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Best of 2017 coverage of Ohio State athletics

Urban Meyer raises the Cotton Bowl trophy following the end of game against the University of Southern California on Dec. 29 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Ohio State won 24-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Ohio State is one of the most polarizing athletics programs in the country, which makes for some great coverage throughout a year. With 2017 closing, The Lantern compiled nine of the most significant stories or some of the best writing during the year.

1) Self-reported NCAA violations prevent Ohio State from recruiting 5-star prospect Micah Parsons

Many who follow the Ohio State football team wondered why the Buckeyes stopped recruiting five-star defensive end prospect Micah Parsons. In documents obtained through a public records request, sports editor Colin Hass-Hill found that Ohio State self-imposed a ban on recruiting Parsons following NCAA infractions during the recruit’s official visit in September.

The report garnered national attention with the early-signing period taking place the next day.

2) Thad Matta out as Ohio State men’s basketball head coach

This was shocking news that dominated the college basketball news cycle for an entire week. Ohio State fired its winningest men’s basketball coach in school history on June 5, 2017 after 13 seasons. Despite four straight Sweet 16 berths and five Big Ten championships, Ohio State went in a new direction after two straight years of missing the NCAA Tournament.

The Lantern published eight articles in the two days after the announcement relating to Matta’s firing.

3) Ohio State hires Chris Holtmann as men’s basketball head coach

The coaching search ended with then-Butler head coach Chris Holtmann. Just four days after Ohio State Athletics Director Gene Smith addressed the media about Matta’s departure, Holtmann signed an eight-year deal to become Ohio State’s next head coach. The change in the basketball program was the biggest story in Ohio State athletics in 2017, and one of the largest college sports stories of the year.

The Lantern published eight stories relating to the initial report of Holtmann’s hire and his press conference on June 12.

4) Ohio State sweeps BYU, wins NCAA men’s volleyball championship

OSU men’s volleyball captains raise their second-consecutive national title trophy on Saturday at the NCAA national championship game. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller Reporter

The most dominant program in 2017 at Ohio State was the men’s volleyball that ended its historic season with a national championship on its home floor in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes won in straight sets against BYU to win its second consecutive national championship. They also broke the school and conference record for most consecutive wins with 42. Ohio State ended the season 32-2.

5) J.K. Dobbins emerging as potential standout

Looking back, this story predicted one of the biggest storylines of Ohio State’s football season. The article foretold the impact freshman running back J.K. Dobbins would have on the Buckeyes’ offense. Running back coach Tony Alford said in August that Dobbins understood the offense “faster than anybody I’ve ever been around in my 22 years.” Dobbins ended up breaking the school’s freshman rushing record with 1,403 and averaging more than 7 yards per carry.

6) Hurricane Harvey impacting Houston-native Ohio State athletes

Hurricane Harvey and the damage it brought about was one of the country’s biggest stories in 2017 — and its impact extended into Ohio State’s athletic department. In this story, Lantern sports editors Colin Hass-Hill and Ed Sutelan explained how, speaking with four Buckeye athletes from the Houston area. The story shed light on the difficulties of witnessing personal tragedies from afar and illustrated that no matter how distant an event might seem, it is likely impacting people in our local community.

7) Ohio State’s championship hopes fade away in loss to Iowa

Urban Meyer paces the sideline during the fourth quarter of the Ohio State-Iowa game on Nov. 4. Ohio State lost 24-55. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Before anyone could figure out how or why it happened, it was clear what Ohio State’s 55-24 meant: the Buckeyes were probably not going to the College Football Playoff for a second straight season. While hope resurfaced, especially after winning the Big Ten title, the 31-point road loss was a key reason — if not the reason — Ohio State found itself on the outside the top 4. In this story, Lantern assistant sports editor Ed Sutelan captures the significance of the loss — and why in the years to come, this game, perhaps more than the Penn State thriller or another Michigan victory, will stand out in any lookback at 2017.

8) Ohio State beat itself, then beat Penn State

While the loss to Iowa would tarnish some of the shine Ohio State acquired after knocking off then-No. 2 Penn State, Lantern sports editor Colin Hass-Hill skillfully demonstrates in this story just how resilient the Buckeyes were in overcoming self-inflicted wound after self-inflicted wound. It’s a terrific piece of writing on one of the season’s memorable and entertaining games.

9) Bo Jordan alters training regimen in hopes of staying healthy

In one of the sports sections’ best written stories this year, Lantern reporter Jeff Helfrich chronicles how redshirt senior wrestler Bo Jordan has altered his approach to training in order to avoid the injuries that have hindered him for four seasons so he can go out on top as a national champion. With Jordan boasting a 14-2 record through Dec. 17 and a No. 3 ranking in his weight class, so far, so good.

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