Bucknotes - 9/30

Dave Biddle is back with another version of his Bucknotes column. Today, Dave comes out as a supporter of Big Ten instant replay and also discusses the OSU linebackers, Tresselball, and mentions a walk-on kicker to watch for down the line.

The Big Ten has this instant replay thing down.

Compared to the NFL system, well, there is no comparison.

For one, there is no ridiculous peep box on the field. Instead, there is a replay official in the press box – a much better idea. This saves a lot of time. Instead of the field official trudging over to the peep box to look at a tiny monitor for a minute or 10, the replay official can immediately see replays and determine if play needs to be stopped.

I kind of like the "coach's challenge" in the NFL for dramatic purposes, but it really is overkill. Too many coaches stop play when there is clearly no chance of the call getting overturned. Again, the Big Ten has it right here. Only the replay official can stop play and they will only do so when there's an obvious error.

Are there flaws in the college instant replay system? Sure. What if the replay official doesn't stop play in time? As soon as the ball is snapped, the previous play cannot be reviewed. This is a problem in college and the NFL.

On a Monday night game earlier this season, Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens hooked up on a long touchdown pass, but later reviews showed Owens was juggling the ball. However, before the Minnesota Vikings could stop play, the extra point was kicked and the play stood.

This will also be an issue at some point in the Big Ten, no doubt. There will be a big play, the replay official won't get enough time to review all angles of the replay and by the time they notice a bad call, it will be too late.

So, instant replay will never be perfect in football, but I think the game is better with it, than without it. And the NFL should follow the Big Ten's example in the way it should be done. It's only here on an "experimental" basis in the Big Ten, but chances are good that all of college football will adopt it in the near future.


Speaking of overkill, I'll mention this for about the 1,000th time: Ohio State needs to have some type of signage in Ohio Stadium commemorating its national championship teams.

My suggestion would be just the undisputed national champions: 1942, 1954, 1957, 1968, and 2002. This would be the opposite of schools like Alabama that claim every poll championship they can come up with (Crimson Tide, 1917 Football Writers of Northern Manitoba National Champions).

Why are there no signs up right now in the Horseshoe? Probably because the titles are considered "mythical" national championships. The NCAA does not recognize Division I-A national champions. It does so in every other division of college football, but not the big boys. It's another hypocritical and moronic idea by the NCAA, but that's a topic for another day.


Frustrated for the second consecutive year that a long-term contract could not be reached with the St. Louis Rams, All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace fired agents Carl and Kevin Poston.

Pace, the Rams' franchise player, signed a one-year deal for $7.02 million this year after holding out for the entire preseason. He fired the Poston's three days before signing the deal and listed himself as his agent. This cost the Poston's $210,600, the standard three percent agent cut.

Pace was always a smart guy and more players should do what he did. If you're going to get a "slotted" salary anyway (franchise players are paid an average of the top five players at their position, there are no negotiations) why not do the contract yourself?

Shoot, if you let the Poston's handle it, they might include incentives like a $5 million roster bonus. Players don't get bonuses like that if they're injured, right Kellen Winslow?


We don't hear that term as much as we used to, or as much as we should, but nothing is more appropriate to describe this year's linebackers.

The group was billed as possibly the nation's best LB unit coming into the season. It was going to be hard living up to the hype, but they have. Bobby Carpenter and A.J. Hawk are each playing at an All-American level. Mike D'Andrea is coming into his own, and so is Anthony Schlegel.

How good is this group? Earlier this week, Jim Tressel called freshman linebacker Marcus Freeman a "special" player. Said he could be a star down the line. Usually a guy like that would play at least a little bit at linebacker as a freshman, but it's hard to get playing time when you're behind guys like Carpenter and Hawk (Tressel said Freeman could play either outside 'backer spot).

How good? First-year defensive coordinator Mark Snyder wants to run a 4-3 scheme, but to get his best players on the field, he has switched to a 3-4 at times.

A big key for the Silver Bullets the rest of the season is to be aggressive. Ohio State has a good defensive line and a good secondary. You mix that with arguably the best linebacking corps in the country, and you have a lethal combination. If Snyder and the Buckeyes are aggressive, it will do nothing but make opposing offenses nervous and force turnovers. The last thing Brett Basanez wants to see this week is a steady diet of Carpenter and Hawk in his face. So give him plenty of it. Keep firing those Silver Bullets.


Did Minnesota all of a sudden become Michigan State?

How can wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright, a Columbus native, be admitted to Minnesota and not Ohio State?

I know OSU is trying to have a stricter admissions policy, but come on. Tressel should have the right to take a chance on a kid from his own backyard. He's earned that.

It must have been an admissions situation, because it definitely not about talent. Wheelwright is going to be a big time player. Good size, hands, speed.

Hey, at least Glen Mason got him and not someone else.


Maybe Ohio State needs to win its second title in three years to get some national respect. The Patriots and Buckeyes win the same way. Well, New England does have a wide open offense at times, but the meat and potatoes are the same: win with defense and special teams. This gets you respect around the NFL. But in college, you are rewarded for style points in the polls. Just ask Penn State in 1994.


Speaking of Ohio State's style of play, a.k.a. Tresselball, I think we have a convert in N.C. State head coach Chuck Amato. In last week's 17-16 win at Virginia Tech, you would have sworn that was the Buckeyes out there, not the Wolfpack. Heck, even the colors are almost the same. N.C. State picked up a big road win by relying on defense and not making mistakes on offense.

And just how good is that Wolfpack D? How about No. 1 in the nation? It is early, but N.C. State is No. 1 in total defense, giving up just 165.3 yards per game. Second is Wisconsin (190), followed by the University of Miami (211). Ohio State and Purdue are tied at No. 13 nationally (261.3).

Is there any doubt now that Tressel called a great game in Raleigh a couple weeks ago? Why take chances when they keep giving you the ball in good field position, you're facing a great defense and you have the best kicker in the nation?

Again, that game is 25-7 without the late fumble, not 22-14.


With Nugent graduating this year, people are already wondering who will replace him next year. Josh Huston is likely to get a sixth year of eligibility, so chances are good it will be him.

But down the line, look for Ryan Pretorius. He's a 27-year-old freshman kicker from South Africa with a background in rugby.

"We saw him on film and we thought he could kick it a little," Tressel said. "Then he got here and… he can kick it a lot."

Pretorius is friends with NFL kicker Gary Anderson, also a South African native.


Will Northwestern paint their endzones exactly one hour before kickoff like in 2002? Remember that? Anytime a Buckeye player would go down in the endzone, he would come back up with a fresh layer of purple paint.

Sorry Wildcats, that "wet paint" sign isn't keeping anyone out of your endzones this year.

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

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