COLUMBUS – A national championship season is guaranteed to have a book written about it. Or two. Or three.
When coach Urban Meyer’s “Above The Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life” goes on sale on Tuesday, there will be at least three choices out there for Ohio State fans who aren’t tired of reliving last year’s national championship season.
And that would probably be almost all of them.
Two books from writers who cover the Buckeyes are already on the shelves — Columbus Dispatch writer Bill Rabinowitz’s “The Chase” and “Undisputed Champions,” by Steve Helwagen of bucknuts.com.
The title of Rabinowitz’s book comes from the theme Meyer gave to Ohio State’s pursuit of a national championship, which was accomplished in 2014 after being stopped two games short in the 2013 Big Ten championship game.
It was his second book in three seasons. The first, “Buckeye Rebirth,” told the story of Ohio State going 12-0 in Meyer’s first season in Columbus.
“I really thought it was a one-shot deal,” Rabinowitz said. “But after last season, it was like, ‘How do I not write that story, the greatest story I’ve ever covered?’ Once they made the playoffs, I knew if they won the whole thing I would do it again and it would be a great story. I felt like I had to do it again.”
Rabinowitz got five hours of interviews with Meyer, talked with all of the assistant coaches and every key player in the championship run except Devin Smith and Braxton Miller.
“Obviously, people knew what happened in the game. I really wanted to explore the personalities, the relationships and the culture Ohio State had that enabled them to overcome all they overcame,” he said.
That adversity started with the loss of Miller to a shoulder injury before the season and an early loss to Virginia Tech. Then Miller’s replacement at quarterback, J.T. Barrett, suffered a broken ankle in the Michigan game. The same week, popular walk-on Kosta Karageorge went missing and later was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a dumpster.
Besides the big stories, Rabinowitz uncovered details like Ohio State signing Barrett without ever seeing him throw and how one of the reasons the Buckeyes coaches hesitated to recruit Darron Lee was that he showed up for an OSU high school camp wearing tie-dye socks.
Helwagen’s book is also a second effort. “I did a book on the championship game in 2002 called The Greatest Game Ever Played. When this happened, I thought the story was probably the whole season and all the adversity and the hurdles they went over,” he said.
“We didn’t have a publisher. It was completely a personal project,” he said.
The 132-page books cover each step of the Buckeyes’ march to the national championship and includes photos from Terry Gilliam, Gary Housteau and Sonny Brockway, all of whom have shot Ohio State football games for years.
Meyer’s book includes leadership lessons that can be drawn from his three national championship seasons but concentrates on last season.
Rabinowitz’s book is available at Barnes and Noble locations, Amazon or contact him on Twitter. Helwagen’s book can be found by going on EBay and searching for Undisputed Champions, or contact him at bucknuts.com.