Archives for June 2011

Weekend Open Thread: “Dinner with the Buckeyes”

So a few weeks back I was listening to the “Poscast” (Joe Posnanski’s Podcast) that we was doing with Ken Tremendous (AKA Michael Schur AKA Mose Shrute AKA my favorite sports blogger ever) and they were doing one of their “fantasy drafts.” This one was “if you could to dinner any five sports figures, who would they be?”

So for our first summer Open Thread, I thought I’d modify that question a little and find out what you guys thought. Since we can’t have a proper “draft”, we’ll leave it open to everyone. If you could have dinner with any five Buckeyes, who would they be? They could be historical Buckeyes, non-athletes, current Buckeyes. Whoever.

Here’s my five. I put a limitation on my list to be Buckeyes I had seen in action with my own two eyes. Live and (for all but one) in person.

1. Vernon Gholston – This one is obvious. I have no idea what we would talk about and it would probably get uncomfortable after a few minutes of me staring, but I would like to meet the man behind the body. Plus, we could reminiscence about his dismantling of Jake Long and his one-armed tackle of Albert Young. And then there was the Northwestern game where he had that beautiful TD. I think we’d eventually hit it off.

2. Alonzo Spellman – This might be a weird pick here, but it makes sense if you understand my fascination with both: physical specimens and Ohio State Defensive Ends. Had MotSaG existed 20 years earlier we would have had Alonzo Spellman Shots of the Week. Before there was Gholston, there was Spellman. He was the original manimal. I’d wager that Mr. Spellman might make dinner conversations interesting.

3. Rob Kelly – My favorite defender on the should-have-been-National-Champs 1998 team. I don’t know if it was the giant cross tattoo on his arm or the white socks pulled high or what, but I loved the way Kelly played and I always imagined my 23 year-old-self would be really good friends with Kelley.

4. Chris Spielman – Here are the obvious ones. No one is more of a Buckeye than Spiels and I would just love to sit back and hear his stories. If I could have two dads, I would want Spielman to be my other one. I think my real dad would be okay with that.

5. Eddie George – And finally, yes, I would love to sit down with Eddie and hear his journey, as well. Possibly the greatest running back I’ve ever watched, I think I’d enjoy hearing him recount his record setting games and everything else that happened during his times at Ohio State. Do you think he ever got car deals?

So those are my five. Within my constraints, I could have added another dozen players, including basketball players. If I expanded it to all-time Buckeyes, I’d be paralyzed trying to whittle the list down to 25, not to mention 5. But I’m happy with my list.

Who are you inviting to dinner?

In Case You Missed It

Last week was vacation week for la Familia del Kaiser and I completely unplugged from pretty much everything. No Internet, no Twitter, no blogs, nothing. Heck, I didn’t even find out the Dallas Mavericks had won the NBA Championship until late Monday morning when I saw the local paper. It was a nice break. We spent our time in Virginia Beach and I made sure I represented the Buckeyes each day with another scarlet and grey t-shirt. More than once I was met with a “Go Bucks” from a fellow fan. It was nice to meet all you wonderful Buckeyes out in the Virginia Beach area.

I decided that I wouldn’t really worry too much about catching up on old news. But I couldn’t let all the news fall by the wayside.

Besides, some of this is good news.

Hey! What’s that over there?! We’ve been waiting for a while for the spotlight to be taken off our team and shone on someone else’s team. Let’s see what rats scatter when they’re under the scrutiny that Ohio State has had to bear. Most people think other schools are going to crumble. First up is the Oregon Ducks and their twenty-five thousand dollar recruiting report:

A national recruiting package purchased by Oregon in February 2010 that included the player profiles for 140 players with the heading “Player Profile 2011” is made up of virtually all 2009 high school graduates.

I know it’s not good form to take pleasure in other peoples problems, but after being beat down it’s only natural. Who’s next?

Do you moisturize? I have a good idea how some Buckeyes got “good deals” on their cars. Think Bernie Mac in Oceans’ Eleven, only Thaddeus Gibson will be playing the part as Bernie. But dealerships are in the business to make money, and the sweetheart deals that so many people couldn’t stop talking about look like they’re almost all on the level:

Ohio State University on Tuesday dropped its review of car purchases by football players and family members after two separate investigations found dealerships made money on almost all of the sales.

Tressel Fallout. This doesn’t fall under the “good news” umbrella, but it’s something the team and specifically the coaches are going to deal with: recruiting just got a lot tougher with the threat of sanctions. One of the prized recruits from the 2012 class, Kyle Kalis, has decommitted from Ohio State after Tressel’s resignation. Ejuan Price, a member of the 2011 class also asked to be released from his Letter of Intent. While Price’s reasons were not because of Tressel’s resignation or the future of the program, we can only expect things to get worse before they get better.

Come and see where Mondello did land! I don’t know what to think about ESPN’s airing of the special Jon Gruden/Terrelle Pryor Circus Sideshow (“QB Camp” ). I have no problem with Gruden, he’s a FOTP, but how can Pryor, after being viciously skewered and absolutely vilified by ESPN suddenly agree to this? Will it be The Decision, Part Two? Are you going to watch?

And there was rejoicing. Word out of a few different places is that Jordan Hall is moving to WR. This, of course, is an answer to all us Jaamal Berry fans’ prayers that he’d get as many carries as possible. This is also good for Hall. Envisioning him in a Percy Harvin-like role is exciting.

Misc: If Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t have this on shelves by the time Parks and Recreation starts its next season, there’s something wrong in this world we live in.

Fickell’s Cred

We have months (and perhaps years) to analyze Luke Fickell. And we shall.

But first, let’s let former head coach John Cooper properly introduce the man:

That man is now your head coach.

That man, who played through torn biceps to lead his team to a Rose Bowl victory and secure a school-record 50 consecutive starts, is now your head coach.

That man, who started on a line that went 41-8-1, who went to high school and won the state wrestling championship six miles away from the Horseshoe, who coached the special teams during OSU’s championship season (where he was given credit as ‘the one who single-handedly turned the punt and FG units into the conference’s best’), who was named Assistant Coach of the Year, who turned down a job at Notre effing Dame a few years ago to stay at OSU, and who served on a coaching staff that got two Michigan coaches to resign or be fired… that man is now your head coach.

Born and bred with the cred.

Luke Fickell is?

The obvious answer is the current head coach of The Ohio State University Buckeyes Football team.

The real answer though is he is one of US. He is a Man of the Scarlet and Gray. He is a man who grew up loving Ohio State. He is a man who dreamed of playing for the Buckeyes. He is a man who has worked his whole life to become the Head Coach at this wonderful University we all love. He is a family man with a supporting and loving wife and beautiful children. He is a man in his later 30s who is living out his dream even if it is in a tough situation.

I watched his first press conference today as the head coach of OSU for at least the 2011 season and he did a really nice job of showing he learned well from the “Senator”. He answered questions with diplomacy and grace mixed with nervous pauses and looks that any person would have in his shoes. We didn’t learn a lot from his answers but if you watched his facial expressions you could sense his giddyness of having the job many of us would die to have. You could see the love he has for all things Scarlet and Gray. You could even sense the “hate” he has for TSUN whenever The Game was mentioned.

If you would have asked any of us last year at this time who we wanted to be our next HC at OSU after Tressel retires in a few years. I would venture 90% of us would have said Fickell first. After Tressel resigned some of us felt like the whole staff would be tainted and Fickell wouldn’t stand much of a chance to be the full time HC. When I polled my fellow fans and bloggers to a man we all thought Urban Meyer would be the best hire as the next OSU HC some of them may still think that way and that is fine. For me though it took one hour of watching him for me to remember why we all wanted him to be Tressels replacement when he retired after 2014.

To put it bluntly when I see Fickell and the way he carries himself he reminds me of myself and my friends who love OSU and write for this blog. He is never going to be flashy or “Tressel boring” either. He is his own man. He has a chance to make his own legacy. He loves Ohio State and everything that it stands for. He is one of Us…… a full fledged member of the Men of the Scarlet and Gray.

Ex-Clevelanders Can’t Jump

If you haven’t heard, Ohio Governor John Kasich issued a resolution on Monday that honors the NBA-champion Dallas Mavericks as “Honorary Ohioans.”

In particular, he recognized MVP Dirk Nowitzki, who “chose to keep his talents in Dallas by renewing his contract with the Mavericks in 2010 and foregoing free agency.”

Oof.

In response, LeBron issued a statement that said, “John, I don’t mean to brag, but I’m the greatest!”

Gov Kasich then responded “You still putting up bricks? What is this a masons convention? Clang!! Clang!! You need a welding torch to play in this league. Let’s stop right now and gather up all these bricks and build a shelter for the homeless so that your mother will have a place to live!!”

 

In all seriousness, though, LeBron deserves credit for attempting to make good on his good-natured $1 wager with a Cleveland fan over the outcome of the finals. When confronted to pay up, he gave the fan 75 cents and sheepishly declared, “Sorry, I don’t have a fourth quarter.”

Are Pryor’s violations correlated with last year’s gear thefts?

The recent allegations against Terrelle Pryor are more interesting when viewed in the context of another, apparently forgotten story from last year.

On the day before the Iowa game, university administrators announced that someone stole several pairs of shoes from the OSU football team’s locker room.

From the 10tv news report on the matter:

“School officials said 10 pairs of shoes were stolen from the locker room, including some belonging to Terrelle Pryor, Daniel Herron, Cameron Heyward, Chimdi Checkwa and Devier Posey.

“The thief stole four pairs of shoes belonging to Pryor alone… The university said the thefts were likely an inside job.”

Consider that information against one of the allegations contained within the SI article:

“Ellis estimates that Pryor alone brought in more than 20 items, including game-worn shoulder pads, multiple helmets, Nike cleats, jerseys, game pants and more. One day Ellis asked Pryor how he was able to take so much gear from the university’s equipment room. Ellis says the quarterback responded, ‘I get whatever I want.'”

And, finally, an interesting few sentences from yesterday’s ESPN article:

“[The Former Friend] said Pryor would get the merchandise to sign from Talbott, who would ‘bring it to TP, and he would sign it and he would bring him cash…’ He said he witnessed the transactions occur about three to four times a week at Pryor’s apartment.

“The former friend said Pryor would spend his money lavishly at times, that the player had a ‘shoe fetish…'”

I want to be clear: I’m not accusing Pryor of anything. I’m only pointing out an interesting circumstantial correlation in the stories, and wondering if anyone else has investigated this.

And if not, why? Don’t tell me that we’re the first ones to bring this up.

Terrelle Pryor has left the building

Per the Dispatch:

Beleaguered Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor has played his last game for the Buckeyes, his attorney told The Dispatch this afternoon.

“In the best interest of my teammates, I have made the decision to forego (sic) my senior year of football at The Ohio State University,” Pryor said in a prepared statement read by his attorney Larry James.

Asked whether Pryor — under investigation by the NCAA and Ohio State for possible more instances of receiving improper benefits — planned to apply for the NFL supplemental draft, James said, “I think so.

“But right now we are just dealing with the situation at hand, that he has decided to move on.”

Obviously we’ll have more as this develops, but the latest “rumor” floating around the Twitternet is that Terrelle Pryor made $20,000-$40,000 autographing memorabilia, according to a former friend who witnessed it. (via MKimESPNAmerica). That’s a pretty wild range of dollar amounts, Mr. Former Friend. And why are you a “former friend,” Mr. Former Friend?

So, just so we are crystal clear: sources that range from “convict” to “Ellis” (someone who won’t even own up to his own name) to “former friend” have done in one of the most successful coaches and quarterbacks at Ohio State.

Those are some solid foundational sources, professional journalists.

Update: Here is the Outside the Lines piece at ESPN about Terrelle Pryor’s autographing for cash story.

Jim Tressel, Thank You

Fighting Back…

Let’s just say Storm Kleins dad doesn’t agree with the SI article:

“I have raised my son right,” Jason Klein stressed Thursday evening. “Storm has no tattoos on his body whatsoever. He doesn’t have a drug problem, and multiple tests prove that. I have every single bit of his Ohio State memorabilia in my possession.”

“I will be meeting with attorneys shortly to pursue action against the NCAA and Sports Illustrated,” he continued. “That’s all I have to say at this time.”

http://ohiostate.scout.com/2/1076671.html

The Last Days of the BCS?

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany’s recent advocacy of “cost-of-attendance” scholarships for athletes that would include additional funds to cover things like travel expenses and clothing was seen by many critics as a response to the current memorabilia scandal at Ohio State.  However, the idea is not exclusive to Delany and he’s not even the first major player to talk about it this year.  Current NCAA president Mark Emmert is all for it, as is SEC commissioner Mike Slive.  The Big 12 is meeting this week, and sure enough, the topic is very much a part of the discussion there.  It’s hard to imagine that the ACC and especially the newly-loaded Pac-12 would be against it.  Heck, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier wants to pay the kids directly out of his World’s Greatest Golf Courses novelty checkbook.  In all likelihood, more than 75% of the current BCS automatic-qualifiers would quickly get behind this idea.

The not-so-hidden truth at the bottom of all this is that some schools and conferences can clearly afford such a move, while others clearly cannot.  Once again, we find ourselves up against the age-old battle between the Haves and the Have-Nots.  With the BCS facing its highest degree of opposition since inception, perhaps the time has come for Division IA (or FBS, if you’re a communist) to finally have that operation.

With last off-season’s thrilling Big Ten/Pac-10 expansion-fest coming to fruition this fall (and the Big East’s next fall and perhaps beyond), most of the best “mid-major” teams will be in AQ conferences or competing as BCS-friendly independents.  The only noticeable out-lier at this point is Boise State, who I guarantee would be welcomed into the Big East in a heartbeat if everyone could get over the travel issue (TCU isn’t exactly nearby anyway).  If the Big 12 decides they miss their championship game, that would be a more viable potential landing spot for the Broncos.  And, of course, we should never rule out independence; after all, nothing says iconoclast quite like a blue football field.

Even with just the current four 12-team conferences, the 10-team Big 12, a 10-team Big East (which appears to be the minimum goal) and four independents, that’s 72 teams that could compete as a new upper level of college football, with any type of post-season they want.  (Conveniently, there were 35 bowl games last year, and a couple more in the works.)  It’s worth mentioning that a BCS-style concept would probably be a lot more palatable under this set-up than it is in the current format, and a small playoff would be much easier to keep from ballooning out of control with a significantly smaller pool of teams to draw from.  Regardless of which direction is ultimately settled on, the BCS name is tainted and should be abandoned immediately.

What about those mid-major schools that get left out?  Conventional wisdom is that they would merge with at least a portion of IAA (FCS, komrade) and participate in an NCAA-sanctioned post-season playoff, which is exactly what they wanted anyway, right?  At the grown-ups table, we could finally put an end to the embarrassing cupcake-fest that pollutes the beginning of every season and get more interesting and competitive games on the schedule.  Everybody wins.