It was interesting to read a piece in the Detroit News a while back called: Michigan scrambles to upgrade facilities (www.detnews.com/2003/um/0307/14/c01-216073.htm).
The story talked about how Ohio State's athletic facilities are far and away the best in the Big Ten and that rival Big Ten schools – namely UM and Michigan State – are concerned that they have fallen too far behind.
Here are a few excerpts from the piece:
"It's tough. What Ohio State has done has skewed everything. You go down there and look at what they're doing ... they've done hundreds of millions of dollars in facilities. When you go down there and see what they've got, and then you go back and see what you've got, it gets a little bit disconcerting," said Greg Ianni, Michigan State's associate athletic director for facilities.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr also got in a quick take.
"We've taken a backseat – we've fallen behind," Carr said.
The writer of the story, Angelique S. Chengelis, was candid in her opinion.
"Arch rival Ohio State glistens and has set the mark in the Big Ten with a renovated football stadium, a baseball stadium that rivals the newer minor-league parks, a stunning basketball arena and plans for a new pool, tennis center and boat house," she wrote.
This is nothing new to anyone who has been on Ohio State's campus the last five years, but it is nice to see the schools up north sweat a little bit. They are genuinely concerned that they'll never be able to catch up to OSU when it comes to sports facilities.
With so many quality seniors on the roster this year, it will be interesting to see who Ohio State's captains will be. Obviously, Craig Krenzel will probably be one. But who will the other three be?
My guess? I would say Krenzel and Stepanovich on offense and Anderson and Scott on defense. Of course, Jim Tressel could elect to go with rotating captains again, like OSU did on offense last year, but chances are they will go with the more traditional approach this year.
Any way you look at it, a couple of worthy candidates will be left out. The players vote on their captains about a week before the opener.
Until the NCAA changes the way it calculates graduation rates, there is no reason to pay any attention to them. Should OSU be penalized because Austin Moherman transferred after the 1999 season? Nope. But the fact is that transfers count against a school's grad rate, even if they graduate from another school a few years later. If someone transfers to another college, they should no longer be factored in, but that's not the way the NCAA looks at it.
Now, if someone drops out of school and never goes back, that of course should count against the school.
The really gray area is a case like Eddie George. Because he didn't graduate from OSU until 2000, five years after his college career ended, he counts against the school's graduation rate. Here is someone who didn't have to go back and get his degree, but he did. However, the NCAA pretends as if he never graduated at all.
Word is, the NCAA is considering a change to its system… finally. Until then, don't get worked up about grad rates.
BADGERED AT NIGHT
Like most Buckeye fans, you probably cringed when you heard that the Oct. 11
game at Wisconsin had been moved to night. For the exact same reasons we love
night games in the Horseshoe, we hate night games on the road, especially at
Wisconsin. The rowdy Wisky fans will be a little extra sauced for the game and
those penny-stuffed marshmallows will be flying all night.
But which team has the advantage here? Ohio State has two weeks to prepare for the Badgers, while Wisconsin has to play at Penn State the previous week.
So, what would you rather have? A home night game, or two-weeks to prepare for a road game? Tough call. Let's not forget how good Purdue played against the Bucks last year with two weeks to prepare (albeit at home). But, as Washington will find out in less than a month, it's hard to top a home night game.
For now, we'll call it a wash. Unfortunately, there's no Brooks Bollinger to fire up the OSU defense this year.
BIG TEN v. BIG 12
I've read a lot of conference rankings lately and most publications rank the Big 12 over the Big Ten. Their rationale is that the Big 12 has three teams in the top five (Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas State). Point well taken.
But considering the Big Ten is coming off a season in which it was 5-2 in bowl games – with most of its teams coming in as heavy underdogs – The Big Ten should be ranked right up there as well.
And it's more than just about winning bowl games last year. The teams that
won those bowl games have nearly everyone back this year. The 2003 rosters of
Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota look very similar to their
On the other hand, Penn State and Iowa – the teams that lost their bowl games last year – have several key replacements to make.
But the top five is as strong as I can remember – especially the top four of OSU, UM, PU and UW.
Who knows if the Big Ten has surpassed the Big 12 (and SEC) for college football supremacy. But if it hasn't, it's darn near close.
While we're on the topic, here is my prediction for the 2003 Big Ten
1. Ohio State
5. Penn State
11. Michigan State
I re-watched last year's Ohio State-Michigan game the other day and one statistic is still staggering: 3rd down conversions. Michigan was 12-of-21, while the Bucks were a paltry 1-of-7.
After all those years in the 1990s when OSU statistically out-played Michigan, but didn't win, boy it felt nice to turn the tables on them. The Wolverines were simply crisper than the Bucks in The Game last year, but you won't find anyone in Columbus who will apologize for that win.
One more thought from that game: If that was Maurice Clarett's last game in the Horseshoe, what a way to go out. That was one of the best performances by a Buckeye I can remember. You could tell his shoulder was bothering him all game, but he sucked it up and played. And played well.
IN HIS REALM
Just before the Fiesta Bowl last year, a Columbus rapper named "Realm" released a track called "Welcome to Buckeye City." Even if you don't like rap, check it out. It is really good. You can buy it in most Ohio music stores, or download it off one of the file sharing sites like kazaa.com. Most Buckeye fans have known about this for a while, but if you haven't heard it, make it a point to sometime. Some of the people mentioned in the song are: Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Jesse Owens and Buster Douglas.
My favorite line from the song: Eddie George is a Titan, but he's a Buck first... Send you to OSU hospital, you'll need a Buck nurse.
The David Boston-Charles Woodson rivalry will be back in full swing this year. Boston was traded from the Arizona Cardinals to the San Diego Chargers during the offseason. The Chargers and Oakland Raiders – Woodson's team – are AFC West foes. It will be interesting to see these two go at it twice a year.
It was nice to hear that the light finally went on for OSU sophomore defensive tackle Marcus Green. Defensive line coach Jim Heacock and special teams coach/D-line assistant Luke Fickell each singled him out for his hard work in the offseason. Green, who was one of the top DTs in the country coming out of high school, played at about 325-pounds last year. He is now down to 290 and is expected to be the third DT behind Anderson and Scott.
FAKE ‘EM OUT CRAIG
If Krenzel can master the art of play-action fakes, he should have several
chances at big plays this year. With or without Clarett, safeties love to creep
up behind the linebackers when playing the Buckeyes. If Krenzel can get them to
bite on fakes, he will have one-on-one coverage against guys like Jenkins, Chris
Gamble, Drew Carter and Santonio Holmes.
One idea would be to have Krenzel watch film of former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason. No one did play-action fakes as good as Boomer.
Junior running back Roshawn Parker, who hails from Griffin's high school of Columbus Eastmoor, might be a secret weapon for the Bucks this year. If Clarett is held out, Parker is the clear third-string tailback behind Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall. He shined in the scrimmages last spring, showing good moves and the ability to run over defenders.
If Clarett is cleared, another possibility would be for Parker to get some snaps at fullback. Starter Branden Joe will probably miss a couple games with a torn pectoral muscle and that leaves just Brandon Schnittker at fullback. Parker did get some practice snaps at fullback last year, but really looked good at tailback.
ONE BUCKEYE DOWN, ALL BUCKEYES DOWN
That has to be my new favorite slogan. Chris Spielman said those words when he first heard about Jack Tatum's battle with diabetes a while back.
By the way, Tatum seems to be recovering nicely from surgery. A Columbus TV station did a piece on him last week.
Even with Clarett stealing most of the headlines, it is surprising the lack
of press that Gamble has been getting. If he continues to play both ways – as
well as return kicks and punts – he will definitely be one of the frontrunners
for the Heisman Trophy.
Gamble won't play 120-plus plays early in the year, but by the Big Ten season, you can bet he will. If he puts up decent numbers and the Bucks keep winning, Gamble could be lucky No. 7 for the Bucks in more ways than one. Ohio State currently boasts six Heismans.