Posts Tagged ‘grumpy old guy



It wouldn’t be Michigan Week without a couple things beyond the actual game part of The Game. And yes, we have a couple good ones already this week.


Maybe I’m mellowing with age. Perhaps my wary satisfaction of previous examples has caused me to relax somewhat on the issue of alternate uniforms.

And that’s a good thing, because Nike’s Moneygrab Alternate Uniform Freakout Program has returned.

Thanks, Eleven Warriors.

This is the pic that started circulating last week; it’s since been confirmed by the university. Apparently we’re going for an homage based on the 1968 team — the only one that hasn’t so far been honored by a throwback uni. The piping on the helmets and pants is wider, the jersey numbers are bigger and we’ll have to see what a “dull chrome” helmet looks like.

I’m still not entirely pleased with the whole idea that we need to have alternate uniforms of any kind — I know the kids dig ’em, and I realize that it’s probably a necessary part of marketing the program these days — but I’m mostly OK with these. As they have been in the past, the alts have enough basis in actual uniforms of the past, so we’re not just getting something completely out of left field on game day.

And, lest we forget: it could be much, much worse.


Hey, speaking of Maryland…

At some point this afternoon, officials in College Park, Md., will host a news conference in which they will announce that Maryland will join the Big Ten at the start of the 2014 season; apparently they’ll be closely followed by Rutgers, which will announce its move on Tuesday.

OK then.

Here’s why we’re adding two Eastern schools to our (mostly) Midwestern conference: television. The Big Ten Network will suddenly have access to two giant media markets — Washington and NYC — and that equals more eyeballs, more exposure and — here’s the important part, boys and girls, more money.

(Note: I’m not convinced that anyone in the D.C. or NYC markets actually give a shit about college sports. But, hey — money!)

The money, I’d guess is why the move is important to Maryland; it recently cut varsity sports to try to stem the financial losses suffered by the athletics department there. As for Rutgers?  The Big East — especially as a football conference — has looked like a loser for several years now, and if we’re going to ramp up conference re-alignments again, it might make sense for the Scarlet Knights to jump before their ship sinks entirely.

But if these additions make sense — on some level — to our new members, I’m not sure I can say the same for the existing ones. Maryland’s a great addition if we’re talking about basketball, but the Terps’ football history is spotty. Their last conference title came in 2001, and they’ve had a decent run of bowl games in the last decade (5-1, with the last appearance coming in 2010). With one exception, the entirety of Rutgers bowl history has come in the last decade, and they’ve put together a a 5-1 record in those games.

On the surface, not terrible. But then you think about the competition and you realize that these are Purdue- or Illinois-level programs at best; they’ll be good for a solid season or two every few years, but otherwise, we’re diluting a schedule that already seems a little thin to begin with. And with an actual playoff on the horizon, strength of schedule is going to be even more important that it is now.

Maybe the biggest thing is this: I was never a fan of conference expansion, but I was excited about the addition of Nebraska; good school, unmatched football tradition and solid athletics all the way around. The Huskers have held up their end of the bargain as well; depending on the outcome of this weekend’s games, they could be playing for the B1G title on Dec. 1.

In short: I was excited to add Nebraska as B1G member. I wish I could say the same about Rutgers or Maryland, but at the moment, I can’t.


to review.

Ohio State is undefeated. After the team’s four non-conference games, it is where I thought it would be.

In a wins-and-losses sense, anyway.

I haven’t, however, expected the struggles the team has dealt with, especially in Saturday’s game against the University of Alabama branch campus that doesn’t play football nearly as well as its big brother in Tuscaloosa. That’s been unsettling, to be sure.

But on the other hand: Just win. That mantra got me through some pretty good years — and one great one — in the last decade, and if I have to fall back on it again in 2012, that’s OK.

Before we launch the conference schedule — a thing that suddenly has much more importance than it did back in August — let’s take a look at what we’ve seen on the field so far.

The good.

Braxton Miller. In this young season so far, I’ve seen quarterbacks who throw better balls than Braxton Miller. I’ve seen some who are more consistent, and more polished. And there are some — even some in our own conference — that have received more hype than the Buckeyes’ sophomore. But I haven’t seen a quarterback — not a single one — so far this year who can take over a game like Braxton Miller. I’ve generally been pleased with the development of the team’s receivers, and the tailbacks are improving (see Rod Smith) and getting healthy (see Jordan Hall), but there is no question who the coaches turn to when they’re looking for something to happen. There isn’t anyone in the country I’d rather have as Ohio State’s quarterback right now, and just think about this, kids: He’s only going to get better.

Receivers. If you listened to Urban during spring practice, you heard this: “Receivers? We don’t have any.” Look now, though. Devin Smith. Corey Brown. Michael Thomas is starting to play. Jake Stoneburner looks good after the move from tight end. The backs are included in the passing game as well. This is not a polished group, to be sure, but they’re better than I thought we might see, based on Urban’s comments last spring.

Jordan Hall. He looked tentative against Cal. He looked less so against UAB. And while he has good guys behind him, there is no question that the guy from Jeannette, Pa., — you know, the one who chose to stick around — is the team’s best tailback. And Ohio State will get better with every game he plays.

The offense. It’s different … but it’s not. This isn’t the spread we typically think of; it’s still Ohio State, run-driven football. But I couldn’t begin to count the number of different formations we’ve seen, just four games in, and I have no idea how a defensive coordinator figures out where the ball is going next. Mix in the passing game — and some of those dink-and-dunk passes are going to start breaking for big gains once the timing between Miller and his receivers improves — and that’s a scary offense. I can’t wait.

Red zone. In a refreshing change from the past regime, when Ohio State gets there, it scores touchdowns. The Bucks have been inside the other team’s 20 17 times so far; they’ve come away with 14 touchdowns.

The bad.

Braxton Miller. After the season’s first two games, it was clear that Ohio State was relying too much on Miller; even in an offense that’s built around his talents, it’s probably not smart for him to be the fourth-leading rusher in the country, as he was after Miami and Central Florida. But it’s possible to go too far in the other direction as well. Against Cal, he looked like he was thinking too much about not running, and it led to sacks and some poor decisions. I don’t think this is a huge thing, and it seems to me that he’s got a better grasp of the offense than did his predecessor at the same point of his career. It’ll get better.

The defense. There is one specific, defense-related thing I’ll address in a second, but in general, the defense has seemed a little lifeless. In the first two games, that might have been by design. Fickell and Withers didn’t call many blitzes, and we didn’t do much to pressure the other quarterback. That’s picked up some, but the team is still giving up an embarrassing amount of yardage — UAB outgained Ohio State 403 to 347, for example — and that’s going to bite us in league play. However — I like what Coach Withers told the Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz after Saturday’s game:

Great point, coach.

The ugly.

Tackling. As in, there isn’t any. OK, that’s not quite true — I saw improvement against UAB … but I also saw a lot of blown tackles, a lot of soft defense on the outside and a lot of intended big hits — most of which turned into whiffs — that should have been wrap ’em up and take ’em down. This is a fundamental thing; my coaches at Hastings Junior High School preached it over and over and over, and I assume that most of these guys have already had a longer football career than my five seasons. The Big Ten isn’t looking especially solid this year, but it’s going to provide tougher, more physical games than we’ve seen in the first four. And Montee Ball and La’Veon Bell will crush a DB who thinks a shot with a shoulder pad is going to take him down. Time to get this fixed.

Penalties. Thirty one of them. Two hundred and sixty yards. Many of them of the after-the-whistle-hits or yapping-for-unsportsmanlike-conducts variety. Stop it. Now.

Special teams. I wouldn’t have included this had I written it a week ago, but the performance of Ohio State’s special teams against UAB were atrocious. Know who our special teams coordinator is? Urban Meyer. Coach? Let’s not let that happen again.


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.


stand down.

As we discussed back in July, Ohio State will once again participate in Nike’s Moneygrab Alternate Uniform Freakout* program in 2011, and as I mentioned back then, I had some concerns about the leaked picture that purported to show this year’s version, shown below:

I wondered about the wisdom of wearing all-black unis for a night game — Nike is dressing the Bucks for this year’s home game against Wisconsin — and these seemed to astray from the other two versions in that they didn’t at least attempt to mimic a uniform of the past.

When I’ve come across these leaked pix in the past, they’ve turned out to be accurate. This time? Not so much.

Nike and the university released pictures of the 2011 unis on Tuesday, and they are indeed throwbacks, this time to the undefeated 1961 team:

Wow. Rod Smith's gotta be happy that his number is being used in the Nike promos.

I’m good with these. I still have doubts about the necessity of Ohio State’s participation in the program — with a climbing number of schools boast about having dozens of potential uniform combinations, I’m still happy to see that Ohio State has only two — but if we’re going to participate, a continued emphasis on honoring teams of the past is the right way to go for us.

Unless we Nike proposes a uniform based on the Ohio state flag. How cool would that be?

(Insert eyeroll here.)

*You may also know this program as the Nike Pro Combat uniform.


not football weather.

Sure, I put up a post about the deliciously cool weather Sunday morning; I wax rhapsodic about the coming season because of a slight chill in the air.

And then I looked at the actual forecast. Or, rather, three of them:

The National Weather Service:


The Weather Channel:

Crap. At this rate, I won’t be able to wear a jersey into a game until November.


old faithful.

It seems to happen every year. A picture of Nike’s planned alternate uniform for Ohio State leaks, and I freak out.

While I am happy to have something to write about besides the unpleasantness, I am so not happy about this year’s apparent choice. As has been the case in the past, this is a leaked photo, and there are no guarantees that this is how Nike will actually dress the team.

(But I should also point out — in both of the previous years, the leaked pix were accurate.)

With that background, boys and girls, I give you this, the 2011 Ohio State Football Nike Pro Combat Uniform (as posted on No Two-Minute Warning, via my friend Kelly):

OK. Let’s take a second and point out a couple things:

1) The uniforms are black.

2) They will be worn for the Oct. 29 game, when Ohio State hosts Wisconsin. At night.

3) Someone at Nike thinks it’s a good idea to wear all-black uniforms during a night game.

4) That person needs to be smacked in the head with something heavy. Like maybe one of those black helmets.

I’m at the point where I know this is going to happen every year. Fine. Nike shows off the latest in football uniform design and technology, and Ohio State makes a shit-ton of money selling replica jerseys. Woo, everyone’s happy.

If this is in fact OSU’s design for 2011, it will be the first time, though, that the Pro Combat unis might be a detriment to the team when it’s on the field. And I’m not OK with that.


weak, part 2.

Unless, of course, it turns out that the entire Big Ten sucks. In which case, I should probably kiss my own ass.


legendary leadership.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Let’s get caught up:

  • Ohio State beat Michigan. That’s seven in a row for those keeping track. Which we definitely are.
  • Ohio State also won a share of its sixth-straight Big Ten title, for those keeping track. Which we definitely are.
  • Ohio State’s basketball team is crushing everyone.
  • Mrs. Crappy and I still haven’t bought a Christmas tree.
  • I’ve started wearing bow ties to work.
  • The Big Ten came up with the dumbest possible names for the football divisions.
  • So — How’s your Christmas shopping coming along?

Actually, there a little more I wanted to say about the division names, which will be called Leaders and Legends.


Yes, the conference has leaders and it has legends (as we’ll discuss in just a minute with the list of 443,678 trophies to be handed out each year). Maybe we could have named the divisions after a couple of those guys (Hayes and Schembechler)? Or perhaps we could have chosen geographic features (Lakes and Plains)?

Meat and Cheese? Cold and Almost As Cold? Beef and Pork? Lennon and McCartney? Franks and Beans? Jagger and Richards? Eggs and Bacon? Abbott and Costello? Gin and Tonic? Stoicism and Work Ethic? Rocky and Bullwinkle? Smoke and Mirrors? Siskel and Ebert?

Or perhaps just something completely obvious, like East and West?

Howsabout anything — anything — except Leaders and Legends?

There was more stuff involved with the announcement of the name. For example, we have a new logo:

Underwhelming. Although I kind of like the shortened version:


No outside food or drinks, sir. We're going to have to confiscate that bottle.


And as I mentioned before, we have trophies. Dozens of trophies. I think we need more trophies. Named for every single leader and legend the conference has ever had. We shouldn’t stop adding trophies until every single player who’s ever played in a Big Ten football game has a trophy named after him. And then we can start on the fans:


The Buckeyeman Wooooo I Got On TV Fan Of The Year.


Let’s stop for a minute and think about something. The Big Ten reported revenue of $222 million for fiscal 2009. It can afford expensive and talented design and marketing agencies. It has the money to pay for focus groups and studies. I have no idea whether it did these things or not, but I’m guessing it didn’t.

And if it did, it should probably ask for its money back.


OK. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit to not minding the trophies too much — and at least they’re named for actual people. The logo? It’s shaky, but I’ll get used to it. But the conference completely missed the mark on the division names; if I’m a player — which I am not — I am not getting excited about putting on a Leaders Division Champions 2011 hat at the end of the season.

(Conference folks, pay close attention here:) And if I’m a fan who regularly spends too much money on football-related gear every season — and I am definitely one of those, boys and girls — I am not spending a dime on Leaders Division championship T-shirts, hoodies or hats.

The good news? Conference Overlord Jim Delany admitted this week that the division names are unpopular, that the conference might have missed the mark and that it might consider a change:

“I don’t think you make a judgment in 48 hours or 72 hours. Eventually, we’re going to have to address the issue of whether or not it’s sustainable, but I don’t think that’s a decision for today. We have to listen and we have to be humble about the reactions we’ve gotten.”

Good thinking, Mister Delany. I hope you’ll have those Pork Division championship shirts ready by the end of the 2011 season.


luckeyes prevail.

Dane is about to get lucky.

Not many people outside of the state of Ohio like Ohio State.

Actually, that’s an understatement — “hate” is probably a better word.

I get it. And I don’t mind.

What does bother me is the dumb stuff I have to put up with because of my college football allegiance. I’ve been made to feel like I should be ashamed of Ohio State’s appearances in the national championship games. I’ve heard over and over — from fans of teams that routinely play D1-AA opponents — that Ohio State plays soft schedules. And then there’s this one, which pisses me off to no end: the Luckeyes.

When I opened up Twitter after the game on Saturday, I came across several conversations about how Ohio State had lucked into yet another win. Frankly, I was stunned by that reaction; I asked, and I never did get a satisfactory response as to how scoring 35 unanswered points or winning by 24 could be considered lucky.

Yeah, there was one lucky play, when Pryor’s pass caromed off Posey and into the hands of Sanzenbacher, just as he was crossing the goal line. And if that were the game’s deciding score, I would be happy to admit that Ohio State was lucky as hell.

(Actually, I have a little difficulty writing off that play as well, especially after years of living in Pittsburgh and hearing the constant celebrations of the Immaculate Reception, which might be the luckiest play in the history of football.)

But that touchdown and extra point put Ohio State up by 10 and there would be two more scores before we were done for the night. What about the 96-yard drive midway through the third quarter? Where were the lucky plays on that one? Were the two interception returns for touchdowns lucky? No, they were mistakes by Penn State’s young quarterback. The seven-play, 78-yard drive in the fourth quarter? Maybe someone could explain to me how that one was lucky as well.

Oh, and we certainly got lucky as hell on the way to holding the Lions to 60 total yards in the second half. Whew.

I try not to be an asshole about this stuff in general, and in the case of the Penn State rivalry, I’m especially sensitive about my behavior. I have a lot of good friends who are cheering for the team on the other sideline and they deserve better than having to listen to me spout off about the game that just ended.

I also don’t make excuses. The 2001 and 2005 games? Ohio State got beat, period. The 2008 game was one of the best games I’ve ever seen in the stadium, and Penn State made the plays it needed to to win on the road. Even during the first half of Saturday’s game, it was easy to see which team wanted the win more, and it wasn’t the guys I was cheering for.

But there are those who apparently think what happened in the second half was an anomaly. And here I am again, trying to find something to appreciate about another win by the Luckeyes.

Guess what folks? I’ll happily put this one up alongside the national championship, two other title-game appearances, six straight wins over Michigan and five straight outright or shared conference titles — you know, all those other games and championships Ohio State fans aren’t supposed to enjoy.


a little help from our friends.

The freaking wackos will be ready for you, Randy.

Bud gets partial credit for this, as he just sent me an email with the link to the I don’t want to give this more intro than it needs, but here’s the gist: Apparently Randy Shannon, the U’s head coach, recently made the following remarks about Saturday’s game:

You see a lot of traditions in small towns and little cities like Columbus. But the guys (his players) aren’t enamored with it because of what we see when we go out. You may see an Alex Rodriguez, a Wayans brother or Dwayne Wade. Those are big name guys.

Yeah, OK, coach.

Among the responses on the OZone’s message boards was this one, from a purported Michigan fan named Thom Dartt:

Randy Shannon does what people who don’t understand Ohio State football and its fans tend to do: Underestimate them and RUN THEIR MOUTHS. Shannon, who obviously has his Doctorate in Geography, referred to Columbus as a ‘small town.’

Pssssst! Randy! Over here! Yeah, um Miami has a population of about 362,000. Mmmm hmmm, and Columbus has a population of about 710,000. That’s TWICE the size of LITTLE Miami. In fact, Miami would be the 4th largest city in Ohio, JUST ahead of Toledo and Dayton.

Then he says his team sees ‘stars all the time’ like THE WAYANS BROTHERS. Hang on just a second. I have to check my definition of ‘star’/’celebrity.’ Yep, I thought so. NONE of the Wayans brothers, sisters, parents or grandparents are stars or celebrities, unless they were at the Bellbrook festival. And even then…

See, what this idiot fails to realize is that this game is about the Ohio State fans. None of the players even remember 2002. Few, if any of Miami’s coaches, were on their staff in 2002. Some of Ohio State’s were.

Ah, but the fans were all there THEN and they’re all here NOW. And the Scarlet and Gray legions have had to hear over and over and over and over how they got lucky to win the Fiesta Bowl, that Miami REALLY won that game, that Miami was robbed…

Guilty. I was one of the ones that said they were lucky. After further review, Ohio State out-played Miami.

Anyway, Ohio State fans have been seething about those comments and couldn’t wait for this game. Nope, it’s not a ‘rematch,’ but to Ohio State’s fans this means A LOT!

So, Randy, as a Michigan fan, whom the Buckeye faithful HATE, let me help you to understand what you’ll face on Saturday: 100,000+ FREAKING WACKOS who have had time to let that hate and anger for that stupid U build for nearly eight years (And they WON! Can you imagine if they had lost on that call???), who have an anger management issue with people who talk smack about their team/town, who will have several hours to enjoy a few adult beverages, and who want to win every game like their lives depend on it.

They will yell incessantly, cheer every one of their good plays (followed by the chords of various Buckeye songs after those plays), REALLY cheer every one of your bad plays, and never sit down. Oh, and unlike the LITTLE stadiums you play in, this one is BIG and it will be FULL, and IT WILL BE LOUD.

See, Randy, this isn’t Boston College, North Carolina or even Florida State you’re playing. Those LIBRARIES would be sweet compared to the insane asylum that awaits your team on Saturday. Trust me. I’ve been there five times for Michigan games, and several more for other games.

You made a mistake and the Buckeye fans do NOT forgive.

Oh, and one other trivial matter: YOU WILL LOSE. Badly.

Thanks, Thom. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Love, one of the Freaking Wackos in 14C.

2017 schedule

Aug. 31: vs. at Indiana, 8 p.m.
Sept. 9: Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: Army, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: UNLV
Sept. 30: at Rutgers
Oct. 4: at Maryland
Oct. 7: Maryland
Oct. 14: at Nebraska
Oct. 28: Penn State, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Iowa
Nov. 11: Michigan State
Nov. 18: Illinois
Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 25: at Team Up North, noon
Dec. 2: B1G Championship, 8 p.m.

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