“Buckeye Rebirth,” which chronicles Ohio State’s undefeated 2012 football season, would be the perfect last-minute Christmas gift for Buckeye fans.
Author Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch offers a behind-the-scenes look into the hiring of coach Urban Meyer, the building of his staff and a game-by-game account of the challenges OSU faced during its 12-0 campaign.
One of the strongest chapters is the first, when Rabinowitz paints a vivid picture of director of athletics Gene Smith parked outside the house of president E. Gordon Gee, summoning the courage to tell him of the NCAA penalties that would prevent OSU from playing in the post-season.
The star of the first half of the book is Meyer’s wife Shelley, who frankly relates the conversations she had with her husband as he considered returning to coaching. Shelley Meyer details her reaction to coach Jim Tressel’s departure and how Urban convinced the family that taking the OSU job was the right decision.
Fans might not be captivated by the chapters on every game, especially in the pre-Big Ten part of the schedule. But Rabinowitz expertly weaves feature stories and nuggets into each one, giving readers insight into the backgrounds of the Buckeye players and coaches.
He talks of the death of linebacker Ryan Shazier’s high school friend, how Luke Fickell’s wife Amy won over the Meyers, the fact that offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s grandmother was a seamstress who tailored suits for members of Cincinnati's “Big Red Machine.” He tells just how much pain John Simon was in when he played virtually with one arm against Cal and of the emotional post-game speeches made by Simon and ex-Buckeye Butler B’ynote’. Rabinowitz describes Senior Tackle before the Michigan game, when even the coaches were crying as the seniors spoke of their journey at OSU.
Near the end of the book, Meyer’s roots as a psychology major are evident as he expertly guides the Buckeyes to an undefeated record, despite lacking the carrot of the Big Ten Championship game or a bowl appearance. Fans will gain a greater understanding of what makes Meyer tick.
“Buckeye Rebirth” is a quick read, and a book that can be passed around among family and friends. Even though everyone knows what happened in 2012, Rabinowitz shows there is much more to the story.