COLUMBUS: Tom Herman didn’t exactly become Ohio State’s offensive coordinator after years spent with traditional powerhouses that were used to being in the top 10 in America.
His first full-time job as an assistant coach was from 2001-04 at Sam Houston State, then he spent two years at Texas State, two years at Rice and two years at Iowa State.
So while most Ohio State fans are upset about the BCS rankings or their favorite team getting shunted to — God forbid! — the Rose Bowl instead of the national championship game, Herman is appreciative of the Buckeyes’ good fortune during this time of being thankful.
It was pointed out to him that, at least at his last couple of employers, just winning a game was considered a big day.
“Hell yeah,” Herman said with a smile.
He’s heard fans question the offense even when it scores 60 points (as it has three times this season).
“You’re saying at Iowa State if we scored 60 and had 600 yards of offense, we’d feel a little bit differently on Monday than we do at Ohio State?” he asked rhetorically.
There were times, he conceded, when he and his fellow coaches at schools who are not prominent on the national landscape were just pleased to be considered for a postseason game.
“We threw parties and stuff, man,” said Herman, one of the 40 finalists for the Broyles Award, presented each year to the top assistant in major-college football. “I think as you grow in the profession, you just adapt to the surroundings. The thing that can get lost at times [is] we had a really good season at Rice a few years back. It started to be at the end of the year, where winning felt like a relief, and it wasn’t exultation, jubilation. It was like a relief, ‘Whew, OK, we won again.’?”
He came to understand that everything was relative.
“I promised myself after that season that I’d never take a win for granted, whether you win 3-2 or 60-35 or you win 76-0,” he said. “Wins are really, really hard [to get]; I mean, really hard. Winning on the road is really hard. They’re going to get harder as the season progresses.
“We don’t ever want to take that for granted on how difficult it is, no matter who you play, no matter who you are, that winning a football game on Saturday and playing 60 minutes, at the end of the day looking up and having more points on the scoreboard than your opponent, is an incredibly hard thing to do. It should be enjoyed for the short amount of time that you can enjoy it, then you start to prepare for the next week.”
Michigan’s roster has 24 players from Ohio, including five starters. Ohio State’s roster has one player from Michigan — freshman walk-on OL Ben Moffitt.
Also, the Buckeyes have been 11-0 and shooting for 12-0 in a season six times before and are 3-3 in those games. The wins have come against Illinois in 2002 and Michigan in 2006 and 2012. The losses were in the Rose Bowl to UCLA in 1975 and Southern California in 1979 and Michigan in 1995.
To the doubters
Michigan coach Brady Hoke was asked what he would say to people — including Michigan fans — who believe after losing four of their last six games that the Wolverines can’t compete with the Buckeyes: “Number one, I would say that we are going to play the game on Saturday, and that’s why we’re playing it. This game has always been different in some ways. Are they a good football team? Yeah, they are a very good football team. Do we have to play better than we’ve played? I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, and we’ve got to be more consistent and finish things better. It’s what makes it so much fun.”