Bucknotes 1/7

Dave Biddle checks in today with some thoughts and opinion on the BCS, the defensive coordinator position, and more.

With LSU and USC splitting the national championship, a question has been raised in college football: Should there be a one-game playoff after the bowl games to decide the true champion?

No.

While that plan would have worked this year, what about last? Would it have been right if 14-0 Ohio State was forced to play 11-2 USC?

No way.

What did USC do to deserve a chance at the title after losing two games? Miami and Ohio State were the only two undefeated teams heading into the bowl games and the BCS actually worked to perfection for a change.

Of course, OSU fans un-fondly remember 1998, when a one-game playoff would have suited them just fine. That year, the Buckeyes were shut-out of the title game, and had reason to complain. To close the regular season, Tennessee was the only undefeated team in the country, while OSU and Florida State each had one loss.

That Seminole team – led by quarterback Marcus Outzen – did not belong anywhere near the title game. But that's exactly where they went.

Ohio State went on to beat Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl and Buckeye fans have said ever since that Tennessee was lucky to play FSU, not OSU, in the Fiesta Bowl.

The bottom line is this: there is no system better than a playoff. The BCS has its faults, and a one-game playoff after the bowls would have its faults.

By my accounts, so far the BCS is batting .500 (3 for 6). With or without a one-game playoff, college football is only getting it right half the time. More proof that a playoff is needed.

Here is a quick timeline, stating the years the BCS worked and the years it didn't…

1997: Last year of old system; Michigan and Nebraska share national championship. Many believed this would be the last split title.

1998: BCS did not work.

1999: BCS worked. National champ Florida State and runner-up Virginia Tech were the clear 1-2 heading into the bowls.

2000: BCS did not work. National champ Oklahoma pounded one-loss FSU in the title game; many believed one-loss Miami should have been playing for the title. Again, a one-game playoff would have worked.

2001: BCS worked. Maybe Nebraska shouldn't have been in the title game, but no one else really had a solid claim either. And Miami would have beaten anyone in the country that year. Surely the Hurricanes would go on to win at least three titles in a row.

2002: BCS worked. Fourteen-point underdog Ohio State beat Miami, ending the one-year "dynasty."

2003: BCS did not work.

PEEP-SHOW?

If the NFL is going to keep instant replay – and I think it should – it needs to go back to having a replay official up in the press box.

Having the refs go over to the little "peep-show box" to look at replays is ridiculous. It would be much more efficient, and accurate, if they had someone up in the booth making the calls.

Interestingly enough, Jim Tressel was asked during this season if he would be in favor of adding instant replay to the college game.

Tressel said no, and even joked that if you were going to add it to the college game, maybe they should have it include everything: holding, pass interference, etc…

After all of the times I saw Will Smith and Tim Anderson get mugged this year, with nothing called, I see where Tressel is coming from.

WHO'S YOUR DRADDY?

Craig Krenzel, winner of the Draddy Award (Academic Heisman) was asked last month if he was going to pursue medical school, or a career in professional football.

Krenzel said he is focused on a career in the NFL right now and med school would have to wait.

A reporter asked him, "What if the NFL doesn't work out right away? Is Canada or NFL Europe an option?"

Krenzel responded: "Well, I'd probably just give it the best I can in the NFL and if they kick me out and they don't want me there, go to med school. I don't think I would go those other routes."

That was a bit surprising to hear considering the vast number of NFL quarterbacks that got their start in NFL Europe, or elsewhere.

CLARETT/FITZGERALD

While the Maurice Clarett rumor-mill has picked up speed once again (Clarett back with the Bucks in '04?), let's not get too carried away. I still think the chances are minimal he ever wears the Scarlet and Gray again.

If Clarett does break ground in the NFL this year, he won't be the only one to do it. Pittsburgh sophomore receiver Larry Fitzgerald also plans on challenging the NFL's early-entry rule that, "Three years must have elapsed since the student-athlete's high school class graduated."

Fitzgerald might have an even better shot than Clarett though.

Fitzgerald graduated high school in the spring of 2001, then went to prep school for a year, before enrolling at Pitt in the fall of 2002. His claim is very simple: he's been out of "high school" for three years. Prep school should have nothing to do with it. He considers prep school kind of like going to a junior college for a year. However, the NCAA might consider the prep school his true high school, but that's doubtful. Follow any of that?

Clarett, on the other hand, graduated high school in December of 2001 and enrolled at OSU in January of 2002. His claim is that three "years" have elapsed since he graduated high school, even though it hasn't been 36 months.

Anyway, with anti-trust law, the NFL is bound to lose its case with Clarett and/or Fitzgerald. But it could take a while. No one knows for sure if there will be a resolution by Feb. 1. There could be an appeal, or the hearing could be pushed back. Therefore, Clarett might not be eligible for the draft by April. It could be months later, giving him one final option besides coming back to OSU: entering the NFL's supplemental draft, just prior to the 2004 season.

Clarett would probably be a second-round pick, depending on the need for running backs, and he would be no worse than a third-rounder.

By comparison, Tony Hollings was taken in the fourth-round of the 2003 supplemental draft by the Houston Texas and no one would argue Clarett is a much better back than Hollings.

It will be interesting to see how it shakes out, but I'm not optimistic that Clarett will ever play for the Buckeyes again.

IN THE ZONE

Shifting to basketball for a moment, ever since Jim O'Brien has been at OSU, his teams seems to play better defense when they mix in a lot of zone. I have often commented that OB is the master of switching defenses on the run, confusing the other team's offensive sets.

But this year, and even last, it seems as though the Bucks are playing man-to-man most of the game. You have to have some man to be successful, but O'Brien's 2-3 matchup zone, along with some of his other zone defenses, have always given Big Ten teams fits.

LOADED SCHEDULE

Eight of the 13 teams that Ohio State played this year in football were ranked at the time.

PRO BOWLERS

Former Buckeyes Orlando Pace (St. Louis Rams) and LeCharles Bentley (New Orleans Saints) will start for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. It is Pace's fifth selection and Bentley's first.

Pace, along with Jon Ogden and Willie Roaf, is of course among the best tackles in the game. But the surprise there is Bentley. Everyone in Columbus knows how good he is, but the former center switched to guard in the NFL and hasn't missed a beat (he did play guard at OSU as well).

I figured Bentley might be a Pro Bowler down the road, but in his second year? It even took Pace three years to get selected.

D-COR?

It's been said before and now it's crystal clear: No way Nebraska is going to give former Buckeye safety Bo Pelini its head coaching job.

So, can Tressel somehow convince Pelini to come back to 'ol Columbus town and join OSU's staff? Probably not.

Mark Snyder is probably going to be promoted to defensive coordinator, and that seems like a good move. I really like Snyder's intensity and he's done a good job with the linebackers.

Most likely, Pelini would only be interested in coming to OSU as defensive coordinator. He would not take the linebackers job, even if he was given the extra title of "associate head coach" as some programs like to do to keep assistants around.

Pelini will probably end up somewhere like Texas. He is also rumored to be going to Oklahoma, but I can't see him sharing the D-cor duties with Brent Venables, who shared the same duties with Mike Stoops, now the head coach at Arizona.

Look for an announcement from OSU soon, but Snyder seems to be the choice. It will be interesting to see how Tressel decides to fill the rest of his staff though.

BEARCAT DANTONIO

As for coaches moving on, I think the Cincinnati job is a decent one for Mark Dantonio. He said he didn't want to stray far from Ohio, leaving his options limited.

With the impending move to the Big East, I would say the UC job is better than the Indiana job, which is sure to have an opening by next year, or the year after.

Coaching at someplace like Indiana, or Kentucky, you are going to get pounded each year. Dantonio has the chance to build UC into one of the better programs in the downtrodden Big East.

LEBRON JAMES, WIDE RECEIVER?

The Nike commercial details the great passing skills of LeBron James.

But let's not forget about his ability to catch a pass.

One thing many don't know about James is that he was a first-team All-Ohio wide receiver as a sophomore. Even some of the best high school football players aren't first-team all-state as sophomores.

Forget about hoops for a minute, just imagine James playing football in college. That's about four inches taller than Randy Moss, much stronger and almost as fast. I never saw LeBron play football, but word was he had excellent hands and was tough over the middle.

In an interesting story, which illustrates his competitive drive, his junior year he was talked out of playing football by close friends and family, in fear of injury. However, after watching from the stands as St.Vincent-St.Mary got beat the fourth game of the season, he immediately went down and told the coach he wanted to re-join the team.

James showed up at practice the next Monday, played the final six games of the season, and was named second-team All-Ohio.

He did not play football his senior year. Something about Nike and $90 million.

Can I get a layup?

COLLEGE OVERTIME DRIVES…

Should start at midfield, not the 25.

I know, no one in Buckeyeland should be complaining about overtimes, Ohio State is 4-0 in such games, but come on. Can we at least make a team drive a little bit to get in scoring position?

This would also cut down on having four and five-overtime games. It simply would not be as easy to match scores.

ATTITUDE GOES A LONG WAY

One of the reasons, in my opinion, that Ohio State beat Kansas State was that the Buckeyes played with an attitude. More attitude than they showed all season. They were sticking up for each other after late hits and basically not taking any junk at all from the Wildcats.

When guys like Alex Stepanovich and Shane Olivea get fired up, they play even better. The entire O-Line definitely went out on a high note.

SUPER 'BACKERS

Also playing a great game in the Fiesta Bowl were the Buckeye linebackers.

A.J. Hawk was named defensive player of the game, but that award just as easily could have gone to Bobby Carpenter. The latter was also a special teams demon as usual.

Next year, if there is a better group of linebackers in the country, I want to see it. Ohio State will line up Hawk and Carpenter on the outside, and (most likely) Air Force transfer Anthony Schlegel inside. Indiana-transfer John Kerr will also be in the mix, as well as redshirt freshman Curt Lukens (who everyone seems high on) and possibly true frosh Marcus Freeman.

ONE-WAY TICKET

Call him the anti-Bill Snyder if you will.

Minnesota coach Glen Mason gets the disciplinary award of the year for sending starting cornerback Trumaine Banks home during preparations for the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas (a 31-30 win by the Gophers over Oregon).

Mason did not say what Banks did, just that it was "conduct detrimental to the team."

But here is where the story gets interesting: Banks, who hails from Columbus, was sent home on a Greyhound bus. That's a 35-hour ride. Most coaches would have elected to just keep the player in town the few extra days, not play him and send him back on the plane with everyone else. Or, in the case of some other coaches, pretend like nothing happened at all and play him in the game, or even start him.

But a 35-hour bus trip? Now that's a new one. Credit goes to Mase, even if he's been watching too many reruns of The Junction Boys.

E-mail Dave at: sports@madison-press.com


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