Archives for January 2007

Smith lobbying for Browns’ spot

OSU FootballWhile fans of Troy Smith would certainly love to see him go high in the NFL draft, Smith would rather go lower if it would mean being drafted by Cleveland.

“I have dreamed about it and talked about it countless times with my mother,” he said. “All she talks about is saving the Browns. If that were to happen, that would be a dream come true because I could stay in the community and give back.”

While Smith’s return to Cleveland would be a great story, it probably wouldn’t be best for him or for the Browns. The scheme doesn’t fit for his style of play… and scheme is everything in the modern NFL.

More than any other QB, Smith’s type of quarterbacking is most similar to Drew Brees (and not Vince Young, as many try to argue). They’re the same size, have the same strengths & weaknesses, have a very similar throwing motion, run similar offenses, etc.

Brees goes to New Orleans, fits in like a glove, and they make it to the conference championship. That’s what fans of Smith hope for; a team that has a scheme that Troy can “fit into.” I’m not sure Cleveland runs that type of scheme, or will anytime soon.

However, I would very much enjoy seeing Ted(dy) Ginn, Jr. in a Browns uniform. That seems like a better matching of talent and scheme to me.

What do you think?

(HT: Barking Browns)

Congrats to Bevo Sports

Blog/site newsThe CFBAs are being revealed today, and Bevo Sports has rightfully earned the Brady Quinn award. Your friendly MotSaGr’s were honored to finish runner-up.

The BQ is defined as the blog that is the most “aesthetically pleasing, while seamlessly incorporating new technologies.” Bevo Sports is a beautifully designed site, one of the few sites to pull off a visual metaphor effectively. Beyond the visuals, however, Bevo sports (ha! we r punny! ) a highly usable and navigable site. Our Texas brethren have done a mighty fine job.

The CFBA also folks burned our ears a little with a few kind words about MotSaG:

Our Runner Up, Men of the Scarlet and Gray, is equally outstanding. Another disciple of the simpler-is-better crowd, MOTSAG is crisply laid out without excess clutter. The headline banner is an attractive montage of Buckeye legends that serves as a perfect headline to the site’s mission.

Stories in the main column are not just categorized with worded labels – the authors also provide a graphic image at the beginning of the story which serves as notice of the story’s content category. Like Bevo Sports, the right column is clean and concise; readers are offered a slew of useful links and site navigation functions, without being burdened by hundreds of links and categories.

Aw, shucks, guys. **MotSaG looks at feet, kicks stones**

Props should also go to Burnt Orange Nation, Rocky Top Talk, and MGoBlog for all the hard work they’ve done on the CFBAs this year. (Let me know if I left any others out!)

Now that’s more like it

CBJThat’s the type of hockey that I enjoy watching immensely. Effort-wise, that is. Friday night’s win over the Sabres was especially unbelievable.

Like I wrote before, if the playoffs are slipping away, the Jackets might as well make life miserable for everyone else in the meantime, and boy howdy they didn’t disappoint. Norrena, who had a stellar game, said that it was the fastest tempo he’d ever seen as a professional.

Who says enforcing isn’t necessary in the new NHL? Andrew Peters took a few too many liberties, and was kept in check by Foote and (especially!) Shelly, then cleaned up his act for the final half of the game. Ole’ Tolle gave the hit of the year so far, checking Kotalik into the Sabres’ bench. Actually, I’m not sure calling it a “check” does justice. Kotalik went airborne, flipped upside down, and ended up on his head behind the Sabres’ bench, with both blades sticking up in the air. Before his woozy head popped back up again, another forward had jumped back onto the ice to replace him. One for the highlight reel at the end of this season.

Half the shot-glass obsessed, child-insulting, foul mouthed town of Buffalo chartered buses to watch their NHL-leading Sabres play, and by the time they started throwing beer in section 216 their players were being outroughed by the “lowly” Jackets.

If crushing Buffalo was the main dinner course, then the dessert came on Saturday when the Jackets beat the Wild. We’ve been waiting for revenge since late December… (in case you don’t remember, that was the game referee Tom Kowal gave to the Wild.) The Jackets played with great effort again, Kowal didn’t ref the game, and C-bus pulled out the victory.

So, Hitch has put together a great week or two. Multiple wins against the top three teams in the NHL. December was a great month, and if we give the Jackets some slack for the losses during the week or so the Crunch Bunch was in town, January’s been impressive, too. The chemistry between the team is continuing to become more refined.

The most glaring exception is Zherdev, and I’m not sure where I stand on him. The trade rumors are circulating, but I’ll bet they give him one more season to adjust to Hitchcock’s scheme. I think Hitch knows that Nik’s going to be a great player someday. We’d all hate to see Zherdev turn into a stud with another team.

I wonder if Zherdev figured into a little long-term strategy with last week’s Konopka/Glencross acquisition. It’s sad to see Hartigan go, but I wonder if the Hitch and MacLean are looking to develop some forward line options that Nikolai might fit into.

In the short-term, though, I’m a little nervous about losing yet another goalie. Can we get a break, here?!? (I think that should be the Blue Jackets mantra.)

Did you ever think the time would come this year when you’d hear, “Starting in goal tonight will be Ty Conklin” ? Sheesh. Hopefully he’ll step up and Popperle will play the way he did in preseason against the Preds.

Big Ten rules the Senior Bowl,
so long, 2006

FootballThe North dominated this year’s Senior Bowl, getting a 27-0 victory in a heavy rainstorm.

The game was full of good football, most of it coming from Big Ten players. As usual, the rules were a bit restricted, which protected the players but kept the stats down. Offensively: the game used college rules, but no spread offenses, no motions or shifts, no shotgun formations, and a TE had to be in for every down. Defensively: all plays had to be “Man Free,” all formations 4-3, no nickel or dime, and no blitzing allowed. This ensured that the passing lanes were as crowded as possible for the QBs, and really challenged the receivers and DBs athletically.

Overall, offensively, the North’s O-line had no problem with the “speedy” line from the South. In fact, the only thing that kept the score from becoming even more lopsided was mediocre WR play from the North. (I’ll put it to you this way: The best WR on the field was Rhema McKnight. Ugh.) Especially in the first quarter, the North’s receivers were running bad routes, dropping passes, and so on. The heavy rain didn’t help, so Gruden relied heavily on Tony Hunt and Brian Leonard for the first couple of scoring drives.

Defensively, the North’s front four completely dominated the O-line from the South. OSU’s two big tackles Pitcock & Patterson combined with the 19-year-old phenom Amobi Okoye to have their way with future CFL-punt-coverage-specialist Chris Leak and the rest of the South’s skill players. If a ball carrier got past the front four, they had the UM crew of Hall, Harris, and Burgess to deal with.

Depending on your agenda, Troy Smith had an impressive victory or an unimpressive one. Case in point: Both ESPN and CSTV ran the same AP article but gave it differentheadlines. Whatever. People see “5 for 15” and think he had a bad game. During the regular season, that’s true, but not for the senior bowl, where the game is stacked to be tough for QBs. Scouts were more interested in which QB led scoring drives and who didn’t, which QB made the best decisions, did they convert important third or fourth downs or not, throw INTs or fumble the ball, etc., etc. Each team rotated at least three QBs, usually two series at a time.

Some standout players from the Big Ten included:

Troy Smith – Led the North on three of its five scoring drives. Highlights included a big fourth down conversion, a double reverse where he threw the lead block downfield, and a classic “Troy moment” in the fourth quarter when he moved the pocket & threaded the needle with a TD pass that exceeded Mach 1. On two or three other occasions, Smith drew collective gasps as he slipped out of sure tackes (including a face mask tackle) to scramble open and make throws… that were then dropped by his WRs.

Tony Hunt – Hunt led all rushers, and was the game’s MVP. I felt good for Hunt. He’s a workhorse back. Fast, agile, but can still plow defensemen over. He’ll be an excellent NFL player.

Drew Stanton – Drew could be the dark horse among QBs headed to the NFL. Had a great game, going 8 of 12 for 53 yards, and led a scoring drive. Was also plagued by a few drops, but was fortunate enough to draw Iowa’s Scott Chandler as his TE, and they did some damage together.

Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson – Combined for three sacks, for minus 15 yards. Patterson had the best game of his year, right when it counted the most (for him).

Leon Hall, David Harris, and Prescott Burgess – Great showing from the UM crew. They split twelve tackles between them. It seemed like a skunked-claw helmet was involved in almost every single tackle.

There were other standouts, too, from teams other than the Big 10. Defensively, Jay Moore (Nebraska) and Amobi Okoye (Louisville) played well; offensively, Tyler Palko (Pitt) had an excellent showing.

…And so officially ends the 2006 football season. Sigh. I’m sure there’ll be another burst of interest as the combine nears, and perhaps another burst following the Reggie Bush/USC fiasco (betcha that Cowboys job is looking a lot better now, huh Caroll?), but that’s pretty much it for 2006.

What a great season it was to be a CFB fan.

Think about some of the iconic events of 2006:

In preason, we had OSU vs Texas, the much hyped rematch between nos. 1 and 2.

Michigan’s prison rape of Brady Quinn and Notre Dame.

The “Referee Bifocal Bowl” (Oklahoma vs. Oregon).

In the regular season, highlights and oddities included Pat White’s 344 yard and 4 TD performance against Syracuse.

Ted Ginn, Jr. setting the Big 10 record for punt return TDs.

Established powerhouses Miami and Florida State totally laying an egg, while Rutgers, Clemson, and Wake Forest all contended for major BCS respect.

The back-to-back Thursday night Big East bowls with WVA, Louisville, and Rutgers. Ray Rice crying in his mother’s arms after defeating Louisville.

Temple winning its first game in almost three seasons.

The iconic image of a very sick Joe Paterno making a beeline for the bathroom across the field during a PSU punt.

Notre Dame making miracle comebacks against Michigan State and UCLA. Michigan State, a few weeks later, making a miracle comeback of its own against Northwestern, setting the division I-A record for largest comeback in history.

Michigan’s angry defense knocking two PSU quarterbacks out of the same game, while holding the Lions to minus 14 yards rushing.

Terry Hoeppner managing to coach his team back into respectability, while recovering from stinkin’ brain surgery, and somehow being denied a shot for the Coach of the Year award.

Bo Schembechler dying on the eve of the most exciting and overhyped OSU/Michigan game in history, with OSU and Michigan playing for all the marbles.

UCLA’s ruining heavily-favored USC’s title chances.

Florida, from a conference that has complained for almost ten years how unfair it is that a team that plays in a conference championship will never be able to compete for a BCS title, gets into the title game after all, and only does it because they had to play in the SEC championship game.

Jim Tressel, having never coached a bad game in his career, folds miserably in preparation, game plan, and game adjustments in a humiliating loss to Florida in the title game.

Troy Smith setting a record for most #1 votes in a Heisman ballot, ever.

Jamarcus Russell coming from nowhere to the likely #1 QB pick in the NFL draft.

…I’m sure there are tons of others. Any that I missed? Throw them in the comments section.

Nash led the West; looked sexy
in his new little uniform

CBJnashAllStarCrop.jpgRick Nash scored two goals, two assists, and had a game high six shots on goal for the West all-stars as his team beat the East 12-9.

(Yes, 12-9. Welcome to the new NHL.)

Meanwhile, all fourteen people watching on Versus saw the mighty tandem of Ovechkin and Crosby score only one point between them. Not that we Nash fans enjoyed that or anything.

Hopefully, this will be a preview of things to come during the second half of the season. Making it to the playoffs is a dream that will (sigh!) have to wait for next season, but if Nash continues to develop at the rate he has been, holy cow will he be fun to watch.

The All-Star game also unveiled the new NHL uniforms, which are supposed to make the players faster, cooler, and safer. It certainly made them look slimmer.

Nash scores on Brodeur. Yes, his butt cheeks are hanging out, but at least his jersey and pants lines are in perfect alignment. Click to embiggenate.

I don’t suppose that I care that much one way or the other about the new unis. Sure looked to me like the players still used a lot of tape around their calves, but I wonder how much of that comes from old habits that will just die hard.

The interesting thing about the switch to me as a Jackets fan will be the league’s move to home whites, combined with the CBJ’s retiring of the original logo, and replacing it with the logo from the third jersey:


I never cared for the third-team jersey logo. I never cared much for the “C-J-B” logo either, but the new one isn’t that much better. Personally, I’d like to see the Blue Jacket theme brought more to the forefront, but I can understand why some would be nervous of offending Native Americans (although the Blackhawks haven’t avoided doing it.)

Am I the only one that thinks using the Ohio flag as the team’s icon is a bit tacky? I know some feel that “anything-red-white-and-blue-is-awesome-you-commie-scum!”, but to me, it just shows a lack of imagination, I guess. The Jackets were built from scratch, so it’d be nice to have iconography that reflects that and is completely unique, like some other teams have.


All-Star Game images credit & copyright: Getty Images

“Are you stupid or something?”

FootballWe really like you.

“Yeah? Thanks a lot.”

We’re going to form a company to market you.

“Groovy, dude.”

Are you into it?

“Sure, man. Whatever.”

Here’s a house.


Here’s a car.

“Thanks. Hey, it needs fixed up, though.”

Here’s some money to fix it up.


Here’s some more money to pay off your mama’s bills.



So, we gonna do business?


Pay us back, then.


Pay us back or we’ll sue you.

bushSaints.jpg“That’s not cool. I spent your money already. And Yahoo! is already asking too many questions.”

What are you gonna do about it?

“I’m going to formally accuse you of extortion, even though the resulting investigation will no doubt uncover proof of my illicit activities with you, ruin my reputation, and vacate the hard-fought accomplishments of my college teammates. This is better than paying you the equivalent of half a game’s salary for me.”

Are you stupid or something?


Smith still at OSU,
continues to impress the pros

OSU FootballTroy Smith has apparently shaken off his aberrant performance from the BCS title game and is impressing the scouts in Mobile.

This week, preparations begin for the Senior Bowl, and Smith weighed in at 6’0″, 222 lbs, finally putting an end to the argument from many losers claiming he was only 5’10”. This puts him in the same size class as NFL QBs Brees, Grossman, Vick, Favre, among others; and within an inch of Romo, Delhomme, and several others. Hopefully, the “he’s too short for the NFL” nonsense can be put to rest.

From the article:

Smith had a strong showing on the first day of practice and has begun to silence some of his critics. He was on the money with his passes, hitting his receivers in stride, and threw the ball with nice touch and pinpoint accuracy.

The scouts were well aware of Smith’s big arm before coming to Mobile, but the big arm was more like a bazooka after hearing the ball thump on the receiver’s chest when making a catch.

After practice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden, who is coaching the North squad, talked about how impressive Smith was during his first day of work.

“Troy’s arm strength was impressive, and he’s learned the playbook quickly,” Gruden said. “It’s going to be a pleasure to work with him this week.”

Troy Smith transfers to NIU

OSU FootballIf this picture from today’s ESPN front page is any indication, Troy Smith’s shame at OSU’s performance in the BCS title game was significant enough to cause him to change alliances.


Representatives of Northern Illinois University are expected to arrive in Columbus today to pick up his Heisman trophy.

In other news, Lloyd Carr is in emergency talks with UM department heads to ensure NIU is not on the Wolverines’ upcoming schedule.

**UPDATE: EDSBS has learned that this isn’t Troy Smith at all.

Buckeyes and the NFL draft
(Open Thread)

OSU FootballMike D’Andrea, Doug Datish, T.J. Downing, Ryan Franzinger, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Roy Hall, Derek Harden, John Kerr, Brandon Mitchell, Drew Norman, David Patterson, Joel Penton, Quinn Pitcock, Antonio Pittman, Jay Richardson, Dre Riddick, Tim Schafer, Antonio Smith, Troy Smith, Harrison Till, Stan White Jr., and Justin Zwick.

These are the available seniors and juniors who declared. There are 23 players available, 18 of which I have heard of before LOL. I think that we will have 7-8 first day draft picks, including as many as 4-5 first round picks. I predict we will have 11 drafted players up to 14 tops. The NFL record is 14 draft picks from one school in a draft, which was set by the Buckeyes in the 2003 draft.

My only wish is for my Chicago Bears to somehow get thier hands on one or two of my beloved Buckeyes. I would love to see them get Gonzalez or Pitcock late in the first round, but I also hope they aren’t still available to draft that late in the round.

What say you?

This is an OPEN THREAD. I want all the MotSaG crew to make some predictions. Also all of our wonderful fans and contributors should chime in for some much loved Face Time.

The questions I would like answered are:

1. How many Buckeyes go in the first round and who?
2. How many go on the first day and who?
3. How many get drafted in total and who?
4. Does Ryan Franzinger get a free agent contract, just kidding.
5. Do we set a new draft record this year for either first rounders taken or total draft picks?

sportsMonkey’s predictions
It’s hard to predict this stuff so early… who knows which players will lay an egg during the combine (Ginn might not even participate in it). But, I’ll give it a shot:
How many/who – 1st round: Three in the first round… Ginn, Smith, and maybe Pitcock.
How many/who – 1st day: The above three plus four more: Pittman, Gonzalez, Patterson, and Richardson.
How many/who – overall: I think we pull another four, maybe five for an overall count of about twelve. Rounding out the picks might be White, Zwick, Penton, Datish, and Kerr.
Franzinger: Franzinger who?
Set a record?: Nope. Not this year. But twelve should be good enough for second place, right? Not too bad that OSU would hold those two NFL records.

el Kaiser’s predictions
I updated my esteemed colleague’s list to include Brandon Mitchell. I think people’s predictions will change with his inclusion.
1. I think also think 3 players go first round – Ginn, Pitcock and Troy Smith (in that order)
2. First day, I think we’ll have 7 go. The above 3, plus Gonzo, Pittman, Mitchell, and Patterson (in that order)
3. Overall I’m guessing 12 as well. I see Datish, Schafer, Antonio Smith, Penton, and Roy Hall (Ginn tackle notwithstanding) getting drafted at some point. I wouldn’t be surprised if Zwick gets signed as a free agent, but not drafted. Same for Stan White, Jr. and John Kerr.
4. Franzinger, a Philosphy major, goes on to great things in Real Estate in Westlake, Ohio.
5. If you count RE/MAX taking Franzinger with their first draft pick, we’ll come close to the record, but we won’t break it.

Zeke’s predictions
Based on college game performance and current height, weight, and speed, here’s where I see NFL GMs selecting our beloved Buckeyes in this years NFL draft. As mentioned before, the combine and workouts could shake up the draft order.
1. I think 2 players go in the first round – Ginn and Pitcock. I think too many NFL people will get hung up on Troy’s height. Unfortunate but I think it will happen. I wouldn’t be shocked if Ginn is the only Buckeye first round draft pick either.
2. First day, I think we’ll have 6 go: (Ginn and Pitcock round 1) Troy Smith, Gonzo, Pittman, and Patterson in rounds 2 & 3.
3. Overall, I’m guessing 11. I think Datish, Richardson, Roy Hall, Mitchell, and TJ Downing will be drafted at some point on day two.
4. Franzinger will be elected to the scout team hall of fame.
5. No first round or overall draft record this year.

Buckeye (indig)Nation

OSU FootballSo, it’s been two weeks over a week since that thing. Now enough time has passed, and emotions are no longer paramount. We can start to analyze The Game from a more objective point-of-view.


Actually, not really. An odd feeling continues to swirl through Buckeye nation, like a sour smell that won’t go away. Bring up The Game to an OSU fan, and you’re likely to see that person wrinkle his nose and shut you up with a dismissive gesture.

No, it’s not disappointment. OSU fans know disappointment. Disappointment comes from shame, and there’s not much shame for the 2006 OSU team, that went 12-1, made it to Glendale, won an outright Big Ten championship, and graduated a group of seniors that earned three gold pants against arch rival Michigan.

So, disappointment? Nah. This is more like — righteous indignation.

When you can get a fellow fan to speak, he usually stares off into the aether and says the same thing: I just can’t believe that they didn’t show up to play.

Again, and for the record, we acknowledge that the Gators were the better team, and most deserving of the trophy. But the frustrating part of it is that they earned the trophy without taking OSU’s best shot, and that’s what has got Buckeye nation’s scarlet-and-gray panties in a bunch.

I know many Gator fans may argue this point. But they certainly can’t have it both ways, can they? Either you acknowledge that OSU didn’t show up to play, which minimizes what Florida managed to accomplish; or you argue that Florida really is that superior, which raises questions about the many sloppy performances, lack of domination, and the loss during its regular season. Explaining the latter away with the “SEC was tougher, idiot!” does not satisfy, especially since the SEC only went 1-4 against the Big Ten in 2006, and the conference wasn’t represented very well in postseason accolades and trophies.

OSU fans are indignant because they have to feast on the crow of making predictions based on Tressel’s past performance, only to turn on the television and see him coach the worst game of his professional career.

OSU fans are indignant because they have to continue to rebut the myth of SEC speed, which is getting pretty tiring. If one claims the SEC is faster, then that doesn’t explain Pittman deking the mighty Gator secondary out of their shoes on his 18 yard TD run; or Ginn, brought to a full stop, kicking through a tackle and outracing the speedy Florida kick coverage on his 93-yard TD run. However, the OSU O-line played with a slow, plodding, we-really-don’t-care attitude, allowing Florida’s ends to race into the backfield and jump inside Smith’s facemask without abandon. When you watch someone run past another person, standing still, the one running is always going to be perceived as “faster.”

But I digress.

At the risk of evoking melodrama, the whole event reminded me of Rocky III, with the Gators playing the role of Clubber Lang. Rocky, who had been a superior fighter over a longer period of time, waltzed in unprepared and undercoached against a hungry, angry foe, who then proceeded to beat him into oblivion.

GrrrRawr!! I pity da foo who wears a Buckeye uniform!!

Yes, in the movie, Rocky won a rematch. But here in the real world, Lang gets his championship, while Rocky has to go sit and sulk under the gloomy, gray winter skies of Columbus in January.

Tressel had set the bar quite high for fans, not to expect victory all of the time, but to expect solid effort. In other words, OSU fans were made no promises about victories, but had gotten used to expecting the Bucks to play lights out no matter what. Only they didn’t. They didn’t, maybe because they felt they had already proven their case. It’s hard to get enough emotion together to play a third number one vs. two game in a season, let alone the second one vs. two in a row.

Moreover, perhaps the OSU players and coaches felt that they had achieved all of their goals for the year: Undefeated, another win over Michigan, revenge over Texas, an undisputed Big Ten title, and a Heisman Trophy run for their QB. Perhaps they used up all of their emotional reserve, and showed up to Glendale in a “I’m just here for a nice vacation” mode.

But those are excuses. In short, there is no question that Florida deserves the title, because there is no question that OSU didn’t really want it after all. And the fans have come to realize this. It was frustrating that a game so important to OSU fans was not that big of a deal to the team. As I’ve heard on several occasions from fellow fans, so I repeat now:

“Ah, well, if it ain’t important to them, then it ain’t important to me.”

Such is righteous indignation.