Did I Hear That Right?
This week's This and That: people saying dumb things, three for consideration, ’19 reaches 10, Buckeye bits and bobs, a star meets Stanley, the greatest of the thirteen.
Think Before You Speak
I'm generally a quiet person. I can talk for days about the Buckeyes and football in general. Movies and books are two other subjects that will get me talking. I'll also talk about anything hockey related as long as it doesn't pertain to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. But, overall, I'm a quiet person. I tend to think about a subject, do some research, and consider what I want to say before I open my mouth. Others don't do that. These are people who really need to think before speaking. Here are four examples of what I mean.
Example 1: In late April, former Michigan player Charles Woodson spoke at the school's commencement ceremony. Now, most, when speaking at an event like that, try to impart sage wisdom on the graduates. Wisdom they can use as their life moves forward. Instead, here is what Chucky told them: "I talked about Desmond (Howard) and myself running down that sideline to victory against you know who, and you know what, you guys haven't experienced that feeling very much against that school," Woodson said. "It hurts my heart, it really does. But I'm telling you here today, 212 days from now, your Michigan Wolverines team will go down to Columbus, march into that stadium and we will beat you know who to bring back that familiar feeling of victory back to The University of Michigan again." The crowd roared. Chucky smiled. Big deal.
Quite obviously "you know who" is Ohio State. The team Chucky's beloved alma mater has lost to 13 of the last 14 seasons. So, instead of giving the graduates sage wisdom, he chose to fill them with empty guarantees and false hope. His guarantee is far different from Jim Tressel telling a Buckeye basketball crowd, after he was hired in 2001, his team would beat Michigan in 310 days. Tressel coached the team and had a direct influence on the outcome of the game. Woodson has not been a part of the Michigan program in twenty years and will have nothing to do with what goes on when the teams meet in late November. An empty guarantee from a former player, who still believes it is the birthright of every Wolverine to experience beating their biggest rival.
Example 2: Some people just don't know when to stop talking. Charles Woodson is, obviously, one of them because he just HAD to say something else about the Michigan-Ohio State game. He said, "To be quite honest, I really feel like over the years, in recent years, there hasn’t been the emphasis that I’m used to being put on that game. Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That's not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here. We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it's 'Oh, it's another game.' It's not."
Chucky is right about one thing, it's not just another game. Coaches lost their jobs because they can't win often enough in this rivalry. John Cooper, Rich Rodriguez, and Brady Hoke all struggled to win enough or at all in college football's greatest rivalry. He's also correct in saying Michigan players weren't afraid to say they were going to beat Ohio State back in the 90's. They (and their fans) ran their mouths constantly about beating the Buckeyes in those days. But, here is what Woodson is missing about Ohio State's recent dominance, in particular during Urban Meyer's time in Columbus: unlike the 90's, when there were times John Cooper's OSU teams had as much or more talent than Michigan, yet still lost to them, the Buckeyes have more talent and better coaching than the Wolverines. Ohio State out-recruits, outcoaches, and outplays them each season. Also, I think Woodson is dead wrong in saying Michigan doesn't emphasize the rivalry enough. The one thing I'll give Wolverine players credit for, when playing the Buckeyes, they play hard, REALLY hard. The Buckeyes win for reasons I've already mentioned, but the Michigan players make the game a dogfight. Chucky is frustrated by seeing his alma mater lose to the Buckeyes each year and I love it because I never did like the guy.
Example 3: I completely understand why Nebraska fans are excited about the Cornhuskers' hire of Scott Frost as their new head coach. Frost just completed a remarkable turnaround at UCF, going from winless to undefeated in just a few short years. The Huskers program is just 19-19 over the past three seasons including a 4-8 record last year. So, I get the excitement over hiring Frost. What I can't quite wrap my head around is this statement from Nebraska AD Bill Moos as quoted by the Omaha World Herald: "You've got Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh thinking, 'We better put a little more into that Nebraska game coming up.' And that's the way we want it. They're running a little bit scared right now. And they won't admit it. We'll leave that at that."
I certainly hope he leaves it at that because he sounds ridiculous. The Buckeyes have outscored Nebraska 118-17 in their last two meetings. That's right, Moos is claiming the coach of a team, who has outscored his Cornhuskers by 101 points the last two seasons, is running scared. I firmly believe Nebraska will be better with Scott Frost. But, until the Huskers get faster and more athletic, the gap between them and the Buckeyes won't close that much. Could they throw a scare into Michigan? Possibly, but I still see the Wolverines beating them. I'm sure Moos is trying to create a buzz about the Nebraska program, but he sounded dumb doing it.
Example 4: USA Today handicapper/sports analyst Danny Sheridan has been around a long time. "With age comes wisdom" certainly doesn't apply to Sheridan after he tweeted this: "Penn State will smoke Ohio State in late September...Penn State will be a home underdog, and they will beat Ohio State by double digits." Wait...what? Double digits? Smoke them? More like what's Danny been smoking? To say he thinks they'll beat the Buckeyes is one thing, but double digits is a bit out there.
Penn State returns seven starters on offense, but only two on defense. Quarterback Trace McSorley returns, but they lost a ton of talent in All-American RB Saquon Barkley (the second pick of the NFL Draft in April), WR DaeSean Hamilton, and TE Mike Gesicki. I won't bore you with all of their individual stats; I'll just tell you those three combined for over 3,300 yards from scrimmage, which is 55% of the team's total from 2017. I know Penn State has stockpiled some talent and I know they're playing the Buckeyes at home, but that's a lot of production to replace. Combine that with trying to get nine new starters on defense ready to play an early season game against a team as talented as the Buckeyes, and you see why Sheridan's statement is absurd.
Four examples of people who needed to think before they spoke. Then again, maybe they really did consider what they were going to say before they started flapping their gums. That's scary to consider.
Twenty-five former Buckeyes are already enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. When the 76 player Football Bowl Subdivision ballot for this year was released recently, three former OSU players were among the nominees.
Keith Byars was runner-up to Doug Flutie for the 1984 Heisman Trophy. One of the most complete running backs I've ever seen. Far deserved the Heisman over Flutie, whose Boston College schedule included Western Carolina, Temple and Holy Cross. This is Byars' fifth year on the ballot.
Jim Otis led the Buckeyes in rushing for three straight seasons, including the national championship year of 1968. He was a first-team All-American in 1969. This is his tenth year as a Hall nominee.
Chris Ward is one of the great linemen in Buckeye history. He was a two-time first-team All-American in 1976 and '77 (unanimous). The Dayton native was the fourth overall pick of the 1978 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, and is in his second year on the ballot.
Small school players are also eligible for induction, so I was excited to see former Mount Union quarterback Bill Borchert nominated. Borchert led the Purple Raiders to back-to-back national championships in 1996 and'97. The three-time All-American won the Gagliardi Trophy (Division III's Heisman) in 1997 when he threw 63 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He's one of my all-time favorite college football players because of that accuracy. I loved watching him throw the ball and see him put it into a tight window time after time.
The Buckeyes’ 2019 recruiting class has its tenth member now that Buford, Georgia center Harry Miller’s commitment is official. Miller was waiting until his mission trip to Nicaragua in early July to make the announcement, so the kid’s his group is involved with could share in it. But, when that trip was canceled, Miller decided to inform everyone of his decision.
In Miller, the Buckeyes are getting the second-rated center in the Class of 2019 and 36th rated player overall. The 6’4”, 310-pounder is a 4.0 student and scored a 34 on the ACT. The mission work he does each summer should tell you all you need to know about his character.
A few happenings from the Scarlet and Gray world.
**Times for four of Ohio state’s games this fall have been set. The season opener against Oregon State on September 1st is a noon start and will be televised by ABC. The following week Rutgers comes to Ohio Stadium for a 3:30 kickoff on the Big Ten Network. The October 6th game with Indiana is at 3:30 or 4 with the network still to be determined. FOX has the Michigan game at noon on November 24th.
**The Buckeyes have announced they will play Toledo in 2022. OSU still has one non-conference opening to be filled for that season. They’ll, also, play Notre Dame in the season opening game.
**Former Buckeye defensive back Wayne Davis, who announced he was transferring last month, has said he is going to be playing at James Madison this fall. Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia the Dukes are an FCS program, who won the national championship in 2016 and finished as runner-up last year. Davis is eligible to play immediately.
**Buckeye long jumper Zack Bazile won the NCAA championship with a school record jump of 27’ 5.5”; he had the four longest jumps of the competition. It’s the school’s first track national championship since 1993. He was, also, a part of the national runner-up 4x100 relay team.
A Gr8 Championship
Alexander Ovechkin has finally won the Stanley Cup. I say finally because the greatest goal scorer of this generation has been chasing a championship, seemingly, forever. Unlike other years, Ovi had scoring help in the playoffs this time as his Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in 5 games in the finals. His joy as he hoisted and then skated with the Cup was infectious; you couldn’t help but smile with him. His enthusiasm and reaction to plays throughout the playoffs was so much fun to watch and a breath of fresh air in a league filled with far too many star, who have no personality. Each game for them is another day at the office. Not Ovi, he played with his heart on his sleeve each game during the post-season. Not since perennial all-star Ray Bourque, with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001, has a star player waited so long to win the Cup. Bourque won it in his 22nd and last season; Ovechkin just finished his 13th. Ovi was also named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the playoff MVP.
The Tremendous Machine
Forty-five years to the day, before Justify became the 13th winner of horse racing’s Triple crown, the greatest of those thirteen won his Triple Crown. On June 9th, 1973 Secretariat destroyed the other horses in that Belmont Stakes field by a mind-boggling 31 lengths and became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. His time of two minutes and twenty-four seconds was over two seconds faster than any other horse had run the mile and a half distance in that race, and is still the race record.
Announcer Chic Anderson’s line, “He is moving like a tremendous machine” is one of my all-time favorites. As a matter of fact, Anderson’s performance that day is nearly as legendary as Secretariat’s. He perfectly captured the mood of the crowd and his voice conveyed the excitement of the crowd as they began to realize what they were seeing, without going overboard as too many of today’s announcers do. Sports Illustrated thought so much of Anderson’s performance they recently did an article on it; you can read that by clicking here. Please take the time to watch the race and listen to Anderson’s call; it will only take a few minutes. You’ll be treated to the greatest performance in horse racing history, by the greatest horse in the sport’s history, along with a legendary moment in sports broadcasting.
Why am I writing about Alexander Ovechkin and Secretariat? Because it is only mid-June and I don’t feel like speculating about what may happen with the Buckeyes in a few months. Time to enjoy a carefree summer. Well, at least until the Buckeyes open camp in early August and then I’ll go back to worrying about them.