COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Picking one all-time team for a program as rich in history as Ohio State is no small feat on its own. A simple glimpse at the Heisman trophies on display in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center instantly makes it clear that no shortage of talent has walked through those doors.
But those squads have been selected for years and the degree of difficulty is still too low for BuckeyeNation. So along with a handful of other sites across ESPN.com, we (with the help of a former Ohio State standout) are drafting four of them to see who can come up with the best roster once the stiff-arm winners and repeat All-Americans start coming off the board.
The full lineups will be unveiled Tuesday, the result of a snake draft with beat writer Austin Ward, recruiting writer Brad Bournival, editor Scott Kendrick and former Ohio State wide receiver Bam Childress.
There will be plenty of room for debate along the way, both among the "coaches" recruiting their dream teams and during the feedback from fans weighing in after the final selection, offering up their top picks, biggest omissions and, most important, helping choose the best overall team.
Before we get started this week, a couple key questions to think about prior to the clock starting.
Alone at the top?
There's still just one man with a pair of Heismans on his résumé, and Archie Griffin's career continues to stand up as one of the best in the history of college football. By default, that would put him at the top of the list for the Buckeyes as well -- but does that mean the seemingly unstoppable running back will actually go No. 1 in the four-team draft? The Buckeyes boast plenty of historical depth in the backfield, and a guy like Eddie George or Keith Byars would obviously provide a nice consolation prize at running back for any team that misses out on Griffin. This could be where strategy in composing a team first shows up, because the talent disparity at a position like defensive tackle behind Dan Wilkinson could conceivably be wider than Griffin's edge over George. On the other hand, though, two Heismans.
Picking a style
All four rosters are going to feature at least one workhorse running back, and depending on how the flex position is used, a team might end up with two of them. Drafters will have the option of taking a fullback, a second tight end, a third wide receiver or a second tailback with that wildcard spot on offense. How that's used will certainly help determine what kind of system suits the personnel. But the choice at quarterback will go even further to sort that out, with a nice mix of multi-purpose, athletic quarterbacks on the table along with more traditional, pocket-passing options. A team that doesn't mind turning its signal-caller loose as a rushing option might even be tempted to snag Braxton Miller after just two seasons with the Buckeyes, maybe setting itself up to look even better with two years of hindsight assuming he continues his steady improvement as a passer.
Rush or cover?
There's less flexibility in putting together the defensive unit, which will be locked into a 4-3 alignment for every team. But the preference in style of play should still be evident based on which talented position group is targeted first. The Buckeyes have a long, proud tradition at linebacker, and it's pretty likely some productive, All-Big Ten performers will wind up looking for a free agent deal when the draft is over. Ohio State isn't hurting on the line or the secondary, either, but the choice between chasing a pass-rushing superstar like Mike Vrabel or a dynamic defensive back like Antoine Winfield will be significant in shaping the unit, and it will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the selections.