- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Fresher, bigger stories could knock Ohio State slightly out of the brightest spotlight. That certainly doesn't mean the Buckeyes are going to be relegated to the shadows at Big Ten Media Days.
When the cameras go on and the questions start flying Thursday in Chicago, a few hotter topics figure to replace the storylines focusing on the new era at Ohio State. But even with the recent adoption of a college football playoff, the landscape-changing penalties for Penn State and the inability to play in the postseason itself this season, Urban Meyer's first appearance at the preseason kickoff comes with no shortage of interest even with so much else to discuss elsewhere.
What's the motivation?
The Buckeyes have had plenty of time to work out a response, and they should also get numerous opportunities to lean on their scripts.
Just what is Ohio State playing for if it can't win the conference, claim a national championship or even play in a bowl game? Simon, for one, has already addressed that issue several times, and the respected team leader has rarely deviated from a plan to treat every game like it's for a title and to rally around the program.
The fact that three seniors are appearing for the Buckeyes is significant for this line of questioning, as they are the ones who are most affected by the one-year absence from the postseason thanks to the NCAA sanctions leveled in the aftermath of the investigation that led to Jim Tressel's ouster. And, not coincidentally, it's also going to be up to them to set the tone for Meyer's first season because there's no hardware on the line this fall.
Can they all get along?
Meyer's office might not have even been organized before an opposing coach was issuing public complaints about the new leader for the Buckeyes.
Wisconsin's Bret Bielema fired the opening salvo in February by questioning Ohio State's recruiting tactics, which Meyer has staunchly defended.
In a previous coaching life, Meyer had a similar situation when Lane Kiffin parachuted into the SEC for a season and told a group of Tennessee boosters he was planning to turn in Florida for a recruiting violation. While their time coaching against each other was brief, that relationship certainly didn't get off to the best start -- and Meyer later acknowledged the importance of league coaches working together when it wasn't "game day."
Bielema has reportedly cleared the air about the incidents that bothered him, but that doesn't mean it won't be up for discussion in Chicago when he and Meyer take the podium.
The Tebow effect
Since Meyer turned his most decorated former player into an adjective, and considering the attention Tim Tebow still receives nationally, Simon has another question he can expect in just about every interview.
Meyer's description of the defensive end's leadership skills as "Tebowish" was high praise, and it also provided an easy way to connect the coach's Florida past with his Ohio State future.
But there's at least a chance Simon could grow tired of those comparisons, given his own impressive accomplishments, and perhaps a desire to establish his name as the standard for the Buckeyes. He'll surely have a few chances to weigh in on the phenomenon either way.
12hPat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler