Archives for March 2011

Luke Fickell Gets Five Game Job Interview

Luke Fickell was promotoed to Assistant Head Coach has been named the interim Head Football Coach while Jim Tressel serves his five game suspension at the beginning of the 2011 season this fall.

From Ohio State Buckeyes dot com:

Luke Fickell has been promoted to assistant head coach for Ohio State football, Gene Smith, associate vice president and director of athletics, announced today. In that role, he will serve as interim head coach for the first five games of the Buckeyes’ 2011 season. He will also retain his role as linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator.

“Luke Fickell is a Buckeye to the core. He has earned this promotion to assistant head coach through his hard work, dedication and performance,” said Smith. “ We have great trust and belief in Luke’s ability to work with our entire coaching staff to lead our young men through the first five games this fall. I have confidence our entire football family will work together to maintain our standard of excellence.”

We have to think this is going to be a working interview for Fickell, right? I mean I know that everyone is basically pencilling in Urban Meyer to replace Tressel at the end of his run, but Luke Fickell seems to be a rising star and I don’t think too many fans would be upset with him as the head coach in waiting.

There was a lot talked about at the Spring Press Conference. Lots of Tressel Senator-speak (both from Tressel himself and from Fickell). The O-Zone has a good recap by Brandon Castel. They also have snap shot of the spring roster up at their site.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

After Jon Diebler hit a three-pointer at the top of the key with about thirty seconds left to go to tie the game against the Kentucky Wildcats 60 to 60, the glimmer of hope that had only seconds before been briefly snuffed was shining brightly again. Then, as Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight floated in the air, over the challenging outstretched arm of freshman Aaron Craft, I felt like Switch in The Matrix moments before having her plugged pulled. “Not like this.”

“Not like this.”

Then, almost as if Hollywood itself had written the script, Craft, Buford and Diebler raced down the court trying to catch Kentucky on their heels. The pass went over to Buford and a he had a fairly open look right at the rim. And, just like all night long, the iron was no kind to Buford as the shot clanged off the rim and time expired. Just like that, it was over.

It’s cliche to say, but on that day, Kentucky came to play. They had a defensive game plan and it bothered the Buckeyes all game long. Literally. Their length was a distinct advantage and the hands contesting every shot were super effective. The decision to man up Jared Sullinger with Harrelson was risky but the guy they call “Jorts” played out of his mind (and occasionally all over Sully’s head) and the plan worked out. Defense was something that the Buckeyes had quietly hung their hard hats on but it was the Kentucky defense and their ability to stay out of foul trouble in the second half that did the Buckeyes in this night.

I hope no MotSaG’ers are down on Buford after this game. Yes, he struggled all night and never found his rhythm. But it’s not all on him. His body of work speaks for itself. He has been a model Buckeye for three years and a shooter’s got to keep shooting. How picture perfect and fitting it would have been if that final shot had gone in. But it didn’t and no one should blame Buford for the loss. There were multiple chances for the Buckeyes to pull away and they didn’t take advantage of them. So LEAVE BUFORD ALONE.

Finally, there is a lot to be excited about for the future. Both Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger played great. Two solid freshmen getting that kind of tournament experience can only lead to big things for the years to come. Especially if they’re joined by Buford next season.

This team was a blast to watch, one of my favorites of all time. It’s such a shame it had to end like this.

NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen Game Live Chat

In Which I (mostly) Defend Jim Tressel

I know we’re just a couple hours to the Buckeyes’ Sweet Sixteen battle against the University of Kentucky but I wanted to take a moment to discuss the spiraling-out-of-control story of the Jim Tressel and Tat-5 Scandal.

As I’m sure all of you know, early this morning the Dispatch reported that Jim Tressel had forwarded on the emails he received back in April on to a Pennsylvania businessman and Terrelle Pryor acquaintance Ted Sarniak.

When Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel learned last spring that some of his current players were in trouble, he shared the information with someone he thought could help his star quarterback even though he said he didn’t tell his bosses.

The businessman in question was described as a mentor to Terrelle Pryor and was Pryor’s contact during his recruitment. I’m not sure the full depth of that relationship is known beyond that.

The sports world exploded with another round of trashing Jim Tressel, making these “new” allegations gasoline to the blaze that is the destruction of Jim Tressel. You could literally hear the sounds of glee and joy from the Stewart Mandels and Dennis Dodds of their world as they banged out as much vitriol and black hate they could muster from the Ivory Punditry Towers in the Sky. I only took one slight glance before I had to look away.

Now that I’ve had a little time to mull this over and have some good chats with my MotSaG cohorts SYR and the sportsMonkey I feel like I can put some words done about my take on the situation. (Please note I’ve been mostly on a media black-out on all things Scandal related, but I saw the chatter on Twitter and I know how fans of other teams are treating this. It’s Christmas for every Buckeye hater out there. And believe me, they are Legion. I haven’t even been to my favorite Buckeye sites to see their take. I’ve taken solace in my own thoughts.) This is purely my opinion and my take on the facts of the matter. It will be clear that I fall firmly in the “Tressel Apologist” camp.

First off, let’s address the misconception that this is new “news.” Everyone thinks this is the first time the NCAA is learning about this and that this will cause the Hammer of Subjective Justice to come down harder than before on Jim Tressel and the Ohio State football Program. Nothing could be further from reality. Anyone with a half-functioning brain and a minimal grip on reality would realize that one of the first questions the NCAA would ask Jim Tressel, as soon as they were engaged in this investigation, would be “did you forward these emails to anyone?”

We have to assume there was no misdirection, no subterfuge on the part of either Tressel or Gene Smith. If they were serious about getting this all out in the open, that kind of information would have been readily made known to all parties involved.

In the Self-Report, with regard to any further dissemination of this information, it’s is specifically and carefully worded to show that he didn’t forward these emails to anyone within the Football Program, the Athletic department or the “Institution” as a whole. That is all and nothing else. It says nowhere, one way or the other, that these emails were or were not forwarded to any third parties. So to claim that the NCAA was “lied” to in the OSU Self-Report is simply as misunderstanding of the facts and wrong.

The next accusation against Tressel was his wording of his press conference speech. He said that due to the “confidential” nature of emails he did not think it was prudent to inform anyone of this information. He claimed that the nature of the investigation and his desire to not interfere guided his actions. Stated as such, it is necessary to TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD. So those pundits who are jumping all over this assertion are claiming, “How could Tressel claim confidentiality if he had sent these emails to this Pennsylvania businessman?! Where’s the confidentiality in that?!” They were outraged. Outraged! Tressel owed these mouth-breathers something and they demanded it in full.

But let’s step back for a minute and think of it this way: This Ted Sarniak guy, he obviously has a relationship with Pryor. I don’t know the extent of the relationship, but let’s assume it is on a level deeper than just “acquaintances.” Describing him as a mentor would lead an able-minded fellow to make that assumption. What if it’s on the level on a father-figure? This person factored heavily in Pryor’s recruitment and would therefore be familiar with Tressel and Tressel would be privy to the nature of their relationship. So Tressel, faced with information that could be potentially dangerous to Pryor’s well being, decided that this person, this confidant of Pryor, should be alerted to the situation. This communication would be private and confidential and we have to assume that Tressel made that known. He let Sarniak know, in confidence, that Pryor could be in some deep stuff. So he did not, in fact, breach any confidential barriers with regard to this information. He felt that someone close to Pryor needed to be made aware of it.

Now, if this Ted Sarniak guy turns out to be something more, some form of booster or someone that isn’t on the up-and-up, this looks even worse. The house of cards will definitely tumble and things will get bad, very bad, before they get better.

In the end, I am still defending Jim Tressel. I think I am in the minority here, even among Buckeye fans. But recognize I know that the things he did were wrong and his mismanaged the situation. He had information he should have acted on. He didn’t and he should be punished accordingly. But the way the media is handling this news is unacceptable and some have taken it to the level of a smear job. These people know better. They also know what gets traffic to their websites and what causes the reaction in the public. A dressing down of a former figure formerly held in high esteem seems to be something this guys live for. Lost in all of this was the mostly harmless and victimless act of a few kids selling property they thought was theirs to sell. Simple pecadillos that have grown into an ugly situation for everyone involved. No one walks away from this situation unscathed.

In the end, The Ohio State University and the Football Program in specific are bigger than one man, better than one scandal. We will move on from this scandal, this debacle, and hopefully be stronger and better for it.

There’s no reason to be ashamed to be a Buckeye.

Sweet Sixteen Countdown

Get pumped up!

(Thanks as always to MannyCincy)

The Road to the Final Four (in a Buick)

So I mentioned earlier this week that I had some big news to announce concerning the Final Four. This is it. Buick (the official NCAA partner of Human Achievement) is choosing fan sites of teams with a chance to make it to the Final For and offering them two tickets to the Final Four if their team of choice makes it.

Much to utter flabbergastion and surprise, they have chosen your humble home for Buckeye fans, Men of the Scarlet and Gray, as the Buckeye representative. I was pretty much floored when I got the invite.

They were gracious enough to let me select the second person to go with me if the Buckeyes makes the Final Four. They suggested I be creative in the selection. Well, if you didn’t already know, I am a happily married man that was just offered possibly one of the best vacations of all time. So yeah, Mrs. Kaiser is coming. That’s as creative as it gets around here, people. I promise a fellow MotSaG’er will be invited next time. Promise!

Buick also asked that I share with you Buckeye faithful some of what Buick is doing and their involvement in the Tournament and how you can get involved:

Buick is creating The Human Highlight Reel, a growing online archive to document and celebrate the amazing stories of human achievement with student-athletes, alums and fans. You can check out the Human Highlight Reel at You can also submit your own story of a former student-athlete for the Human Highlight Reel.

For fans, there is an exclusive Buick-NCAA Team Badge application found on the Buick Human Highlight Reel tab on Buick’s Facebook page, which allows college basketball fans to post a college-specific March Madness badge on their profile to show support for their team. The app is accessible exclusively through Buick’s Facebook page and will keep a tally of the number of fans for each team.

Buick has also started Buick Achievers, a $4.5 million annual GM Foundation-funded scholarship program designed to recognize and reward 1,100 students who demonstrate excellence in both the community and the classroom. It will provide 100 outstanding students who major in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, marketing, business administration or other related fields with up to $25,000 a year, for up to four years. More information can be found at

So please go and check those sites out and make sure you get your Facebook OSU badge because Ohio State is currently #3, and that’s not right. Let’s get them up to #1 where they belong (also, if you aren’t already, you can also be a fan of MotSaG while you’re there).

So needless to say, I am beside myself. I am like a kid on Christmas Eve, anxiously awaiting these next two games.


(Full Disclosure: Buick asked me that if I accept this offer, they want me disclose that Buick is providing me with the tickets for this opportunity. So there it is.)

NCAA Tournament Rounds One and Two Wrap-up

Game One: 3/18/2011 (16) UT-San Antonio 46, (1) Ohio St 75 (33-2, 16-2 Big Ten)

The tournament hors d’oeuvre for the top seeded Buckeyes arrived in the form of the UT-San Antonio Road Runners and they were just that — a tasty snack, a warm up for better things to come.

It’s a bit of a challenge to recap such a lop-sided game. A theme throughout the season is going to manifest itself starkly during the tournament. This basketball team is so balanced that one or two players can have an “off day” and someone else will pick up slack. When it happens, it’s a thing of beauty.

This first game was led by William Buford’s 18 points while Jon Diebler added another 14. The game was mostly out of reach by half-time and most of the starters were able to rest for large stretches of the game.

Game Two: 3/20/2011 (8) George Mason 66, (1) Ohio St 98 (34-2, 16-2 Big Ten)

Yes, at one point Ohio State was down to George Mason 11-2. They then proceeded to go on a 50-15 run to finish out the first half. There’s lots of things you could call that run. It was a blow-out of epic proportions. It was dominating. It was never close again.

Once again we see that when one part of the engine is gunked up, someone else steps up. When Buford and Diebler were struggling, David Lighty stepped up and took the game over on his own. It was a beautiful thing because it was Lighty’s last game in Ohio as a Buckeye, after he and his fellow seniors had just graduated and he was in his hometown. It’s always better at home.

The freshmen got in on the act as well. MotSaG Hero Aaron Craft had a field day dishing out the ball, racking up 15 assists. It helps when the guys you’re are feeding are hot (and 15-22 from behind the arc certainly qualifies as “hot”). Jared Sullinger declared the game over with his 18 points and 8 rebounds. It was a great team effort once again.

And when Sully says it’s over, it’s over.

So now it’s on to the Sweet Sixteen to face a young, talented Kentucky team. I think Ohio State will match up well with Kentucky but it should be a battle. Fortunately Thad Matta will coach circles around John Calipari, so we definitely have that going for us.

I finally gathered the courage to check my bracket in the MotSaG Tournament Pick’Em. It isn’t pretty. But reader Mike G’s bracket is. He got the Butler upset of Pitt, both the Morehead and Richmond upsets with Richmond coming out of that game. That earns the tip of the cap to Mike.

I have a really cool Final Four related announcement coming up but I have to hammer out a few details before I can finally spill the beans.

Finally: Tennessee has fired Coach Pearl. That is all.

Presented Without Much Comment

This is just the kind of data people like me find interesting. It doesn’t really mean anything, but still…

Among the BCS conferences:
Conference: Teams remaining in NCAA tournament/teams originally in tournament (percentage); Total wins – wins/team

ACC:  3/4  – 75%; 7 total wins – 1.75 wins/team
SEC: 2/5 – 40%;  4 total wins – 0.8 wins/team
Big Ten: 2/7 – 28.6%; 7 total wins – 1 win/team
Pac 10: 1/4 – 25%; 4 total wins – 1 win/team
Big XII: 1/5 – 20%; 4 total wins – 0.8 wins/team
Big East: 2/11 –  18.2%; 9 total wins – 0.65 wins/team

So at least the ACC has basketball going for it. Which is nice.

NCAA Tournament Round Two Game Live Chat

NCAA Tournament Round One Game Live Chat