Yes, we've got ‘em right where we want ‘em…
Michigan, that is. Remember all those years (it seems like most of the 90's…) that Michigan suffered through mediocre season while Ohio State challenged for national and Big Ten championships? Then - a slip here, an amazing performance there - the Wolverines would come in and spoil the year with an "inferior" team. Our coaching staff has researched that plan; and they have been scheming all along to spring it on those unsuspecting rodents. And I am from the old school - beat Michigan and all is forgiven!
Michigan has it all working right now: the best receivers in the country, one of the two best freshman running backs, the best freshman quarterback and a stout defense. But we have the "Carr Wreck" factor on our side. The factor states that Lloyd Carr can beat any team in the country; and he can lose to any team just as well. Look at the inexplicable loss to a mediocre Notre Dame team (which lost to an even more mediocre Pitt team yesterday…) earlier in the year. That kept OSU from spoiling an unbeaten and national championship pretension team. Oh, well, you play the hand you're dealt.
Plus, those Ugly Helmets wouldn't have been quite as psyched for Saturday if Wisconsin had won and the Michiganders knew going in that they were doomed to play a non-Rose Bowl game. But Wisconsin took a play from our old Cooper era book, and lost to a hit-or-miss Michigan State team (remember 1998, boys?) and wasted a good bye week, not to mention a chance at Badger immortality. Hey - and don't forget what we owe to all those kids that defected to TSUN: Pierre Woods, Prescott Burgess, Shawn Crable and - defector-in progress- Mario Manningham.
Yes, I like our position. Well-timed and ready for a Hart-breaking, I say.
Let's check it out on Saturday and see if the rest of our guys buy in…
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Deja voodoo…As to Purdue, you can save us both some time and simply re-read the previous 7-8 Bucket of Bullets columns from yours truly. Sloppy sandlot football, with a one-dimensional offense and an O-line that is on milk cartons somewhere. A soft defense and a game plan that screamed: Wake up and look at films that showed how everyone else beat Purdue this year!
The thing about watching Tresselball is that if you win, it's defensible (but boring). If you lose, it's just boring. And where our defense used to bring their blue-collar lunch pails to work, this group needs a tackle box. I have never seen so many lures without hooks. Third downs were uncoverable in the first half and the only unknown seemed to be; how much would we allow their second-string QB to make it by.
I loved the gumption we showed in the second half. Really. Snyder made adjustments and went to close man coverage and some aggressive play. The offense started lurching north/south and those guys made some plays. It got so close that Purdue was forced to use their first-string quarterback to beat us…
I remain convinced that Troy Smith brings a lot of good things to the field but it's a stretch to build an offense around him. The option worked at times and he did look 2-3 times at a secondary receiver, so there were flashes of hope. But you will live and die with the sandlot style. I toyed in the first half with some first-half-ass acronyms for Troy (like ThReeandOutYeah or TuRnOversYes) but my heart just wasn't in it. Here's a kid, playing for all he's worth that is able to rally a rag-tag bunch and keep them in the game. My helmet's off to him. But if you want to compare him to a former OSU quarterback, I would suggest Stanley Jackson before I would use the model of Craig Krenzel.
Make no mistake: I will be back to ride that Trojan horse when we spring the surprise ambush next week against Michigan…
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Over, under, sideways and…If you want the whole half (the first one…) in a Bucknut-shell, how about the series starring EJ Underwood? He gets a great break on a Brandon Kirsch pass to the flat and he's gone - six points the other way. Unfortunately, it hit him in the hands and he couldn't hold on (why oh why couldn't young Elmer have hands like Quinn Pitcock?). A few plays later, he bites on a play-action fake, the tight end blows through his empty zone and it's an easy six for the other side. The over/underwood went from 10-3 for the good guys to 10-3 for the other guys…
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ESPN begets ESPN begets…Since the same two simpletons (Mark Jones and Bob Davie) were assigned to cover us two weeks in a row, the ESPN brass did their research and came up with two ideas: 1) Don't let Davie pronounce too many names and 2) Give these guys three simple story lines and have then used on every play.
The first story line was the injuries to our DB's. Davie used that to justify anything that went wrong including the mis-spelling of Script Ohio. The second line was Ted Ginn. Ted was the entire focus on offense and could even have saved our defense (see the first story line). Finally, there was the deplorable pillorying of their manufactured Maurice Clarett story. How shameless can a network be to promote their other products; every time Tressel was mentioned, the ESPN The Magazine breakthrough article went with it. Even when the story was (grudgingly) recognized to have no impact on the game, it was stated that the ESPN The Magazine breakthrough article had no impact on the game. It was like watching and three-and-a-half hour infomercial on bad product promotion. Dewey beats Truman. Martha Stewart is a bitch. OJ probably did it. Add this to the group of overstating the obvious…
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All right, but don't say I didn't warn you…My theory is that everyone out there can't get too much of Maurice Clarett. Interestingly, that seems to be Maurice Clarett's theory, as well. Who knew back in 2002, that we would still be chanting, "Give me Mo! Give me Mo!" in 2004?
So, since the Purdue game was simply a distraction in the long-running Maurice Clarett morality play, I feel compelled to weigh in with my thoughts on this all-pervasive subject. Plus, it will keep me from having to answer the 100+ e-mails addressed to Mr. Bucknuts with the same opening line: "What's really going on with Maurice Clarett, Mr. B?". Here's my chance to clean it up, put it in perspective, and explain the whole sordid affair.
From a 25,000 foot overview, we can now see that Maurice has brought scorn and derision upon 1) His town of Warren 2) The greater Youngstown area 3) His high school of Warren Harding 4) His transparent mouthpiece Vince Marrow 4) His temporary college of Ohio State and 5) His family. Interestingly, his family appears to be the only ones that don't seem to understand it.
Why? Because his mother (and some other hangers-on) are just as delusional as Maurice, himself. And let's understand the fact that Maurice Clarett is a delusional child. Don't kid yourself - as he has - that he is a child. All of the 18 year-old children that go to college on football scholarships are truly children. And almost all (with the rare exception of an AJ Hawk or a Mike Nugent, as examples) are pretty delusional. They have been the center of attention of an artificial world for so long that they can't separate it from the real world. They are pampered and catered to. And they have bought in - big - to the tired old saw that "perception is reality". For those people that truly believe that "perception is reality", they are on the right path. Toward insanity. Because only reality is reality. You can't negotiate with physics. Yet, these delusional children would like to try…
But I digress…
Before I get back to the Master of Delusion himself, let's look at the interesting case of his comrade-in-arms - just to emphasize the point. Prescott Burgess is a year younger than Maurice. Also from Warren Harding. Also the #1 prep football player in the state his year. He actually committed to OSU as a junior (at a Buckeye basketball game) but then he got irritated at Maurice when MC glommed on to Prescott's girl. So PB got "even" with him by changing his commitment; to Michigan. He told the press that it was because Michigan promised him he could play safety and would not move him to linebacker. Third game, freshman year? They moved him to linebacker. When Prescott was on the Bucknuts Radio Hour as a high school senior, I kidded with him and said, "Why don't you just skip this college thing and go right to the NFL?". His surprising answer was "Yeah, I've thought about that". By next season, he should be in the two-deep for the Wolverines. In his third season. Are these kids delusional? Yes. Are they children? Absolutely.
In fact, if Ohio prep phenom, Drushawn Humphrey, hadn't tragically died in his senior year, Maurice might be making his crackpot statements to a non-audience this year as either a) A kid that failed academically and was back looking for work in Warren or b) The funny kid who was a quotable #2 back at Ohio State. Instead, MC-13 got the breaks; got all the planets in alignment. He still has yet to realize how fleeting is fame. That celebrity athletes have about the same shelf life as a fruit fly. He still insists that, ultimately, Maurice Clarett's chin will wear down the world's fist.
And what does our man-child really want? He wants to play in the NFL. Of course! The best fit for him right now would be to be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas coach Bill Parcells has already declared that his team is "stupid". This could be a marriage made in heaven. There are guys just as delusional as Maurice plying in the NFL. Randy Moss and Cory Dillon come to mind. But how much is a team willing to invest in a hothead player that hasn't seen action in 2+ years, that has been hurt every year since his sophomore season in high school? Someone will be willing to roll the dice, of course. But probably not in the first two rounds.
And do you think that a Ray Lewis type would like to shut up (and shut down) a brash trouble-maker that tried to screw up the salary structure for a bunch of wealthy grown men that treasure their fleeting time in the league? Do you think?
And what do you think about Maurice after these three star-crossed years in Columbus? Would any of you give back the National Championship that he helped to bring home to Ohio? OK, does anyone out there believe in his integrity or in his ability to make two good decisions in a row? And are those two thoughts related at all?
All good questions, I posit. So here's a simple test I devised to see where you fall into the thinking on this subject. Take it when you have a chance and score your own "MC IQ". No cheating now, and don't let any of the OSU teaching assistants help you with the answers.
Question #1: Think like Maurice thinks. Which of the following are true:
a) The sun revolves around the earth.
b) The earth revolves around Maurice Clarett.
c) Maurice was used as a pigeon while he was at OSU.
d) Maurice should be used as a clay pigeon in a skeet shoot.
Question #2: Whom would you choose as a model of integrity for your children:
a) Jim Tressel
b) Maurice Clarett
c) Jeffery Dahmer
d) Any freshman college student that dropped out of school after taking numerous gifts and blowing lucrative contracts and a chance to have the time of his life?
Question #3: Whom would you look to for mental stability:
a) Maurice Clarett (before Jim Brown counseled him)
b) Maurice Clarett (after the consultation, in which Brown threatened to bitch-slap him if he caused Tressel any more problems)
c) An NFL agent.
d) Osama Bin Laden
e) Too close to call
Question #4: If you were counseling Maurice, you would try to:
a) Stop him, for God's sake.
b) Stop him for his own sake.
c) Convince him to leave the country.
d) Convince him that he is skating on the other side of the ice.
Get back to me with your scores…
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Let's open up our kimono…Here's the thing: When you get 100 highly sought-after kid-athletes together in a football program, there's a Bell Curve of adolescent misbehavior and character. That is, you will always have that Mike Nugent or an AJ Hawk at one end of the curve, and there's gonna be a Maurice Clarett or a Derek Morris at the other end. There seems to be an absolute inverse correlation between their physical talent/potential and their ability to handle it!
The real scandal, or cover-up, is the media's unquenchable thirst to "expose" the obvious. The only time any of this casually aberrant behavior should merit headlines or one of ESPN's half-ass investigations is when the program learns about bad behavior and then tries to obscure it (see: Colorado football; see: Michigan basketball). In fact, in the NFL and NBA, it has become a rite of passage with simply better legal counsel and more expert public relations.
What yanks my chain is that we have the same rate of problem children progressing through OSU, only we are taking those children out to the woodshed; they are getting their public flogging, their dismissals from the university or their early acceptance into the pro's. Tressel has cleaned up the football program by culling out these kids. Then they get even by "calling out" the coach. And the lazy yellow journalists around the country pick up cold case leads like it's hot off the griddle. Hey ESPN: Laci Peterson is missing! Hey Sports Illustrated: they haven't found Nicol Simpson's murderer!
So my theory is that the only way we will cure this passion is by satiating it. Instead of allowing some retrograde reporter to stumble upon a few ancient facts that have been thoroughly scrutinized, let's revel publicly in our recent Rogue's Gallery. Let's throw every old behavior problem under the bus to make them easy to hit. Why should non-sports journalists like The National Enquirer lag behind those hard-working exhumers at ESPN. Just the facts, ma'am.
I say we open the kimono, trot out every memorable miscreant and - what do you know - the coaches have already dealt with them? That's right. And that's the bottom line - you see kids get in trouble and you take care of it. We can't help it that these same kids alert the media because they miss the limelight. We can't help it that there's a severe shortage of responsible journalism with nothing creative to pursue.
To help me in this important project, I enlisted our crack research staff (no, not Marco Cooper, guys…) here at Bucknuts. And then we put together an entire team of misfits. That gives Maurice the companionship he so desperately seeks. Maybe, then, he won't go looking for reporters to assuage his peculiar pathology. We see this list as The All-Scoundrel Team
Mr. B's All-Scoundrel Team
Steve Bellisari: While we can't indict Steve for playing poorly (and out of position), we can reference his unfortunate drinking binge and resultant DUI while being captain and preparing for season-ending games with Illinois and Michigan.
Maurice Clarett: The honorary captain of the All-Scoundrel team, of course.
Lydell Ross: He gets the nod just because he is a captain; although the charges have been dropped, they won't be forgotten.
Dishonorable mention: Ira Guilford (abetting an assault); Jermon Jackson (associating with potheads); Sam Maldonado (to quote our own Steve Helwagen here: "Even his Dad says he's a pain in the ass"); Richard Hall and Terry Pogue (inability to study).
Branden Joe: Falling asleep while inebriated in his car on an exit ramp merits special attention. I hate to pick on this guy but I needed a fullback…
Andrew Lee: Convicted of murder at a video store, actually served time on Death Row.
Angelo Chattams: Stole and tried to re-sell golf clubs. Got caught from behind…
David Boston: We're being a trifle mean-spirited here as most of his (reported) narcotics adventures came post-OSU.
Chris Vance: Substance abuse.
We had an embarrassment of riches at this position so we went with a four-wide attack. If you're not convinced, here's our Dishonorable mention add-ons: Reggie Germany (he tested negative, with an 0.0 GPA), Jimmy Redmond (suspended because of numerous traffic violations), Maurice Harris (academics) and Kenyon Rambo (general indifference and some aberrant social activities).
Louis Irizarry: More assault charges than receptions, and all in his first year.
Redgie Arden: Multiple drinking charges and he missed a year for getting assaulted.
LeCharles Bentley: Sued for assaulting teammate Tyson Walter - for being generally obnoxious and unlikable.
Tyson Walter: See above…
Derek Morris: His grades were low and his father made Derek unbearable.
Paul Breed: Caught snatching the purse of a little old lady (LOL).
Reggie Smith, Paris Long, Fred Sturrup and Greg Packnett all are Dishonorable Mentions due to academic insufficiencies.
Marco Cooper: Let me count the ways: 1) Crack 2) Gun charges 3) Traffic violations
Robert Reynolds: The only one on this list to commit his criminal behavior on the field
Dishonorable Mention: Chris Kirk (academics) and Rodell Dupree (excessive partying)
Derek Ross: Three convictions before he even got to Columbus; played under criminal probation and was subsequently accused of other non-related crimes and adventures as a Buckeye.
Mike Burden: Singled out (unfairly perhaps) as an academic casualty only because those players that saw him said he was amongst the best they had ever seen.
Dishonorable Mention: Che Bryant, Curtis Crosby, Ziyier Walker, BJ Barre, and LeAndre Boone (all insufficient GPA's).
Dareus Hiley: Academics
AJ Trapasso: Two under-age drinking charges between the time he committed and the time he got to campus.
Dishonorable Mention: Brian Pierce (highly regarded St. Ed walk-on kicker that succumbed to multiple partying temptations)
It can wear you out. And apart from calling attention to all the guys that have disgraced the Buckeye program, the point here is that all programs have their children that just can't cut it. Ohio State is no better, no worse. But check it out, ESPN: we have already cleaned it up. Who's in denial here? Now maybe ESPN can look into their own problems of over-eager irresponsibility…
And for Maurice to wallow in the slings and arrows that have come his way, I just say: You aren't special, man, in this regard. Grow up. Get over yourself. And get on with your life so that we (and the rest of this group) can get on with ours…
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It's Michigan week…You can rail against our offense or speculate about the defense but it would do my scarlet-and-gray heart proud to see this chaotic band of Buckeyes to pull out the nearly unthinkable and upset the smug and arrogant Wolverines. I mentioned before: it's a one-game season to me when you eventually analyze the year in retrospect. Did we beat Michigan? That defines the year…
And we have some hope, here. Smith is the kind of quarterback that's hard to prepare for (hey - ask some of our own receivers!). We have an offensive line with 8-9 possible starters. We don't know who will play in the defensive secondary so how will they? And which first year players will show up big: Gonzales, Pittman, Smith, Ginn, Lyons, Turrano, Dionte Johnson, Schlegel? Maybe the big surprise is that they'll start Boeckman!
We don't really need to do a lot of things differently (and we won't) but we need to do all those different things a lot better. Plus, we've got coaches that know how to beat Michigan. And we've got players that know how to beat Michigan. We know what it feels like to beat Michigan. So, altogether now, let's just say:
Or, if you want to say something else, just send your comments and critiques to Mr. Bucknuts at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com. He doesn't mind. Really…