It's time again to trot out the same old tired discussion about the BCS Mess. The Bull Championship system is rife with problems, of course. Yet, those that still favor it fall into two camps: 1) They are tired of confronting the overwhelming logic against the system or 2) They try to render the logic moot by remarking on how the "controversy" every year brings attention to college football. That is the "Michael Moore Argument", that by stringing together a bunch of unrelated facts, tying them up in spectacle and adding controversy makes the whole thing a great movie. It doesn't. And like a Michael Moore movie, when we are done with the bowls, everyone knows they saw something, it just wasn't very satisfying, or particularly well done.
(Playoffs)So why should this year be any different? Three undefeated teams and the ones with the best PR get to play for the "national championship"? The ones that the coaches/writers (both groups are unknowing) bestowed early recognition, despite how they finished the season? There's USC, of course, a truly dominant team that beat Cal by six and, in it's penultimate game, with a national championship on the line, converted 1 of 13 third downs against a mediocre UCLA squad to prevail 29-24. Then you have the perennial fave, Oklahoma. Last year, they were annihilated by upstart Kansas State in their last regular season game to get into the national championship game (excuse me?). This year they beat Oklahoma State (yes, that OK State) by three and A&M by seven and can you say (Playoffs).
So why isn't Auburn playing for the national title? Because their coach Tommy Tuberville was almost canned last year. So they were an after-thought with the PR committee at the beginning of the season. Actually, that helps Ohio State, in my mind. If Auburn wins, we remain the last undisputed national champion, from back in 2002. Ever since, there will be shared championships (Playoffs).
And that brings me to the obvious and transparent arguments for a (Playoff). See – I have been building up to it all along! Every other football division in the NCAA has playoffs. Every other sport in the NCAA has playoffs. High school teams play 15 games in 15 weeks to determine the rightful champions. Are you telling me that college players (and only in Division I) can't play 14 games spread out over 19 weeks? Will their studies suffer? Will they get tired? Will you give me a break?
And then there is the insipid money argument. The college presidents (look them up under either "ivory tower" or "out of touch") are worried that the Bowls would suffer and there would be less money. Hey – guys – wake up and smell the greenbacks! There would be two-three times the money in a Playoff! Why? Because the public wants it, interest would build (check out your March Madness stuff there, boys) and sponsors would open up like Michael Moore in front of a microphone. If you don't want the extra hundred million or so, give it to the athletes so they don't have to work sham jobs while making you a fortune. Hell, give it to charity and do something worthwhile with all those meetings you attend…
The bowls are in trouble, there's hardly enough teams to qualify to play all the games. And the ones that are in it are uninteresting games played by uninteresting teams, for the most part.
Plus, you would get better inter-sectional games earlier in the season when national powers could collide without risking their ultimate championship hopes. In basketball, the Louisvilles are willing to take a bunch of losses knowing that it gets them ready for the tournament. We would have better teams playing better football and the teams playing the best at the end of the year get the title. Makes sense?
Bring back the excitement to the Bowl System and let us crown a true national champion. I say Playoffs!
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Linebacker U…Yes, we have the best linebacker in the country (AJ Hawk). Yes, we have the best wild boar hunter playing linebacker (Anthony Schlegel). And we have the best linebacker who is the son of an NFL running back (Bobby Carpenter). But there are even more interesting facts about our current linebacker group.
From that outstanding haul of linebackers that enrolled in 2001, Hawk was virtually an afterthought. He had an unbelievable career at Centerville, averaging nearly 150 tackles a year, playing fullback and punting the ball. But he got hurt as a senior, had 40 times at about the 4.7 mark and was quiet. Now, he's one of the great linebackers in the history of a school that has a history of great linebackers. Carpenter was in that class, of course, but the real centerpiece of the recruiting group was Mike D'Andrea, who was believed – by some – to be the best ‘backer in the country. He drove everyone nuts (all us recruitniks, that is) before he finally picked Ohio State over Nebraska.
But there were other big names in the class. Mike Kudla was a superstar who could lift behemoth amounts of weight. Stan White was a high school All-American and played both LB and TE. And some people said that the best Mike LB in the state was John Kerr, from St. Ignatius. Kudla has gotten better and better as a defensive end. White is looking for playing time as a fullback or a tight end. And Kerr? By a circumlocutious route, he ended up at Ohio State after "prepping" at Indiana and then serving a two-year apprenticeship – for various reasons – on the scout team.
Lastly, I couldn't go a full year without mentioning our old friend Buster Davis in an article. Just like this year's Ronnie Wilson, he befriended a lot of people on the message boards and we rooted hard for the Buckeyes to take him. He contacted me a year later and asked if I thought that the staff would let him transfer – he missed "his boys". No one on the staff seemed to think that was a good idea. So Buster is having a quiet but solid career at Florida State and doing just fine, thank you.
And what a year that was for linebackers! As we look at OSU being in on 6-7 LB's this year for what appears to be 2-3 spots, we can reflect back and see how those positions might get re-distributed…
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Recruiting from the odds-and-ends zone…Each week, we have been taking a look at certain recruiting positions, and drilling down to magnify the recruiting process. In past weeks, we have looked at running backs, quarterbacks and tight ends. This week, we turn our attention to the …
Wide receivers: While recruiters from Ohio State might be playing checkers at most positions (we need one quarterback – let's go get him…), we are playing three-dimensional chess at the side receiver spots. OSU is blessed to have a surplus of talent returning next year: Santonio Holmes, Teddy Ginn (sophomore), Tony Gonzales (sophomore) and Roy Hall (junior) have all seen a bunch of playing time. We will see a new gang emerge next year in Devin Jordan (sophomore), Albert Dukes (red-shirt freshman), Devon Lyons (sophomore) and a group of a walk-ons.
So that makes it seem that we don't need much in the way of reinforcements, right? Wrong – you checkers players. In fact, we already have two new receivers signed on in Andre Amos and Brian Hartline. We are looking for a Gamble/Ginn/Jarrett/Holmes type, meaning someone that moves the seismograph. Guys we are in on? Derrick Williams, perhaps the best HS athlete in the nation. Carlos Thomas from Georgia. We struck out on a great athlete in Selwyn Lymon and Ohio's best receiver Mario Manningham.
In Ohio next year? Whew, what a disaster. One of the best in the state (it should have been a great class) was killed (Lorenzo Hunter), and the other top two chose to play basketball (JuJuan Jones and David Lighty). That wiped out the superstar potential. We are left with Devin Jones (Glenville) and Rob Parris (St. Ignatius) and a cast of late bloomers.
How I see it: OSU doesn't really need a WR this year but we will next. Unless a Derrick Williams comes on down, we are probably done here.
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Something great this way comes…While the obsession to dump on "the program" runs its course, it's could be a gratifying interlude to step back and appreciate those pillars of Ohio State football – the men that add the grandeur to all that which we revere. In the past ten years, we have been treated to so many once-in-a-lifetime performers that we almost get jaded. Perhaps that's why we wallow – occasionally – in the aberrant OSU athletes. Maybe it's a guilt reflex, like "We are not worthy".
Well, we are worthy. And we should be a little more appreciative! Since the mid-nineties, giants have trod the earth that makes up the hallowed grounds of Ohio Stadium. Orlando Pace might have been the greatest offensive lineman in the history of our century-old program – and he was a solid class act on and off the field. Was there ever a better running back in the storied annals of the Buckeyes than Eddie George – or a man with finer character? And how about Joe Germaine – a fantastic quarterback who quietly bided his time and performed miracles when called upon. There were the freakish talents of Andy Katzenmoyer, whose planting of Corby Jones alone justifies his place in the pantheon. And now here comes Mike Nugent and AJ Hawk. From the same school – from the same mold. The best in the country at their positions and humbled by it all. True schoolboy athletes – from the old school. You will never see a better kicker than the Nuge. You will never see the likeness of the Hawk.
And we are not done. Teddy Ginn is here. A fine person and an almost surreal athlete. Yes, there will be more. This is The Ohio State University. And long after the Tyson Walters and the Maurice Claretts and the Louis Irizarrys are forgotten and consigned to the slagheap of history, Ohio State will continue to burnish stars and attract fantastic people to "the program"
So while our hearts can generate that rebounding thrill, know that the performers we see in scarlet and gray go past the problems and issues, they are creating memories that, yes, are a joy which death alone can still…
To add your comments to the deathless prose (or cons) of Mr. Bucknuts, feel free to e-mail him at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com