What's the No. 1 question I am asked out in public? "Hey Mr. Bucknuts, how are the Buckeyes gonna do this year – what do ‘ya think?" Anyone who knows me also knows that I always think we will win every game. In fact, right now, OSU is probably favored in each game for next season. So what could possibly go wrong?
Well, tell me the story about Maurice Clarett again, Daddy. Or that ridiculous fable you made up on Louis Irizarry and Ira Guilford. How about the time Iowa lost their first four tailbacks? Then there's the pooch kick before halftime against Texas and the safety that never was and the lack of holding calls all year for Will Smith and the bizarre behavior of Robert Smith and…well, you get the picture.
There is a significant Murphy's Law to a football season, a law that states basically, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." There is also the corollary to Murphy's Law that says, "Whatever actually goes wrong is seldom what we anticipate." Like – with all the hype and publicity – will Troy Smith get in trouble again? Oooph. What if Teddy gets hurt? Arghhh. What if the new cornerback looks more like McNutt than Youboty? Yikes. You get a picture then that tells too much of a story.
Now, my Bucknuts jar is always more half-full than half-empty. It is full-to-overflowing again this year. Yes, I have been called full of it before. But it is a full season and an awful lot of things have to go right for me to be right.
And then there's O'Brien's Law, which simply states that Murphy was an optimist…
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Ask Mr. Bucknuts…I get between 50 and 100 e-mails a week and I try to answer them all. Even the hate mail (mostly from Michigan and Notre Dame fans…). So I started the "Ask Mr. Bucknuts" hotline for those of you that want to express yourself in person. The funny thing? People who call are usually funnier than I am. I know, I know – that's not setting the bar very high. But if you have a question about the team, about the way Bucknuts works, or something terribly personal, humiliating or insensitive, you, too, can play "Ask Mr. Bucknuts". Someone (who obviously disagreed with me - go figure…) called last week and said, "Hey Mr. Bucknuts. Your proctologist just called…they found your head". Anyway. Call me anytime (it's actually a young gorgeous blond answering machine…) at 614-837-8122. You can be with me on the radio. I don't care what you call me – just call me…
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The paint is now dry on Derrell…I can reference you any number of my other "Bucket" columns of the past that takes on this particular recruiting issue, but it is still so frustrating to me that I don't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt. The issue? How can kids not make it past Ohio State's academic screening committee but have no trouble getting into…Michigan? I mean, I can see that Illinois or Minnesota or the Michigan State Community College will take kids that aren't eligible for an elite academic institution like Ohio State, but lose good kids to Michigan? Ouch! To make it worse, we lose good kids at positions of need; kids that are from Ohio and…well, you see where this is headed. Phrased another way, Ohio State is a state public institution and it defies the laws of mental physics that they are tougher on kids we want than are out-of-state Big Ten schools. And…Michigan?
Wide receiver is one of those few "positions of need", as depth at OSU has skinnied down. Last year, OSU turned away Greg Mathews, a Florida kid with Ohio roots, who – some say – was OSU's #1 receiver recruit prospect in the nation. OSU couldn't get him in but Michigan could. That was last year. This year, it's Derrell Johnson, a great Ohio athlete that really wanted to go to Ohio State; so badly that – at one point – he was willing to walk on. Currently, he has offers from most of the Big Ten, with Michigan leading the charge.
Now, I will be the first to say that I am the last in line with inside information on why the staff of the committee rejected these guys. For all I know (insert joke here…), the Tressel brain trust really didn't like these kids as mush as we did. Or they were looking down the road to better prospects in subsequent classes. Maybe it was bad chemistry or they had other recruits in mind or – who knows. But…Michigan? One day, we could see a three wide out set of Manningham, Mathews and Johnson in maize and blue. And that would really hurt…
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A promo by any other name…I have been known to shill a bit, maybe pimp a product or an article or an idea. I'll admit it. But I am completely shameless about the deal managing editor Steve Helwagen just pulled off. Take a look; It could cost you $120 just to be a premium subscriber to Bucknuts.com (yes, you get a lot of cool stuff…). It could cost you an additional $50 a year if you bought Bucknuts the Magazine off the newsstand. Now, here's where it gets almost unbelievable: You could pay $39.95 for the best possible offer to buy Sports Illustrated for a year – usually lots more. Add those all together and you're talking over $200. But, for the proverbial limited time, you get it all for $99!
And you want more? (No kitchen knives or record clubs, sorry…) How about we throw in for free the new Helwagen Fiesta Bowl book that just came out? And we give you $15 off Fox's nifty WhatIfSports.com. Come on down – this is a great time to be a Buckeye and a great time to subscribe to Bucknuts!
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Is Jimmy Clausen the next Brady Quinn, or is he just the next Rick Clausen?...Or take the middle ground – he could be the next Casey Clausen, which is another way of saying that the next Big Deal might be no big deal at all.
In the time that I'm allotted in each column to pick on Notre Dame and Charlie Weis, I am using it this week to re-open the scab I started about the vain and glorious introduction of Jimmy Clausen to the Domer Nation. Heck, I'm not that good at it; let's let someone else describe for you. In an article written by Eric Sondheimer last week, he put it this way:
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen of Westlake Village Oaks Christian has one year of high school remaining, but he opened the door to be treated as if he were already a college student by the way he handled his college announcement, choosing Notre Dame last month at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.
As Michael A. Lough, a columnist for the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, put it, "Knute Rockne threw up. George Gipp asked for a shot. Ara Parseghian is thrilled to be out of the game.
"And the ghosts of deceased Hall members gathered together to make a statement: 'Get that punk-haired kid outta our Hall until he does something on the college level other than load up on gel and hype.' "
Clausen and his family brought on the treatment themselves. They kept their coaches at Oaks Christian out of the loop, not even telling them there was a news conference, let alone his college choice.
They allowed an NFL agent, Gary Wichard, to put together the news conference. Wichard, who said he's a family friend, had his former employee, Jeff Freedman, a public relations specialist, call the College Hall of Fame to make arrangements to use the facility. Freedman also was responsible for sending out an e-mail release to a select number of national media outlets inviting them to the announcement.
Wichard confirmed he was among more than a dozen Clausen friends and family members who showed up at the Hall of Fame in a stretch limo escorted by police.
Clausen, dressed in a suit and tie while showing off his three CIF championship football rings, made the announcement to thrilled Notre Dame supporters. Others weren't so impressed, especially after Clausen said he hoped to lead Notre Dame to four national championships.
Clausen's father, Jim, who went through the recruiting process with older sons Casey and Rick, should have known better than to allow his son to be caught in this public-relations fiasco. Jimmy Clausen, who turns 19 in September, is old enough to be a college student but wanted to have one more year of the high school experience.
That's not going to happen now. The bar has been raised so high in terms of expectations, Clausen is going to be subjected to criticism with each interception, each incompletion and any defeat.
As the columnist from Georgia wrote, "Such histrionics anywhere invite the prayer for failure, regardless of the destination or level. You can almost lump Clausen now into the file with Bosworth, Marinovich and Leaf."
Clausen jumped the gun in wanting the hype and adulation afforded a top college athlete, and now he's going to suffer the consequences.
Sportswriters and fans have been given the green light, and they're going to treat him as they would any high-profile college or pro athlete. That means every mistake is open to ridicule and every decision made on or off the field is fair game for scrutiny. It sets the stage for what could be an unpleasant senior season.
And more grist for the mill for an already giddy Mr. Bucknuts…
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Going Long – and on and on…The Bucknuts staff is blessed with a surfeit of talent. Many sites like ours have a competent journalist as the founder/editor and the rest of the staff is composed of stringers or interns or people of equivalent competence. We are different here at Bucknuts. But you already knew that!
For one thing, our founder has no observable competence and "journalism" is a word he can barely spell, yet alone justify. But, after that, the rest of the crew is amongst the best in the business. And there's a bunch of them!
Starting with Steve Helwagen, who might be the most respected cyber-journalist in his class. Readers and coaches appreciate him alike. Not far behind is assistant managing editor Dave Biddle, a steadfast and dependable talent with respect from all that he touches. Our behind-the-scenes staff guys like webmasters Kirk Larrabee and Matt Natali are better writers and researchers than most managing editors. And then we have Gary Housteau, Charles Babb, Jerry Rudzinski, Ramzy, Nevada Buck, Bill Greene, Kyle Lamb, and…
Duane is in a class by himself!
There is no class of writers/analysts that watches tapes, talks to coaches, talks to players and families, and also compiles offer information from schools. Duane does it all. He also has a unique network of experts that turn him on to new talent and give him insights into character or work habit issues of the obvious talent. Duane talks to, analyzes and re-examines most of the top 250 high school football seniors in the state of Ohio.
That's why it is always exciting when Duane comes out with his rankings for the next season. In this current issue of Ohio High Magazine, Duane looked at over 350 seniors-to-be and ranked the Top 100 in order. He also assessed the highest profile juniors and sophomores. It was a massive assignment and Duane Long might be the only guy capable of pulling it off. Look for more updates on all these kids in future issues of Ohio High…
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A Long look back…In one of the last episodes of the Bucket of Bullets, we laughed about Duane's Top Ten from six years ago and how that was a class that kinda just crapped out on everyone. Where did the Top Ten (and other kids in that class end up?). Let's take a look
1. Simon Fraser – After a great career at Ohio State, Fraser is currently toiling for the Browns. This was a solid guy and a solid choice.
2. Pat Massey – Pat turned tail and went up north to Ann Arbor. He played out the string and seduced younger brother Mike to be in the same position.
3. Brandon McKinney – Duane was high on Chaminade that year (or something…) and had Brandon a little high as well. McKinney was a grades casualty and the fact that OSU "reneged" on the offer upset Coach Jim Place substantially. Brandon later had a somewhat undistinguished career at MSU, a school that isn't slowed down with the same academic concerns as OSU.
4. Angelo Chattams – See analysis of Duane/Chaminade above. Angelo was our first guest on the Bucknuts Radio Hour so we won't push too hard here. Chattams first ran afoul of the law and then had a neck injury that ended his very brief tenure at OSU.
5. Redgie Arden – Possibly the biggest disappointment on this list, only because his talent level seemed so high. Redgie was moved multiple times to multiple positions on the Buckeye defense, and he had multiple off-the-field issues, as well. The official ending came with a Chattams kind of finality and was written off to cumulative injuries.
6. Pierre Woods – We were told (by someone who should know) that Pierre was a lock for OSU if Tressel had been there rather than Cooper, at the time. Pierre made some noise for the Wolverines but never had a showing that matched his talent.
7. Chad Anderson – A very exciting LB/DE prospect out of Canton McKinley, Chad's claim to fame was that he was a cousin of UK signee Antonio Hall. Other than playing a few quiet years down there, that was the zenith, unfortunately.
8. Mark Conley – A defensive tackle from Lakewood, Mark had some academic issues and has disappeared from my radar. Let us know if he has surfaced in any of your lives…
9. Dustin Fox – After almost drifting elsewhere during the Cooper/Tressel coaching transition, Dustin had a sterling career as a Buckeye. Some think that he was a natural safety but he played awfully well as a corner, regardless. He just sat out an injury year for the Minnesota Vikings.
10. Tim Murphy – A tailback from Akron Buchtel (think Antonio Pittman), Tim played at Pitt and graduated (or should) in good standing (113 yards rushing last year).
As you can tell, this wasn't a stellar group and the rest of the class wasn't either (in retrospect). But there are a few interesting names that jump out at you from further on down the list. Maurice Hall was #13, Adam Olds was #18, Andre Tyree was #24, Lawrence Reid was #37, Brandon Schnittker was #49 and Josh Betts was #72. Two other stand outs? A guy named Mike Nugent was #74 ("Even though he is not that big, he does have a very strong leg"), 14 spots behind "Mike" Hamby. In the years before there were proof-readers at Ohio High, Ryan Hamby must have been using that alias…
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Third and Long…As Duane got in on kids when they were younger (and got to see more film…), he started unearthing potential superstars before most if us had ever heard the names. In the 2000-2001 edition of Ohio's Future Stars, check out the Top Ten sophomores and contrast them to that moribund group discussed above:
1. Maurice Clarett
2. Brian Andrews
3. Deshaun Wynn
4. Quinn Pitcock
5. Roy Hall
6. Tyler Everett
7. George Cooper
8. Justin Zwick (from Orrville)
9. Bobby Carpenter
10. Drushaun Humphreys
Other than George Cooper, these guys all made a big splash at the next level, after being designated as "stars" when they were 15-16. Drushaun, of course met a tragic end. Duane actually had him higher than Clarett, before his final season.
In that same class, Duane ranked the following: AJ Hawk at #12, Doug Datish at #13, Mike D'Andrea at #15, and Brian Cupito at #24.
You can see that – with that group of kids - he had a lot more to work with!
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Break out the old irony board…On Monday this week, Kosta Koufos committed to Coach Thad Matta and the basketball Bucks. Continuing the nearly fantasy run through b-ball recruiting, Matta picked up the #15 player in the country ( a seven foot tall power forward…) to go with a fabulous scorer, Top 100 super-shooter Jon Diebler, already in this class.
The irony? The basketball team now has as many commitments for the Class of 2007 as the football team…
If you have your own interesting observations (or want to take a low blow like Mr. Bucknuts enjoys on occasion…), feel free to contact him at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com