A Season Of Disrespect
It began in early August when Brett McMurphy published a one-source story based on an interview with Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of former Buckeye wide receivers coach Zach Smith, where she made claims that Urban Meyer knew his former assistant had abused her. It was open season on Meyer, the Buckeyes, and Buckeye fans everywhere well into the early part of the season. When they finally began playing actual games the team struggled to run the ball on offense, and had issues on defense to say the least. Nobody in the national media took them serious. Wins at a “neutral site” against TCU, and on the road at Penn State did little to change anyone’s mind. They were called the worst 4-0, 5-0, or 6-0 team ever. I wrote on a few occasions I didn’t think they were a playoff team, but I was being a realist; not insulting and disrespectful. Then came a bad loss to Purdue, and the doubters wrote them off.
The initial College Football Playoff rankings came out at the end of October. The committee placed the Buckeyes tenth behind such heavyweights as Washington State, and Kentucky. It got worse from there. The following week Kentucky dropped out of the top ten, but West Virginia was moved ahead of OSU, who remained tenth. Could there be anything more disrespectful than THAT outfit being moved in front of you? As an avid let’s just say non-fan of WVU (putting it
mildly, folks) I really can’t think of much worse than the Mountaineers being moved in front of the Buckeyes, but the committee sure did try. After Ohio State went ON THE ROAD and beat Michigan State, who the committee had ranked 18th , all of us good Buckeye fans felt our favorite team would move up a bit in the rankings since WVU lost. Not so fast the committee said. For their win AT HOME over 24th ranked Cincinnati, UCF was moved ahead of the Buckeyes and into ninth. When asked why, committee chair Rob Mullens said UCF looks to be the more complete team. Talk about disrespect! A team from the American Athletic Conference is considered more complete than OSU while getting to play the likes of East Carolina, Navy, and Temple each week. That’s pretty damned insulting.
All the while OSU fans had been told there was no way they could beat Michigan. The feeling was they weren’t just going to lose, they were going to get smoked by their biggest rival. Jim Harbaugh was finally going to get a win over the Buckeyes, the Wolverines were going to the playoff, and the Revenge Tour was going to reduce Ohio Stadium to rubble. The Buckeyes were
underdogs at home. Everywhere you turned you were hearing or reading how little chance they had. Michigan players and fans crossed the line from confidence to arrogance. It was almost amazing to see the complete disdain most had for this 10-1 team. As we all know, Dwayne Haskins laid waste to the Wolverine defense like another great Ohio field general did to Atlanta a few years ago (William Tecumseh Sherman was born in Lancaster). A week later the Buckeyes comfortably dispatched Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game. But, when the committee released their final rankings the Buckeyes were sixth behind Oklahoma in fourth, and two-loss Georgia in fifth. You’re a one-loss champion of the second-best conference of the 2018 season, and the committee places you behind a team with TWO LOSSES. I’m not sure if I can ever remember an Ohio State team being treated with such disrespect.
The joy of Haskins being invited to the Heisman ceremony was quickly tempered by how the national media treated him. All of the talk focused on the other two finalists; Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and Tua Taglaivoa of Alabama. It was like Haskins didn’t exist to the media. Interviews were done with Murray and Taglaivoa sitting side-by-side without Haskins. Graphics comparing just the two of them dotted various websites. How far did the disrespect of Ohio State’s quarterback go? One writer asked his opinion on who should win between Murray and Taglaivoa. Haskins is a classy kid, and to his credit gave a very diplomatic answer, but the level of disrespect shown him was off the charts. To make matters worse, only 46 of 925 voters had him first on their ballot, and 37 percent left him completely off. As you can guess it gets worse. The Big Ten’s most prolific single-season passer has not been named to a first or second-team All-American by a solitary organization. Not one. He was named to the Associated Press’ third team. Throw in how some national player of the year, and quarterback awards did not name him as a finalist, and you realize the level of disrespect shown to the most prolific single-season passer in Big ten history leaves you almost speechless.
Watching all of this happen was very frustrating for Buckeye fans. I feel like no matter what they did as a team, or players did as individuals it wasn’t good enough for far too many. Leading up to the Michigan game I think the Buckeyes finally became fed up with all of the negative comments, and disrespect shown them. They took out their frustrations on the Wolverines, and then Northwestern. Washington is next, and the Buckeyes are not happy with the way their quarterback has been treated lately. We’ll talk more about that in a few weeks.
Sign Here, Please
The early signing period for college football is just under a week away; it runs from the 19th through the 21st. As of right now, Harry Miller, a five-star center from Georgia, is the only Buckeye commit to announce he’ll be signing his letter of intent that day. Offensive tackle Doug Nester from Huntington, West Virginia was planning on signing, but the coaching change has caused him to back off. Although he hasn’t decommitted, his status is a bit up in the air even after a visit to the Ohio State campus last week. Most still expect him to still sign with the Buckeyes in February.
One other who could sign during the three days is Olentangy Orange High School’s Zach Harrison. 247 Sports has him listed as the number four overall prospect, and number one strongside defensive end in the country. For the last month most were of the opinion he was leaning towards Michigan, but he visited campus to meet with OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and then was on hand to watch the Buckeyes crush the Wolverines. Although 247 Sports still believes he is leaning towards the Wolverines, others think he’s drifted back to the Buckeyes. Here is the interesting thing about the feeling he was leaning towards Michigan: he never once said anything about that. He’s not one of these social media diva recruits who seeks attention. He’s quiet, keeps to himself, and would prefer to be left alone until he makes a decision. His coach said he doesn’t think any decision will be made public until the 19th. Harrison, the top recruit in the state, wants to enroll early.
So far not one OSU commitment has changed his mind in the time since Urban Meyer announced his retirement, and Ryan Day was named as his replacement. Five-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson of Austin, Texas said Oklahoma has been working hard to try to get him to flip to them, but his commitment to OSU has remained strong. Give Day and his staff a lot of credit for working to hang onto each player they’ve received a pledge from so far. They’ve even managed to grow the class with the addition of St.Ignatius linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. It’s still very early, but Day’s work so far seems to suggest he may be able to recruit at the very high level necessary to keep the Buckeyes where they are in the college football world.
Receivers coach Brian Hartline has had the interim tag removed over the weekend. Hartline did a fantastic job of developing this group of Buckeye receivers into one of the most dangerous in the country. His success eases my worries about losing so much experience from this group. Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin, and C.J. Saunders are seniors. K.J. Hill is a junior, but could leave for the NFL. That leaves Austin Mack (I’m assuming he’s returning), Binjimen Victor, and Chris Olave as the only wide receivers with appreciable experience. Hartline will have his work cut out for him, but if this season is any indication of his coaching ability, this group will shine again next year.
CBS Sports named center Michael Jordan a first-team All-American. This is the second time he’s been honored with a first-team selection; Sports Illustrated did so last week. He was named to the Associated Press’ third team earlier this week. Also, Jordan Fuller was named a first-team Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The junior safety from New Jersey is a business major, and has a 3.81 GPA. He was a second-team choice last year.
OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was a candidate for the Temple head coaching job. It is believed Schiano is not coming back to the Buckeyes because Ryan Day is reportedly trying to hang onto co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who Oklahoma is trying to lure away. We all know how awful the Sooners’ defense was this year, so I’m sure they’d love to have a guy like Grinch. Undoubtedly Day would like to move Grinch into the defensive coordinator spot. I think Schiano has one of the best defensive minds in football, but in light of the struggles the OSU defense had this season, I think it is time for a change.
There are rumblings about the Big Ten possibly expanding in the next 6-7 years. Reports say the conference is looking at pursuing Texas and Oklahoma around 2024. This is all preliminary stuff,
but I’m guessing the timing would be right because I do expect to see another major shift in the landscape of college football in the next ten years. Bringing those two teams into the conference would allow the continuation of one of college football’s great lost rivalries. Oklahoma and Nebraska have not met since the Big XII Championship game in 2010, and have not met on a yearly basis since the late 90’s. When the Big Ten expanded they went to great lengths to preserve the traditional rivalries. The dumbasses at the Big XII didn’t do that. How do you not take steps to keep a rivalry like that alive?
ESPN’s Todd McShay has released his first mock draft. He has Nick Bosa going first overall to the Cardinals, Dwayne Haskins tenth to the Giants, and the Patriots taking Dre’mont Jones late in the first found. A few other notable projections are Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary being taken immediately after Bosa by the 49ers. McShay has the Bengals taking LSU linebacker Devin White, and the Browns selecting Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Oliver won the Outland Trophy last year for the nation’s outstanding interior lineman, but suffered a knee bruise in October, and did not play again. But, a lot is going to happen between now and draft day in late April.
Dre’mont Jones said on Wednesday he will play in the Rose Bowl, but will declare for the NFL Draft. He said he has to finish what he and his brothers started. Music to my ears. So nice to see a guy who feels he owes it to his teammates to play in the bowl rather than worrying about his wallet. Think Jon Bosa noticed? Probably not. I'm sure he's too busy hunched over a calculator trying to figure out how much money Nick will make. There was some question as to if Jones would play, but it has been well known he was not going to be returning for his senior season. Having him around will go a long way in helping the Buckeyes handle Washington on New Year’s Day. Dwayne Haskins has maintained he will wait until after the Rose Bowl to make his decision. Mike Weber is another who said he will wait until after the bowl to decide if he'll return or declare for the NFL Draft. Underclassmen have until January 14th to decide.
Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich is just one of those people. The kind who never know when to shut up. He’s the one who coined the Wolverines’ season the “Revenge Tour”, and took a lot of abuse after the Buckeyes chalk outlined he and his mates Thanksgiving weekend. So, it came as no surprise when he came up with another gem the other day. He said the loss to his school’s arch rival was a mirage. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. Even the Detroit Free Press got a laugh out of this one. Fans everywhere had a field day with it. When you never once beat your biggest rival in your career, you need to just quietly go away instead of making stupid statements.
I’ve maintained there won’t be changes to the College Football Playoff until some of the heavy hitters who are continually left out begin to make noise. Some heavy hitters are beginning to make noise, but not necessarily ones who are being left out. According to Nicole Auerbach from
The Athletic, Big XII commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, and WVU president Dr. Gordon Gee say it’s time to begin discussing expanding the playoff, and possibly as soon as 2020. Some believe an expansion to eight teams would necessitate doing away with conference championship games. Not so fast said the SEC. They released a statement saying there is no way their championship contest because the entire freakin’ world tunes in to watch the anointed ones play for superiority in the conference God created. Considering they’re benefiting from an pretty much a stacked deck each season when it comes to the playoff, why would they want to change anything? I get the feeling this is far from over, and let’s all keep in mind there are more who have a say in what goes on than the arrogant-beyond-words SEC brass.
For the first time in 39 years the Buckeyes will wear their scarlet jerseys in the Rose Bowl.
A Mae West Time Of Year
Legendary Hollywood bombshell, and noted college football fan Mae West once said of bowl games, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” I love bowl games, and agree completely with that statement. But, I know others don’t, and to those people I say why? This is something people seem to get really upset about. “THERE ARE TOO MANY BOWL GAMES!!,” they’ll exclaim
with their faces red, and veins bulging. I’ve thought a few were going to do a Nikita Khrushchev by taking off their shoe, and pounding it on a table (you younger folks can look up that one). Here is
my advice if you’re one of those who thinks there are too many bowl games: don’t watch them. That’s right, don't pay any attention to them. Find something else to watch. You nice people act like you’re obligated to tune in. You’re not. So, instead of getting your knickers in a knot over a couple of middle-of-the-road teams duking it out in the Cheez-It Bowl, simply watch something else. Watch a movie. Check out The Guest Book on TBS; excellent show. Watch college basketball. No, wait. Don’t do that, you’ll want to gouge out your eyes. Anyway, my point is you don’t have to watch these bowl games. Ease the stress they seem to cause you, and do something else.
On Saturday there are five bowl games. I’ll see all or part of everyone of them as I will the other 34. I’ve been fortunate enough to cover six of them (3 Sugar Bowls, Rose, Outback, and Fiesta),
and I can tell you they are a great experience for the fans, players, and media. Not every player is going to the NFL, or will even be invited to a rookie tryout. To me bowl games are an added part of the college football experience for those who will never play again once their eligibility is used up. I have a hard time believing it’s a bad thing for kids who go to school in Statesboro, Georgia and Ypsilanti, Michigan to visit Las Vegas. Georgia Southern and Eastern Michigan are
meeting in the Las Vegas Bowl, and I’m sure it will be an experience for them to visit a place like that. As it will be for the teams visiting New York to play in the Pinstipe Bowl, or Albuquerque for the New Mexico Bowl (they have a really cool trophy). Sorry, I don’t see the harm in this. One argument says these games are meaningless. Maybe to you, and the arrogant media. Maybe in the grand scheme of determining a national champion they’re meaningless, but not to those players. I see guys fighting, scratching, and clawing for all they’re worth to win these games. Meaningless? No, they’re not.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. “I didn’t know Mae West was a college football fan.” She was. Trust me.
A Subtle Shift
On Sunday when the Browns’ Baker Mayfield fired a touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry into a window that didn’t exist, I could almost feel the most faint, subtle shift beginning to happen. I ran the play back, and watched it time and again. He was forced from the pocket. Escaped the pressure, and moved to his left. Kept his eyes up field. Squared his shoulders to the line of scrimmage, and completed a pass in a way very few in the NFL can. He put the ball into a window that wasn’t there. I labeled it an “Oh shit” throw. If you’re a Bengals, Ravens, or Steelers fan with any football sense at all, you’re thinking, “Oh shit! We have to deal with this guy twice a season for how many more years?”
Thanks to GM John Dorsey the Browns are building something. They have some good pieces in place. Long term pieces. A franchise quarterback, an elite pass-rushing defensive end, and a shutdown corner are the keystones. The shift I’m beginning to see won’t happen next year, or even possibly the year after because they are a long way from a finished product. What I’m talking about is five years from now that division will look drastically different. Before any Steeler fans get all wound up, I’m not saying they’re dead in the water right now. But, Ben Roethlisberger is not going to play forever, and quarterbacks capable of winning championships are not easy to find. I’m not even saying the Browns are going to win a Super Bowl, or even get to one. It is hard to get there, and harder to win it. What I’m saying is they have a GM who understands talent evaluation, and how to draft. Combine that with a quarterback who shows the promise of Mayfield, and I can see that division looking much different in a few years.
Mount Union will try to bring another national championship to the Great State of Ohio when they take on Mary Hardin-Baylor for the Division III title Friday night at 7:00 on ESPNU. I’ll be watching. Enjoy the rest of your week.