No. 14 Ohio State

This pick comes with more clauses, disclaimers and responsibility abdications than the back of my cholesterol medicine bottle. It could also easily be seen as a sports writer afraid to put his big toe in the deep end of the swimming pool at Camp Countdown.

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Ohio State is, no doubt, worthy of top-five consideration but that all changed when Urban Meyer was put on “obscenely-paid administrative leave.”

We’re putting the Buckeyes in a holding cell until things get sorted out by a blue-ribbon committee looking into Meyer’s handling of Zach Smith’s domestic-violence history.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

This is way more consequential than a fall-camp injury disrupting a preseason countdown. In 2012, while still writing for something called “print,” I had to shoehorn Ohio State at No. 7 into the paper the day after star quarterback Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

There was no turning back at that newspaper point, as the presses needed to roll, so I stuck with the Bucks even though Las Vegas dropped the team’s odds of winning the national title from 10-1 to 40-1.

Guess what: Ohio State won the national title with its third-string quarterback.

That’s why potentially losing Urban Meyer, for any amount of time, is worse than losing any position player. Meyer is college’s second-best coach behind Nick Saban and his loss could be the difference between night and Ryan Day.

That said, Oscar Meyer could win 10 games with this returning group, yet it's the two-or-three victory difference Urban can make that gets you into the four-team playoff.

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Meyer is 73-8 at Ohio Stater and he wasn’t too shabby before that at Florida, Utah and Bowling Green.

So…what now? Training camp continues under a yellow flag with TWO former head coaches, Kevin Wilson and Greg Schiano, already on staff to mentor at Day school.

The shock of quarterback JT Barrett finally being out of eligibility is tempered by the return of Dwayne Haskins, who rescued Ohio State against Michigan last year at the Big House after Barrett was taken out, Nancy Kerrigan-like if you believe the conspiracy, by a Michigan cameraman.

Haskins won the job outright in spring over Joe Burrow, who abruptly transferred to LSU.

Meyer claimed it was an amicable resolution: "Do I wish he was still with us?" Meyer said about Burrow at Big Ten Media Day. "I do. I love Joe Burrow. I love his family and have great respect for him. And that's not going to stop. That relationship will continue for many years."

The problem with that media day, of course, is that we know Urban did not tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing about the truth. Who knows if he said anything he meant?

This much is fact: Few coaches prepare backup quarterbacks like Meyer does. The problem is not having a backup plan for Urban Meyer.[/membership]

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