In the aftermath of the New Year’s Eve Massacre, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer did not morph into Mars, the Roman god of war, and bring ruin upon the dejected mortals strewn before him bleeding scarlet and turning cadaver gray.

Meyer was miffed, but the hush in the locker room sent enough of a message. Clemson had just blown the Buckeyes out of the Fiesta Bowl — the 31-0 loss was the most lopsided postseason defeat in Ohio State history — but berating players at that point would have been like jabbing a stick at a dead dog on the side of the road. The damage was done.

The mood that late Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium was not unlike the dejected spirit that pervaded Ohio State’s locker room 47 seasons earlier when, after a stunning 27-17 loss to Stanford in the 1971 Rose Bowl — a defeat that would cost OSU the national title — coach Woody Hayes put his usual harangue on hold.

Former Buckeyes running back John Brockington remembers barely being able to hear Hayes’ voice above the sound of lockers slamming shut.

“We had been heavily favored,” Brockington began. “We waited for Woody to (whale) on us, but do you know what he said? ‘Men, now you know how the other people live. Get dressed. That’s it.’ I guess once the horse was out of the barn, there was no use screaming.”

At least not at players. But there would be hell to pay for Hayes’ assistants. Two left soon after the bowl game. Likewise, after last season’s breakdown in Glendale, the Ohio State coaching staff would pay a price for the goose egg that had just been laid.

Only Meyer knows exactly when he decided to pull the plug, but within two weeks of the Fiesta Bowl embarrassment — the first time a Meyer team had been shut out in his 15 seasons as a head coach — Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner and quarterbacks coach/co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck were out. Warinner became the offensive line coach at Minnesota and Beck the offensive coordinator at Texas under former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman.

Stepping into the vacated offensive roles were Kevin Wilson, formerly coach at Indiana, and Ryan Day, who previously worked with quarterbacks for the San Francisco 49ers.

Meyer didn’t get mad. He evened up, hiring Wilson to bring a more up-tempo pace to the offense and Day to use his NFL expertise to help break some of quarterback J.T. Barrett’s bad habits, including the senior’s tendency to avoid throwing into coverage at all costs rather than let receivers try to make a play.

Will the changes work? That is the most intriguing question of the 2017 season, which opens Thursday nights when Ohio State visits Indiana. The coaching changes seemingly did not work out for Hayes in 1971, when the Buckeyes finished a disappointing 6-4 after losing a rich crop of seniors, including Rex Kern, Jim Stillwagon, Jack Tatum and Brockington.

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But Meyer’s 2017 team is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, especially on the defensive line, which might be the deepest in school history. The Buckeyes lost three starters from the secondary — Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley — but while most fans focused on Ohio State’s offensive zero against Clemson, it’s not as if the defense played especially well, either.

The talent that eventually left for the NFL could not come close to keeping the Tigers out of the end zone, which means the Fiesta Bowl was not solely an offensive failure. The Buckeyes stunk it up collectively, including a messy time of it turned in by the coaching staff.

What I am interested in learning in greater detail is to what degree an individual coach contributes to the finished product. If Wilson is the guru he is cracked up to be — my hunch is the hype surrounding his ability to call a crisp and creative game is not overly inflated — then what we witness over the next three months will lead to a joy-filled December and January for Buckeye Nation, in which the offense meets its lofty expectations.

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It has happened before. Herman departed for Houston after turning the 2014 Ohio State offense into a late-season scoring machine that pinned 59 points on Wisconsin before adding 42 against both Alabama and Oregon.

If Wilson is anything close to Herman, the Buckeyes should make the playoff. He oversaw a Hoosiers offense last season that had 52 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Ohio State had 33.

The Buckeyes took one on the chin against Clemson, which prompted Meyer to move ahead instead of staying mad. He salved his frustration by upgrading his offensive staff. Was it the answer? We’re about to find out.