· Speaking of kicking it off…We have Mike Nugent on the Bucknuts Radio Hour this week. When I asked Mike how he could improve on last year's season, he said, "Well, I missed three field goals (out of 28 attemts) and a PAT". Now, is that a great attitude, or what? Incidentally, Mike has been rooming with walk-on kicking sensation Brian Pierce who might be the next, uh…Mike Nugent.
· And speaking of Steve Helwagen…We couldn't be more pleased to announce Steve as the new Managing Editor of Bucknuts. Steve will add immeasurably to our web site, radio show and magazine. Bucknuts will become more news-oriented and we will expand our coverage of Buckeye basketball this year, as well. Steve is a respected pro – a veteran of behind-the-scenes action. Come behind the scenes with Steve and Bucknuts this year for another thrill ride. Welcome, Steve Helwagen!
· And while we're announcing ourselves…We also couldn't be more pleased with the latest edition of the "Ohio's Future Stars" magazine that is in the process of being mailed now. Duane Long has done a superb job of recognizing the best seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen in the state of Ohio. Yes, OFS has features on kids who were playing in the eighth grade last year! But the best part of the magazine is always the rankings. Many of these younger classes have kids you won't hear about anywhere else for the next couple of years. So get the jump on your recruitnik friends and pick up a copy of "Ohio's Future Stars" today!
· And here's more to ponder…Duane Long sees films and game action for hundreds of football players. He is then able to rank them – from both a subjective and objective scope. Plus, of course, he speaks with the coaches, his network of scouts and the players themselves. My question: with all the so-called national and regional recruiting gurus ranking these same players without ever seeing them, how do they justify one kid over another? Think about it. "Harley Snidlap? Yeah, I've heard good things". Or "Anafung B. Crudgemuck? Sounds like the best safety prospect in years". Most of these "other guys" simply compile lists and tote up the rankings, then make those rankings their own. That's yet another reason we are pleased (and proud) to work with Duane Long…
· About the Buckeye football schedule…There has been a great and general gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the difficulty of the 2003 OSU football schedule. Add to that the eye rolling over the relatively easy pickings Michigan got and you have…well, a lot of worried Buckeye fans. Yes, Michigan's scheduling planets all seemed to line up this year as they dropped Penn State and Wisconsin while picking up Indiana and Northwestern. Plus, most of their tough games are at home.
So what about our Buckeyes? There's one man's opinion (mine) that this is a good schedule and that we will catch some breaks. Consider: We open with Washington at home, at night, after Washington has endured a coaching controversy all summer. We then get a bye week by getting to play San Diego State – again, at home. That gives us a little extra edge to prepare for the following week's monumental tilt against North Carolina State. And whom does the Wolfpack have to prepare against? Western Carolina and Wake Forest. That's not great preparation for what they will see in the Horseshoe. We then get our annual MAC team, and a good one in Bowling Green. But they are a MAC team and with a new coach to boot. And – once again – we will be booting them at Ohio Stadium.
After four straight home non-conference games, we open with Northwestern at…yes, at home. The Wildcats might be better than last year but these guys shouldn't set our teeth a-chatterin' in Columbus. After that, we get a good break right before our bad break. The bad break? We have to play Wisconsin again in Madison. At night, in front of a bunch of violent drunks. The good break? We get a week off first. So, it's two weeks, then, to prepare for the Badgers while Wisconsin spends their previous week on the road at Penn State. And the week after Wisconsin, we entertain a not-as-tough-as-last year Iowa before going on the road against always-bad Indiana. So – at that point in the season – it is not unreasonable to assume that we could be 8-0.
But how do we finish? Against Penn State in Happy Valley. A tough place to play but an easier game than last year's slugfest. After the Nits, it's back home against a rebuilding Michigan State. And then the next game is at home again, against Purdue. That's a toughie, I'll grant you.
Finally, it's on to the World's Largest Outdoor Toilet in Ann Arbor. That game has a life of it's own so it's hard to measure it against the rest of the season.
But, all in all, I think the season sets up very nicely for us. Now, let's go out and run the table!
· One mo' word about Maurice…Well, a couple of words, perhaps. In all the absurd finger-pointing and self-righteous indignation over Clarett's alleged academic improprieties nearly a year ago, the ever-more absurd Norma McGill (who has done most of the finger pointing), pontificated on how Maurice "wasn't prepared" for college academia. Last week, the people who run the ACT tests reported that only 26% of the test-takers had a satisfactory score in math and just 40% were satisfactory in English. Perhaps it makes better headlines in the New York Times when you pick on a college athlete, but wouldn't we all be better served if these attention-craving do-gooders actually work on the thousands and thousands of students that are still officially under-performing. I think Maurice will make a pretty good living with or without Norma McGill.
That's what I think…