Bucknotes - 8/2

Could the penalty for OSU's basketball team be smaller than expected? Dave Biddle talks about that as well as Eddie George, the Big 33 game, the running backs situation, and more in today's version of the opinion column Bucknotes.

I am not a big fan of 11-game regular season schedules in college football, which is what Ohio State will be playing this season.

Why are we regressing?

Thirteen games – like the Buckeyes played in the 2002 regular season – might be a bit much, but it was a workable number. No one seemed to have a problem with it.

Twelve games – like last season – seemed perfect. Four non-conference tilts and eight intra-conference games. That's just about right.

But only 11 games? That's not enough.

High school obviously has 10 regular season games and the NFL has 16. College ball should fall somewhere in the middle of that. Instead, it plays just one more game than high school kids. Makes no sense.

There should be 12 regular season college games, maybe 13, but definitely not 11.


Did some research on what college football tickets cost around the country and found that Ohio State and Michigan have the highest prices in the land at $57.

Michigan actually breaks its prices up into three levels: $49, $53 and $57.

At OSU, all tickets (excluding student tickets) are $57.

The University of Texas was the next highest in the country at $55 a pop.

Other notables include: USC ($40), LSU ($36) and Florida (the bargain price of $25).

I don't have a problem with OSU ticket prices being that high – the demand is definitely there – but there should be a way for people to buy tickets at the top of C deck in the end zone for less than $57. Michigan seems to have the right idea here. Give a slight price break to the people sitting way atop the stadium.

Also, OSU is apparently going to crack down on non-students using student tickets this season. Of course, we've heard they were going to do this for years.


Thad Matta has an interesting clause in his contract that pays him a lump sum of $2 million if he stays at OSU for seven years. He does not get a dime of that money unless he stays all seven years.

This is a great idea; a great move by OSU. Matta is known – fairly, or unfairly – as a job hopper, and this gives OSU some level of security.


One more thing about Coach Matta: he would not have taken the OSU job if he thought the Buckeyes were going to be hit with major NCAA sanctions.

No way does he take the job if he thought a loss of scholarships, or a postseason ban, was forthcoming.

Andy Geiger said as much at the press conference introducing Matta last month. Geiger must be pretty certain that nothing is going to happen to tell reporters, "I would be very surprised if this coach and this team get penalized severely."

You don't make a comment like that unless you have some inside knowledge of the situation. Geiger wouldn't hang himself out to dry with a bold statement unless he was absolutely certain that major sanctions were not on the horizon.

During the entire Maurice Clarett saga, Geiger never came out and said OSU would not be hit with penalties. He always left the door open, even though it didn't seem likely. He tends to err on the side of caution, so his statement at the Matta press conference was definitely a good sign.


There needs to be some type of signage at Ohio Stadium commemorating OSU's national champions.

In my opinion, just the five undisputed champions should be on the list: 1942, 1954, 1957, 1968 and 2002.

Hopefully they get this done soon. That should have been a higher priority than getting retired numbers up there. What is more important? Winning a Heisman Trophy, or winning the national title?

Both should be up there, but there needs to be some recognition of the national champs. That would be a nice gift for the '54 squad – celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall.


Speaking of Heisman Trophies, how about Eddie George signing with the Dallas Cowboys? I think it's a perfect fit for George, a blue-collar player, playing for the blue-collar Bill Parcells.

Rookie Julius Jones is going to be a good back in the league, but he's a small guy and probably wasn't ready to be the full-time back.

George isn't getting much more money than he would have received in Tennessee. The Cowboys are paying him $2.2 million (plus incentives) and the Titans wanted him to take a pay-cut to $1.5 million (from $4.25 mil). However, this is a good career move for George. He needed a spark – something to revitalize his career. He keeps his body in excellent shape and he has at least 1-2 good years left.

Dallas' offensive line is better than Tennessee's and Parcells is committed to the running game (as was Jeff Fisher with the Titans, but Steve McNair is sure to throw more passes than Quincy Carter, or whoever lines up at QB for the Cowboys).


Freshman tailback Erik Haw is going to be a good player. Maybe a really good player. But I think the Buckeyes should try and redshirt him this year.

With Lydell Ross, Branden Joe and Tony Pittman (and maybe even Mo Hall and Roshawn Parker), there won't be many carries left over for Haw, so why waste a year of eligibility? Now, if he can beat out Pittman in preseason camp, then Haw should play, and Pittman should redshirt. There is only enough room for one freshman tailback in my book. Pittman looked so good in the spring, it will be hard to keep him off the field, but you never know.

And remember, if the Bucks do decide to try and redshirt Haw, it's not a final decision. If someone goes down with an injury, Haw can play at any time. Just like Santonio Holmes, who was almost "activated" for the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

Redshirting has this negative stigma at times, but it's good long-term strategy in college football. Ask Wisconsin fans if they're happy Anthony Davis took a redshirt in 2000.


Ohio's 34-30 victory over Pennsylvania was one of the most exciting football games I have seen at any level. Great ballgame.

Here are a few notes on some of the players of interest…

Ted Ginn: Came as advertised. Always nice when big-time players live up to the hype. Ginn will be a great two-way player and special teams demon for the Bucks and will even wear the No. 7 for good measure. Is that going to be a new trend? The best two-way player on the roster gets the No. 7? I like it.

Ben Person: Will be on the two-deep this year and will be a three-year starter. Good frame for a guard. Strong, stocky and moves well. Very impressive.

Erik Haw: Like was said above, I think a redshirt is in the cards, but Haw is a solid player. Very solid. He's a hard-nosed runner and is a good receiver out of the backfield. He had one touchdown reception in the Big 33 and another one (of over 50 yards) was called back on a holding call.

Alex Barrow: Very impressive. Is going to be a standout DE at OSU. Good quickness; can bull rush when necessary and also has good rush moves.

Brandon Underwood: Suffered a separated shoulder in the Big 33, but should be OK for preseason camp. Good athletic ability and solid cover skills, just like his brother. Needs to hit the weight room hard, just like his brother.

Sirjo Welch: Reminds me of a young Will Allen. Not very big for a safety, but hits hard. Needs to work on ball skills, but is not bad in that area.

Chad Hoobler: What's not to like here? He makes plays sideline to sideline, can stuff the run up the middle and shows good instincts. Even passes the "Look Test" if you're into things like that. I mean, he just looks like an OSU middle linebacker.

Devon Lyons: Again, what's not to like here? He's got good size, speed, hands and runs crisp routes. This guy is going to play right away.

Rory Nicol: Solid tight end; could see playing time right away with the lack of numbers at the position. Good hands, decent speed, decent blocker.

Jon Skinner: I came away impressed with the big guy. Perfect frame for a college tackle. Definite redshirt candidate, if for no other reason to make sure he's completely healthy.

Kyle Mitchum: Hey, it was just one game, but I was less than impressed with Mitchum. Smaller than I thought; doesn't get a good push on run blocking; off balance too often in pass pro. Hopefully it was just an off night for him, because he came with all the accolades.

Brandon Smith: Didn't stand out to me in a positive, or negative way. Can't give an accurate evaluation just yet.

Chad Henne: Just looks like a Michigan quarterback. Big with a strong arm. Pretty good accuracy, although his stats didn't show it. Looked especially good on the deep balls.

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

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