Mr. Bucknuts Bucket Of Bullets

Mr. Bucknuts returns with a long-winded Bucket that rounds up the usual suspects: Glen Mason, Notre Dame and Michigan in general. Then, specifically, he predicts if the Buckeyes will be better or worse next year. And why. Plus, there's stats-for-geeks, some jaded philosophy and - best of all – letters and cartoons he received. All in this week's inimitable Bucket of Bullets.

So, Minnesota blew into town – and was blown out. But before we talk "winds and losses", didn't it seem just a little spooky out there around the old Horseshoe?

Out in the South Field Hose parking lot, we watched all the tents got blown loose from their moorings and took off through the parking lot. I was expecting cows to fly by from the Ag quad. It was a Halloween homecoming and all sorts of weird and wild things were going on in the gusts and the chill. To wit:

  • Our baton guy marched confidently down the field in the pre-game ritual, flung the baton over the goal post and…dropped it. Luckily I'm not a superstitious kind of guy.
  • And was it so windy that they couldn't put the nets up behind the goal posts?  But I actually enjoyed watching Pettrey pump kicks into the crowd…
  • No sweater vest on Coach T, so he gave up playing close to the vest and let the kids go on a trick and treat romp.
  • The coaches didn't want to "blow a punt" in that swirling maelstrom so they decided not to punt at all in the game. Good call, that…
  • Jack Nicklaus took the short tour to dot the "I" at halftime. Although he didn't spin or carry an instrument of his trade, it was a cool deal. It forced Dave Biddle and the rest of us scribes to go along with the official list from OSU and to discard Buster Douglas as an "I-dotter" even though we saw Buster do it with our own, well…"eyes".

It was a fan-friendly homecoming despite the weather and it was a great warm-up for our tour of Illinois coming up these next two weeks. We are off to drink in Champagne next Saturday and then on to the Windy City, so the conditions were certainly appropriate to prep those last two tune-ups prior to Michigan. With all the great things we loved to see yesterday, there were some things you didn't like to see, as well:

  • Three fumbles, including the third this year by superstar-in-waiting Beanie Wells.
  • Injuries starting to mount with Pitcock in his sweats in the first half, Gonzo joining him in the second, Ray Small getting his bell rung and Mo Wells holding his arm funny when he left the field.
  • And a field that seemed reminiscent of Woody's 50's or 60's; at least the "cloud of dust" part. I have been to Division IV high school stadiums with better field conditions than I saw Saturday. Are you telling me that the #1 agricultural school in the world can't grow grass?

And did you notice that – for a second straight week – a botched PAT kept OSU from 45 points? Eerie, I say.

On a related extra point, Coach Tressel has to fire up the boys each week for games in which the Buckeyes are 25-35 point favorites. I don't know exactly how he does it (and it changes for every opponent, I'm sure) but it seems to be working.

For Michigan State, he had to talk about their traditional firepower and their historical penchant for upsetting the Buckeyes (more on that in a moment…). For Indiana? They had those three huge comebacks in the second half this year, don't you know, including dethroning a tough Iowa team. And for Minnesota? Well, there is the "Mason Factor".

Although Glen and Jim didn't want to discuss it, at one time they both thought they should be the coach of OSU and – fortunately – the Ohio State trustees agreed with Jim.  The two seemed friendly enough in the pre-game but the wind blew Mason by awfully quickly in the post-game handshake phase. Listen, we tried to make Minnesota feel at home. Hey – we even offered to set the clocks back an hour, later that night! But Glenn Mason wanted the Ohio State job and he doesn't like having his job on the line in Columbus and he didn't do much of a job between 3:30 and 6:30 Saturday and…

It reminded me of a Drew Carey line when he said: "Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that.  It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar."

Mason was a bit taciturn when he was asked in the aftermath presser about comparing Ohio State to Michigan, since he had the unique vantage point of being beaten badly by both teams within a four-week period. He demurred and refused to make the comparison.

I'm not so diplomatic, of course. Michigan beat Minnesota 28-14. We beat them 44-0. Yes, there are two more games in between, but it's time to talk about Michigan and NOT Minnesota anymore.

Plus, I checked with the NCAA. And they promised to look into the whole "losing an hour" thing Saturday. In fact, they promised to get that hour back by the end of April, at the latest…

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Countdown to Michigan…Since Notre Dame keeps providing evidence that they are basically just a mid-tier type Big Ten team, it's time to turn our attentions to the enemy up north. Yes, Those Guys. Nothing like being so presumptuous at this point in the season that you can blow off two other Big Ten games but that's the kind of guys we are.

Ah, yes. Michigan.

The name itself brings up eidetic memories and the aura of pretension, arrogance and a hatred that is palpable. For those of my era that grew up admiring (and thinking like) Wayne Woodrow Hayes, no further explanation is needed. And for those of you that don't understand, well…you can start writing your upbraiding e-mails to me right now.

How presumptuous are we at Bucknuts? Well, we are partnering in a trip to the National Championship game on January 8, assuming already that we will beat Michigan on November 18! That's right – come along with the Bucknuts crew (and Premiere Travel, a group that actually knows what they are doing…). Spend a few days in the desert. We will hold parties and we will get you there and back. We will chauffeur you around and provide tickets to the game. That's right –  that's the game after we beat the Wolverweenies in a couple weeks.

How will we fill in the gap between now and November 18? Well, on the radio we plan to have on two staunch Michiganders, leading up to The Game. Next week, we will host Joel Pennington, who wrote the book ("The Ten Year War") on the best era between Ohio State and Michigan. Then, here comes the infamous Tom Beaver the following week, in all his yellow and gold derring-do to give us more Michigan flavor. Stay tuned to The Bucknuts Radio Hour as we count down the days to liftoff.

Michigan fans and players have already started the trash talk, of course. (Not being as upstanding and classy as those of us in the Buckeye state). A big sign at the Big House last week screamed out: "We're coming for you Tressel"

It didn't really say what they planned to do once they got here but I have a few things in mind for that.

And then there's Prescott Burgess, the same guy who, first, lost his girlfriend to Maurice Clarrett then lost his way to Columbus, turning north instead.  Prescott wants to "Go down to Columbus and take away their #1 ranking". I won't stoop to the level of saying, "scoreboard", but I will say, "Mr. Burgess? Meet Mr. Stan White. The last time you saw him, you were on your back while Pittman was scoring…" Or as someone else offered up on our Insider board last week:


Hey Prescott,

Stan White Jr. would like to invite you to breakfast on Nov. 18th. He would like to serve you up some more of those pancakes you got last year


We will continue with this drivel and adolescent posturing, of course, right up to game time (and after – once we win!). But, perhaps, a classier outlook on being in the gun sites of Michigan fans and players alike was expressed by the increasingly classy Heisman laureate, Troy Smith. He said, "None of the guys on this team think we are the hunted. We do the hunting."

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Readers write in and let me off the hook…Since my best stuff is always someone else's stuff, I might as well be honest about it and give them some attribution. Here are selected snippets, pictures and comments from my loyal readers –and others – that are feeding back on last week's Bucket:l

Only Weis could "stir the pot"…This time, going on a tirade about Notre Dame being unfairly ranked (I'll say…) and asking about other coaches and cheeseburgers. I think if you google Weis, you get back a picture of a cheeseburger. Anyway, three writers had additional opinions and here they are:

Thanks for your excellent insight into TOSU program weekly!  I really enjoy your articles.

I especially enjoy your weekly tirade aimed at Charlie Weis.  I also happen to be a Pat's fan, who "the little tuna" helped win 3 SB rings.  However, I have not been impressed with his genius on the collegiate level. 

Please help me to remember what BIG game he has won at ND.  He is a coaching genius, right? 

Weis got beat by USC at home, got pummeled by TOSU in Arizona, eeked out a win against GT, was embarrassed by Michican't at home, barely survived Sparty in Lansing, and finally scored late against a UCLA team that has no idea what defense is.  Genius?  If that's the case, then Tress is God of the geniuses!


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And from my friend that brought the Half-Breeds to our attention:


Yo Mr. Nuts 

[In reference to my question about the Coast Guard "Bears"]

I think (but don't quote me on this) that the Coasties may  call themselves the Bears because of one of their first (maybe the first – but certainly the most loved and famous) of their early vessels was named The Bear.  This was back in the mid-to-late 1800s when they were the Revenue Service (and The Bear was known as a Revenue Cutter).  It patrolled Alaskan waters, and I knew a guy whose father once worked on it out in the Aleutians.  It was quite a ship.

So, we've never seen Hitchcock and ol' Mr. Arrogance [Charlie Weis] in the same room at the same time...hmmm.



 Did you see where he made some comment during an interview – totally out of the blue – about the NFL contacted him, but he said that he'll either die or retire a Domer.  Even the press saw through his shameless self-promotion – one of the talking heads called him on it.

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And from a real writer on the whole "Charlie Cheeseburger" caper…

By DJ Gallo

Special to Page 2 on ESPN

 (The italics are direct quotes pulled from the transcript of Weis' news conference.)

"One of the teams [Tennessee] that jumped us had the same game that we had. They're down, they're playing at home and they win by a field goal. Another team [Florida] that jumped us wasn't even playing. They were at home eating cheeseburgers and they end up jumping us. That befuddles me."

Hey, care to know what befuddles me, Charlie? How the head coach of Notre Dame, a program which has consistently been overrated and ranked higher than it deserved to be for more than a decade -- and for most of the past century -- has the audacity to complain about polls. I mean … wow! That more than befuddles me.

And do you want to know what else befuddles me? How you were able to dupe Notre Dame into giving you a 10-year contract worth nearly $40 million after starting your career 5-2 without a single win against a team that finished the season ranked in the Top 25. That's a bit befuddling. As is the fact that you are regarded as some sort of football god even though the next good team your Fighting Irish beat will be the first. In your tenure you have played three good teams (so much for the perception that Notre Dame plays a brutal schedule, huh?): USC last October, Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and Michigan five weeks ago. You were blown out in two of those three games. But, yeah, you almost beat USC. Congratulations. Heck of a moral victory there. That's exactly why you were hired. For moral victories.

Let's see … what else befuddles me? Oh, yeah: How you claim to hold everything about Notre Dame sacred, yet spend every Saturday afternoon on the sideline dropping F-bombs every other word and cussing out officials, all in the shadow of "Touchdown Jesus" and with a priest standing a few yards away. Sure, that's being a bit picky, I suppose, but I'm #^&*ing befuddled by it nonetheless.

And the "home eating cheeseburgers" line? Very clever. But you should probably know that not everyone spends their free time gorging themselves on fast food. It's true. (I know, I know -- this revelation has you "befuddled" yet again.)

But, sorry, you asked that someone tell you how that works and I ignored your question and went off on a tangent. My apologies. So here's how it works. (I'm not a voter, but I have a notion of how it goes.) Voters watch college football games and then at the end of every weekend rank the teams from best to worst as they see fit. Based on this week's polls, the average voter thinks your team is currently no better than 10th or 11th. Understand how it works? It's really quite simple. And, in all honesty, Notre Dame probably is not even deserving of being that high, but the polls are still adjusting to having your team ranked way too high to start the season -- which is sort of a rankings tradition.

And one more thing, since you asked -- no, you're not stupid. But you know you're not stupid. You just think everyone else is. That's why you are so incredibly condescending when you speak. It's part of your "charm."

*     *     *     *

These tumblin' dice always come up 7-11…Lucky for us, and thanks for the photo-op…    

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When even the throwaway lines come back to haunt:

Mr. B:

I am a huge fan of the Buckeyes, and yours! 

I busted a gut after reading your last column about licking your elbow, and then reading that "most of you just tried to lick your elbow". After explaining to my family why I was laughing, my daughter proceeded to show me that it was possible. See attached.

If by some improbable chance this does make it into your column, please give credit to my daughter, Gabrielle Warstler (#1 Buckeye Fan). 

Thank you, and GO BUCKS!!!!


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And the inevitable critique from academia:

Mr. Bucknuts:

I was doing a news search for my university, and came across an error

in your Web column. We don't expect you to print a retraction. This is

minor to us.

Regarding the assertion our main library is sinking: It is a

long-standing myth.





David Bricker

Media Relations

Indiana University

530 E. Kirkwood Ave., Suite #203

Bloomington, IN   47408


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Then, there is "the norm"…

Mr. B

The website seems to have disappeared from the server.  After a deep and penetrating analysis of the situation, I have concluded it has something to do with an undefeated season and #2 ranking.  Perhaps we will see it back on or about November 19th.

Since this was second (only to your column) in entertainment value, I am counting on you to pick up the slack, and get those other occupants of the Bates's Motel to send in more hate mail!


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For better or worse next year?...Here's the challenge: Every playing position counts, and (as all Zen masters know) you can only get better or worse as you go. You can never stay the same. So, let's look at next year's Buckeye football lineup and decide how we will come out. 

Look at each of the positions and tell me: "better or worse". By my rules, anyone that returns is always better in the JT system (particularly seniors). Just look at the miracles we know as Antonio Smith and Jay Richardson and Brandon Mitchell. Here's my summary. Feel free to agree or (gulp!) disagree.

Running Backs: Better; I say Pittman comes back and Beanie will be twice as good as what we've seen to date; and Maurice Wells is a year older and there is new grist for the mill with both Brandon Saine and Boom Herron.

Fullback: Better; Don't get upset, yet! Stan White is terrific. But, as a pure blocker, the era of Aram is about to unfold. Plus, Dionte Johnson is not exactly chopped liver… 

Quarterback: Worse; No question here. We could have Art Schlichter and Joe Germaine both coming back in one uniform and no one would be better than Troy Smith.

Tight Ends: Better; Nicol is back and Ballard is older and Andy Miller is just coming to the party.

Wide Receivers: Better; That's right. I know that Teddy Ginn will be "Teddy Gone", but – give me a break here, people: Gonzalez and Robiskie and Small and Hartline and Lyons and Dukes…lots of great route runners with great hands and great speed. Just great

Offensive line: Better; This could go either way, I admit. But Barton and Boone and Rehring are back and I project Cordle to live up to high expectations at center. That means three line positions will be better and one maybe slightly worse. How about the Downing slot? Either Person or Skinner or Mitchum OR Connor Smith will step up… 

Defensive Ends: Better; The Bucks lose Jay Richardson, who has been special. But coming back bigger and stronger, are Vernon Gholston, Lawrence Wilson and Robert Rose. Plus the new recruits…

Defensive Tackles: Worse; Like the Troy Smith explanation, anyone that replaces Quinn Pitcock is worse. Losing David Patterson makes it double-worse. That said, watch out for Todd Denlinger…

Linebackers: Better; Easy here because we lose "part-time starter" John Kerr and the next seven are all back! Bigger and faster and adding Thaddeus Gibson and Ty Moeller to the mix.

Safeties: Better; Mitchell is gone and he was a steadying influence back there. YET…Anderson Russell and Jamario are both future NFL talents. And they are backed by Aaron Gant, Nick Patterson and Grant Schwartz PLUS the advent of Clifford and Oliver. All in all, that's better. 

Cornerbacks: Better; A no-brainer. Over-achiever Antonio Smith is gone (and God bless…), but the "other" starters are back in Washington and Jenkins and both Amos and Coleman come back experienced. That might be better than anyone!

Kickers: Better; They are all back: Trapasso, Pettrey and Pretorious.

So, scoreboard?  That's only two positions where the team will be worse. And a whole lot of places where the Bucks will be better. Can the defense be better overall? As Damon Runyon liked to say: "The test doesn't always go to the strong and the race doesn't always go to the swift, but that's the way to bet ‘em"…

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"Tress" rhymes with "chess"…While the "old school" coaches are satisfied playing checkers, Tressel distances himself from the Coopers and the Carrs of the world with deft chess moves that have effects far after – and far different – than just game strategy…

Example One: Tressel invited our colleague, Jerry Rudzinski, to give the locker room speech before the Michigan State game a few weeks back in Ann Arbor. Not only is Jerry a terrific inspirational speaker, but old #35 was the captain of the Buckeyes in 1998 when they lost to a 28-point MSU underdog, spoiling the OSU national championship hopes. Jerry said – in retrospect - that this year's team was already sick of hearing about that game – as if the current coaching staff was implying they wouldn't be ready. The overkill that Captain Rudzinski ladled on just fired them up more. They went out and proved themselves, 38-7…

Example Two: It was probably missed by the average Buckeye fan, but Tressel earned points with the state's high school coaches for not burying BG by even bigger points than they did. JT heaped praise on the Falcons after the game and even got the BG coach carried away by thanking Tressel for the kind words. Many of those Bowling Green players were coached by Ohio high school coaches. Nobody is more image-conscious than Coach Tressel. In fact, our own scribe, NevadaBuck, says it like I am saying it: JT is playing chess against a bunch of checkers' players.  He has a plan and most of us can only appreciate the plan in retrospect 

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Cooper Era hangover…We have drunk from the glass of plenty recently in Buckeye history, but some of us still suffer hangovers from the Cooper Era. For many of us fans, the glass is half empty and will always remain so. I, personally, have always been accused of being completely full. And, speaking of drinking and faith, I remember a line from W. C. Fields, who opined solemnly: "Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer."

But back to my point. Even in these best-of-times, Ohio State fans occasionally revert back to the days of yore when we almost expected the balloon to pop at some point. It is the fear factor that those awful memories replay and the fear that we will get burned just like in 1969, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998 (to name a few off the top of my head…)

As someone opined on the Insider message board, "I think you touched on the dynamic. (Some) Buckeye fans invest so much mentally and emotionally into the team, especially in a year like this, that a loss at this point would be catastrophic. So to guard against a big letdown, we come up with concerns (some legit) such as missed tackles, inconsistent rushing game, etc. And if we point out the weaknesses, and they do come back to bite us in the end, well then we can convince ourselves that we saw it coming all along, and it was no surprise."

"Yet, there is a consensus around the country who the best team is and it isn't even close. So why is it that so many OSU fans only see the darkness of losing to Michigan, MSU, Iowa, Texas, etc? Is our fan base so jaded by the 80's and 90's that we must expect that OSU just cannot be that good and cannot win it all? Is it arrogant to just go with the ride and say, yes we are pretty darn good and it feels good?"

No, it's not arrogant. It's simply realistic. And I wish I could tell everyone that fears the fear itself to…just relax. Enjoy the ride. These are the best of times. These are the good old days. And don't miss them while looking for something else…

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And in the great mosaic that's Red out there…And in the only tribute that I could concoct that seemed fitting to the late great Red Auerbach, who was part of the sea change of modern sports, from now on I will light a cigar when I am five minutes away from finishing a winning column. Hey – I expect to see a lot of flickering lighters out there, fans…

*     *     *     *     *

Give it to me stat…

* As to my stat-fest last week when I featured the fact that OSU was 116th in the nation in return yards (yes, I did list the obvious excuses all starting with short or squib kicks…), I asked where I could find the stat that show the Buckeye's starting field position. From the OSU Sports Info Dept:


The stat program does not calculate the stat, but you can look online as part of each game's stats and find the drive summary. It shows the starting yard line for each drive. You should be able to figure out the average that way.


Todd Lamb

Asst. Athletics Communications Director


Well, that seemed like too much work for me, too. And with one good Teddy return yesterday, they moved all the way up to #109!

* When was the last time that Ohio State was both #9 in the nation in total defense and #10 in scoring offense? I don't know either but we are now!

* From our unwitting colleagues at College Football News, we learned this interesting tidbit about, uh, Utah State: The Aggies are 113th in the nation in defense, 116th in offense, and they close out with Hawaii (No. 1 in offense), Nevada (38th in offense), Boise State (16th in offense) and New Mexico State (No. 3 in offense). Well, it seemed interesting to me!

* In continuing my campaign to dis-respect the Irish, I learned that when they finally showed up in the UCLA game and scored that winning TD in the waning seconds, it marked only the third time in their storied history that the Fighting Irish had pulled out a win in the final 30 seconds. 

* The Buckeyes' current sixteen-game winning streak is the school's third-longest, following the 22-game streak in 1967-69 and the 19-game streak over the 2002-03 seasons.
*OSU has opened its season with nine wins by 17 points or more.  That ties the 1973 team with nine wins by 17 points or more to open the year. That is the most consecutive wins by 17 points or more in school history. The Buckeyes also had eight straight wins of 17 points or more over the 1916-17 seasons; as well, they opened both open the 1969 season and the 1998 season. The ninth game in 1969 was the 24-12 loss at Michigan. The ninth game in the 1998 season was the 28-24 loss to Michigan State.
* And, finally, Ohio State took over first place in the nation this week in scoring defense, lowering their total to an average of just 7.3 points a game while LSU took a week off.


If you have something to say weekly (or even weakly) and you want to say it to Mr. Bucknuts, e-mail him at Although he is about 100 e-mail responses behind, with the extra hour he got Saturday, he hopes to catch up soon…

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