SAD TO SAY GOODBYE: I think it's pretty obvious to all that Ohio State will be heading in a different direction with the coaching situation, and many Buckeye assistant coaches will not be back next season. We can debate the on-field merits of each one of them, and probably get different opinions on each coach. One thing has to be said, and that is from seeing all these guys at camp, on the road, and in high schools, every single one of them represented Ohio State with class and dignity. These are all good men, and I would hope all of them land on their feet and continue to coach, if that's what they desire. Lost in a disappointing season is the fact that these men will be facing an unknown future for the first time in years. Good luck to all and thank you for all you've done.
LUKE'S FATE? Hard to see a scenario that includes Luke Fickell as the Ohio State head coach going forward, but I can definitely see a spot for him on the next staff. Fickell is a great recruiter, and he has shown himself to be more than loyal to Ohio State, which would be the first question from the new head coach. With his lack of ego, Fickell would be perfect to return to his old spot, or even take on a new challenge of being sole defensive coordinator. We hear so much anymore about "true" Buckeyes, or "fake" Buckeyes. Understand one thing: Luke Fickell is a TRUE Buckeye. And one of the top young coaches in America. Hopefully, there is a place for Luke Fickell with the next head coach.
COACHING DECISIONS? Now that we've propped them up, let's rip them to shreds over some decisions. Hate to harp on it, but some of the decisions against Penn State were maddening. The rollout by Braxton Miller where he hit DeVier Posey on the comeback route would have worked 35 times in a row, even if you told Penn State it was coming. It was the easiest play of the year. They ran it once. Jake Stoneburner was so open on the pass they threw to him, you would think they would come back to him often, right? Nope. They insist on throwing the ball to Philly Brown, whose batting average would be good in MLB, but terrible in NCAA. Where was Devin Smith? You don't like big, fast guys that can get open and catch the football? Carlos Hyde running back kickoffs? Why not Chris Carter or Tommy Brown? Jordan Hall handing off in the Wildcat? Braxton Miller is the ultimate Wildcat, and he's actually used to handing the ball off since he does it 75 times per game. Carlos Hyde at Wildcat? Geeze, why not let Johnathan Hankins run it? Or put Antonio Underwood back in at offensive tackle? That one worked well last week, didn't it? Why not get crazy and throw it to Reid Fragel? It would take precision, as opposed to other passes that require non-precision? Whatever.
MICHIGAN WEEK: What if someone offered you Ohio State +8 one year ago today? Most of us would have bet the farm, the kids, the cars and the future tattoos on that one. How things can change in a year. I do see this game as a close contest, and one decided in the final minute. This Buckeye team has played hard every play this season, and I suspect they will play harder this week. Will it be good enough? While Ohio State plays hard every game, they do not play well every game. They will need to play well this week. In the past few years, Ohio State could win this game with beer and whiskey in the Gatorade jugs, but that isn't the case anymore. RichRod ain't walking through that door in Ann Arbor, and there clearly is a new sheriff in town. And his name is Brady Hoke.
BRIONTE DONE? It's certainly not trending toward Ohio State and a visit this week to Michigan for The Game is a sure sign of that. I still think he is undecided, but Ohio State is certainly not in a command position for Brionte Dunn. Losing another five-star to Michigan would be a kick in the pants, the front side, and it could be coming in the next few days. Now that he has decided to enroll early, it seems he has his destination picked and it doesn't sound like Columbus, but there is still time for Ohio State to react. I do not think hiring Urban Meyer will be any help at all in this case, and the Buckeye hope would be that Dunn is still available at that point. He was asked Sunday about changing his status to "uncommitted", but he insisted he was still committed to Ohio State. Let's see where things stand one week from today.
SE'VON STILL THINKING? Unlike Dunn, the Se'Von Pittman deal could take a lot longer, and he will probably want to see what happens with the Ohio State coaching situation before making a final decision. If he visits officially, I see a switch to Ohio State. And he might not need that visit, because he's been to Ohio State often in the past and is very familiar with the program.
SIMON SAYS? Although he is unlikely to raise his draft status by staying, look for Johnny Simon to spurn the NFL draft and remain a Buckeye. Simon loves playing for Ohio State, much like James Laurinaitis or Cameron Heyward, and feels the NFL can wait one more year. Johnny Simon will stay one more year.
RYAN'S HOPE? There is some truth that there was some animosity between Ryan Shazier's family and Urban Meyer, in the final days of 2010, but there is NO TRUTH that Shazier would look to transfer should Meyer be hired. Ryan has a plan in place, and sitting out next season isn't an option. Look for two more years in a Buckeye uniform for Shazier. And the goal for next year is to play at 225-pounds, while keeping his speed.
BAD CALLS: It's only normal for those not in the know to take shots at the players when things go wrong, and it's certainly the easy way out as a journalist. Or a former player. The TRUTH is this team has played hard every week of this season, and the players have given maximum effort throughout. They haven't always played well, but they have always played hard. Should Ohio State win this week, said misinformed morons will be proclaiming how amazing it was the Buckeyes pulled it together for one week. If the Buckeyes lose, of course it will be "I told you so." Love people that have two opinions ready to go, depending upon the outcome. Gutless wonders. Had any of these people spoken to either players, or coaches, off the record after the Penn State game, they wouldn't be so clueless. I did speak to players and a few assistants directly after the game, not as a reporter, and saw the hurt and disappointment. And the caring. Being outside forces you to guess. Incorrectly some times.
BREWSTER'S MILLIONS: Actually, I have no clue if he is worth millions to the NFL, but he has been worth that to Ohio State the past FIVE years, yes, the past five years. Michael Brewster put more into recruiting the year before he came to Ohio State than any coach I've ever witnessed. Urban Meyer would be proud to have a Mike Brewster on his staff, because the work ethic is that strong. Michael, like Luke Fickell, is a TRUE Buckeye. I don't think he helped himself at all by coming back to this mess for his senior season, certainly not with the NFL. Had he left last year he would have likely been the first or second center chosen, but he came back because he couldn't turn his back on his family when they needed him. He was cheated out of being a season-long captain, and if ANY player in Ohio State history deserved that honor, it was Michael Brewster. That was a bad decision by this staff, and one Brewster will learn from and use in the future. Life ain't always fair young man. If the Ohio State fan base knew the truth of what this player put into this program, and how much he loves Ohio State, they would think higher of him than they already do. Maybe someone needs to write a book, and tell the truth? Hmmmmm.
IS IT URBAN TIME? Yes, it is, and I'm looking for the announcement in the next week or weeks. There was a school of thought that Meyer would want to see the final NCAA ruling in print before deciding, but that might not be true. Meyer's relationship with the NCAA is the polar opposite of Jim Tressel's, and the thinking is that they will alert Meyer far before they tell Ohio State what the final ruling will be. After years of working close with the NCAA and building a solid reputation, Meyer would be in a position to ask them about Ohio State's situation, and get the truth. He has helped the NCAA with rule-breakers in the past, and this could be his reward for that service.
POTENTIAL ASSISTANTS? I've heard so many assistant coach names thrown about, that Urban Meyer could probably hire 85, and let each player have his own coach. I don't have any insight into the potential staff, other than to say there's NO WAY Meyer hires both coordinators from LSU, and you can Take That To The BANK. You might poach one from The Hatter, but you aren't stealing two from him.