Time and Change is a series at BuckeyeNation where we chat with former Ohio State athletes.
Craig Krenzel will never be forgotten at Ohio State.
The last quarterback to lead the Buckeyes to a national championship, Krenzel is a two-time Fiesta Bowl MVP and one of the biggest reasons Ohio State beat Miami in double overtime for the title on Jan. 3, 2003, rushing for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
He finished his career 24-3 as a starter at Ohio State and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Krenzel, 31, wrapped up a two-year professional career by going 59-of-127 for 718 yards with three touchdown passes.
Today, he is a partner with the Arthur Krenzel Lett Insurance Group. The company has offices in Dublin, Ohio, and Winfield, W.Va. He also is a part-time commentator for 97.1 The Fan in Columbus and a spokesman for JD Equipment.
BuckeyeNation caught up with Krenzel and talked to him about the title season, his life today and being part of a coaching change.
BN: For those who have never experienced it, what's the euphoria like of winning a national championship?
Krenzel: It's one of those things that you don't realize how cool it is and what a big deal it is when you're actually going through it. When you're a kid like that in college, obviously you go out every day and train for that to be your goal. When you win it and get a chance to sit back and celebrate it and enjoy accomplishing your goal, it seems like, 'All right, great, we set an objective and had a path and hit it. What's next?' It's taken a little bit of time and being away from it as a player where you sit back – especially nowadays where you realize how big college football has become – you realize year in and year out you see good football teams and it reminds you of how difficult it is to accomplish that. It's one of those things that definitely grows on you as you get a little older.
BN: When you saw Cie Grant break up the play to win the game, what was going through your head?
Krenzel: (Laughs) I think more than anything, "Thank God, this game's over." We were all pretty tired and pretty beat up. You know, it's one of those things where you watch our defense. Miami has the ball first-and-goal on the 2-yard line or 3-yard line or whatever it was. And I remember thinking to myself, 'Man, if there's any defense in the country that can do this, it's our guys.'
Then first down goes by, second down goes by, third down and the next thing you know it's fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line and Cie comes off the edge untouched. The ball goes up, Donnie Nickey slaps it to the ground and the first thing I did is look around and see, "Are there any penalty flags? Is this thing really over?" I didn't really even watch the play. I was sitting kind of down on the bench. I knew with the amount of fans we had there, when the place erupted and went crazy, I knew it was good for us. By the time I looked up, all our guys had scattered on the field. I just ran out there and enjoyed the celebration.
BN: Do you miss the game?
Krenzel: There are definitely some things I miss about the game. I miss the competition. I miss the camaraderie. There's definitely a lot about the game I miss, but there's a lot about the game that I don't miss. I found other ways in my life through various physical activities – cycling, running, swimming -- stuff like that to replace that competitive nature of business. You can take anything in life and set out to win and be the best. You can definitely replace it, but there are certain components I miss. As I mentioned, there's a few you don't miss, either.
Krenzel: The thing for me is I was fortunate enough with my family and my upbringing that when Tress came in with the "Block O of Life," it was merely common sense. For me, it was a blueprint of the focal points of life that you better have a priority to be good, if you wanted to do good, if you wanted to have success and enjoy success. You needed it to have a positive impact anywhere you chose to live and reside. For me, I was fortunate enough to grow up that way. It was great to have a coach that truly worked with a lot of the guys and made it a priority for the program as well. For me, a lot of it was repetition from what my parents taught me and told me.
BN: You were there when Tressel came on board. You're in Columbus now and the Buckeyes are days away from the first season under Urban Meyer. What's the atmosphere like there now and how is it similar to when Tressel took over?
Krenzel: It's different. ... No. 1, when Coach [John] Cooper was let go and Jim Tressel was hired, Coach Tress was a little bit of an unknown. I don't want to say a wild card, but he was not a big-name guy coming from another school, coming from a place where everybody knew who this guy was and they knew a lot about him.
With Urban Meyer, we have a whole new scenario here. We have a guy that has done it on the biggest stage, who has built a name and reputation for himself as a coach at the highest level, so that obviously generates a ton of buzz and excitement. The thing that Urban Meyer brings to this community is he brings a level of intensity and a style of coaching that is different than Jim Tressel. He's getting people re-energized and rejuvenated and quickly forgetting about what has taken place over the last 12 or 18 months or whatever it's been. Everyone is ready to get this season on and see what they can do under a new coaching staff. We'll continue to take our medicine and know we're not going to participate in a Big Ten title game or a national championship or a bowl game this year. But we'll use this season as a good stepping stone. There's a lot of buzz to watch Urban Meyer go out there and continue to recruit and get some players to see what we're going to be in a couple of years.
BN: What's next for Craig Krenzel?
Krenzel: I don't know. I'm just living here in Central Ohio. My wife and I are extremely blessed. We have three little children. We have our fourth child on the way. What's next for me is maybe little league coaching and continuing to try to grow my business and serving the community. It's just enjoying life.