From Here to Eternity would make a great title for a book about the offseason for Ohio State. That's what it has seemed like to me, anyway. Since Urban Meyer was hired to succeed Luke Fickell as coach last November, a guy in my neighborhood has stopped me on three occasions and asked me for my take on Meyer. The questions were spaced out over a period of months, so maybe he just didn't remember asking, but there were no updates.

From Here to Eternity would make a great title for a book about the offseason for Ohio State. That's what it has seemed like to me, anyway. Since Urban Meyer was hired to succeed Luke Fickell as coach last November, a guy in my neighborhood has stopped me on three occasions and asked me for my take on Meyer. The questions were spaced out over a period of months, so maybe he just didn't remember asking, but there were no updates.

Meyer is a proven winner. He has provided a much-needed jolt of adrenaline to a troubled program, but … the Buckeyes haven't played any games. They have landed some hotshot recruits and may have had a spring practice to die for, but they hadn't been through even one fall practice session. That finally changed this morning. Ohio State's returning football players commenced practice at 6 a.m. By now, most of us are probably asking why they couldn't make it out there a little earlier. Although midnight madness doesn't seem appropriate for the opening of fall practice, impatience is understandable. The prolonged anticipation of this season has left even some of the most devout fans weary.

The hiring of a new staff, early recruiting and talk of a dynamic new offense replaced the bowl season in these parts, so by the time fans of other schools were ready to divert their attention to winter business, Ohio State fans had been dwelling on it for almost a month and a half.The chatter has been endless … and monotonous. Could Meyer and his new assistants actually make that much difference coming off a 6-7 season? Would Braxton Miller suddenly blossom under a coach who always seems to bring out the best in his quarterbacks? Could he do it with a receiving corps that even the staff says hasn't shown enough? Could the team get motivated without a bowl game after the season?How many times could you ask these questions between November and September before watching the seemingly interminable Rick Nash no-trade circus became more fun? Even if Ohio State football is your passion, there has to be some point when you get tired of hearing yourself talk.

I know this isn't crazy because Meyer has complained about it himself. Too much talk is beyond tiresome. The players need to get on the field and do their thing. They need to start hitting and stop analyzing. What people say and think in May, June and July doesn't matter. Even when it's interesting - and some of it is - it wears you down after a while.

The amazing stuff? The almost boundless optimism for a team that finished with a losing record last season, mostly based on the hiring of Meyer.

It got five of 24 first-place votes from the Big Ten media as the best team in the Leaders Division. Athlon picked the Buckeyes to finish No. 6 in the nation in its preseason college football magazine, saying, "It's clear Meyer wants to lay the groundwork for Ohio State's quick return to prominence. And he's got the manpower and the schedule (eight home games) to make it happen." Phil Steele, who picked the Buckeyes No. 11, gamely predicted, "They may be the best team in the Big Ten."

Or they may be in Meyer's doghouse, or at least it seems that way as you digest the off-the-field mistakes, big and small, of Ohio State players who have been disciplined by the new taskmaster.

This, too, becomes the focus because there has been nothing else. There is no grand bowl victory or disappointing loss to reflect on, no carping about last year's coaching, no continuing story line from last year. There is just that never-ending conversation about the same topics; anticipation, angst and analysis, with an occasional arrest thrown in.

Are you ready for some football?

Man, are we ever.

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter