This week's Mr. Bucknuts Bucket of Bullets is sponsored by SBC (Sloppy Bucknuts Columnists). If you want to sponsor columns, radio shows, Kirk's vacation or the new javelin-catching contest for suspended Buckeye athletes, contact Mr. Bucknuts at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com.
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My mind has a mind of its own…As everyone recognizes, my mind reels naturally. So it was set completely a' reeling with the announcement that SBC wanted to sponsor the Ohio State-Michigan classic. My first thought was, "My gawd, they have created a hiring frenzy for ad agencies!" Think of the tie-ins. Think of the new sponsorship opportunities. Our man, Ramzy, hey - he alone will be knocking down a seven-figure income!
We have sold sponsorship opportunities here at Bucknuts, of course. But the companies routinely reject my clever tie-ins. For Huntington, we had the lead, "From the banks of the Olentangy…" They hated it. For the brokerage firm, AG Edwards, we trotted out, "From those big bucks fans at AG Edwards…" No sale. Our law firm in Los Angeles? "At Bartel Droste and Gee, we can defend any recruiting practices". I thought they might get some work down the street at USC…
But, now, the whole idea is suddenly endangered by the SBC "Ohio State -Michigan Classic" deal being in jeopardy. I really wanted to hear those pitches in the agency conference rooms; "Hey, JP, how about Residence Inn for Penn State - "When you stay longer than you should" ? Or maybe individual sponsorships, say, for the OSU offensive line "Fred, I've got a roller skate company on line three") or for our offensive play-calling ("Anyone know if Jolt Cola is still in business? No Doz?"). Or for one of our running back that goes down easily ("Fellas, what about a premium beer ad? Or maybe Paris Hilton?")
I tried to get Starbucks on board, but they demurred, saying we had 14 star Bucks last year but only one this season. Plus, we don't have a ground game.
Yes, the mind reels. In our lifetimes, I can only pray that they bring on the big time corporate sponsorships to college football. Bucknuts, the name itself, just has so many possibilities…
Meanwhile, back to your regularly scheduled programming…
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Brought to you by the fine people at …Sloppy? Was that game sloppy on Saturday. They could play "Hang on Sloppy" and it would have fit right in. Here are the basic facets of the game that I judged to be sloppy: Special teams, offense, penalties, pass pretense, snaps, handling of snaps, offense, tackling, turnovers, and…did I mention offense? Even the replay officials were sloppy. Instead of Chic Harley being honored by this game, he was turning over - no, spinning - in his grave. These are two struggling and broken teams right now. If the Indiana game didn't prove anything, this game probably proved less. At a drunken frat party at Colorado at 4 AM, this Penn State team couldn't score. They said that Michael Robinson was their best offensive weapon - as both a receiver and quarterback. He was our best offensive weapon, as well. He gave us the game early and then PSU didn't want it back later.
In that first quarter, we ran two 3-and-outs…and we were up 14-0! We didn't get our initial first down until 8:56 of the second quarter! We had 65 total yards in the first half and yet were leading 21-7! We ran 18 plays in 30 minutes!
Last week, Penn State lost by the flabbergasting score of 6-4. This week, I posit that they lost 3-2. They gave us a punt return for a touchdown, an easy INT for another touchdown and a long kickoff return for a third. That's the three. We gave them two turnovers that turned into scores. 3-2.
And how about not one - but two - laterals for losses while your quarterback is trying to throw the ball away? Whew…Welcome to Big Ten football circa 2004, eh?
This rumination of the past is presented through a grant from Manwich and the Rustoleum Corporation.
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Let's go to the replay…On second thought, it won't get any better. But can we replay the scheduling conference a few years back when they took Illinois off our schedule? We need ‘em. Indiana and Penn State are simply not enough. Speaking of replays, Indiana got jobbed last week when Pitman fumbled the ball but the refs were quick on the whistle. This week, an oh-so s-l-o-w whistle gave the Nits an absurd fumble call. Karma, you say? Yes, both were courtesy of young Tony Pitman who will be seeing stars and hearing whistles now that every team sees he can be stripped. But that fumble 20 seconds after the play was over put the refereeing into a new dimension as yet unexplored.
The whole mess had to be sponsored by the Abco Screw Company and our local Platinum Club…
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Begin again with Ginn…When you are playing sandlot football, it's nice to have your old high school buddy tossin' the rock your way. Broken pass plays from Tarblooder Troy Smith to Tarblooder Teddy Ginn seem to be the MO for these Bucks. It's also our ammo. And after our boys got that commanding 14-0 lead, I looked at Tressel (I think he was throwing his play sheet away just as the cameras turned on him…) and I thought: Helen of Troy wouldn't get a good look for these next three quarters, yet alone our Troy. Our Troy did seem more comfortable on that Saturday sandlot than their junior free-lancer, Michael Robinson. Hey - cut me some slack here! I'm trying to do some insightful analysis. It would be prettier to re-cap the Franklin County cow-chip throwing contest.
This paragraph was sponsored - by the way - courtesy McDonald's turnovers and Alka Seltzer…
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Tressel can win, but can he cover?…Near as I can figure, we beat the spread (-14) against Cincinnati, beat the NC State spread (+1), got hammered on Marshall (-17), Northwestern (-11), Wisconsin (-4), Iowa (-1) and came up short against PSU (-13). We covered, as well, against Indiana (-13). With our non-spread offense, those results should not be terribly surprising. It does show how abysmal we played against the Hawkeyes since the so-called smart money missed that one by just 27 points. It has been said that "The race doesn't always go to the swift and the test doesn't always go to the strong - but that's the way to bet them". While the Buckeyes haven't shown to be particularly swift or strong, we officially proclaim that Bucknuts is also a lousy tout. Through Saturday's game, we are just 4-4, straight up!
This message was sponsored by Fleischmann Margarine, "The Cheaper Spread", and the boys down at Phil's Pool Hall…
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There's always next year…For recruiting, as well. Just because we haven't seen that many "official" player visits this year (and not as many unofficial ones as in the past, it seems…), doesn't mean that the coaches aren't already looking to recruiting the Class of 2006. Big-name high school juniors have already been spotted in attendance as guests of Ohio State. That includes quarterbacks Mike Hartline and Miles Schlichter, tight ends Brett Huffman and Jake Ballard, offensive linemen Justin Boren and Bryant Browning, defensive stalwarts Robert Rose, Thaddeus Gibson and Ross Homan and super DB Ray Smalls. Those are just the Ohio kids. We've also spotted Wesley Lyons (Devon's brother from Pittsburgh), offensive lineman Cody Faulkner from Indiana, DB Chris Fox from Massachusetts, and DB Darrin Walls from PA. We are trying to get you a running head start on next year's fixations and obsessions so that you have plenty of time to get used to the names!
This last paragraph, incidentally, was brought to you by US Army Recruiting and the Optimists Club…
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You know your team is having a bad year when…You look at the weather forecast and are hoping for rain. When you watch next week's opponent and root for injuries. When you hope to catch them the week before their big game. When you focus most of your attention on recruiting. When you search for old Ohio State games on ESPN Classic. When you search the Franklin County criminal records hoping that some of your players are recent names. When you wistfully acknowledge which coaches from around the country might be available next year. When you tell everyone that the best part of the game is the band at halftime - and you mean it. When you look forward to cynical and caustic columns on Bucknuts because you can, at least, count on that every week.
This message was brought to you by ABC's "Lost" season…
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Upon further review…I started thinking Saturday that this 5-cylinder season was even more underpowered than we are leading ourselves to believe. I mean, look who we lost to! And look who we've beaten… Then, this Saturday came and went - as it often does. Let's go to the tape: Cincinnati beat TCU handily and Marshall whomped Central Florida for the Herd's fifth straight win. NC State lost to Clemson in Death Valley - after almost taking out Miami. Northwestern beat Purdue(!), Iowa overwhelmed the Illini, Indiana beat Minnesota (!!!), and we stuck another pin in the cushion known as Penn State. Any given Saturday, indeed.
So, I have a new theory to test: We do a lot better against teams when their first-string QB is hurt (a stretch there, huh?). Hey - and no jokes about Justin Zwick. This glass-is-half-full-but-leaking argument passed the test with Michael Robinson when we picked that Nit. Then - lo and behold - Drew Stanton, of upcoming Michigan State, goes down. And Purdue's Heisman hopeful Kyle Orton is riding the pine. Unfortunately, Chad Henne looks real healthy.
Now, who says I can't take a positive spin?
The previously stated and tested theory was sponsored by Vioxx, John Edwards and a nation of hopeful plaintiff's attorneys…
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Summing up…My fears, my vitriol, my paranoia and my love for Ohio State football all seem to collide on a weekly basis in this column. I reflected last year that I am not a very good fan but I am a staunch supporter. My fear is that we have seen a very-fast Golden Era come and go for the Buckeyes; by observing the way we are playing and by watching the lack of development of the young players and the old programs. My love for Ohio State football tells me to be patient and to expect a post-2001 type resurgence.
While this team has given us a number things to be proud of - and a few things to laugh at - we all should focus on the former and not be as quick to jump on the latter. The kids are all right. And they have a chance to prove to the world that they are coming on this weekend at Michigan State. I hope to be the first one to beg for forgiveness as we come out and smoke the Spartans, than pound the Broilers and then shock the world by taking down those Wolverines.
I will be right here watching with the rest of you!
And - finally - we dedicate this last flogging-a-mediocre-idea-to-death segment to the memories of Chic Harley, Warren Zevon, Rodney Dangerfield and the New York Yankees.
If you would like to forward your obvious ideas to Mr. Bucknuts and have him pound them mercilessly, please contact him at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com