Mr. Bucknuts Bucket Of Bullets

This week, Mr. Bucknuts discusses a few of his favorite things... no, not having fun at Notre Dame's expense; that comes later. For now, it's more on the BCS, Buckeye recruiting, and who's coming and going.

You know that the BCS is really screwed up when…

1. They accidentally get it right

Under the "Even a broken clock is right twice a day" line of thinking, it is laughable to hear that palpable sigh of relief in BCS circles; the delicate calculation finally worked one year! I mean, who wouldn't have picked Texas and USC to go to a national championship game? So they are saying that all these logarithms and obtuse pollings came out with the right answer? My ten year old with crayons could have come out with this answer…

2. You see "Conference Championship Games" like we saw…

Colorado wouldn't win the MAC. Yet, there they are – a week after getting blasted by a mediocre Nebraska squad – losing in the "championship" to Texas 70-3. And there's Florida State, after losing three in a row at the end of the year, knocking off a vastly over-rated Virginia Tech and automatically qualifying for the BCS while 10-1 Oregon simmers. Or how about a Nick Saban-less LSU getting embarrassed 34-14 by Georgia, which suddenly finds itself in "the thick of things" for the BCS?

3. There is an obviously better way…

Based on that mess and the continuing attempt to build TV ratings for the ABC-S, just eliminate the exhibition conference championships and let the eight highest BCS ranked teams play that week. Using last week's BCS guesses, that would have given us these games:

#8 Miami at #1 USC (ooh)

#7 Georgia at #2 Texas

#6 Notre Dame at #3 Penn State (hmmm…)

#5 Oregon at #4 OSU

Yes, it isn't perfect but it finally justifies the existence of the BCS and is a whole lot more fulfilling than watching USC beat "#11" UCLA 66-19. Plus, the next round of games (two weeks from then…) would have been USC versus Ohio State and Texas versus Penn State for the right to go the national championship. Think there would be any viewership with those line-ups?

4. Congress gets involved

Here's a deliberative body that can't solve the budget, can't agree on military activities, has screwed up the tax code and spends a majority of its time investigating ethical concerns of its own members. Yet, even they think they can fix the BCS! That's how screwed up it is, Johnny. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee charged with regulating America's sports industry announced it would conduct a hearing, calling the BCS "deeply flawed". Led by John Barton, a Texas Republican, they called for a "comprehensive review" of the BCS and post-season college football. "Too often, college football ends in sniping and controversy, rather than winners and losers," Barton said. "The current system of determining who's #1 appears deeply flawed".

Once they are done fixing the BCS, we will turn loose Congress on addressing that ESPN problem…

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The MAC attack…As profiled some weeks ago in this column, the MAC conference in mid-Ohio added further evidence to the belief that it is the toughest conference in the state. Coldwater won the Division IV title rather convincingly, 33-9 while Delphos St. John won the Division VI crown in a similar fashion, 28-0. If Versailles hadn't "screwed the pooch" in Division V, we could have seen three state champs from one conference.

Other thoughts from last weeks' state finals:

1. We saw the fourth straight Cincinnati team win the heavyweight division as St X added it's name to Cincy brethren Colerain and Elder (twice). Anybody think that the locus of championship football hasn't moved from Northeast Ohio?

2. We saw Ross Homan as a man amongst boys in the Coldwater romp through the playoffs. And our Bucknuts columnists Bill Greene noted: Coldwater has a sophomore that WILL be a D-1 recruit some day. #5 Ryan Geier is another Brian Hartline. Long arms. 6' 1" 175 pounds and seems like he has pretty good speed. I'll watch for him at camps next summer. Maybe the best sophomore WR-DB I saw this year. His coach raved about him. I don't know if he's a hurdler, but he has hip turn like J-Lo. I see him as a DB but he prefers offense and his coaches see him there in college. Nice athlete

3. Bill also got a chance to talk with injured Mooney super-athlete Derrell Johnson, who covets a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes. Of Johnson, he reports: If I've met a nicer kid this season I don't remember it. Polite, articulate and thoughtful. I'm stunned he has grade problems. After the interview I told Steve Helwagen that Johnson was such a great kid to speak with. He spoke like the class president. He needs a chance. He will be a college graduate some day. An instant favorite with me.

4. Finally, we noted enthusiastically that Buckeye commit, Antonio Henton, a hidden gem in rural Georgia lead his team to the state championship, winning 35-14, running for two TD's and throwing for two. The kid is a winner and is Columbus-bound.

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The Recruiting Buzz

Each year, ‘ol Mr. Bucknuts turns to his encyclopedic knowledge of recruiting, matches it with his crystal ball, tosses in some salacious gossip and random speculation, and passes the whole mess off as recruiting analysis. I used to do that on a regular weekly/monthly basis until we supplanted that effort with a professional look by staffers (Steve Helwagen, Duane Long and Gary Housteau), guys that really knew what they were talking about.

Oh well.

But one annual tradition at this time of year is to take in the Bucknuts' buzz. Looking forward to next year, the current recruiting crop and the 2007 possibilities – at least in Ohio. Over the next few weeks, I will take on 1-3 positions in each column and give you both the fast facts and glib opinions. Today, we look at the offensive line.

Offensive Line

It has taken Coach Tressel his entire tenure at OSU to get the type of players he wants to man the offensive line. It has taken equally long to get sustainable depth there (that means ten guys who can play). Now, where do we go?

Who They Lose: The two big names are Nick Mangold and Rob Sims. Count me as one who was very impressed with Mangold but not-as-impressed-as-others with Sims. The scuttle would have it that super frosh Jim Cordle takes over at center and any number of tackle/guards (Doug Datish and Steve Rehring spring to mind) will replace Sims. Also, former walk-ons John Conroy and Steve Winner graduate and take some depth with them. Finally, Andre Tyree became the surprise "star" as an OT/TE against Michigan and he will be gone, as well.

Who's Back: That would include returning starters Kirk Barton (junior), super-soph Alex Boone, red-shirt freshman Jim Cordle, seniors Doug Datish and TJ Downing, Steve Rehring gets a medical year back and stays a sophomore. Also in that sophomore class, you have Kyle Mitchum, Ben Person, and Jon Skinner. Tim Schafer will be a senior.

Who's Coming: So far, there is only one confirmed, but he might be the best O-Lineman in the Midwest – Connor Smith. I am expecting Bryant Browning to join the Buckeyes and I really do expect Pitt-commit Joe Thomas to change his mind and come to the party. Remember, jumbo athlete Jacob Ballard might end up as a tackle in this group.

In 2007: This past year was the "Year of the Offensive Lineman" in Ohio. Oh, well. Next year? Amongst the good-but-not-yet-greats there are Caleb Lipsey of Cincinnati Sycamore, Marcus Houston of Brookhaven, Eric Thomas of Benedictine and the intriguingly named Corey Pigg from Middletown.

The Bucknuts Buzz: Conventional wisdom (sometimes right) has it that the starters would be Cordle at center (with Datish as back-up or early-season starter), Datish and Downing as guards and Barton and Boone as tackles. It's a great mix of youth and experience as all have started (except newcomer Cordle, of course) and only two are seniors. Steve Rehring is a giant plus as he can spell either tackles or guards. That would give you a two-deep of Datish at center, Connor Smith and Mitchum at guards, Ben Person and Rehring at tackles with Skinner and Schafer for depth.

The Buckeyes need three gamers in this upcoming class and Browning and Thomas would be perfect fits. If they don't get them both (or a replacement for one…), they will need four recruits in 2007 to keep the newly established pipeline full

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Give that to me STAT…At the beginning of this season, I was bragging on this Ohio State "D" as if they were part of my family (and we wouldn't mind having their future earning power in the Bucknuts' clan, either…). One of the questions was: could this defense stop the run? Answer: Hell yeah!

Not only are our beloved Buckeye defenders #3 in the nation in overall defense, but they are #1 in the nation in rushing defense. But you already knew that, didn't you? Here's something that even buttresses that defense further that you might not have focused on. Sent to my attention by a rabid Bucknuts stat guy, we determined that they created those awesome defensive rushing statistics against seven of the top forty rushing offenses in the nation, including two of the top three. Listed in order, they are #2 Minnesota, #3 Texas, #13 Penn State, #22 Michigan State, #27 Northwestern, #31 Iowa and #39 Michigan.

So while the SEC and Pac Ten and Big Twelve teams rack up stats against prep schools and I-AA teams, the defense is getting their stats the old fashioned way: they earn it…

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Kicks just keep getting harder to find…For as important as placekicking is in the overall Tressel Ball scheme, the path to the finish line for new kickers seems to zig and to zag. It has taken a very patient Aaron Pettrey nearly three years to see the field in a scholarship way and, yes, he will be but a third-year "freshman". And how about Ryan Pretorious, the approximately 26 year-old South African kicker? That is really patience! At one point, Jonathan Skeete was in the picture, giving up an academic scholarship to Northwestern (!) to play football at OSU, Unfortunately, Jonathan decided to get his kicks elsewhere and it seems that he has withdrawn from considerations.

But great kickers are so hard to find and so integral to the success of the Buckeyes that the staff looked hard at one Brian Wright, who came out of nowhere (well, actually Salem, Ohio…) to get the attention of Big Name Schools with his powerful leg. He nailed a 58-yarder and actually tried one from 63. Michigan offered Brian and he committed, despite being an OSU-guy at heart. The Buckeyes are still talking but – think of this – they have two kickers already that are both freshmen in eligibility. Would you carry three kickers (two on scholarship)?

I asked that same question in 2001 when it seemed unlikely that a power-legged Mike Nugent would get an offer with a scholarshipped frosh – Josh Huston – already in the fold. And, gosh, that seemed to work out pretty well for all concerned, no?

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Recruiting? These three could make our season next year…You look eagerly at the recruiting landscape and ask yourself: what three players would make a huge and immediate difference in the outcome of the 2006 season for OSU. You ask yourself – and I ask myself. And I answer with the following:

1. Donte Whitner: Keep him here and you have an All-American safety.

2. Ashton Youboty: Keep him here and you have an All-American corner.

3. Vince Young: Hope he leaves Texas and you have a win in Austin.

Can you think of any three recruits that would have an equal impact to those three next season?


When you are all done thinking and want to express those thoughts to Mr. Bucknuts, feel free to contact him at

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