1460 - Can We Do Better Than This
May 5, 2001 5:30 pm EST

Since I have lived in Columbus for all but two years of my life, I often wonder if sports talk radio is as bad as what we have here.

A few years back, the 1460 morning team included Dom Tiberi.  Tiberi would love to thicken his Italian accent on the radio, especially when he got into a heated debate with a caller.  Funny thing is, Tiberi was nothing like this on TV.  He created this personality for the radio.  He provided little insight and was extremely biased toward central Ohio and Ohio State in particular.  I realize that Tiberi needed to show some bias toward central Ohio, but his ignorance toward OSU opponents and other sports cities provided no national perspective.  Tiberi was the main reason I quit listening to the 1460 morning show.

Before and during the Tiberi days, 1460 had Terry Smith on in the afternoons.  Smith's afternoon show was a little boring, but Smith was an excellent play-by-play guy for both football and basketball.  1460 wanted to spice up the afternoon, so they got rid of his afternoon show.  Later they replaced Smith as the play-by-play man with Paul Keels, which I still haven't gotten over.  Terry Smith showed great enthusiasm towards Ohio State.  Keels, on the other hand, at best, has no feelings whatsoever towards Ohio State.  Smith showed genuine excitement for Ohio State during the games he did, but did not go overboard in his homerism.  He was a Buckeye.  

Keels, as most know, used to call games for Michigan.  I tried to put this fact aside when I first listened to his play-by-play.  The problem was, Keels didn't (and still doesn't) show any emotion towards Ohio State.  Strong distinctive voice?  Sure, just like Walter Kronkite.  Maybe Keels should be a TV anchor.  I can tell you one thing.  You know when you watch ESPN or another national station and they pick up a local sportscaster's call on a last second touchdown or basket?  Usually, the announcer is going nuts.  Unfortunately, you will never hear another station pick up a game winning call from Paul Keels.

Back to the late afternoon show.  Sometime after Terry Smith was given his walking papers, the afternoon show added Brooks Melchior.  Melchior had this voice that just grinded on you.  And he would just pound the hell out of callers.  Of course, much of this pounding on callers would be after the caller had been cut off.  It's pretty easy to harass callers when they are no longer on the air to defend themselves.  Melchior, like many of the other 1460 personalities, save Herbstreit, provided basically no insight to anything.

Now, Kirk Herbstreit.  I once heard someone refer to Herbstreit by saying, "Herbie wears his Ohio State diploma like an albatross around his neck."  Interesting analogy.  I think Herbstreit sometimes is embarrassed being associated with Ohio State.  He has listened to a million ignorant fans call in with ridiculous opinions over the years.  The problem is, Herbstreit often lets 1% of the Ohio State fan base taint his entire opinion of Ohio State fans.  He has used this analogy himself that a small percentage of fans are vocal and the entire fan base is stereotyped, but he still lets himself fall into this trap.  I really feel that Herbstreit gets so sick of listening to the Buckeye homers that call in, that he loves to bring up the SEC, their fans, and Florida and Tennessee especially.  Basically, Herbstreit finds some gratification in saying, "Hey guys, there's better fans than Ohio State fans and there's better football than Ohio State football.  Open your eyes."  

As far as Herbstreit on ESPN, I love him.  He, Corso, and Fowler have great chemistry.  I understand that he needs to be unbiased or he will not be respected and I think he does a great job.  He offers good insight and has a great personality for the show.  When you get him back to Columbus, though, he really lets the callers get to him.  He had heard 2-10-1 so many times, that he couldn't take it anymore.  Herbstreit continued to criticize callers that criticized Cooper and now he is doing the same thing with Bellisari.  Question for Kirk Herbstreit: As an Ohio State fan, do I not have a legitimate beef with John Coopers 2-10-1 record vs. Michigan and the way Steve Bellisari's played the past two seasons?

I've talked to Kirk on several occasions.  He's very approachable in public.  I used to frequently see him at Coaches Bar and Grill on Bethel road (in Columbus) in the mid-90's.  I'd usually stop by and ask him some questions about player development or recruiting and Kirk would always love to chat about Ohio State.  Back then, there wasn't widespread info like we get today on the Internet, so Kirk was always a guy who could provide some insight that you couldn't get from someone else.  I'd often call his show too, before Melchior and Benz came along.  

Today, I rarely listen to 1460.  Part of the problem is the station is so weak, and I can't pick them up in Marysville past 5:30 at night.  (Of course, you can't pick them up many places in Columbus past 5:30 in the evening.)  Kirk provides little insight outside of Ohio State football, and he continues to lose his patience with Ohio State fans that call the show.  He ridiculed callers for passing on unsubstantiated coaching rumors a few days before Tressel was hired, quickly forgetting that he had gotten the ball rolling with Ohio State coaching rumors.

The day that Cooper's firing was announced, Kirk Herbstreit had lunch with Bob Stoops and Bobby Bowden.  When Herbstreit told Stoops that the Ohio State head coaching job had come open, Stoops raised his eyebrows and supposedly showed some interest.  Later that day on 1460, Herbstreit made the statement that he had talked with one of the premier coaches in the country and that coach showed interest in the Ohio State position.  Next, he told Andy Geiger to call him on his cell phone if he was listening.  He then told callers not to call in to try to figure out whom he was talking about.  Excuse me?  You make this kind of statement and expect people to sit back and not ask questions?  This is the reason why all the hoopla over Bob Stoops got started.  If Herbstreit doesn't make this statement, then there wouldn't have been a microphone in Bob Stoops' face asking him about the OSU job on the day of the National Championship.  So what gives Herbstreit the right to talk down to fans that called 1460 to talk about the coaching rumors?

Herbstreit now has a new sidekick in the evenings.  Mark Wyant is another radio guy that loses his cool with callers every now and then.  Wyant is definitely an upgrade from Tim Benz, who has moved on to Pittsburgh, but that isn't saying much.  Wyant does not provide much insight himself, but he won't grind on you like Tim Benz did for two years.  Benz's goal was to dig deep under the skin of as many Oho State fans as he could.  Many times, he succeeded.  Wyant is a Buckeye, but isn't going to tell you anything that you couldn't find on the Internet in regards to Ohio State football.

Back to the title of this piece: Can we do better than this?  Is it really that hard to get quality guys on 1460?  Can we get two morning guys that can have a legitimate debate, not a staged debate like Miller and Mark used to have every morning?  Maybe it's not that easy.  There are not very many good ones out there.  Jim Rome is extremely knowledgeable but I can't take all that testosterone and negativity for too long.  Jay Mariotti is very knowledgeable himself, but is also very negative and condescending.  Papa Joe Chevalier is the best I have heard.  He is very knowledgeable and has a great personality that most people like.  Of course these are national guys, but when I'm in other major cities, I have always heard local radio guys that put what we have in Columbus to shame.  I hope that one day soon, the flagship station of the Ohio State Buckeyes can rise above the station that it is now. -- Brent Baver

2001 Spring Game Preview
April 26, 2001 7:30 pm EST

Scarlet rush offense vs Gray rush defense:

Scarlet projected first team O-line, left to right - Walter, Massey, Jacobs, Olivea, Caldwell/J. Miller

Gray projected first team D-line - W. Smith, Anderson, Collins, Cheatwood

Projected starting backs for Scarlet - TB Wells, FB Stead

Other key players for Scarlet rush offense - TB Kline, FB Tucker, TE Sanders

Other key players for Gray rush defense - LB Grant, LB Pagac, LB M. Cooper, LB Reynolds, S Nickey, CB Crosby, CB M. Lee

The skinny - D-lines should fair well for both teams on Saturday.  Obviously, depth on the D-line as a whole far exceeds depth on the O-line as a whole.  The Gray front four that will most likely start the game has three out of the four probable starters on it (but DT's Thompson and Anderson may be considered even at this point.) The Scarlet have solid guards in Olivea and Massey but get the short end of the stick at Center.  Jacobs is a major drop-off from Bentley.  The Scarlet have the probably opening day starter at TB, but he will not have the Big Ten's best fullback at his disposal, which will greatly hinder Well's effectiveness.  The Gray will not have any of the regular starters at LB, but the foursome of Grant, M. Cooper, Pagac, and Reynolds isn't chopped liver.  The guess here is that the Scarlet will be lucky to average 3.5 yards per carry on the day.  Edge - Gray

Scarlet pass offense vs Gray pass defense:

Scarlet projected first team O-line, left to right - Walter, Massey, Jacobs, Olivea, Caldwell/J. Miller

Gray projected first team D-line - W. Smith, Anderson, Collins, Cheatwood

Scarlet projected starting QB - McMullen

Scarlet projected starting WR's - Vance and Bryant

Gray projected starting DB's - M. Lee, Crosby, Nickey, Shabazz

Other key players for Scarlet pass offense - QB Krenzel, TE Sanders, TB Kline, WR Hollins

Other key players for Gray pass defense - CB S. Moore, CB A. Allen, S Matthews, LB Grant, LB Reynolds, LB M. Cooper

The skinny - First and foremost, the Scarlet O-line is going to have to be able to account for the Gray's Will Smith when he is in the game.  Walter will have major problems keeping Smith from getting to McMullen and Krenzel, and a walk-on OT has virtually no prayer against Smith.  The Gray DB's will have trouble with Vance as they have had all April.  The Gray will also have to focus on containing Darnell Sanders who is now one of the premier TE's in the Big Ten.  If McMullen has time he should be able to take advantage of inexperienced CB's Lee and Crosby.  And the Gray back-up CB's are both walk-ons who will have major problems with QB's that have time to throw.  Question is, will they have the time? Edge - Even

Gray rush offense vs Scarlet rush defense:

Gray projected first team O-line, left to right - McLaughlin, Stepanovich, Bentley, Bishop, Clarke

Scarlet projected first team D-line - Peterson, Thompson, Stirrup, Scott

Projected starting backs for Gray - TB Maldonado, FB Martin

Other key players for Gray rush offense - FB Muhammad, TB DeMaria, LG Kuhnhein, TE Hartsock

Other key players for Scarlet rush defense - LB J. Cooper, LB Wilhelm, LB Bullard, LB O'Neill, S Doss, S Stover, CB Britton, CB Jacobs, CB McNutt

The skinny - Even with three starting lineman that often play with the 2's, the Scarlet D-line is solid.  And the Scarlet LB's are the normal starters that may be the best LB crew in the Big Ten.  The Scarlet also has run-stopping specialist Mike Doss to support the run from his Strong Safety spot.  The Gray does have Jamar Martin paving the way for Sammy Maldonado, who has looked very good this spring and at this point, doesn't look like he is that far behind Wells.  Bottom line, it will be extremely tough to establish the run against the Scarlet defense Saturday afternoon.  Edge - Scarlet

Gray pass offense vs Scarlet pass defense:

Gray projected first team O-line, left to right - McLaughlin, Stepanovich, Bentley, Bishop, Clarke

Scarlet projected first team D-line - Peterson, Thompson, Stirrup, Scott

Gray projected starting QB - Bellisari

Gray projected starting WR's - Carter and Childress

Scarlet projected starting DB's - Britton, Doss, Stover, Jacobs

Other key players for Gray pass offense - FB Martin, WR Jenkins, WR Hooks, TE Hartsock, LG Kuhnhein

Other key players for Scarlet pas defense - LB Wilhelm, LB Bullard, LB Cooper, CB McNutt, CB Depradine, LB O'Neill

The skinny - Again, the key is going to be protecting the QB.  Walk-on John McLaughlin most likely gets the call at LT and will have his hands full against Peterson and Scott.  Clarke will probably play RT to protect Bellisari's blind side.  The Scarlet will have the best CB on the field in Bobby Britton.  Britton and company had better be extremely cautious with Bam Childress or he will take one to the house.  The Scarlet may have Ohio State's new secret weapon in walk-on Rob Stover at Free Safety.  He has been outstanding the last week or so of practice.  The Scarlet's Doss has had problems in coverage this spring.  Interesting overall match-up.  Hard to call.  Edge - even.

Special Teams: 

The skinny - The Gray has both the #1 punter (Sander) and the #1 kicker (Huston) to go with the most electrifying returner that Ohio State has seen in years (Childress.)  Hard to argue this one.  Edge - Gray.

The Call: 

It is always tough to call the Scarlet and Gray game because it has so many variables.  Some players will play both ways and who knows how long the regulars will play.  I'll take the Gray here with special teams being the deciding factor.  Prediction - Gray 17 Scarlet 14.

Who Can Gain - Who Can Lose
April 13, 2001 5:00 pm EST

We're just about half way through spring practice.  Here's a recap by positions:

QB's:  Bellisari appears to be hanging onto to his starting job by a thread.  He has not thrown the ball well this spring and continues to throw interceptions regularly in 7 on 7 drills and 11 on 11's.  If he continues to throw picks in the scrimmage portion of practice, chances are he will give way to Scott McMullen who has been the most impressive of the four scholarship QB's this spring.  McMullen has the quickest release of all the QB's.  Krenzel hasn't set the world on fire and McFadden unfortunately has not showed the potential he showed last fall.  The QB's who end up #3 and #4 are potential transfers.  (I'm assuming Bellisari will at worst be 2nd team.)

RB's:  Wells looks like a man on a mission, very dedicated.  Looks great physically.  No reason to believe he won't carry the ball 20+ times a game come September.  Maldonado runs very hard.  He may lack the sub-4.5 speed that Spencer wants in his TB's, but Maldonado looks like a guy who can contribute.  I don't expect to see him used as a blocking FB.  He will probably play TB in the "I" or as a single back.  Kline could be the odd man out.  The coaches don't think he can take the punishment of FB with his back problems and he won't be able to compete with all the talent we have at TB in August.  The coaches want to get Martin the ball more.  He is still dealing out punishment as a blocker.  Jamal Muhammad is now a FB.  Sounds like a good move.  He's very big, very strong, and has good speed for a big guy.  Muhammad played TB and FB in HS as well as LB. 

WR's and TE's:  Chris Vance has done impressive things just about every day of practice.  It may not be official yet, but you can pretty much pencil him in as a starter, in my opinion.  He's got great size, decent speed, and has been catching everything.  Drew Carter has also looked good.  Still could stand to gain some muscle weight.  He and Vance look like your two starters.  Ricky Bryant is still way undersized and hasn't proved that he can make enough big things happen to warrant a starting job, in my opinion.  Jenkins has gotten some positive reviews.  He and Bryant are probably your #3 and #4 receivers right now (although Bryant is still playing with the 1's.)  Maurice Lee and John Hollins appear to have a ways to go.  Walk-on Mike Young has impressed.  Darnell Sanders has done nothing to disprove the thoughts that he will be a major weapon in 2001.  Hartsock apparently has looked solid.  Not a lot of talk about Jason Caldwell.

O-line:  We're down to 7 scholarship lineman that are healthy.  Bentley is probably done for the spring with a dislocated kneecap.  Douglas has blood clots in his lungs and has missed almost every practice.  Stepanovich looks like he could he be a very good one at guard.  Massey looks like he will hang onto to his starting job.  Adrian Clarke has got to lose some weight.  Think he is claiming he is 335, but he looks bigger than that.  Walter is coming along slowly at RT.  He looks to have gained most of his weight back.  With Bentley out, Stepanovich slides to center, Massey to LG, and Olivea to RG.  Not good news for Bryce Bishop if Olivea is being plugged in at guard ahead of him.  As a whole, it's not surprising that the D-line seems to be having their way with the O-line.  The defense is usually ahead of the offense at this point and the O-line has no numbers.

D-line:  Looks outstanding so far.  Will Smith looks like he could become a sack specialist.  Darrion Scott has looked so good that he may be in the process of taking Peterson's starting job.  Regardless, the threesome of Smith, Peterson, and Scott look very good.  Scott has also got some looks at DT.  Cheatwood is still adapting to his new position of rush end.  Collins looks solid at DT, as expected.  Not a lot of talk about Tim Anderson, except for him stating that he is much stronger and much faster than last year.  David Thompson and Fred Stirrup have looked strong as the back-up DT's and could see some legit PT.

LB's:  Wilhelm has picked up where he left off.  He looks like an All-Big Ten LB.  Great quickness for a man his size.  Joe Cooper looks like an All-Big Ten candidate as well.  Bullard is trying to fight off Robert Reynolds, who is bigger and faster than last year.  I still don't think he will be able to do it.  Reynolds looks like a monster after gaining 30 pounds.  Marco Cooper is finally starting to come on a bit.  He will still have a tough time cracking the two-deep with Cie Grant backing up Joe Cooper and with Reynolds currently backing up Bullard.  Maybe he moves back to middle with Muhammad moving to offense. This is definitely the strength of the team.

DB's:  Still many questions about the CB's.  We really need Ross to get his act together and make it back this August.  Childress and Britton appear to be the starters right now.  One thing for sure with Childress, the guy can sure hit.  He may start remind fans of another undersized corner that could stick - Antoine Winfield.  Of course, he needs to prove that he has the coverage skills, also.  As to why McNutt has fallen to second team, I don't know.  He appears to be a second teamer with Harlen Jacobs.  That leaves Curtis Crosby as a third teamer.  Doss and Nickey look great at the safety spots.  Doss as everyone knows is a star, but Nickey has really come a long way. 

Special teams:  BJ Sander seems to have picked up where he left off last year - a boomed punt, then a shank, then another boomer, then another shank.  And he is still having problems with blocks.  He has to develop a way to get his punts off quicker.  I haven't heard that Groom is pushing him yet, and I am surprised.  Haven't heard a lot about Josh Huston.  Seems like he is hitting his field goals in scrimmages, but they all seem to be from short range.  His distance on kickoffs appears to be adequate.  Vance and Childress appear to be battling for the punt return job.  Childress is a major breakaway threat.  Wells, strangely enough, is still returning kicks with Mike Doss.

Buckeye 50 Yard Line
April - July 2001
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