Mike Brewster never even read the Sports Illustrated story that condemned the program he loves. He heard enough to know he doesn't believe a word of it, so no use reading it.
"I just didn't want to piss myself off," he said.
Ohio State's senior center is one of the anchors this season. Not just of the offensive line, but the entire team.
He was part of the core who called a team meeting following Jim Tressel's resignation in the spring. He spoke about unity, about keeping focused on the task at hand and staying committed to each other. He asked the underclassmen, particularly the freshmen, if they had any questions. They didn't.
Terrelle Pryor spoke at that meeting, too. But he's gone now, following Tressel out the door and leaving Ohio State with more questions than answers this fall. At least that's how the general public sees it, but not Brewster.
"I feel like people think we're confused or feeling sorry for ourselves," Brewster said. "But that's not it at all. Everyone understands what we have to do. Everybody has a sense of urgency."
Brewster still believes in this team, still believes a 5-0 start is possible while the Buckeyes will be without top players like DeVier Posey and Mike Adams. The only vulnerability he allows is the possible bowl ban looming over the program.
Ohio State has played in BCS bowls each of Brewster's three years. Ohio State has won parts of the last six Big Ten titles, but may not be eligible for the first-ever Big Ten title game if the NCAA hands down a postseason bowl ban.
After all the success, losing out on a bowl game his senior year would be the one last way to devastate Brewster after a summer of disappointments.
"That would be the worst thing that could happen," Brewster said.
For now, the players will focus on the Aug. 6 reporting date for freshmen. The upperclassmen come the next day. The first practice is Aug. 8. At that time, the players can begin putting this miserable offseason behind them.
"Like Coach Fickell always says," Brewster said, "Change is inevitable. Growth is optional."
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