And Away We Go...
Updated: Jan 19, 2018
Welcome to the T&T Buckeye Blog. While this blog is very much about Ohio State Buckeyes football, I’ll, also, touch on college football in general and a bit on the NFL with a focus on the Cleveland Browns (yes folks, I’m a Browns fan). You’re going to get a football "this and that" (T&T, get it?) in my blog. I’m not trying to compete with the outstanding websites already covering the Buckeyes and I won’t be at Ohio State practices or games giving you an inside look. I’m doing this to have fun and write about some things I enjoy. I’ll try to provide information, insight and analysis of the Buckeyes with the hope you’ll learn something and, maybe, watch the game differently than before.
For those who know me, you already know my background, but for those who don’t, here is a little about me. I spent 27 ½ years as a TV news photographer and covered countless Ohio State, WVU, Browns, and Steeler games. I’ve covered 3 Sugar Bowls, along with the Rose, Fiesta and Outback bowls as well as the Stagg Bowl, the Division III national championship game in Salem, Virginia. In January of 2015, I was sent to Dallas to cover the Buckeyes in the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game; this was the second time I was fortunate enough to see the Buckeyes win the National Championship in person.
I’m not a great writer, so forgive any punctuation or grammatical errors. As I said, I just want to have fun writing about something I love: Ohio State football. I do enjoy feedback and invite your comments, but please be respectful. That’s enough talk about me, let’s talk about the Buckeyes.
One More Look Back
The Buckeyes’ 24-7 Cotton Bowl win over USC is nearly three weeks old and has been dissected over and over, so I won’t waste time going over the details. I do want to say, for me and many others who watched these two programs do battle in Rose Bowls in the 70’s, this win is particularly satisfying because it isn’t just the Buckeyes finally getting a win over the Trojans after all these years; its how they got the win that most warms my Buckeye fan heart. The Woody Hayes-led Buckeye teams of the 70’s often struggled against West Coast teams which were much faster and more athletic. OSU lost the 1971, 73, 75 and 76 Rose Bowls, while the Big Ten struggled to a 1-9 Rose Bowl record for the decade. Only a 42-21 thrashing of the Trojans by the Buckeyes in the 1974 game saved the conference from a winless decade in the “Grandaddy of Them All.” Ohio State and Michigan (the only two schools to represent the conference in the game during that decade) lost to teams led by guys with names like Tiki and Paco whose blonde hair always seemed to stretch beyond the neckline of the back of their jersey. Most looked like they’d be more at home with a surfboard under their arm than a football.
My, my, how times have changed. The Buckeyes didn’t just kick sand in the faces of the surfer boys, they stole their girlfriends, smashed their surfboards and showed potential recruits if they want to sit at the cool kid table, they’d better make their way to Columbus, Ohio. The OSU defense was noticeably faster, more athletic and more physical than Southern Cal, holding the Trojans to just 7 points and doing it without their All-American cornerback (more on Denzel Ward in a bit). The “Rushmen” package overwhelmed USC’s offensive line for 8 sacks. Faster. More athletic. More physical. That’s the Ohio State Buckeyes I’m talking about. Faster, more athletic and more physical than the Southern California Trojans. For those of us who remember when it was the other way around all those years ago, this Cotton Bowl win is extra sweet. Oh, by the way, the Big Ten went 4-0 against the Pac 12 in bowl games this season. Yeah, that 1-9 Rose Bowl record the Big Ten had in the 70’s sure seems a long time ago now. I take back what I said about the win over USC being extra sweet, it was extra, EXTRA sweet.
To Play Or Not To Play
All-American cornerback Denzel Ward joined the growing trend of players sitting out bowl games. Ward decided to leave the Buckeyes a year early and is in line to be a first round draft pick in a few months and stands to make millions. Those who support a player’s decision to sit say they are risking injury in a meaningless game and are doing what is best for themselves. Here’s how I look at it: players who choose to sit are turning their back on the teammates and coaches who helped develop them and put them in a position to make those millions. If I’m an NFL general manager, I’d never draft one of these players. They have “selfish” written all over them. As far as those “meaningless” bowl games are concerned, two Buckeyes, who are also leaving early for the draft, played in the Cotton Bowl. Defensive end Sam Hubbard had 2 ½ sacks, while linebacker Jerome Baker was credited with 17 tackles. Obviously the game meant something to those two.
Down The Stretch They Come
We’re into the final few weeks of the 2018 recruiting cycle and the Buckeyes are poised to close strong. Sitting behind only Georgia in the recruiting rankings, Urban Meyer and his staff are hoping for good news in the next few days as they await the decisions of a few high profile recruits in the next few days. New Jersey defensive end prospect Tyler Friday will announce his decision on Friday afternoon (gotta love the kid’s sense of irony) and is expected to choose the Buckeyes over Michigan and Alabama. Urban Meyer and his staff are also working to bring in another offensive tackle in this class. They only have one signed so far (Max Wray from Tennessee) and they most certainly need to lure another.
I would not feel right about this first blog if I did not mention the recent passing of play-by-play legend Keith Jackson. For me, he wasn’t just the “voice of college football” when I was growing up in the 70’s, he WAS college football. The college football TV landscape of the 70’s was very different than what it is today. There was usually one game shown by ABC most Saturdays and Jackson was who we heard call those games. He had a down home, folksy kind of style whose “Whoooooooa Nelly!” became a, sort of, trademark. Buckeye fans will probably best remember him for his call of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl when OSU upset the Miami Hurricanes to win the National Championship. Along with hockey’s Doc Emrick, Jackson is, in my opinion, one of the two greatest play-by-play announcers in broadcast history.
Early next week I'll have a report on the five Buckeyes playing in all-star games this weekend and a recruiting update with, hopefully, some good news. Thanks for taking the time to read my first effort, hope you enjoyed it.