Mr. Bucknuts - Bucket of Bullets

Why weight?…That's a question posed by those anxious few who think that the athletic department should loosen up the purse strings to upgrade the strength and conditioning facilities at the WHAC. If you've never been through the weight room there, it is overwhelming and impressive. But, it seems, not nearly as overwhelming and impressive as Texas or Pitt or Nebraska or some of the other top-tier schools with whom we compete for top-tier recruits.

In fact, some of the recruits have mentioned that precise fact in the past years. And since Ohio State has the best football stadium in the country and a state-of-the-art basketball arena, soccer stadium, baseball stadium natatorium, etc., why shouldn't our training facility be the best? The short answer - it should! So the football staff has ratcheted up the pressure to have a major remodeling job done to both help the athletes and help the recruiting.

How can you help, you ask? I asked that question to Coach Tressel last week and he jumped all over it. He said, instead of complaining about how long it takes to fund these projects, put your money where your mouth is and send the money! (Or words to that effect.) To whom, you ask? Here's who: Tim Hof, Associate AD - Development and Marketing, 235 St. John Arena, Columbus, Ohio 43210.

That's right, your donations do count as a vote to expand the training facilities! Vote early and vote often…

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The name-drop continues…Yes, you read right: Coach T underwent an agonizing 45- minute meeting with a most grateful Mr. Bucknuts. One of the areas we touched on was "internet message boards" and the effect they have on the team. Specifically, Tressel mentioned Bucknuts and past reports on our boards about certain plays being run during practices.

He said, "There are 12 assistants who "vote" at our meetings and each vote is twelve-to-one to close the practices to the public. Fortunately, for the public - I am the one!" Well, no longer. The next day, the program announced that spring practices will be closed to the public and that the only shot you will have at seeing our heroes will be at the Scarlet and Gray game on April 26.

I'm not sure I have a problem with this policy. OSU is now a lightning rod for snoops and spies and it's awfully hard to do all the things you want to do while there is intense public scrutiny (just ask Tommy Franks…). I think Jim Tressel struggled mightily to keep the team available to the fans but in these days of astounding communication speed, the juice just wasn't worth the squeeze.

If you disagree, there are still those message boards to express yourself…

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Snooping where I shouldn't…To continue on this theme of Coach Tressel and my invasion of his privacy, I was cooling my heels in his outer office and trying to take in all the file folders full of information listed on the bookshelves behind me. There were the standard files: "Speaking Dates for 2004" (huge), "Regret Letters to Recruits" (also huge) and "Chances Michigan Has of Beating OSU" (very small). The one file that stood out to me was labeled "Poems From Fans". Not only does this factoid give you an idea of the man's organization - and collection - skills, it also tells you what is important to him; and fans are at the top of that list…

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Stories that can never be written…Last week, I regaled you with my favorite recruiting story of the year. That was a story I had filed away in my fevered mind along with another one I had planned to write back in October. Why didn't print make it to paper for that particular idea? Yes, laziness is one reason. But the other reason is that the story, itself, took a bizarre - and positive - turn before I could figure out how to write it.

The feature I had in mind became "The Story That Wasn't a Story".

The theme appeared (to me at the time) to be: how different the season outcomes would have been if our #1 cornerbacks hadn't turned pro early - two years in a row. Here was the example: Nate Clements left early before the 2001 season. Instead of having Clements and Derek Ross as our CB's - an appealing look - we ended up with Ross and Cie Grant trying to fill the obvious gap.

Not to pick on Cie Grant, but he was a linebacker trying to be a cornerback. I was the only one not picking on Cie Grant as every opposing quarterback tried him on that year. Imagine the difference with Nate Clements manning that position! I posit that our 7-5 season would have been 9-3 0r even 10-2. That's right - that is how big a difference he could have made. Would Wisconsin have come back like they did? Or Penn State? I think not…

So fast forward to the beginning of last season where Dustin Fox was doing a good job at one corner but where we were trying to find the answer on the other side. I started thinking: just how different that "problem" would be if Derek Ross had come back. We would have had our proverbial lock-down corner in Ross and a very capable Fox as support.

A pretty good idea for a thesis, no? Well…no. Because right as that story began to write itself, it went wrong. In a very positive way Chris Gamble came out of nowhere and became one of the great stories of our championship year. Or maybe any year. A weakness became a strength and a complaint became a blessing. Where would we have been without Chris Gamble on defense lat year? Once again: maybe 11-3 or 10-2. I dunno. But it's a good bet we wouldn't have run the table and been national champs…

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One last Gamble…Heisman campaigns depend far more on hype and spin than they do on playing performance. Every so often (not very), those planets all line up and you have a player emerge who is the most valuable performer as well as one who catches the imagination of the public. I hereby nominate Chris Gamble in that category…

Much was made a few years back of that Ohio renegade, Charles Woodson, and his "two-way", status as he primped and promoted his way to the Heisman award. But Charles rarely played offense, and even his defensive stats weren't that glittering. Now here comes Chris Gamble - a kid who played as many as 120 plays in a single game. Who shut down and disrupted opponent offenses while becoming Instant Offense himself. Did I mention his electric appearances on special teams?

If Gamble turns in a couple of long TD receptions, returns one or two punts for the distance and has some highlight picks this year, we should see him posing in New York as the first truly deserving Heisman guy in a long time. And this time, it won't be a forced pose…

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Stats, lies, and videotape…The videos are pouring in! Kirk estimates that we have more than 50 players in our burgeoning library of 2004 recruits. Some are absolutely dazzling and some are, well…less-than-dazzling. Most of the recruits we are interviewing (Anthony Morelli and Brian Hoyer, as examples…) have been very willing to forward us some highlights.

So the new ambitious Bucknuts video project is reaching reality. By the end of this week, we hope to have edited down a few highlight sequences and we'll bring them to the front page of Bucknuts. After we see those presentations - and your feedback - we will start to build the library in earnest. And in a lot of other guys, too…

Contact Mr. Bucknuts at

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