Archive for October, 2011

30
Oct
11

tastes great. less filling.

I have this conversation with my Ohio Stadium seatmates all the time — when you have a freshman quarterback, you’re going to have to put up with some ugly football along with the good stuff.

We’ve seen a bunch of ugly football this season. But if anyone had any doubts about Braxton Miller, Saturday’s game against Wisconsin should come as a great relief.

See this:

And, of course, this:

I remember screaming after the first play — my voice is still sitting somewhere near my seat in 14C, by the way — but after the second, my dad and I just sort of looked at each other while bedlam erupted around us.

Stunned. And overjoyed.

Dad’s seen more than his fair share of Ohio State football over the years, and he couldn’t come up with a game that finished the way that one did. We both thought of this play…

…but that came at the start of the fourth quarter, and we ended up scoring two more touchdowns before the game ended to turn what had been a tight game into a beating.

I’m stuck too. I’ve seen some close ones, but to win that way — a crazy scramble, a long touchdown pass, 30 seconds left in the game? Maybe the final drive at Michigan in 2005? I don’t know. I can’t think of anything else that compares.

So when the offense is plodding against Indiana or Purdue in the next couple of weeks, remember these plays. Don’t dwell on the bad stuff. Think about potential. We saw it last night. We’ll see it for four more games this year. And for at least a couple years after that.

09
Oct
11

because we have to laugh.

Thanks, Eleven Warriors.

07
Oct
11

out of control.

As I said at the beginning of the week, I’m not going to get myself to wound up over what will or won’t happen on the field for Ohio State. We play who we play, and we end up with the record we deserve. It may not be especially happy, but learning now will make for much better football later.

I’ve having a hard time maintaining a similarly rosy outlook over the continued presence of The Unpleasantness, however. It poked its head around the corner earlier this week, when we hear that Posey, Herron and a couple others were being suspended for getting paid for no-w0rk jobs over the summer. The Unpleasantness did more than tiptoe around in the background today, though — it stomped on Posey, who got himself another five games off the field because of his “employment” this summer.

And I don’t care what the experts say — this looks like “failure to monitor” or, worse, “lack of institutional control” to me. And given that the NCAA has yet to rule on Ohio State’s previous problems with memorabilia and tattoos and the rest of that fun stuff, I can’t help but think that this is bad. Very, very bad.

Think about it. Just a couple months after the starting quarterback, starting left tackle, starting tailback and staring wide receiver were suspended because of Tatgate, two of those players — and two others — apparently thought it was OK to take some cash from a shady booster over the summer.

THEY HAD ALREADY BEEN SUSPENDED. THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD BE OK TO TAKE A NO-WORK JOB ANYWAY.

And then add to that the other three players who took money from the same shady booster to attend a charity outing. They were suspended as well.

I’ve never been so hot with math, but: five players suspended because of Tatgate. Three because of the charity thing. Another four — including two WHO WERE ALREADY ON SUSPENSION — for their summer “jobs.” Twelve suspensions for ten players.

We’ve been told by AD Gene Smith and university President Gordon Gee this week that Ohio State doesn’t have compliance problems. Gee even said OSU is the poster child for NCAA compliance.

Ohio State is the poster child for something, yes, but I don’t think the rest of the country shares Gee’s view. I know I don’t.

After some consideration, I was willing to give the Tat Five the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they were unaware of the rules. Perhaps economic circumstances made the sales of Gold Pants, jerseys, helmets and trophies necessary. I get it, and because we’re talking about 19 and 20 year-old-guys, I’m willing to write off one of these things as a mistake, albeit a costly one.

But given the attention — the scrutiny — that the university was under from the conclusion of the Sugar Bowl on, I’m not sure that we can gloss over another seven suspensions. I’m certain we can’t do so in the cases of Herron and Posey, who definitely should have known better than to put themselves in this position a second time. And — AND — given that the head coach was fired and the quarterback left school — I don’t think it’s a stretch that the university itself should be expected to make an extra to ensure the program stays clean, at least until after the NCAA makes a decision.

Did it? Is OSU the poster child for NCAA compliance? I know the university has self-reported more violations than any other DI school in the last decade. At this point, I’d be willing to bet we have more suspended players on the roster than any other DI program at the moment as well.

And if this is a concern to me, I’d have to think the members of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions might also have noticed.

Here’s what we do. Herron and Posey should be dismissed from the program. They were on suspension and took shady money from a shady businessman anyway. Once is a mistake. Twice is a problem, one that effects not only them, but the program as a whole.

The administration’s claim that Jim Tressel was solely responsible for the initial issues is … possible. More importantly, the NCAA seemed to accept that explanation. Will the members of its infractions committee continue to believe that athletics department administrators — and I’m thinking specifically of Smith here — still had no knowledge of problems now that there have been another seven suspensions since Tressel left Ohio State? At a minimum, Gene Smith needs to go as well.

I was happy a few weeks back, when the NCAA said that it appeared — at that point — that failure to monitor or lack of institutional control penalties weren’t necessary at Ohio State, because the university had managed to place the blame for its problems exclusively on Tressel.

Look at everything that’s happened since Tressel was fired. Think the NCAA might be having second thoughts?

03
Oct
11

back away from the ledge.

UPDATE: No Posey, no Herron and (surprise!) no Marcus Hall against Nebraska.

On the Friday before the opener against Akron, I met my dad, James Bond and Fred at the Varsity Club, for a kickoff lunch and the renewal of a high-stakes bet based on our predicted records for the season.

I don’t recall everyone’s predictions, but I think that at 9-3, I was the pessimist of the group.

And after Saturday, I think 9-3 would feel pretty good.

Because it’s not all that hard to imagine Ohio State not winning again until it plays Indiana. In November. Ouch.

But I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. There could be another five losses on the schedule — but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. This isn’t going to be a championship season — and it’s not even going to be close, boys and girls — but things aren’t as bad as they felt at 7 p.m. Saturday evening. Look:

The defense is what we’re used to seeing at Ohio State. After Saturday’s game, our Buckeyes still had the 10th best scoring defense in the country. It’s easy to lose sight of this after a loss, but holding a senior quarterback and his very good offense to 10 points is a great day.

Help’s on the way. Returning to the field on Saturday: left tackle Mike Adams. He may or may not be joined by tailback Boom Herron and receiver DeVier Posey (it sounds like we’ll find out more about that this afternoon). The return of the skill players is important (Posey in particular — we’re already seeing injuries among the receivers and having an all-conference guy back can do nothing but help the confidence of whoever’s playing under center) but getting Adams back will be the biggest deal. The offensive line has struggled; having its anchor back in the huddle — and moving the other guys back to positions that more naturally suit them — is going to help.

It’s all in their heads. In 2008, there was a crushing road loss at USC and a devastating loss to Penn State at home; the team improved after both losses and won a bid to a BCS game. I’m not seeing a BCS berth at the end of this season, but we will see improvement. I’m not ready to make any predictions about wins and losses, but I guarantee we’re going to see a better team on the field against Wisconsin than we did against Michigan State. The current seniors were here for that 2008 season; they know what it takes to recover mentally, and they will bring the other guys along.

Youth movement. Think about it — four seniors, all starters, all among the better players at their positions in the country — and all gone for the first five games this year. Could we realistically expect the same kind of performance from replacements who A) had been perpetual backups or B) are true freshmen? Not if we’re being honest with ourselves, no. Think back to 2008 again. We saw occasional brilliance from that season’s freshman quarterback — but more often, we saw him play like he was a freshman quarterback. Braxton Miller’s in the same boat. We’ve seen great plays from him already, and I think he has a greater upside than did his predecessor. But if Ohio State is going to realize that potential for the next two or three years, we’re going to have to endure some mistakes now.

(Caveat to the above: We need to play Miller. Joe Bauserman’s performance against Akron had less to do with his ability than it had to do with what Akron lacked. It’s going to be better all the way around to suffer through Miller’s mistakes while he improves than to hope for a decent season from a mediocre caretaker — and have to go through Miller’s learning process next year.)

We’re going to be fine, boys and girls. We have the same talent on this team as we’ve had in the last decade. We have a ton of young guys — not to mention a young coach — and they’re not going to react like veterans when things get tough.

But later this season, they will. And they’re going to need us behind them when they’re ready.

Photo credit: The Ozone.




2014 schedule

Aug. 30: vs. Navy at Baltimore, noon
Sept. 6: Virginia Tech, 8 p.m.
Sept. 13: Kent State, noon
Sept. 27: Cincinnati, 6 p.m.
Oct. 4: at Maryland
Oct. 18: Rutgers, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Penn State, 8 p.m.
Nov. 1: Illinois, 8 p.m.
Nov. 8: at Michigan State, 8 p.m.
Nov. 15: at Minnesota
Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 29: Team Up North
Dec. 6: Big Ten Championship

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