Tempe Bound
December 30, 2002 11:45 PM

I am Tempe bound in the morning and will email in a few updates from the road.  My understanding wife has said that she would post the updates to the site for me.  And recruiting updates are going to have to take a back seat to the National Championship this week.  Has it dawned on you yet?  Ohio State is playing for all the marbles this coming Friday.  Pretty crazy.  - Bbaver

Clarett Makes Off The Field News Again

Maurice Clarett made off the field news again today when he expressed his displeasure with not being able to fly back to Ohio to attend a funeral of a close friend.  According to Clarett, he got the runaround when he asked if he could fly back for the funeral.  Clarett had this to say about the situation, "I guess football's more important than a person's life to them. That's why I'm ready to get this game over and go back home." 

Ohio State Athletic Director Andy Geiger had this to say about the situation, ""We told Maurice that he could fly home ...if he could buy a ticket home and back we could reimburse him once the paperwork is filed.  He elected not to do that, or couldn't afford that, or there wasn't anybody in his family who could do it. We were stuck in a place where the rule is we couldn't go forward and buy a ticket."

I guess my feeling is that if Clarett had this kind of issue with how things were handled, he could have taken it up with multiple people behind closed doors.  On the other hand, Clarett was said to be visibly distraught by the situation during the interview.  His emotions obviously got the best of him.

Regardless, the issues seem to keep coming up with Clarett and one has to wonder if these off-the-issues will ever cease.  However, this can't make me change my mind on my pick for the team MVP this year.  

MVP Countdown

#1 Maurice Clarett.  My pick for team MVP does not come at a good time, based on today's comments by Clarett, but I honestly believe he was the most valuable player on this year's squad.  His first long TD run against Texas Tech almost seemed to set the tone for the season.  And you could tell from that game, that the offense got an emotional boost when Clarett entered the game.  Then came the Washington State game, where everyone started to realize that this kid was at a whole different level then his peers.  When Clarett was forced to miss the Cincinnati game, we saw how the offense could struggle without him.  Clarett of course, battled injuries the rest of the year, but no one can deny the fact that the offense was night and day depending on whether or not Clarett was playing.  And despite his mouth, Clarett was almost always one of the first guys off the bench to congratulate his teammates for a job well done. The Michigan game, in my mind, put the cap on this.  Clarett, playing at less than 100% and in pain, did a pretty good number on the Michigan defense and had the big catch to set up Ohio State's winning touchdown.  Whoever you thought should have been the Buckeye's MVP this year, I'm sure you have good reasons.  There were certainly a lot of players to choose from

How Does The Buckeye Offense Match-Up With 'Canes D?
December 29, 2002 11:45 PM

Well, this was supposed to be the whole preview, but instead, it's half of the preview.  No surprise, I am not as far along as I hoped to be.  Click here to check out the first half of the Fiesta Bowl Preview.  I have to have the second half of the preview done tomorrow night, because I leave Tuesday morning for Tempe.

Buckeye MVP Countdown

#2 Matt Wilhelm.  If you had to pinpoint one reason why Ohio State is 13-0 and playing in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Title, what would you choose?  How 'bout, simply: DEFENSE.  And the man who led the defense this year?  Sure, you can make a case for Mike Doss, but Matt Wilhelm was the most consistent player on the defensive side of the ball and led the Buckeyes in tackles with 111 tackles.  Wilhelm bounced back better than ever from his high ankle sprain that bothered him the whole 2001 season.  Did he make as many "big plays" as guys like Chris Gamble?  No, but Wilhelm was there each and every week and is the #1 reason why the Ohio State defense is so tough to run on.  He can run sideline to sideline with just about any MLB in the country and snuffs out plays as well as anyone.  Wilhelm was 2nd in the Big Ten in tackles for losses this year with 16.  His two interceptions this year were both incredible athletic plays.  As with so many other players, the Bucks would not be here without this man.

Buckeyes Arrive In Arizona
December 27, 2002 7:00 AM

The Buckeyes arrived in Arizona yesterday and will be staying at the Fairmont Princess Resort in Scottsdale, a few miles from Tempe.  The whole team got to make the trip, unlike in the regular season road games where only certain players travel.  Angelo Chattams apparently did not make the trip and is not on the bowl roster.  Chattams agreed to enter a diversion program in Dayton after being brought up on theft charges.  Other than Chattams, who was not in the two-deep, the rest of the roster is thought to be in Tempe.  

The Buckeyes also appear to be pretty healthy for the most part.  Maurice Clarett has declared himself 100% and ready to go.  Willie Grant (that's "Cie" to most of us) also has had plenty of healing time for his high ankle sprain he suffered in the 8th game of the season.  The availability of left guard Mike Stafford is not known at this point.  Stafford has suffered from multiple injuries and has not been anywhere near full-strength since early in the season. 

Buckeye MVP Countdown

#3 Chris Gamble.  The guy did it all this year.  And yes, like any of the last few guys listed in the MVP countdown, you can make a very good case for his MVP selection (and of course, along with QB Craig Krenzel, he was voted as co-MVP of this year's team at the annual team awards banquet.)  Gamble may not have been a major threat as a receiver, with Jenkins being the go-to guy, but his play at cornerback was unbelievable this year, especially considering the fact that he still does not know the in's and out's of the position.  The kid plays mostly on instincts and uses his athletic ability - simple as that.  And Gamble of course had key interceptions in the Cincinnati and the Wisconsin game that thwarted 4th quarter drives in or near the end zone.  He also picked off the pass on Purdue's last drive to secure the game in East Lafayette.  But Gamble's biggest play of the year was of course the interception and return against Penn State, where he picked off a Zack Mills pass, weaved in and out of defenders and took it back for the touchdown.  That happened to be the Buckeyes only touchdown of the day, and like several other plays that almost every true fan can remember this year, Ohio State probably would not be where they are without it.

Recruiting

The last three in-state prospects that Ohio State has a good shot at landing are top 10 prospects in the state.  The Buckeyes landed three top 10 Ohio guys last week, and it certainly would be nice if Ohio State could get verbal commitments from these guys in the near future.  However, these prospects may take a month or more to make their decisions.

Most likely, the #1 in-state prospect left on Ohio State's list is Warren Harding safety Prescott Burgess.  Some reports say he is a Michigan lean while others state that he is an Ohio State lean.  This one is a tough one to call.  Ohio State has not lost a top 10 prospect in Ohio to Michigan since Tressel arrived, so this would be the first if it were to happen.  Many gurus rated Burgess as the #1 overall prospect in the state at the beginning of the year.  Burgess is a huge safety, but could play LB at the next level if he gets much bigger.  His wish right now is to play safety.  Last week I gave a slight edge to Ohio State based on what I was hearing, but I now think it could be closer to 50/50 on this one, or maybe 50/40/10 with Tennessee being the 10 (percent chance) and Ohio State being the 50.

Another prospect rated highly in the state is Massillon Washington linebacker Shawn Crable.  Crable was rated as a top 5 to top 10 prospect in the state at the beginning of the season.  Crable used to be known as a guy with huge upside that had not really translated this potential to performance on the field, but that has changed.  Crable finished the year strong and those close to Massillon program think the light bulb may have gone on.  He seems to be a bigger priority now for Ohio State.  Crable could play LB or DE in college, but prefers LB.  This is a really close call on Crable with Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Michigan apparently being the biggest players.  I guess I would call this one 45-35-20, with Ohio State being the 45 and Michigan being the 35, with Pittsburgh being the 20.

The third top 10 Ohio Prospect that Ohio State is still pursuing is OL/DL Sian Cotton from Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary.  Like the previous two, Cotton could also play multiple positions at the next level.  He prefers defensive line, but offensive line could also be an option.  Cotton plays on the same basketball team as the probable #1 pick in the NBA draft, LeBron James.  Cotton is a big guy, like most linemen (in the 300 pound range), but recently showed some good mobility on the basketball floor when Akron SVSM was on ESPN.  He also had a great year at defensive tackle, solidifying himself as one of the top prospects in the state.  There hasn't been a lot of information on Cotton in regards to where he is leaning.  Most think he is an OSU lean, but again, the opinions are less educated on this one compared to the last two.  I would guess a 70% chance on Cotton with several other schools making up the remaining 30%.

More on out-of-state recruiting this weekend along with a full Ohio State - Miami Fiesta Bowl preview.

December 24, 6:00 p.m.

Miami's Defensive Game Plan

Miami defensive Coordinator Randy Shannon has put his faith in his defensive front seven this year, allowing his safeties to play back and rarely bringing them up for run support.  Like Ohio State's tendency to give up some yardage, but win the battle, Miami has given up some big numbers to opposing backs but have prevailed on the scoreboard.  And this style of defense has translated to Miami rarely giving up the big play.

The question is will the Hurricanes play this style of defense against Maurice Clarett and the Buckeyes?  The early talk was that Miami would ride the horse that got them there and continue playing the safeties deep.  Now, there is recent talk that Miami will deviate from their norm and bring the safeties up to help stop the run.

This should be one of the more interesting sub-plots of the evening on January 3rd.  West Virginia was able to run for 363 yards on Miami.  And the last time Miami faced a big talented back that is on the level of a Clarett?  That was against Florida State and Greg Jones rumbled for 189 yards on 31 carries.  So if Miami does decide to let their front seven fend for themselves against Clarett, Maurice may be able to rack up some yards.  If Miami instead decides to bring the safeties up to better stop the run, the hope is that the Buckeyes will have a better shot at hitting the home run.

More breakdown later this week.

Buckeye MVP Countdown

#4 Michael Jenkins.  Jenkins cracked the 1,000 yard mark (receiving yards) this season after missing the mark by just 12 yards a year ago.  Jenkins also averaged a staggering 18 yards per catch this year.  And it seemed like more than half of Jenkins catches were highlight reel numbers where he made a leaping finger-tip catch, caught a ball in major traffic or made a catch that either turned a game around or basically won the game for the Buckeyes.  Jenkins' over the shoulder grab against Purdue is probably the play of the year for the Buckeyes.  A week later, Jenkins caught a 50 yard TD in the third quarter to stop Illinois' momentum after the Illini had just taken their first lead of the game.  And don't forget that it was Jenkins' 45 yard grab in double coverage that turned the game around in Madison, Wisconsin on October 19th.  The Buckeye trailed at that point and could get nothing going on offense.  The Buckeye offense kicked it into gear after that catch, finishing off that drive (an 88 yard drive) with a touchdown and a fired-up Buckeye defense held on for the win.

December 23, 7:00 a.m.

Buckeyes Land 3 of Top 10 Prospects in State

Late last night it was learned that Ohio State landed cornerback Donte Whitner, athlete Darius Hiley and DE/DT Brandon Maupin.  Whitner is considered by some to be the top cornerback prospect in the country.  Whitner will also enroll early so he can participate in spring drills.  Hiley has been called the best all-around athlete Ohio has seen since Charles Wooson.  Hiley could play cornerback or wide receiver at Ohio State.  Both Whitner and Hiley attend Clevelend Glenville.  West Chester Lakota's Brandon Maupin is a physical speciman who has huge upside.  Maupin plays defensive end, but could slide down to DT at the next level.  This takes Ohio State's commitment list to 11.  East Cleveland Shaw LB Reggie Smith is said to have a scholarship offer (one that he will accept) if he can obtain a qualifying SAT score.  Smith took the SAT recently.  That would give the Buckeyes 12 commitments.  More tonight. 

December 22, 9:15 p.m.

Spread Holding Steady

The Ohio State - Miami spread is holding steady at 13.  For the uninitiated, that tells us that (appr.) half of the bettors are taking Ohio State (getting the 13 points) while the other half of the bettors are taking Miami (giving the 13 points.)  If this percentage changes with more people taking Miami, the spread will go up and vice-versa if more people start betting the Buckeyes.

Recruiting Update

The recruiting page has been updated.  Click here to go there.

Ohio State currently has 8 verbal commitments.  Here is one man's guess as to who will fill out the rest of the class:

Donte Whitner, CB, Cleveland Glenville
Darius Hiley, ATH, Cleveland Glenville
Reggie Smith, LB, East Cleveland Shaw
Brandon Maupin, DT West Chester Lakota West
Ira Guilford, S, Hoboken, NJ 
Michael Bush, ATH, Louisville Male (KY)
Sian Cotton, DT/OL, Akron St. Vincent, St. Mary
Prescott Burgess, S, Warren Harding
Shawn Crable, LB, Massillon Washington
James Lee, OL, Belle Glades Central (FL)
Kevin Brown, OL/DL, Long Beach Poly (CA)
Wesley Jefferson, LB, Bradywine Gwynn Park (MD)

The last three are really anyone's guess.  OSU may not get any of those three, but there are several other out-of-state prospects that OSU still has a shot at.

Others Considering Early Departures

Last week we talked about the potential of Michael Jenkins jumping ship a year early.  There has also been some talk of Will Smith and Darrion Scott possibly foregoing their senior year.  To be honest, I haven't heard a whole lot about any of these three in regards to potential early departures, but these three obviously have big-time talent, so I guess it's not too surprising to hear their names come up.  If I had to look at each of them individually, I would think each one would be back.  I guess I can't see any of them going as high as they think they should be drafted.  We shall see.

Buckeye MVP Countdown

#5 Mike Doss.  As with the last couple selections, Mike Doss is another guy that can make a case for 2002 MVP.  He may not have had as many big plays as he did in 2001, but like Andy Katzenmoyer, he almost completely changes the opponent's offensive game plan.  The guy lines up all over the place and is such a headache for an opposing QB.  And Doss is one of the last guys you want to get hit by when he's coming full-speed, right at you.  Even in what many thought was his worst game of the season against Wisconsin, Doss had 14 tackles and his blitzes blew up several plays in the second half.  And lastly and certainly not least, Doss is a leader. His leadership has been invaluable to this year's defense.

Ball State Job Filled

With Brady Hoke filling the head coaching job at Ball State, this means that Ohio State gets to hang onto LB coach Mark Snyder and recruiting coordinator Bill Conley, who were both interviewed for the job. 

Next...

I have been under the weather a bit the past 10 days and have been extremely busy at work.  I will have much more about the battle in the desert in the next 10 days including a full preview with position matchups.

December 17, 7:45 p.m.

Buckeye Memorabilia/Collectibles

Here are a few cool Fiesta Bowl memoribilia items you can find at the Buckeye 50 Fan Shop, that you may not see at your local mall.  Click here to check them out and then click any of the pictures to go to the shop.

Also, if you live in Ohio and haven't picked up the commemorative Sports Illustrated that recaps the 2002 undefeated Buckeye season, I suggest picking it up.  I am not a big fan of Sport Illustrated but this special edition is outstanding.  I picked one up at a Big Bear last night and they had plenty of them.  They are priced at $5.99.

Continuing of Buckeye MVP Coundown

#6 Craig Krenzel.  Based on the poll we had on this page and the team's actual selection of MVP, this is going to appear low, but I think there are 5 players in front of him, which we can debate after the poll is over.  And again, I think there are 7 or more players that you can make a case for MVP this season.

Last June, the talk was 'Just-in time' Zwick being our savior, but on November 23rd, Zwick hadn't played a down and Krenzel had led the Bucks to a 13-0 record.  Krenzel ended up 7th in the nation in passing efficiency, ahead of names like Chris Simms, Kliff Kingsbury, Ken Dorsey, Eli Manning and Rex Grossman.  Krenzel completed 61.8% of his passes, threw 12 TD's and was only intercepted 5 times.  But these stats don't tell the whole story.  The Buckeye coaches counted on the defense to put them in positions to win games.  In return, Krenzel was counted on to "not make mistakes."  Krenzel delivered in that fashion, only throwing 5 picks all year, and also made key throws and runs in crucial situations.  He had key runs or throws late in all of the following close games: Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Michigan.

December 17, 6:45 p.m.

Buckeyes Land 8th Commitment

Local Columbus television channel 10 is reporting that Klein, Texas defensive back Ashton Youboty will attend Ohio State.  Youboty is one of the top 25 DB prospects nationally and lit it up at Ohio State's camp last June.  Youboty chose Ohio State over Penn State.  

There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Murfreesboro, TN offensive line prospect Kenyon Buford has issued a verbal commitment to Ohio State or not.  Buford is considered somewhat of a project, but has gotten increased attention from bigger programs lately.  Right now it is not only uncertain as to whether or not Buford has committed to Ohio State, it is also uncertain as to whether or not Buford has a scholarship offer.  If Buford has committed to Ohio State, that will make 9 verbal commitments.

Jenkins 3 and Out?

There has been some speculation lately about Michael Jenkins possibly forgoing his senior year to head to the NFL.  Jenkins told reporters that he will make a decision after the bowl game.  No inside info here, but there are some rumors saying Jenkins will indeed leave.  The only certainty is that Jenkins is at least considering going pro next year.

Clarett Healthy?

According to Maurice himself, he is 100%.  According to coaches, he may not quite be 100%, but is approaching the 90% range.  Keep healing, Reecie, we need you.

Assistant Coaches Take a Look at Ball State  

According to today's Columbus Dispatch, tight end's coach and recruiting coordinator Bill Conley and linebacker's coach Mark Snyder have been given permission to speak to Ball State regarding their head coach opening.  Both coaches were interviewed over the weekend.

Assistant coaches change jobs all the time, but losing Bill Conley would be a blow.  Conley is widely considered to be one of the best recruiters in the country.

Scratch Two off Ohio State's List 

Highly touted Miami LB Tavares Gooden, who was said to be down to Ohio State and his home school Miami a few days ago, has committed to Miami.

Sources say highly touted O-line prospect Joel Holler, from Lancaster, PA will commit to Penn State this week.  Even without the help of the "sources" there are other indications that Holler will not be choosing Ohio State, so its time to scratch him off our want list.

December 15, 11:45 p.m.

Recruiting Update

The out-of-state prospects piece of the recruiting page has been updated.  

There were some questions about the updates on the Ohio prospects.  The top 31 prospects were how I had them ranked as of 3/16/02 and the synopsis below their name (in black) was written at the time of the ranking.  I edited some of these summaries today to clear up some confusion.  The updates in red are to show what is currently going on with the recruitment of these prospects.  Next time, I think I will go with a different format to make things less confusing.

I also had added some arrows to show whether or not the Ohio prospects' recruiting stock was up or down since the original 3/16/02 ranking, but I have had to take these down for now due to some technical problems.

December 14, 3:30 p.m.

Recruiting Update

The Ohio Prospects have been updated on the 2003 recruiting page.  I do however have another couple Ohio prospects to add and will do so by the end of the weekend.  Out-of-state prospects that OSU is targeting will updated by the end of the weekend as well.

December 9, 10:00 p.m.

OSU-Miami Match-up - Position Comparison

I've put together a very early position-by-position comparison between Miami and Ohio State.  I think it is more important to compare "actual" matchups, i.e. Miami's offense vs. Ohio State's defense, but I wanted to save that until after X-mas.  Click here to go to the position match-up page.

Tressel Wins Coach of Year Honor

CNN/SI has published it's 2002 college football awards and has selected Jim Tressel as their coach of the year.  Mike Doss and Matt Wilhelm were selected as 1st team All-Americans with Andy Groom and Mike Nugent each making their 2nd team AA team.

MVP Countdown

#7 Andy Groom.  From walk-on to All-American.  Truly a great story.  The kid has boomed everything all year long with few lapses.  He at times has had problems pooch kicking but Groom makes up for these struggles by making big punts when it counts.  His big punts against Wisconsin took the wind out of the Badgers' sails twice.  Not only has Groom done an excellent job punting this year, but has done a great job as Mike Nugent's holder as well.  Groom has been superb with getting bad snaps down quickly and smoothly tthis season.  As for the man responsible for leaving Andy Groom out of the final 10 for the Ray Guy Award (that goes to the nations top punter)....shame on you.

Recruiting

The poll does not lie.  Most people want to see more recruiting info.  I will have a recruiting update and the entire recruiting page updated this week.

December 8, 11:00 p.m.

2002 Team Awards

Quarterback Craig Krenzel and multidimensional Chris Gamble were voted co-MVP's at the team banquet held earlier today.  As I have mentioned before, there are so many players that you could make an argument for team MVP this year, and these guys are certainly two of them.  I will continue my own MVP countdown tomorrow night.

As for the other awards, Craig Krenzel was voted offensive player of the year while Mike Doss won the award for defensive player of the year.  Cie Grant was voted most inspirational player.  Ben Hartsock received an award for athletic and academic excellence.  Mike Nugent was voted special teams player of the year.  Matt Wilhelm took home the award for top linebacker.  Donnie Nickey received the award for top defensive back.  Darrion Scott was voted top defensive lineman.  The top O-line award went to Alex Stepanovich.  The top back award went to Maurice Clarett.  And the top receiver award went to Michael Jenkins.

As for first year players, A.J. Hawk took home the defensive award with Maurice Clarett taking home the offensive award.

OSU - Miami

I have begun an early position-by position comparison of Ohio State-Miami and should have this completed Monday or Tuesday evening.

Fiesta Bowl Tale of the Tape

       Miami          Ohio State
Points per game                           41.92 (3rd)      29.15 (43rd)
Total Offense                              473.92 (6th)     372.00 (67th)
Rushing Yards per game            191.33 (34th)    194.85 (30th)
Passing Yards per game      282.6 (16th)     177.2 (89th)
Passing Efficiency                    147.86 (10th)       152.77 (5th)
Scoring Defense                          18.1 (15th)         12.2 (2nd)
Total Defense                              286.50 (8th)    317.15 (20th)
Rush Defense                             167.0 (73rd)       78.7  (4th)
Pass Defense                             119.50 (1st)     238.46 (88th)
Pass Defense Efficiency       85.21 (1st)     110.39 (28th)
Net Punting                                 32.73 (85th)     37.16 (13th)
FG Accuracy  (by kicker)      60%  (84th)       92% (4th)
Penalties (yds per game)      85.4 (114th)      40.2 (11th)
Turnover Margin                    +2   (51st)        +10 (19th)  
Kickoff Returns                            20.49 (49th)     20.33 (54th)
Punt Returns                       12.63 (29th)      8.50 (80th)

More on the Matchup

--Miami is currently a 13 point favorite over the Buckeyes.

--Kellen Winslow's (Miami TE) comments about the Buckeyes after Miami's win over Va Tech: "They look OK.  They've got a running back, that's all I know. They have a good strong safety, Michael Doss, is that his name? I think we have too much speed.  What are they in, the Big Ten? Michigan and Ohio State are power teams, like Nebraska.  Nebraska couldn't hang with us.''

--Miami will be the home team in the Fiesta Bowl, based on their #1 BCS ranking.  They will therefore get their choice in deciding whether to wear dark or white jerseys.  Miami's sometimes wears home orange jerseys and sometimes wears home green jerseys.  They wore their white jerseys in their title game against Nebraska last year. 

--Miami tailback Willis McGahee may have won the Heisman Trophy with his 205 yard, 6 TD effort against Virginia Tech yesterday.  This gives McGahee, 1,728 yards on the season with 27 TD's.  McGahee also averaged 6.6 yards per carry and had 351 yards receiving.  The race is still tight though.  It appears to be a 5-man race between McGahee, Miami QB Ken Dorsey, Penn State RB Larry Johnson, Iowa QB Brad Banks and USC QB Carson Palmer.

--The last time Ohio State played for (at least a share of) the national title, the Buckeyes dropped a 17-16 decision to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl ('79 season.)  Ohio State led 16-10 late in that one, but a late TD drive by USC, powered mainly by the rushing of Heisman Trophy tailback Charles White, gave USC the win.

--Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is 4-2 in national championship games, with all 6 games being at the D1-AA level.

--54 year-old Miami head football coach Larry Coker is undefeated (24-0) in his first two seasons as a head coach.  Coker coached the Ohio State defensive backfield in 1993 and 1994 under former OSU head coach John Cooper. 

--No Big Ten team has won the outright national championship since Ohio State last did won in 1968.

December 6, 8:00 p.m.

MVP Countdown

#8 Mike Nugent.  Field Goals: 24 for 26.  Had I predicted this kind of year for Nugent at the beginning of the year, I would have been laughed off the planet.  Many people knew that he had the leg and could kick with accuracy, and knew that he just needed the confidence, but I don't think many people expected this kind of success.  100% from 36 yards in this year (11 for 11), 8 for 9 from 40 to 49 yards, and 1 for 1 from 50 and beyond this season.  Nugent did not attempt any late FG's with the game depending on him, but he did make 3 at Illinois (with one being from 47 yards.)  He missed twice in this game, but had Nugent continued kicking like he did last year, the Bucks would have probably lost that one.  He also made two FG's against Penn State, each from 37 yards, which accounted for the number of points the Buckeyes won by that day.

December 6, 6:30 p.m.

MVP Countdown

#9 Will Smith.  Smith may not have had double digit sacks like many thought he would, but the guy did everything else.  Stop the run?  Yes.  Drop back into coverage?  Yep.  Lead all linemen in tackles?  Yes sir.  Record double digit tackles for losses?  That's right.  Recover the biggest fumble of the year (against Michigan)?  Yesirree.  Run his consecutive games played streak to 37, with a year left to play?  You got it.  Like Darrion Scott, he is a versatile DE and is also one of the main reasons why Ohio State has the best defense in the nation this year.

Did you know?

Did you know that Ohio State went after Hurricane Heisman candidate Willis McGahee hard in the fall of 1999?  The talented tailback made an official visit to Ohio State and came away impressed saying Ohio State was definitely one of his favorites, but McGahee of course ended up staying in his home town of Miami.

Jumping the Gun - Bucks versus Hurricanes

I'll continue to jump the gun a bit here and assume that Miami will be Ohio State's opponent in the Fiesta Bowl.  If Va Tech upsets the #1 ranked Hurricanes Saturday, then so be it.  Then there will probably be a lot less Hurricane talk (i.e. zero) on this page.

Overrated or Underrated?  I think Miami may be both.  I hear the Buckeye bashers talk about Miami like they are on a pedestal and the Buckeyes are not even in the same league as them.  And the national media sometimes acts the same way.  On the other hand, I have heard several Buckeye fans say they are glad we are getting Miami because "we match up so well with them."  They talk like Miami will just be the next team in line to lose to Ohio State in their storied 14-0 National Championship season.

Second part first.  Miami is better than these Buckeye fans think they are.  There is a reason why they have won 33 games in a row.  There is a reason they are 11-0 this season with blowout road wins over Tennessee and Florida.  This is a very good football team that has been there before and gets up for big games.  The Hurricane offense can sputter at times, and then, "boom."  They score two quick TD's against you on big plays.  Ken Dorsey, Willis McGahee, Jason Geathers, Andre Johnson, Kellen Winslow Jr - this is what you call major fire-power on your offense.  If the Buckeyes are going to beat Miami, they will have to be at the absolute top of their game.

Now, the "OSU has no prayer talk."  There has been an incredible amount of focus on the Buckeyes offensive woes late in the season and the fact that Ohio State squeaked by some mediocre opponents.  Not surprisingly, you don't hear the Buckeye bashers bringing up Miami's struggles this year.  A four-loss Florida State team missed a field goal as time expired that would have beaten the #1 ranked Hurricanes on their home field.  A one-win Rutgers team led Miami 18-7 and had a TD called back that would have given them a 25-7 lead.  Miami then scored on the next play and the whole game turned.  Miami was outrushed by West Virginia 324 to 116 yards.  Just a few weeks ago, Pittsburgh had 28 first downs to Miami's 14, in a game played in Miami.  Is Miami better than these examples make them out to be?  Yes.  Are they invincible?  Not hardly.

There just has not been a truly dominant team in college football this year.  Now, last year's Miami team...now that was a dominant team that just rolled over quality teams left and right.  You truly had to catch some big breaks to beat them, and no one did.  This year's squad is a very good Miami team that is beatable, just like any other team in the country. 

December 4, 11:45 p.m.

Buckeyes land two verbal commitments

It was reported earlier today that Ohio State received a verbal commitment from Warrensville Heights defensive tackle David Patterson for the 2003 class.  Patterson is a consensus top five prospect in the state and considered by some to be a top five national DT prospect.  Patterson had a whopping 18 sacks for Warrensville Heights this season.  He appears to be the total package that you would want in a defensive tackle and is a huge get for the Buckeyes.  

Tonight it was reported that Massillon Perry offensive lineman Kirk Barton committed to Ohio State.  Barton just recently received a scholarship offer from the Ohio State coaches, and it did not take him long to pull the trigger.  Barton is not appearing on any national lists, but the Buckeye coaches must have seen something they liked in this kid recently.  Barton is an excellent student with a GPA in the mid 3's and scored very high on his ACT.  Barton is one of the "newer" type of linemen recruits for Ohio State.  He weighs just 265 pounds.  That is quite a few pounds less than the most of the offensive linemen that were coming through the doors a few years back.  Barton excels at run blocking.

MVP Countdown

We'll start today with #10 and count down to #1 (with #1 being Ohio State's MVP this year in my mind.)  Whenever I post, I'll list the new Buckeye player in the MVP countdown.

#10 Darrion Scott. The former West Virginian laid the wood with the best of them this year.  Who can forget his jarring hit on Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser or his vicious sack of Cincinnati QB Gino Guidugli creating a key fumble that was recovered by Ohio State.  Scott got to opposing QB's more than any other Buckeye this year, chalking up 8.5 sacks.  Scott is one of the best DE's in the Big Ten.  He plays the run well as well as being a good pass rusher.  Also, Scott was the one knocked the ball free from Michigan quarterback John Navarre late in the 4th quarter that ended a key Michigan drive.  He was one of the many players that has been an intregal part of this team's success.  

All-Americans

Congratulations to safety Mike Doss, MLB Matt Wilhelm and punter Andy Groom, who were selected as first team All-Americans by the Football Writer's Association.  This selection makes Mike Doss a three-time All-American at Ohio State.  The last Buckeye to do this was punter Tom Skladany.  Doss has certainly got the most out of coming back for his senior year, wouldn't you say?  Matt Wilhelm's play, as much as Doss', was absolutely key in helping this Buckeye team go 13-0 this year. Former walk-on Andy Groom has come a long way since being the backup punter to B.J. Sander.  And Groom was not one of the ten finalists for the Ray Guy Award that is 
supposed to go to the nation's best punter.  Say what? 

Coach Dantonio

Is it just me, or does this guy not get nearly enough attention for the great job he has done this year?  There is one team in the nation that allows less points than the Buckeyes and that is Kansas State.  But I'll take the Buckeye defense over Kansas State's and anyone else's for that matter.  (And playing the out-of-conference schedule that K State plays should be illegal.) 

Jim Tressel's involvement in the defensive strategy?  None.  Mark Dantonio is the man here.  Some fans have referred to Coach Tressel as a micro-manager, but Tressel understands that he has one of the best assistants in the country in Mark Dantonio.  No micro-managing needed here.  Tressel recognizes the talents of his defensive coordinator.

On second thought, maybe it is good that there is little attention paid to Dantonio.  I don't want to hear his name start coming up for every coaching vacancy in the country.  But I still don't understand why his name is not mentioned more.  Fred Pagac Sr. and Jon Tenuta were mentioned all the time when the Ohio State defense excelled under their leadership.  Well, if Ohio State can shut down a team like Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, maybe more people will take notice.

December 1, 11:30 p.m.

Riley Gone

It was reported earlier this evening that Ja Ja Riley would be leaving Ohio State's football program.  Riley was the 4th team tailback and saw little action this year.  This leaves just three scholarship tailbacks on the roster.  More on the situation as it becomes available.

Recruiting

The recruiting page was updated earlier today and some additions were made to the page this evening.  Click here to check it out.

November 29, 2:00 p.m.

Recruiting

Okay, the season is now over and I have a four day weekend.  The recruiting page WILL be updated by midnight, Sunday.  For now, let's take a bird's eye view of Buckeye recruiting.

Unlike last year, this year's class of seniors seems to want to wait to make a decision.  Last year there was a flurry of early commitments everywhere and it seemed to have a domino effect.  Many prospects did not want to get left out in the cold, so they committed early.

So far, Ohio State has just 5 verbal commitments.  I will have a page (like previous year's) listing OSU's verbals with summaries by the end of the weekend.  Louise Irizarry is the biggest catch.  Irizarry is considered to be one of the top 3 TE prospects nationally.  He excels at pass catching and can stretch the field.  Irizarry had talked about taking other visits, and he still might, but look for Irizarry to sign with Ohio State in February.

Wide Receiver Devin Jordan from Massillon Washington put up big numbers again this year even with star quarterback Justin Zwick gone.  Jordan is a big target and sources say he is getting better and better.  Jordan was Ohio State's second verbal commitment.

Quarterback Todd Boeckman was Ohio State's 5th commitment.  He had a decent, but not outstanding year for St. Henry this past season.  Boeckman does not have the physical skills that Notre Dame bound, central Ohio QB Brady Quinn has, but Boeckman is the son of a coach.  And there are so many good QB's with average physical skills that outperform more gifted QB's all the time at every level.

Curt Lukens committed to Ohio State after the coaches offered him at the OSU camp last summer.  Lukens, who has outstanding athletic ability, could play safety or linebacker at Ohio State.  Lukens hails from North Canton Hoover.  He is a bit undersized to play LB at the next level, but there is a good chance he ends up there after he gains muscle weight.

The other Buckeye commitment that I have yet to mention was Ohio State's first verbal.  Tony Gonzalez, from Cleveland St Ignatius, could play WR, CB, or safety at Ohio State.  He has great pure speed and grabbed everyone's attention when he lit it up in the state championship a year ago.

Ohio State is still looking good for top Ohio prospects CB Donté Whitner (Cleveland Glenville), CB/WR Darius Hiley (Cleveland Glenville) and DE/DT David Patterson (Warrensville Heights.)  Hiley still needs to qualify, but it seems there is a probable chance of that happening.  These three are the type of prospects that can write their ticket anywhere they want to go.  Some consider Whitner to be the #1 CB prospect in the country.

There are mixed reports on Prescott Burgess, the highly touted safety from Warren Harding.  Heading into this year, most considered Burgess to be the #1 overall prospect in Ohio. Burgess was slowed by an injury for most of the year and didn't get to show much.  One rumor mill has him favoring Michigan, but the most reliable sources still think OSU looks very good on this one.

Massillon Washington linebacker Shawn Crable could leave the state.  He is another guy who can write his ticket anywhere.  Crable is taking hard looks at Ohio State, Michigan, Miami (FL), Pittsburgh and Southern Cal.  Ohio State is still in the running here, but this is a tough one to call.  Crable is now being recruited as a linebacker and not a defensive end.  He finished the season very, very strong.

Sian Cotton, a DT/OL from Akron SVSM still appears to be an OSU lean, although this is not a certainty.  Cotton wants to play DT at the next level, and it is possible that the OSU coaches may prefer him as an O-lineman.

Brandon Maupin, from West Chester Lakota, is an absolute physical specimen, albeit raw.  Ohio State is looking very good with Maupin.  Maupin could play on either the O-line or the D-line at the next level.

Ohio State's next verbal commitment?  It could be linebacker Reggie Smith from East Cleveland Shaw.  Ohio State has now offered and Smith wants to be a Buckeye.  He must still qualify, however.  Smith's stock has increased dramatically since August.  Smith has drawn comparisons to current Buckeye linebacker Cie Grant.

Brady Quinn?  Don't believe the rumors.  There is very little chance he changes his mind.  There is still the best of chances that he signs with Notre Dame on signing day, despite a recent meeting with Buckeye assistant coach Luke Fickell.  I will provide a prompt update if this situation changes, but I do not expect it to.

What else?  Oh, out of state prospects.  Let's start with the top dog, in Ohio State's case.  This would be Michael Bush from Louisville, Kentucky.  There is a decent chance Bush will be Kentucky's Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball this year.  He can play WR, QB, safety, LB and also returns kicks.  He is quite the all around talent and is one of the top overall national prospects at any position.  Bush wants to take a shot at QB, and the Buckeye coaches are not going to argue with him.  He is so talented that they will give him a shot just about anywhere if they can get him.  There seems to be a good chance (better than 50%) that the Buckeyes land Bush.  There are even rumors that he may have committed to OSU already, but this has not been confirmed.  He could play basketball at Ohio State as well.  Bush goes 6-3 to 6-4, weighs in the 225 to 235 range and can move for a big guy.  He also has an excellent arm.

Joel Holler, is an offensive tackle prospect from Pennsylvania and is considered to be one of the top 10 O-line prospects nationally.  Holler visited for the Ohio State  Michigan game and came away very impressed.  It is a tight battle for Holler with Penn State, Miami and Va Tech also in the picture.  This would be huge if Ohio State could land Holler.   

Defensive End Mario Williams, from North Carolina, committed to North Carolina State some time ago, but has continued to shop around.  Williams is considered to be one of the top 10 to 15 DE prospects nationally.  He also visited Ohio State for the Michigan game and came away impressed.  Will it be enough to sway Williams from NC State?  Maybe not, but we shall see.  Williams will make an official announcement on December 11th.

There are still many prospects that OSU has offered or keeping an eye on that I have not mentioned.  Look for more prospect updates on the recruiting page by the end of the weekend.

All-Big Ten Team 

The choices for the All Big Ten teams were released a few days ago.  Here is a link to the teams from the Big Ten website.

The Buckeyes that made the team were:

Coaches selections  1st team  Darrion Scott, Matt Wilhelm, Chris Gamble (as a CB), Mike Doss and Andy Groom.  2nd team  Craig Krenzel, Maurice Clarett, Michael Jenkins, Shane Olivea, Mike Nugent, Tim Anderson, Kenny Peterson, Will Smith and Cie Grant.

Mike Doss was selected as the Coaches Big Ten defensive player of the year.  Maurice Clarett was selected as the Coaches Big Ten freshman of the year.

Media selections  1st team  Maurice Clarett, Mike Nugent, Matt Wilhelm, Mike Doss and Andy Groom.  2nd team  Craig Krenzel, Michael Jenkins, Shane Olivea, Darrion Scott, Will Smith and Chris Gamble (as a CB.)

Maurice Clarett was selected as the Media's Big Ten freshman of the year.

All in all, 14 members of Ohio State's 24 man two-deep received 1st or 2nd team All-Big Ten honors.  Dustin Fox, Donnie Nickey and Alex Stepanovich received honorable mention honors.

Worthy of Mention

Will Smith was voted a 2nd team All Big Ten player by both the media and the coaches.  I am surprised I have not heard comments about him being overrated or having a down year with only 5 sacks.  This is not my feeling at all; I am just used to the negative press Ohio State gets and comments some uneducated fans make.

Smith has turned out to be almost a better run stuffer than a pass rusher.  His play against the run this year has been outstanding.  As for the pass rush, again, I'll go back to my comments earlier this year.  With Ohio State playing so many spread offenses early in the year, it was hard for the Buckeye D-line to record many sacks.  QB's were taking short drops and getting rid of the ball quickly.  Now, several Buckeye linemen were getting good pressure on these QB's forcing bad throws and were often planting the QB after he got rid of the ball.  The result of the latter was the opposing QB wearing down as games went on and throwing more and more bad passes.  (See Jason Gesser.)  Also, with Smith's athletic ability being off-the-charts and the Buckeyes defensive scheme, Smith was often asked to drop back in coverage in an effort to confuse QB's as opposed to rushing the QB.  And Smith led all Buckeye linemen in tackles.  He covers a lot ground for a DE.

Bottom line, I think Will Smith had a very good year and was an integral part of this team.

I also think it is worth noting that Donnie Nickey really picked up his game after the Wisconsin game, which was his worst game of the year.  He may not be a big play guy, but he was very steady late in the year, was not a liability against either the run or the pass and the guy can lay the wood.  

Next, I also think it's worth mentioning that strong-side linebacker Robert Reynolds made some nice strides as the season went on.  Playing on the strong side, Reynolds has been the guy taking on blockers and freeing up Wilhelm to wreck havoc.  I think Reynolds has played pretty solidly as of late and think he will be a starter again next year, contrary to opinions of many Buckeye fans.

Next, I have never hidden my love for Ben Hartsock.  He is the perfect kind of player you want.  He has a great attitude and has played his role as a blocking TE with few balls thrown his way with no complaints this year.  He is an outstanding blocker, one of the best blocking TE's Ohio State has ever had.  There are other good TE's in the Big Ten like Bennie Jopru and Dallas Clark that get more glory with the amount of catches they have, but Hartsock is the perfect TE for Ohio State and is as good as either of these two.  Hartsock HAS to be a captain next year.

Buckeye-Hurricane Match-up?

I guess it is time to start talking about a potential match-up in the Fiesta Bowl, and the odds on favorite to be the Buckeye's opponent is the Miami Hurricanes.  They could lose to either Syracuse or Virginia Tech, but I don't think it will happen.

I said about a month ago that I gave Ohio State the edge in a match-up with Miami.  Since then, I have watched quite a few minutes of Miami games.  I have to be honest; I think you have to give the edge to Miami.  Now, can Ohio State win this game?  Absolutely.  Is the projected spread of 13 or 14 points too high?  Absolutely.  I would expect the spread to be closer to 10 or 11 when (and if) it actually comes out.

You have to be able to score on Ohio State's defense and that has not been an easy task even for the best offenses.  Some "numbers for dummies" as the Columbus Dispatch likes to term them:

          2 - the number of touchdowns the Ohio State
                    defense has given up in the last 22 quarters

          38 - the number of points Texas Tech averaged 
                    per game this year against teams whose
                    nickname is not a type of poisonous nut

          7 - the number of points Texas Tech put on the
                    board against Ohio State before the Bucks
                    adjusted to a prevent type of defense after
                    Ohio State took a 38-7 lead

          39 - the number of points Penn State averaged 
                    against teams that don't have a head coach  
                    named Jim Tressel

          7 - the number of points Penn State scored 
                    against OSU this year

          36 - the number of points Washington State is 
                    averaging against teams they didn't play in
                    Columbus, Ohio this year

          7 - the number of points WSU scored against OSU
                    this year

          31 - the number of points Purdue averaged per
                    game this year against teams that don't 
                    dress in scarlet in gray 

          6 - the number of points Purdue scored against 
                    OSU this year

          31 - the number of points Minnesota averaged per 
                    game against teams that don't have a fan that
                    goes by the nickname "The Neutron Man"

          3 - the number of points the Goophers scored 
                    against OSU in their match-up earlier this year

Some may say that a few of these teams do not have good offenses.  Well, I can tell you that Washington State and Texas Tech sure know how to put points on the board.

Back to the overall match-up.  It is hypocritical for Ohio State fans to say they watched Miami play Pittsburgh and to make comments about how average (or worse) Miami looked.  This is hypocritical unless you acknowledge that this is similar to how the Buckeyes have looked in certain games.

Fact is, Miami can turn it on when they feel the need to.  They are as explosive as any team in the land.  They often look sluggish for a few quarters and then score 3 TD's in 10 minutes.  They are well coached and they are a very talented football team.

Thing is, Miami seems to get bored at times.  They have won 32 consecutive games and realize that they can and will beat you if they play their game.  If they take Ohio State lightly, they may pay for it in the worst way.  And even if they don't take Ohio State lightly, they will still be facing a defense that is far better than anything they have seen this year. 

There of course will be much more OSU-Miami breakdowns and discussions on this page if this game materializes, but right now, I think you have to give Miami the edge.  They have been there before, they are deeper than Ohio State and when they play their game, to me, they look like the best team in America.

On the other hand, there was little wrong with Ohio State's offense when Maurice Clarett was healthy.  If Clarett is close to 100%, which seems to be probably, this game could be a lot more interesting than the so-called experts think it will be.

MVP?

Who is the Buckeyes MVP this year?  What a hard question to answer.  I think there are legitimately 7 or more candidates that you could make a decent case for.  With each of these candidates, you can probably say that Ohio State would not be undefeated this year without them.  I guess this is what it takes to run the table in the regular season, going 13-0.  As you can probably see, there is a poll to the left asking your opinion on the MVP.  I will chime in on my opinion by the end of the weekend.

November 24, 4:00 p.m.

The Game, the Emotion, Misc. 

I have so many random type thoughts about so many things, it's best that I just ramble for a while.

--It was an odd feeling for me.  It was surreal.  I just stood in the stadium with my arms up in the air for a long period of time, just watching the celebration.  I was not about to run out on the field.  I just wanted to watch and try to soak it all in.  I don't know, it was just a strange feeling, because I have never experienced this.  I was in grade school in '79, so I was a little young to recognize the true importance of the win.  And now, we've had so many seasons spoiled late in the year, usually in this game, it was just so hard for it to really sink in...what had just happened.  My eyes watered once or twice as the feeling swept over me, but I'm not sure it has even sunken in all the way yet right now.

--The Game was as classic as it gets.  It was a "throw-back" type ground-it-out, black and blue type Woody-Bo battle; it was beautiful.  I'll take that kind of game over a 51-44 shootout any day of the week.  14-9.  Now that is Ohio State-Michigan.  Before the game, I was very calm and the electricity had not hit me until the Michigan band came on the field.  Then I knew it was Ohio State-Michigan and that it did not get any finer than this.  

--Michigan had a great game plan designed for Ohio State and had the Buckeye defense off balance for much of the first half.  I also commend John Navarre who is being criticized as we speak.  I have seen how tough it has been on other QB's against this Buckeye defense, so I know this was no easy task for Navarre.  He did not get it done in the closing minutes, but Navarre has come a long way in a year.  Their running game was very strong for a while, but I thought the Buckeye defense just refused to allow it any more in the second half.

--The atmosphere before these big games continues to get crazy and crazier.  I was heading south on Rt. 315 at 9:00 a.m. (3+ hours until game time) and had to get off at Henderson Road because of traffic.  Traffic had slowed down to 5 miles per hour at that point, so I zipped over to Olentangy River Road.  The parking lots and fields seemed to be closed to being full at 9:15.  Lane Avenue, the Hineygate and the tailgates were all insane at 9:30 a.m.  When I walked from Lane Avenue through the tunnel that separates St. John Arena and The French Field House, at 11:20 there was so noise and Buckeye cheers and chants.  I, for some reason, was more calm than normal big games, but the overall atmosphere was simply nuts.

--During the game, or at least at the beginning of the game, the Michigan offense did an excellent job of subduing the Ohio State crowd.  The UM offense converted so many third downs the OSU crowd began to get quieter and quieter as the first half when on.  At halftime, I had a sick feeling that Michigan could once again ruin a perfect season of ours.  I was giving up, but it had gotten more real to me that Michigan could very well win this game and spoil everything.again.  When the second half started and the Michigan offense took the field, the Buckeye fans seemed to get a second wind and felt a sense of urgency, probably similar to the sense of urgency the players got at halftime.  The crowd was louder than it had been during the second quarter.  And in the 4th quarter, when the pass to Clarett set up the Buckeye touchdown, I think just about everybody could feel it; the Buckeyes had at least a decent shot of winning the game with late-game heroics once again. The place was in a frenzy.  And when Maurice Hall scored on the option, I thought the house was going to come down.  Absolute hysteria.  To me, the short pass to Terry Glenn in '95 that Glenn took about 80 yards to the house was the loudest, craziest moment I have seen in the 'Shoe, but Hall's TD certainly rivals it.

--I can not be happier about the class our team has shown this year.  There has been no showboating in the end zones.  There has been no celebrating on other school's mid-field logo.  There has been no taunting on the field.  Coach Tressel has undoubtedly taught this team how to win the right way.  The off-the-field incidents have been disappointing, but I truly believe these incidents continue to decrease until Tressel has an entire team of kids that he has recruited.  I never want to follow a team that win with the style that Michigan Fab Five won or have a Ken-yon Rambo for a captain again.  When you go 13-0, you can let your record speak for yourself.

--A few weeks ago I heard (I believe it was) two Chicago radio personalities after the Illinois taking many potshots at this Ohio State team.  This has become the norm, and I have actually begun to enjoy it.  That's right, I hope they keep giving us no respect, continue to bring up our offensive problems, conveniently forget to mention how our defense shuts EVERYONE down and continue to talk about what a mismatch Ohio State-Miami would be in the Fiesta.  So many comments make it to team bulletin boards now, in the information age, so we know that this can do nothing than further motivate this Buckeye football team.  And that will make winning a National Title that much sweeter.  But back to these two Chicago guys or maybe it was the Sports Reporters on ESPN on Sunday mornings, I don't know.  We hear so much of the negative Ohio State talk, it all just blends together for me.  Anyway, a sports personality made the comment that they did not see how Maurice Clarett could even help this team anymore this year even if he got healthy, that he has missed so many games and would be too rusty.  I chuckled at the time.  I said to myself, "Has this guy watched Clarett play this year and has he noticed the offense without him?"  This leads me to more talk about this amazing talent

--There isn't much else that can be said.  I know I keep repeating myself.  I am too young to remember Jim Brown, but Maurice Clarett is the most gifted tailback I have ever seen in my life.  I think of the movie "The Natural" with Robert Redford.  That is the best term I can thing of to describe Clarett, "a Natural."  Vision, awareness, decision making, cutting, speed, power, desire and a one-man motivator.  This kid is so gifted, it is ridiculous.  He changed his running style to protect his shoulder more and rely more on making people miss, and he still runs for 119 yards against a great run defense and averages 6.0 yards per carry.  <begin sarcasm font> It could be possible that the guy on the radio was wrong.  Clarett might have played a small role in Ohio State's victory yesterday.  <end sarcasm font> This kid ignores pain, wants the ball, and wants to win as much as anyone.  He is truly a special talent that Buckeye fans should appreciate while he is here.  

--Jim Tressel.  If it weren't for the fact that he was undefeated, this guy would be a horrible football coach.  (Don't even need the sarcasm font on that one.)  A friend of mine told me that one of the local stations had a camera down on the field that captured Kenny Peterson embracing Coach Tressel on the field amidst the celebration.  The microphone caught some of it as well.  You could hear Peterson telling the coach something along the lines of, "I am truly blessed that you are my coach."  My old man likes to use the term "Miracle Man."  I predicted 10-3 this year.  I honestly thought we were at least a year away, but here we are, 13-0.  We have caught some breaks here and there, but it is not purely a coincidence that this team is 7-0 in games where they trailed at some point during second half.  Great teams get it done when it counts.  This team has gotten it done when it counted.  And Tressel's "team" philosophy can not be understated.  This team has been truly that  a team, not to mention a family.  And those who cannot understand Jim Tressel's offensive philosophies, only needs to look at his championship runs.  This will be Coach Tressel's 7th trip to an NCAA title game and he is 4-2 coming into this one.  I feel the man understands more than most of us will ever realize.  We could not have made a better choice than Jim Tressel as our head coach.

--I have made a prediction on this page or the message board on the score of each game Tressel has coached and have had some mixed results.  I was actually 9-3 against the spread last year, but was only 7-5 straight up.  I predicted losses to Purdue and Michigan last year during their respective game weeks and predicted wins over Penn State, Wisconsin and South Carolina.  This year I am 13-0, having picked the Bucks each game week, but am just 7-6 against the spread.  As most realize, the Bucks were 8-0 at home against the spread this year and 0-5 on the road.  Now, that is pretty crazy.  The best bet?  Don't bet.  Make your predictions online or a message board like I do.  It's still fun. 

I will be out of town for a few days but may be able to update the site from the road.  Thanks for reading and enjoy the feeling.  There's no need to even start thinking about the Fiesta Bowl match-up right now.  At least, that is my opinion.  Don't take this for granted.  Going undefeated and beating Michigan to cap it all off does not happen very often.  Enjoy.







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