Archives for December 2007

Ohio – Year of the #2

2007 was the year of the “Almost!!” for teams that hail from the State of Ohio.

There were eight sports teams from Ohio that either lost a championship game or had the coveted #1 ranking elude them in 2007. Never before have so many teams from a single state reached within inches of the promised land, only to fail at accomplishing the utmost feat.

The following teams from Ohio finished #2 in their respective sports in 2007:

OSU Football Ohio State Buckeyes Football – BCS Title Game
On Janurary 8, 2007, one of the best OSU teams in history waltzed into the BCS title game cocky and overconfident. The Buckeyes had breezed undefeated through their schedule, including playing in two #1 vs #2 games and winning both convincingly.

History shows that the team never took its BCS opponent seriously, and after a 50-day layoff came to the stadium overweight, flat, and uninspired – and was promptly dispatched by a tough Florida team that had grown weary of hearing about its underdog status.

OSU Logo Ohio State Buckeyes Men’s Basketball – NCAA Title Game
In some ways, the men’s basketball team was the antithesis to their counterparts who played in the ‘Shoe. Where Tressel had a team loaded with experienced seniors and veterans, Thad Matta would have to work with a group of highly-rated young freshmen and first-year starters, including the superstar Greg Oden, who was unavailable for the first half of the season.

The Buckeyes survived a tough playoff bracket and matched up against Florida in the championship game. Despite a career game for Oden, the Buckeyes simply couldn’t match up with a Gator team full of talented, experienced veterans.

Cavaliers Cleveland Cavaliers – NBA Finals
In June, the Cavs made it to the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history. Down by two games in the semifinals, LeBron James led the Cavs to four straight wins and a berth in the championship series against the Spurs.

San Antonio then swept the series, 4-0.

Columbus Destroyers Columbus Destroyers – ArenaBowl XXI
The Columbus Destroyers were the AFL’s Cinderella story in 2007. The Destroyers made it to the ArenaBowl with momentous upsets of Dallas and Georgia in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

They lost the championship to the San Jose Sabercats, 55-33.

Columbus Comets Football – NWFA Championship Game
What? You’ve never heard of them? Too bad. Columbus’ own women’s professional football franchise (full-contact, none of this powder-puff stuff) dominated the competition in 2007.

The women won the Southern Conference and made it to the NWFA Championship game — where they were beaten 32-0 by the Pittsburgh Passion.

Indians Cleveland Indians – American League Championship Series
The Indians capped a fine regular season by tying Boston for the best record in baseball. Behind Cy Young winner CC Sebathia, they upset the Yankees in the AL division series in four games.

Cleveland then took a 3-1 lead against Boston in the ALCS, but then lost the pennant with three straight losses to the Red Sox.

Football Saint Xavier Bombers – HS Final Rankings
Cincinnati’s legendary Saint X squad made it to 15-0 and the state title, but was given the #2 spot in the final national high school composite rankings.

The Bombers came in only four points behind Northwestern of Miami Florida. The two did not play against one another.

Ohio State Buckeyes Men’s Soccer – NCAA Title Game
OSU entered the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Playing as a five seed, they outworked their opponents though the playoffs, and met Wake Forest in the championship game.

The Buckeyes played a dominant first half, but Wake Forest came from behind late in the game on a controversial goal. The Demon Deacons went on to win.

So, what say you? Is this list an example of Ohio superiority in athletics, or weakness?

2008 starts off well, with another Ohio team competing for a championship as the football Buckeyes get a chance to redeem themselves in the Bourbon Bowl. Let’s hope that this pattern of #2 ends on January 7th.

Tyson Gentry – “Dignity and Character”

OSU FootballCSTV has been showing a short video of OSU punter/WR Tyson Gentry, and the aftermath of his injury. Pretty inspirational stuff.

In a season where it’s easy to get pulled into arguments, hyperbole, stats, and trash talk, sometimes we forget that college football is just a game, and most of the young men playing it are talented kids with tons of character.

Note: CSTV doesn’t yet believe in the magical world of Flash, so if the above video gives you problems, go here for a direct link.

In case it doesn’t get mentioned enough, it sounds like Tyson’s big sis should get props for her character as well. Good on ya, Ashley.

Washington was never suspended; Schoënhoft officially no longer an OSU QB

OSU FootballJim Tressel told the media on Saturday that cornerback Donald Washington was never disciplined for misbehavior, as many outlets had reported last week.

When asked if he had been close to losing Washington, Tressel said no during a brief interview session after the presentation ceremony… He even took a shot at the media outlets which had cited unnamed sources for the reports about Washington… Tressel said there were no players ineligible or suspended, other than [Eugene] Clifford.

In other news:
The rumors are true, Rob Schoënhoft is no longer a Buckeye quarterback. He’s been moved to tight end, and Antonio “nineteen dollars” Henton has taken over the backup QB job.

King Umlaut will have to wait until next spring to re-compete for the quarterback position. My gut tells me there’s no way I can see him moving to TE permanently – he’s still a four-star, highly-rated-nationally QB at heart.

Such a shame. I’ve always been in Robby’s corner (el Kaiser will testify to that); most of his shortcomings were of the “ball underthrown into the turf at mach 1” variety. However, as the last half of the season showed, underthrown balls was also something that Boeckman wrestled with as well.

Still, Tressel said:

“As we looked at ourselves trying to work out a No. 2 and a No. 3 both, we didn’t see progression being made that we needed… And you’d better go in with two quarterbacks ready to win, especially in a championship game. We just thought it was hard to get three guys reps.”

In other words – my own translation here – “It looks like we’re going to get Terrell Pryor.” If that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Schoënhoft and Bauserman transfer. No need to have five QBs, especially if only one of them can qualify to redshirt.


You stay classy, Zherdev

cbjlogonew.jpgSOMEone’s got to write a few positive words about the Jackets’ prodigal son, and how hard he played tonight.

With one coast to coast masterpiece (follow the link on the next page to launch), and a snappy shot on a breakaway that sent the goalie’s water bottle flying, Nik had a chance for a third goal. Skating toward the empty net in the final minute, the goal was his for the taking, but Zherdev shared the love – graciously giving up his hat trick – with an unselfish dish to Beech for the final goal.

Blue Jackets fans have a love/hate relationship with Nikolai. He’s taking a bit longer than most of us expected to develop into that major threat. Flashes of greatness have been mingled with stretches of underachievement. Last summer’s contract holdout left a sour taste in many mouths.

But aside from the goaltending, the 2007 season’s other surprise has been Zherdev. He’s clearly bought into Hitch’s scheme, and has tried leaving the comfort zone of the ol’ toe drag for a more aggressive, crash-the-net attitude, and it’s beginning to pay off.

Nik still has a long way to go, but he’s clearly headed down the right path, and tonight’s performance shows that he’s improving as a team player, to boot.

It’s very satisfying to see a player, for lack of a better word, “mature” in a Blue Jackets uniform.

Here’s Nik’s de facto hat trick; note how the crowd gave him a standing ovation at the beginning of his final shift.


2007 SEC/Big10 Non-conference Comparison

FootballWanna know how “zomgAWESOMEeleventy!!1!!” the SEC is compared to the Big 10?

Three percent.

As in, “the Big 10 won 80% of its non-conference games, and the SEC won 83%.” Specifically, the Big 10 went 36-9, while the SEC went 40-8 (disparagement due to the SEC having one more team than the Big 10).

The teams in the Big 10 collectively averaged a 3.3 – 0.8 win/loss ratio, while the SEC’s ratio was 3.3 – 0.7. Last time I checked, seven- or eight-tenths of a loss was the same as a loss, so we can agree that it’s safe to round. Which means that both conferences averaged the same 3-1 ratio for their teams.

As for the opponents’ strength, SEC opponents had a 48% winning percentage; Big 10 opponents were at 41%. Less, yes, but arguably not that significant of a difference. Both groups of opponents were in clearly in the same range of “somewhere below average.” Oh, and both conferences played against the same number of FCS (I-AA) schools (four).

To sum up: Of course, it should be acknowledged that the SEC has a very slight edge – similar success against slightly better opponents. However, the margins are so close that, if the Big 10 also had twelve teams, the numbers would undoubtedly be even closer. (And this latter point is bolstered by the 3-1 per-team average across both conferences).

What is most important, though, is that clearly there is no significant superiority of one conference over another here. No matter how many times ESPN tries to pump this “SEC superiority” myth into the collective subconscious of CFB fans, there is absolutely no basis for it.

If the SEC were as tough and competitive as the myth claims, then either (1) their non-conference numbers would be off the charts, or (2) their opponents would be significantly superior to everyone else’s. Neither is the case – yet again – in 2007.

Way to go, Purdue

…although thanks A LOT for leaving me with short fingernails. Hope they grow out by January 7th.

The Boilermakers – well, their offense at least – started the Big 10 bowl season off admirably. Joe Tiller did just about everything he could to lose it for them, with some very odd play calls and clock management in the last five minutes. Had C-Mich not been so effective on their last drive, leaving over a minute on the clock after their tying score, Tiller’s likeness would likely be burning in effigy in West Lafayette tonight.

Oh, and Curtis Painter against the 111th best passing defense in the country? 546 yards passing. Three receivers over 100 yards. Stud. Here’s hoping he has a good pro career somewhere.

MotSaG Mythbusters

OSU and LSU “backed in” to the Bourbon Bowl; were “arbitrarily picked.”

OSU and/or LSU were listed in either first or second place for seven of the eight weeks the BCS was being calculated. The two teams accounted for 56% of all first- or second-place BCS votes in 2007. The remaining 44% of votes were spread out across six other teams, two of which are no longer ranked at all.

Anyone who claims surprise or alarm at the fact that these two teams are meeting for the title was simply not paying attention all season long. The Buckeyes and Tigers dominated the polls for the entire 2007 season.

LSU is faster; has that dreaded “ESS EE SEE SpeEEEeeddd.”

Nope. OSU is faster across the board. The only true reality about SEC speed is the bumper sticker hubris attached to it (“Slowhio,” indeed).

It doesn’t matter anyway. Coaching, penalties, mental mistakes, turnovers, and men named Stephan Pamon are far more likely to impact a game than negligible differences in 40-times.

OSU had a pathetic schedule, so [insert my favorite team here] should be getting a title shot.

Really? Like who?

Oklahoma? Using Sagarin, The Sooners schedule was ranked 59th (to OSU’s 62nd). Negligible difference, yet Oklahoma had one more loss than the Buckeyes did.

USC? 2-1 vs the top 30, OSU was 3-1 vs the top 30. And again, the Trojans had two losses on the season.

By the way, Arkansas’ SOS rank (64th) is lower than OSU’s, yet they beat LSU. Interesting.

Most importantly, though, is that OSU’s sole loss was to its conference’s second-place team, one that finished ranked and headed to a BCS bowl game. It wasn’t to one of the worst teams in its conference, like Colorado or Stanford.

It’s folly to mock a team’s schedule when the team you’re advocating as a replacement (1) had more losses, and (2) had losses against the patsies on its own schedule. If OSU had two losses, and one of them was against a team like Minnesota or Northwestern or Akron, then you’d have a point.

In all fairness, of course Ohio State’s competition in 2007 was of overall lower quality than in years past. The same goes for the entire country, though. OSU typically schedules at least one marquee non-conference game each year: Texas in 05/06, USC in 08/09, Miami (Fl) in 09/10, etc. There was no way to predict that Washington would lay an egg this year – when they were scheduled, they were contending for the Pac 10 title.

Pfef put it very well:

“Ohio State had one loss, by a touchdown, to a team that will probably end up in the Rose Bowl, and won their conference outright. In my book, that’s a bit more deserving than teams that lose in games which their favored by 41 points (like USC to Stanford), twice when ranked #1 (like LSU to currently unranked UK and Arkansas), or to 6-6 squads (Like Georgia to South Carolina)… The results say that Ohio State is more deserving than teams that failed to bring their A-Game on a week to week basis, and it’s an injustice to the world if an underachieving squad makes it in instead of an arguably overachieving Ohio State.”

LSU will be healthy, so they’ll destroy OSU like they did Virginia Tech.

First, I don’t understand how LSU being healthy somehow makes the Buckeyes play like the Hokies (i.e., not show up to play on defense, working through a rotating-QB controversy on offense).

Still, though, some are saying that the Buckeyes are in trouble, because LSU will “finally be healthy.” Every time I hear that, it sounds like someone’s trying to find excuses for some pretty average performances through the middle to end of the Tigers’ season.

OSU suffered from plenty of team-affecting injuries, too, and persevered. Consider Beanie Wells. In his last five games, he averaged 164 yards per game (at 6.0 yards per carry). At least one of those teams (PSU) has a better rush defense than LSU. And yet, he did all this with a bone chip in his ankle, tweaked knee, and sprained hand – injuries that should be largely healed for the big game.

Also, the Buckeyes lost a heavily-used RB (Saine), their slot receiver (Sanzenbacher), and their starting defensive end (Wilson) earlier in the season, among many others. Yet none used injuries as an excuse for the poor performance against Illinois. Furthermore, all are expected to be back to contribute significantly against Red Beaulieu and his merry band of foolsball players, which should even out any advantage LSU has in bringing its players to the field healthy. Good. OSU’s best vs. LSU’s best makes for a far better game, no matter what the outcome.

LSU was “unbeaten in regulation,” and so really doesn’t have two losses. Just two OT losses, which aren’t really losses. Because they didn’t happen in regulation, where LSU was victorious (because they didn’t lose). In fact, they are so far away from actually being losses that one could call them “incomplete victories.” Yes. That’s it. LSU has 11 victories and 2 incomplete victories. And no losses.

Uh… whatever *rolls eyes*.

You’ve gotta admit, though, this “undefeated in regulation” campaign was, if not logical or intelligent, at least original. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, the school’s sports information director was up until 3 a.m. on Sunday (Dec. 1), emailing voters and stumping for LSU with the “undefeated” argument. Spin? Of course. Effective? Absolutely. For those of you keeping count, that’s two years in a row that an SEC team has stumped its way into the title game. Maybe the heads of the other power conferences should be taking notes.

But back to this “undefeated” argument. Here’s an idea: Maybe we could use the same logic to make another point, that LSU actually has four losses. You know, in two games, they lost in regulation, and then lost in OT. They failed to win two games, even though they had two attempts each time to do so. Sounds like four losses to me. And just as logical as Beulieu’s argument.

Or, we could abandon this nonsense and move on. Groovy? Groovy.

If Florida could destroy a great Ohio State team with such ease last year, then LSU should absolutely crush an arguably weaker Ohio State squad this year.

We’ll be diving deeper into the analysis over the next 10 days, but I’ll summarize it this way: anyone who is expecting OSU to look and play like it did last year is in for a surprise. The differences between this team and last year’s couldn’t be more vast, in either talent or attitude.

SI’s Austin Murphy had a few wise things to say about the latter:

“The biggest difference is that the boys in Scarlet and Gray won’t be getting smoke blown up their backsides [the month before the game]. The Buckeyes took the field against the Gators almost believing their success to be inevitable — an attitude bordering on entitlement. As Boone recalls, ‘We had Troy, we had Teddy [Ginn], we had Gonzo’ — future first-rounder Anthony Gonzalez. The feeling, he recalls: ‘We have all these superstars, so, we’ll pass block a little bit, we’ll get the ball off, we’ll jog up the field’ to the new spot.

This time around, the Buckeyes are hearing how unworthy they are to play for the title, ‘how we’re gonna get killed,’ says Boone. ‘You hear that for a month, you start getting pissed off.’

Welcome to Florida’s world, Ohio State. On the field after that 41-14 blowout last January, I was struck by how deeply many Gators had been offended by — and drawn motivation from –predictions of a Buckeyes romp.’

As for the differences in talent, he goes on:

“It’s to the benefit of Boone and All-America right tackle Kirk Barton that the Tigers have no pass-rushers on a par with [Florida defensive ends] Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss, who combined for five sacks… ‘Everybody doubts us, says we don’t deserve to be here,’ admits shutdown corner Malcolm Jenkins. ‘They don’t give us a chance. We feel comfortable in that role.’ “

In short, Ohio State matches up much, much better against LSU than it did last year against Florida. Plus, the hubris of LSU (and ESPN on its behalf) has given the Buckeyes a totally different attitude, helping the team to angrily define its underdog role. The entire situation is apples to last year’s oranges.

Holiday Vernon Gholston Shot

Posting will be light around here for the next few days as everyone in the MotSaG family takes a break in preparation for the real Bowl Season to begin. In the meantime, here’s our special Holiday Edition Vernon Gordon Gholston shot:

Gordon Gholston

We love Gee!

Actually, he’s your real gift, a head shot of the man himself. Just to prove that Vernon is, in fact, a handsome man, and not just a piece of delicious Meastcake for Buckeye fans to ogle.

Vernon Gholston

The Washington Saga continues

OSU FootballReal quickly: It was reported that Donald Washington and Eugene Clifford were to be suspended for the Bourbon Bowl.

Later, we learn that just Clifford was out. It appeared that Washington had not been suspended and was in the clear.

Now, the Dispatch is reporting that Washington was suspended, but is appealing said suspension. We won’t no what comes of this for a while now. Hopefully we’ll all get a nice present after the Holiday break.

(On a side note, you know who didn’t get a nice present? All of Lloyd Carr’s assistants.)

Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith to start this Sunday


Looks like everyone’s favorite #10 will be given the ball this Sunday in Seattle. With Boller nursing a sore dome, Ravens’ coach Brian Billick has said that Troy will be starting:

“He’s as ready as you’re going to be as a rookie,” coach Brian Billick said after today’s practice. “One thing I don’t worry about is that he has a strong personality. You worry what happens if things get ugly with him and pressures … but he will fight through whatever happens. He’s a very strong-willed young man.”

Troy Smith

This is great news for Troy, setting him up perfectly for next season and beyond. The Ravens are going nowhere this year (which, save for Troy’s sadness, is the greatness thing a Browns fan can hear) so they don’t have a lot to lose, but plenty to gain in terms of figuring out the way ahead for the future. Troy can get some much needed experience as a starter, playing himself into a starting position for next season. By all accounts, Boller is probably not going to be with the Ravens next year, setting Troy up very nicely.

As much as it hurts, I’ll be rooting for Troy and the Ravens. Unfortunately, it looks like those of us in the Columbus area will be getting Buccaneers at 49ers on TV, so no chance to see Troy in action. Either way, good luck to Troy.