Some Fun Before The Storm
This week’s this and that: a bit of fun before it all begins, a new volunteer for the future, odds and ends, new kids on the block, another goodbye.
Favs and Not-So-Favs
Since this is my last blog before I start to get serious about the upcoming season, I thought I’d have a bit of fun and let you in on some of my favorite and not-so-favorite things in college football. They say there are two kinds of people in the world. Now, I know what you’re thinking when I say that, “Those who firmly believe Led Zeppelin is the greatest band in rock history…..and those of us who know better” (I had to throw that one in for my friend Doug Campbell, whose head just exploded reading that). As much as I agree with that line of thinking, no, that’s not it. The two kinds of people I’m speaking of are those who make lists and those who don’t. Well, I guess I’m one of those who do, so here are a few lists of what I like and don’t like in college football.
All-time Favorite Buckeyes (in no particular order)
1. Archie Griffin
2. Eddie George
3. Zeke Elliot
4. Orlando Pace
5. Chris Spielman
6. J.T. Barrett
7. Shawn Springs
8. Joe Germaine
9. John Brockington
10. Sam Hubbard
Notice I said these are my “favorites”, not “best” Buckeyes. This was a tough list because there are so many names to consider; Troy Smith, Tom Klaban, Rex Kern and Tim Spencer, to name a few. Although he’s the only two-time Heisman winner, I think Griffin is a very underrated player; he was dynamic with the football in his hands. Pace is simply the greatest collegiate lineman I’ve ever seen. Springs was a character and so much fun to interview; when he’d see my partner, Bill Phillips, and myself coming his way, it was always, “Hey, Steubenville, how you doing?” When I first saw Germaine in a OSU uniform, I thought there was no way that skinny kid would ever play a down for the Buckeyes; I was quite wrong. Only recently did I consider Brockington for this list. He was an outstanding young person, who loved being a Buckeye. He felt it so important to make a good first impression on Woody Hayes, he borrowed a suit jacket to wear when he met the coach. The only problem was the sleeves on the jacket came just halfway down his forearms..lol!! Hubbard and Denzel Ward both decided to forego their last year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. Ward turned his back on his teammates and chose to not play in the Cotton Bowl. Hubbard didn’t just play in the game, he played like a madman and helped the Buckeyes to a win over USC.
Favorite Teams (besides the Buckeyes)
1. Any of the Ohio-based MAC teams
3. New Mexico St.
5. Army/Navy/Air Force
Unfortunately the MAC is one of the two weakest conferences in the country (along with the Sun Belt), but I do support Toledo, Bowling Green, Kent State, Ohio, and Miami week in and week out. Cincinnati is quite simply a Ohio school. When New Mexico St. came to Ohio Stadium in 2009, some thought they were the worst opponent the Buckeyes had ever played. At one time, the program had so little money they had to ask the community to donate lunches so the players could eat during August camp. I was thrilled to see them get a win this past season in their first bowl game since 1961; their program has come such a long way. My son’s former youth hockey teammate, Austin Dorris of Shadyside, is a tight end for Indiana. If you can’t figure out why I’m a fan of the service academies, I’m not going to tell you.
Teams I Can’t Stand
2. Any SEC team (Auburn and Alabama in particular)
4. Penn State
It’s quite simple with WVU, I’m from Ohio. For those who don’t know, the two just don’t mix. That school should change their colors to dark green. Just dark green, because their fans are so jealous of OSU’s success over the years. Do I really have to explain why I don’t like SEC teams? For the record, I’ve never liked Alabama; this is nothing new. Michigan is, well, Michigan. I don’t think there is a fan base I dislike more than Penn State. In their “Cult of Joe Pa” world, their school was unjustly punished for covering it up and their beloved coach vilified for enabling a child molester. They claim Paterno did what he was legally obligated to do when he told his superiors of what was going on. PLEASE!!! The guy pretty much ran the school; if he wanted to put a stop to what Jerry Sandusky was doing, he could have. Instead he chose to protect his program. I’ve never liked Clemson and care even less for them now since head coach Dabo Swinney used scumbag recruiting tactics to poach Jackson Carmen out of Ohio (the state’s top player in the 2018 recruiting class).
Bucket List Bowl Games (ones I’d like to attend)
3. New Mexico
4. Heart of Dallas
I’ve been to the Rose Bowl, but would love to go back. The Orange Bowl is simply an old, traditional game I’d like to see. The state of New Mexico is gorgeous and I’ve always liked this bowl. I’d love to see a game at the old Cotton Bowl stadium; that’s why the Heart of Dallas Bowl makes the list. College football in the Bahamas; not hard to figure this one out.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading through those. This is the type of blog you get when it’s mid-July, I don’t feel like getting too serious about the Buckeyes just yet, and I don’t have any other ideas.
Nashville inside linebacker Kane Patterson became the fourteenth member of the 2019 recruiting class recently. That’s right, Urban Meyer has plucked yet another gem out of the Volunteer state. The 6’-1”, 225 pound four-star recruit is the number eight inside linebacker in the country. Eleven Warriors describes him as “a physical, hard-nosed linebacker who loves to rush the quarterback and punish ball carriers. He not only shows tremendous quickness off the snap when asked to attack off the edge, but also displays the ability to read and react to plays while manning the inside position.” Sound a bit like Tuf Borland to you? Yeah, me too.
Jim Harbaugh is making a real push to get a commitment from Ohio’s number one recruit, defensive end Zach Harrison of Olentangy Orange. He’s even sinking to Dabo Swinney-like depths by telling Harrison that Buckeye defensive line coach Larry Johnson is considering retirement. Johnson heard these rumors during the winter and put an end to them himself. But, keep in mind we’re dealing with 17 and 18-year old kids and they can be easily swayed by things like this. Harbaugh is desperate to climb past the Buckeyes and Penn State, so this type of recruiting from him doesn’t surprise me. Harrison is playing this one close to the vest and is still planning on a decision in mid-August. Of the thirteen recruiting experts 247 Sports uses to compile their rankings, twelve think Harrison will commit to OSU. I agree with them because he loves Larry Johnson and the chance to be coached by THE d-line coach in college football will be too much to pass up.
Buckeye Bits And Bobs
Urban Meyer celebrated his 54th birthday recently. So, of course, the speculation as to how much longer he will coach begins again. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing this and plan on doing everything I can to tune it out and enjoy the upcoming season.
Former Buckeye receiver Devin Smith, a key member of the 2015 national champions, has been released by the New York Jets. He was drafted in the second round by them in 2015, but has played in only fourteen games because of knee injuries and missed all of the 2017 season. The Massillon native has ten catches for 135 yards and a touchdown in his NFL career. His 2,500 receiving yards puts him fifth on OSU’s all-time career list, and is second in career receiving touchdowns with 30.
Anthony Gonzalez, another former Buckeye receiver, who battled knee problems in an injury-shortened NFL career, has entered the world of politics. He won the Republican primary for Ohio’s 16th District and will now face Democrat Susan Moran in November’s election. “Gonzo” was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He caught 94 passes for over 1,200 yards in his first two seasons before those knee injuries forced him to retire before the 2012 season. Buckeye fans remember him best for his circus catch in 2005 against Michigan, in the waning moments, to setup the game-winning touchdown by Antonio Pittman. Take a minute to watch it again; it never fails to make me smile.
Welcome To The Party!
Seven schools will be playing football for the first time in 2019. That brings the total number of football playing schools to 778. Joining the fun this year are Allen University in Columbia, SC; Alvernia University in Reading, PA: Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN; Kelser University in West Palm Beach, FL; Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI: Ottawa University-Arizona in Surprise, AZ, and the University of New England in Biddeford, ME.
Ok, admit it, you’re thinking the same thing I am. “Well, I guess the SEC has new meat for their non-conference schedules.” Wheeling Jesuit’s program plays its first games next season. I’m sure Cardinal head coach Zac Bruney has heard from a few SEC schools already.
Saying Goodbye Way Too Soon
Former Buckeye defensive end Mike Kudla died suddenly over the weekend at the age of just 34. He played for the Buckeyes from 2002-2005 and was named first team All-Big Ten in ’05. Quite possibly his best performance came in his last game as a Buckeye, when he had three sacks against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. He went undrafted and was signed by the Steelers as a free agent. A hamstring injury ended his career before he could appear in a game. Kudla, a product of Highland High School in Medina County, is legendary for his feats in the weight room at Ohio State. He still holds the team record in the bench press at 610 pounds. His 45 reps with 225 pounds is tied for third most ever at the NFL Combine.
It’s mid-July in the Ohio Valley and that means it’s time for Jamboree in the Hills. A week later brings the OVAC All-Star game. The Buckeyes open practice not long after that. Guess which one I’m looking forward to most.