BANK Blog: What's Next For Bucks?

Ohio State lost once again to Purdue on the road, and instead of muddying the waters, did this loss actually provide some clarity to an otherwise forgettable year? Let's take another look at both the recent recruiting efforts, and the play on the field, in this blog on Ohio State football for the past week.

Everyone should agree that there are no good losses, but while most losses cause confusion and bring about doubts in the program, Ohio State's defeat on the road at Purdue might actually show where the program is headed moving forward.

COACHING DECISION: Is it now a given that Luke Fickell will not be given a long-term contract by Ohio State? Although obviously nothing will be said by the Buckeye administration, it looks apparent that Fickell will not be the choice going forward. Everyone can agree that he was given a terrible hand to play in this deal, but that's life in the coaching world, where nothing is fair. Even for Fickell, who is admirable for his loyalty and his dedication to Ohio State. But it looks like he will not be the permanent head coach going forward.

COACHING MOVE: Who would actually make the decision that true freshman Antonio Underwood would be a better replacement for injured J.B. Shugarts? Who actually thought Underwood at tackle, a position he's not suited to play, and leaving Andrew Norwell, a natural tackle, at guard was the way to go? Why not put Corey Linsley at guard, and slide Norwell out to his best position? Wait. They did do that, after watching the pitiful first half performance by the offensive line, but it was too little, too late. And this is in no way a criticism of Underwood, who isn't ready to play and might not be a tackle. Oh well, only a game and only a loss. Toast your Guinness, and say "Brilliant."

COACHING SEARCH: Assuming the administration has decided to move on to a full-blown coaching search, Urban Meyer has to be at the top of that list, or something is really wrong at Ohio State. Meyer is simply the best in the business, and Ohio State needs to do whatever is necessary to see if he wants to get back on the sidelines again. Numerous people close to Meyer feel he wants to return to coaching, and once that determination is made, Ohio State seems like the most logical destination. If you eliminate the NFL gold-rush opportunities, and you realistically see that Penn State is too toxic, you are left with Urban Meyer coaching at Ohio State in 2012. Should he decide to return and coach again, Ohio State is the clear favorite to land Urban Meyer for next season and beyond. Stay tuned.

IF NOT MEYER? Assuming Meyer says "No", where does that leave Ohio State? Forget the NFL pipe-dreams. It won't be Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Bill Belichick, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells or Mike McCarthy. So forget those fantasies. Who are the realistic candidates after Meyer? Look at Mark Dantonio, Bo Pellini and Tim Beckman as realistic possibilities. The big-names love to flirt with top jobs, but they rarely take them. Notre Dame was supposedly getting Bob Stoops, and ended up with a Big East coach. Florida was supposedly getting every big-name in the business, and settled for an unproven first-timer. Miami was supposedly getting Gruden, but ended up with a MAC guy. Meyer would be the home run hire for Ohio State, but after him it gets not quite so glamorous.

Ryan Shazier: Growing up before our eyes, and he will be on the field in every situation against Penn State. Shazier definitely made mistakes against Purdue, and being able to tackle Marve on the scramble sends the game to another overtime. He still is not quite aware of coverage responsibilities, but he's coming in that area. Shazier would be an effective blitzer, and the hope is that he is used in that role more going forward, especially with the four tackles not providing a consistent pass rush. But make no mistake, Ryan Shazier is on his way to being a star.

Braxton Miller: Lost in the shuffle of losing a game on a missed extra point is the fact that the freshman quarterback can perform when needed most, and NEVER underestimate this quality in Braxton Miller. He can make things happen when the chips are down, and the fact that the coaches were unable to get a play in on time against Wisconsin, led to his touchdown throw. I still think Miller is going to be a great quarterback, and his progress will only improve with a new offensive staff. He has a chance to be as good as anyone that has played the position at Ohio State.

Washington AND Stanford: They will announce their choice next Tuesday at the school. There is a lot of rumbling that Dwayne Stanford will be announcing for Oregon, and that is entirely possible, but I still see both players in Columbus next year. Adolphus Washington will be signing with Ohio State on National Signing Day. Take THAT to the BANK!!! Enough said.

KOZAN"S TIME? Alex is supposed to take a few more visits before announcing his college choice. Once he got the Ohio State offer it shot the Buckeyes to the top, and I see him in Columbus next season. Decision might not come for a while, but Ohio State is in the lead.

COLLECTING WIDEOUTS? With Frank Epitropoulos, Roger Lewis and Michael Thomas in the hopper, and Stanford looking like a possibility, why is Ohio State bringing in Herbert Waters and Ricquan Southward for official visits this weekends? Seems strange, but maybe someone in the above group is an offensive tackle? Not that they need offensive tackles at all .

SAY MORE ON SE'VON: Not much has changed with Canton McKinley star Se'Von Pittman, and I think it's reasonable to expect him to sign with Ohio State when the final bell rings. As always, the key indicator is the official visit. If it happens, Se'Von Pittman will be a Buckeye.

Brionte Dunn......DONE? Not at all, and I believe he will look to take all five visits. Three of them could come to Miami, USC and Penn State, and all three have no shot. This will come down to Ohio State and Michigan, with the Buckeyes having the home court advantage, and the Wolverines having a lot in their favor. Look for a decision close to Signing Day.

WILL LUKE BE AT OHIO STATE NEXT YEAR? In most cases, make that in all cases, the new head coach doesn't want the old head coach in the same state, let alone a part of the staff. But this situation could be different. Luke never wanted this job, and only took it out of loyalty to the school he loves. Hopefully, a new head coach sees Fickell as a huge asset, and not a threat, and keeps him on. Back to linebackers coach, or possibly defensive coordinator, with the added perk of associate head coach, would probably be enticing for the Ohio boy to stay home and get back to preparing to be a future head coach. Not sure if he could get the Ohio State job as a career assistant, and I'm also not sure he wants to travel the globe as a head coach trying to work his way back. Fickell might be content to spend his entire coaching career at Ohio State, and keep his family rooted in Columbus. In a year where the bloom has come off the rose of college football, Luke Fickell is the one coach that has earned much praise and admiration for how he has handled a tough situation. He has done his job to the best of his ability, and nobody has the right to ask for more.

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