The real calendar…There is a parallel universe to the reality of the football world (we think reality is a concept reserved for those that can't cope with college football). In our own bizarre existence here at Bucknuts, the calendar remains a month or two off from that Roman Caesar salad of a calendar that regular civilians use. As an example: Spring (to a college football fan) really ends when April is done and spring practice is over - along with the spring game having been played. Summer starts the first of May with individual workouts, summer recruiting camp in June and winding down as the players return in July. Then summer is over and Fall begins in August with the advent of practice resuming. Fall is made up of August, September, October and November (the longest and best season of the year!). Finally, there's Winter: December, January and February. Winter is reserved for bowl games, playoffs (when they start in 2021…) and recruiting of course!
Yes, it's a busy calendar if
you're just a little bit, well…nuts.
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We still feel a draft in here... The NFL draft has come and gone, the crowds have dispersed and everyone is back home safely with their families. That doesn't stop me from digging up the draft corpse and taking a last look. Of course. And this is what I see:
1) The number of Northwestern players that got drafted outnumbered the Michigan draftees 3-2
2) In non-Michigan news... Marcus Vick went through both Saturday and Sunday undrafted. Then he wasn't picked early by any team looking to sign free agents. The character issues just over-shadow the talent too much in his case
3) From our new friend Dennis Dodd:
"The NFL Draft isn't
always an indicator of a college program's relative strength. But for our notes
column purposes, it is. Read on:
Today's Final Jeopardy answer: Cal Poly, Abilene Christian, Alabama State, Northwestern State, Grambling.
The question: What teams had more players taken in the NFL Draft before Michigan saw its first player go off the board in the fourth round?
The draft was
an extension of those woes. Embarrassing? First-day picks: Ohio State 7,
Total Michigan draft picks: three. The rest of Big Ten: 38.
Not only that, seven of the league's 10 other teams had as many or more picks than Michigan.
4) Miami barely kept alive its string of 12 straight seasons with a first-round choice. Seattle took cornerback Kelly Jennings at No. 31. Miami is another "M" team taking on water. As their ship starts to capsize, it is worth noting that there is almost a perfect correlation between the time Coker took over the rudder and the problems beginning – again.
5) Ohio State seems to be in their own league, at least when it comes
to comparing us to the rest of the Big Ten's real league. At least when
it comes to the NFL interests. Take a look at how each B-10 school did for the
first day of the draft:
Total players drafted from the Big Ten: 15
Ohio State: 7
Michigan State: 1
Penn State: 1
Everyone else: 0
Add to that disparity that three of the Bucks were underclassmen. Those three represent more first-day picks than anyone else had, in total!
6) Thinking about Ashton Youboty. It's hard to "feel sorry" for a good kid that is deserving of some NFL riches. But – in retrospect – he probably would have served himself better, and the Buckeyes, had he stayed another year. Could have been a captain – a leader. Could have padded the stats and looked much more like a first-rounder than a third-rounder. As someone else rightfully pointed out first: he could have been a Top 20 pick next year. Based off of falling out of the 1st round, it probably cost him five to twelve million dollars over a 5 to 6 year contract.
7) And how many first-dayers will we have next year? (Realizing that the median number in the Big Ten this year was about 1.5…) I think we will have at least three (Pitcock, Troy Smith and Teddy), with additional possibilities being Patterson, an offensive lineman (either Datish or Downing) and Pittman – if he leaves early.
Pretty heady stuff, all that…
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Is USC the new "Michigan"?...For those of us petty enough to reminisce about the beat-downs that Petty Pete Carroll has given Ohio State in recruiting lately (Fred Davis, Dwayne Jarrett, Mark Sanchez, Jeff Byers, and Walker Ashley just off the top of my head…), it's hard to resist the scratching temptation when itches are announced at SUC, I mean USC. Then you look at a few of the gaffes of the past weeks and you see (I mean USC) slips and falls adding up. As one poster put it:
Final damage estimate on Matt Leinart staying in school an extra year: $10 million to $13 million. That's an educated guess on how much less in salary and bonus Leinart forfeited by sticking around. Had he come out in 2005, Leinart probably would have been the No. 1 pick in the draft. He slipped to No. 10 (to the Cardinals). Was it worth it?
Lore has it that Petey advised both Matt and Reggie Bush to stay in school (it certainly would have been better for Pete!). That was absurd advice for Bush – picked second – and doesn't look so great for Leinert, in retrospect.
Then there's the new issues surrounding the upscale apartment Jarrett shared with Hollywood Matt Leinart. And the Reggie Bush economics. And the quick (and dismissed" pseudo-scandal with Mark Sanchez. I say in advance to all of you chortling fans from Ohio, remember that this is how a great program is treated once they achieve a certain level of prominence. Remember post-2002, anyone?
I actually like – and respect what Carroll said after this rash of real (and reported) incidents:
"We needed to see this
coming, and we didn't," Carroll was quoted saying in a column about the recent
spate of trouble facing some of the team's current and former players. "It's
gone beyond all the heads up, all the alerts, all the education we give these
kids. We need to do more."
In the past week, questions have been raised about housing arrangements for the family of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, taken No. 2 overall by the New Orleans Saints in this weekend's NFL draft, and about whether an upscale apartment that wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett shared with former teammate Matt Leinart violated NCAA rules. Also, the university has indefinitely suspended backup quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is under investigation on allegations he sexually assaulted a female student.
Speaking generally about the recent problems, Carroll told the Times he needs to better educate his players about outside influences, especially now that USC has become a college football powerhouse -- and a target.
"Our guys are marked guys, they have had success and there's people trying to get in on that, and we need to do a better job of making them understand the problems there," he told the Times. "We have moved into very different territory now, all the hype, all the distractions, all the people who want to influence us, and we will be more aware of that. We will work harder to control that."
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Four more years, four more years…That's the chant that goes up when you watch a budding Ted Ginn or a Chris Wells or a, well…Greg Oden. But can we get more than the minimum out of these emerging superstars? In football, the legalisms now dictate that a player will stick around for at least three years (and that's why you won't see a Kurt Coleman or a Ross Homan or a Chris Wells red-shirt anymore…). In basketball? The new rule is – basically – that they have to stay for at least one year. Which is a better rule than the old rule which said they didn't have to show up at all.
Which brings us back to the promising career of Greg Oden, the best high school basketball player in the nation and a sure first pick in the NBA draft once he decides to collect that next $100,000,000 or so. Rumors started (and I think Greg himself started them…) that he would stay at OSU longer than the one required year. Wow – good stuff. Then, this past week, both Oden and OSU-bound running mate, Mike Conley, were quoted in an Indy paper saying:
"We don't have the mindset that we are freshman, and we need to adjust," Conley said of heading to Ohio State in the fall.
"We want to be able to fit right in and have an impact from Day 1."
That idea was echoed by Oden, who was named Indiana's 2005 Mr. Basketball last month.
"Anybody who comes into college, their expectations are high because you always want to be that person who turns a program around and bring a championship to that program," he said. Oden, projected to be the top pick in the NBA draft before a rules changed meant he had to stay at least a year in college, is looking to remain at Ohio State for half of his college eligibility.
"I have to get there first," Oden said. "I will stay longer than two years, I am pretty sure of that. I want to get my education, that's always first.
"That's the plan."
A man with a plan. And we like that plan…
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From strength to strength…When previous strength and conditioning coach, Dave Kennedy, left the Buckeyes, there was a great rending of garments and gnashing of teeth amongst the faithful that the program would never be the same. That Kennedy was "indispensable". (Charles de Gaulle once said, "The cemeteries are full of indispensable people" – now including Charles de Gaulle, as well…)
Then, some of the Kennedy criticisms starting coming out post hoc (once had landed a new position at Pitt and now Nebraska). He favored the NFL-bound players. He was too traditional in a world of new cutting edge techniques. Yadda yadda yadda. In came Al Johnson (as well as Mike Cochran and – eventually - Butch Reynolds). Suddenly, the techniques were too cutting edge and the regimens were too non-traditional. Except for one thing: the Buckeyes looked great, got stronger and seemed in better shape than anyone we played.
Point here? The S&C coaches will come and go. Let's not get morose about it. The program is bigger than the people. Cochran came-and-went to Marshall, as an example, when Mark Snyder left for there. Ohio State under Tressel has proven that there are numerous ways to skin the cat that we call conditioning (not even counting some of the ways that Barry Bonds pioneered…). As we add and substitute talent, these guys will continue to be critical. But they will also continue to change…
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Smarting off at the professional level…Now that the NFL draft is safely behind us, we can look back languorously at the brouhaha over Vince Young and his "intelligence" scores. I say, thank god he was smart enough to leave college early and that we don't have to face him in Austin on September 9!
Well, as I was saying…The NFL administers a Wonderlic Personnel Test, for their own peculiar reasons, to assess the quantifiable smarts of players they are drafting. This test has been around since 1937 and has been administered to more than 120 million people, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. It's a 12 minute test and the scores range from 0 to 50. Incidentally, only Bengal punter/receiver Pat McNally ever got a perfect score in the NFL. Yes, Pat was from Harvard, where they teach you to do well on tests…
The Journal calculated that – over the past ten years – the average NFL test-ee received a 19, which compares with the national average test score of 20. A little nugget that was provided: offensive linemen scored better then quarterbacks by a 27-25 score (that's "2" better, for you quarterbacks out there). The lowest score by position was defensive backs, with scores just under 18.
Vince Young got the muckrakers excited by scoring a 16, or the same score that Dan Marino had – not a bad yardstick there. Other quarterback scores from recent vintages? Tom Brady had a 33. Eli Manning had a 39. Brett Favre had a 22.
So Vince won't necessarily need any pointers on how to sign his name while endorsing large checks. I got a big kick out of the whole process and the article, which ended with this cautionary tale: "If a high Wonderlic score doesn't necessarily guarantee success, a low one doesn't sink you either. And if you're not handy with tools and can't play football, don't despair. There are other career opportunities, as indicated by a legendary exchange between Joe Namath and a smart-mouthed sportswriter. "Hey Joe", the writer supposedly asked the Jets hall of Fame quarterback, "How did you do in Basket Weaving at Alabama?" "I flunked out," Broadway Joe shot back. "I switched to something easier – journalism."
Now, that smarts…
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Which one is Saine, after all?...There was a great juxtaposition in styles over the last few weeks as two of the highest profile recruits in the nation made their decisions. First, you had Jimmy Clausen, the #1 QB in the country. He flew up to the Notre Dame spring game, held a televised press conference, announced he would be a Weis Guy, and then went to the game in a stretch limo. Cool. Brandon Saine is Ohio's #1 running back and one of the fastest scholastic humans in the country. He and his Piqua High school coach simply called Jim Tressel privately and then let it leak out to Bucknuts and some other lesser sites. That was all. That was even cooler…
A couple of different types of "brands" for your future superstars, eh? The "Clausen Brand" hopes to be the greatest ever at Notre Dame, hey - maybe the next Ron Powlus. The "Brand Insane" - the guy with the insane speed, simply hopes to be the next in a line of great running backs (or maybe even wide receivers…) at OSU; perhaps a combo guy like Robert Smith with both great power and speed.
I like his chances. I like the brand new guy on the Ohio State scene…
Sane? Insane? The Mr. B Brand? It's all difficult to sort out. But if you want to talk about Ohio State football, check in with Mr. Bucknuts at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com