On the Lighter Side

During his senior year at Findlay high school, QB Ben Roethlisberger exploded onto the scene with a record-breaking season. Talk up there was that he was the real deal, but he chose to go to Miami instead of Ohio State. What would happen if things would have gone the other way? That's what Gary Housteau is thinking about this week... On the Lighter Side.

I know it's not politically correct to bash the play of Craig Krenzel, especially at this important juncture of the season, so I won't!

But I have to admit there are many times, even right smack in the middle of a Buckeye game, that I dream about what it would be like to have a quarterback like a Phillip Rivers, a Jeff Smoker and even a Zack Mills under center for this Ohio State team that again boasts one of the top defenses in the country.

There's not many people, if any at all, who will argue that Krenzel will not be back mixing molecules in test tubes next year, or whatever it is he will do, and that's not the ideal place where I want the quarterback of the National Championship Buckeyes to be. Not even a clip-board-holding position in the NFL is likely in the offing for Krenzel after this season.

Why couldn't Ohio State have had a glamor guy at the controls during this remarkable two-season run under Jim Tressel? Could you imagine the national adulation, instead of the constant consternation, given to this current OSU team if we had a Heisman candidate running the show now? Could you imagine having a quarterback that is talented enough to throw for 3,000 yards in each of his first three seasons as a starter?

That's what I was thinking about when I was watching Ben Roethlisberger under center for the RedHawks against the Thundering Herd of Marshall on television earlier in the week.

In my wildest of dreams, it's Roethlisberger at the controls of the Ohio State offense this season and not Krenzel, who wasn't able to step on the field, let alone unseat the much-maligned Steve Bellisari in Tressel's first year at OSU.

Roethlisberger threw for all kinds of yards in his senior season at Findlay High School but he chose a second-tier Division I school over the then John Cooper-led Buckeyes.

Surely Roethlisberger wasn't afraid to compete against Rick McFadden, the other quarterback Ohio State was pursuing at the time.

The two were on the same North team that took on the South in the 2000 All-Star game at Massillon's Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Roethlisberger was the Offensive MVP for the North squad in that contest but you would have never known it from listening to him. After that game, I asked Roethlisberger what his thoughts were about McFadden, who was just weeks away from becoming a Buckeye at the time.

"Rick McFadden is thee best quarterback I've ever seen play high school football," he said. "He can look at a football playbook one time and have it all memorized and know what every single person does. My hat's off to him, I give him the utmost respect. He deserved to start tonight. He deserves every honor he gets. Buckeye fans, look out because a great quarterback is coming through."

His sincerity toward McFadden that night was as real as the 73 and 52-yard bombs that Roethlisberger connected on during the all-star game. For the day, Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, including the game-winner, as the North downed the South, 21-20.

"All this tonight says ‘Miami, here I come,' that's all this says, " he said, "and no regrets at all."

Obviously, the prolific-passing Roethlisberger made his decision to attend Miami, for whatever the reason, and never looked back.

And while the fourth-year junior has spent the last three years putting up prodigious-passing numbers that have made him not only a top quarterback in the country but a Heisman trophy candidate to boot, Ohio State fans have endured the likes of Bellisari and now Krenzel at the controls during the same time span, two guys with great intentions but rather limited skills under center.

McFadden, on the other hand, stuck around through the first year under Jim Tressel at Ohio State and decided that he had a better future in basketball. The southpaw with the deft touch on his passes eventually transferred to the University of Akron to pursue his hoop dreams.

You never know; Roethlisberger might also have opted out for a career on the hardwood if he chose to attend Ohio State. He and McFadden had also played together on the same team in the North-South basketball All-Star game.

In a strange twist of fate, however, Krenzel, who forever Buckeye fans - myself included - will be grateful to for bringing them a national championship, is actually more suited to run Tressel's offense than the current RedHawk quarterback. Roethlisberger just might still be biding his time, signaling-in plays to Krenzel next to Scott McMullen, another prolific passer in high school, on game days in the Horseshoe.

They say to be careful about what you wish for, you just might get it someday. Well, I'm going to continue wishing for the next All-American-type quarterback at Ohio State in the near future, one who is the equal to his mates on the defensive side of the ball.

Although I appreciate all of the wins that Krenzel has led the Buckeyes to under his stewardship, I can still dream and imagine how terrific it would be to have someone the caliber of a Roethlisberger under center for the home team in Ohio Stadium. I don't think that's too much to wish for.

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