s basketball’s Carrier Classic game sunk by moist court
: OSU men’s basketball’s season-opening game against Marquette, scheduled to be played on the flight deck of the USS Yorktown, was delayed and eventually canceled due to condensation on the outdoor playing surface.
7. Eleven Buckeyes Compete at London Olympics
6. Braxton Miller finishes 5th in Heisman Trophy voting

The top five
The top five Ohio State sports stories from 2012 tells of two athletes – women’s soccer’s Tiffany Cameron and wrestling’s Logan Stieber – that set records and won championships. The top five stories also includes the successes of the two programs that drive the OSU athletics machine: Football and men’s basketball. By the nature of the size of the OSU athletic department, it also faces widespread and diverse problems, such as the multitude of NCAA violations that were revealed in 2012. This, too, is reflected in the top-five listing of the most important stories produced by the OSU sports beat in 2012.

5. Tiffany Cameron’s record-breaking season

Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium won’t soon forget Tiffany Cameron’s 2012 senior season. In her final campaign with the Scarlet and Gray, Cameron used 21 goals to shatter the previous single-season scoring record (13) and raise her career tally to 40 goals, also a program record. The Canadian international was the catalyst for OSU’s Big Ten Tournament Championship, which secured the program’s fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. Cameron scored both goals in the Big Ten title game on Nov. 4 to lift OSU to a 2-1 win against Illinois. Cameron’s 69th-minute goal was one of nine game-winning strikes she recorded in 2012. She had a Big Ten-record 19 career game-winners for the Buckeyes.

4. Buckeyes bounce to Big Easy for Final Four

Between Feb. 11 and Feb. 26, the OSU men’s basketball team lost three out of five conference games. Scary stuff considering the postseason was approaching quickly, but OSU coach Thad Matta delivered what might have been his best coaching job for the program and eventually rallied his troops to a share of the regular season Big Ten title, a 31-8 overall record and a trip to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans.

OSU’s offense, led by former forward and 2012 NBA draftee Jared Sullinger, caught fire in the NCAA Tournament as the Buckeyes danced past Loyola (Md.), Gonzaga, Cincinnati and No. 1-seeded Syracuse by a combined 48 points to capture the tournament’s East Region Championship. At the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the wheels came off in the second half of the national semifinal game. OSU relinquished a lead, lost to Kansas, 64-62, and finally saw the curtain fall on its dream season. It was a thrilling run through the NCAA Tournament that featured one of the more talented teams Matta has assembled during his tenure in Columbus.

3. Secondary NCAA violations surface in 2012

Just more than a year after OSU football was shaken to its core by the “Tattoo-Gate” scandal that resulted in the Buckeyes being banned from postseason play in 2012, the athletic department released information about 73 secondary NCAA violations throughout 2012.
Not all the violations took place in the current calendar year – in May, the athletic department revealed 46 secondary violations spanning across 21 of OSU’s 36 varsity programs dating back to May 30, 2011.

Less than a week later, The Lantern learned of a second round of violations during an interview with OSU athletic director Gene Smith. Smith told The Lantern of 12 additional secondary violations, which, according to a Nov. 16 Cleveland Plain Dealer report, were included with 27 violations committed between “mid-April and mid-September.” 

The 73 violations almost certainly won’t result in severe NCAA punishment, but don’t forget that the word “violations” has become an anxiety-provoking term for some in Buckeye Nation as a result of “Tattoo-Gate.”

The athletic department missteps brought to light in 2012, however minor they might have been, resulted in public outcry and concern about the effectiveness of compliance enforcement.

2. Logan Stieber takes NCAA title at 133-pounds

Then a redshirt freshman, OSU wrestler Logan Stieber took college wrestling, and the 133-pound weight class in particular, by storm in 2012. A season that saw Stieber post a 33-2 overall record began late in 2011, and it was in 2012 that the Monroeville, Ohio, native made the season one to remember.

Stieber was a Big Ten Conference champion at his weight class and advanced to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed. In the tournament’s March 17 championship match, Stieber defeated No. 1-seeded Jordan Oliver of powerhouse Oklahoma State, 4-3, to claim his national championship. Additional accolades came pouring in – Stieber was named the 2012 Freshman of the Year by InterMat and the Big Ten, as well as an All-Big Ten and All-American selection.

1. The Urban Meyer Era begins with perfection

Good or bad, win or lose, Urban Meyer and the OSU football team were always destined to be the story of the year on campus. In fact, the results were good – historically good – and Meyer’s 2012 Buckeyes unexpectedly captured a place in program lore.

While the Buckeyes posted a meager 6-7 record in 2011, Meyer’s arrival brought high expectations. Faint shouts demanding perfection from the 2012 Buckeyes playing in a weakened Big Ten conference grew louder as the team began to stack up wins. There were scares along the way, but the Buckeyes seldom relented. They clinched their first-ever Leaders Division title with an overtime win in the penultimate game of the year at Wisconsin.
One week later, the Buckeyes took their rightful place in program history as the sixth unbeaten, untied
OSU team ever with a 26-21 win against Michigan.

The 2012 Buckeyes won’t get a chance to play for the national championship due to a postseason ban, but the team has been celebrated as a champion in Columbus during the offseason regardless. For some, it was a season of closure after the agony of months-long NCAA investigations and speculation about sanctions for the program. Meyer’s squad should begin the 2013 season as a top contender for the national title and could perhaps top this list again in one year’s time. 

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