Historians and archivists rightfully note my poor record of watching Ohio State games from watering holes and public television portals in Cincinnati. I watched the Buckeyes lose to Wisconsin there in both 2004 and 2003. I watched Joe Paterno "break the record" by beating OSU – yes, I was in Cincinnati. He was hoisted on players' shoulders.
But I am not a superstitious man. Unless I need to be. So, facing the Cincy jinx head on, I called a friend that lives in Hyde Park and accepted his previous invitation to watch from his Cincinnati home. My friend is not an OSU fan, exactly. In fact he is not much of a college football fan. Or even a sports fan. So I figured I wouldn't have to face a lot of pressing questions.
I knew I was right early on as he ushered me into the TV room, having already set up ice-cold Smithwick Ale and homemade humus. Now, this is football – Northwestern style! And, quite honestly, he noticed parts of the game that I would have been previously inattentive to:
Friend: "Hey, the NW quarterback threw that ball through the uprights. You get any points for that?"
Friend: "Plus, the Ohio State kicker has hit the goal posts now on three straight kickoffs. That's gotta be worth something!"
Friend: "How come we can be leading 33-10 at halftime and they could be out-gaining us in total yards? Is that normal?"
Me: "Not really."
Friend: "And can you believe that there are six turnovers, a blocked punt and two extra points snarfled in this game?"
Me: "That is unusual"
Friend: "Here's a question – how come Ohio State can't stop a screen pass?"
Me: "They haven't all year. Must be part of a bigger plan we don't appreciate"
Friend: "Where's this kid Sutton from? And why – again – didn't Ohio State want him?"
Me: "He's from Akron. Ohio State didn't think he could play as well as Maurice Wells"
Friend: "You mean Chris Wells? Where's he from?"
Me: "Akron, too"
Friend: "How about the starter – Pittman?"
Me: "Akron. Yeah, really. And before you ask – Maurice Wells is from Florida"
Friend: "Well, why didn't they just take another Akron kid?"
I decided to leave at halftime. So many questions. So feeble of answers. As it turned out, the second half was a lot like the second half at Illinois, only everything went our way this time. And then I found out that half of the top eight teams in the country were going to lose – so I was glad I didn't have to answer the obvious Rutgers question that even my friend would want to ask.
Instead, he called me and said he was watching two other games and he had questions on those, too. What were they?
Friend: "I saw part of the Notre Dame game. Is that really their coach? Man, is he fat! And I can't believe that Lloyd Carr is still coaching Michigan. I thought after last year that he was just a loser…"
Me: "You have come a long way, friend." And so perceptive, too…
* * * * *
The reason I don't write all that well is that I am not too good with, uhh, words… When I went to grammar school (a curious expression, that…) we had a strong Kentucky influence, here in southern Ohio. The "three R's" to us were: "Reading, ‘Riting, and Route 75". Obviously, there was a quite a bit I didn't get the first time around
I did learn a bunch of show-offy word stuff as I got older and found out the quickest way to feign literacy was to steal other people's words. For instance, I learned that aposeopesis was another way of describing the sudden breaking off of a thought. (What were we talking about again…?) And that crytoscopophilia describes an urge to look through people's windows as you pass. And that I should really quit using ugsome because everyone else uses loathsome or disgusting and have for nearly 100 years.
But I am still at a loss for words when it comes to answering the lame-brained e-mails I get from ugsome Notre Dame and Michigan fans, assailing me for not being "fair and balanced" about their heroes. Yes, I certainly want to apologize to all those irate Notre Dame and Michigan fans that I have offended this season with my uncharacteristically vitriolic non-PC diatribes addressing their various shortcomings as people (in general) and as fans (specifically). I must be wrong because so many of you have said that I was. I mean, why else would otherwise sensible sports fans come on an Ohio State website and complain that we are biased? You are right – I just don't understand.
But those congenitally confused fans can take solace in the fact that – once again - there are a lot of things I don't understand when it comes to English, our so-called mother tongue. Like:
Why is "abbreviation" such a long word?
Is there another word for "thesaurus"?
Why isn't "phonetic" spelled the way it sounds?
And why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?
Once I get a better grasp here on my craft, I will be able to move beyond the sophomoric pairing of words like "Charlie" with "chunky" or "LLLLoyd" with "loser". And I will move on, evolve as it were, to a better space where people and sports teams are created equal.
Until that time, you have all been put on notice…
* * * *
Michigan, Woody, Tressel and this Saturday…Yes, it's Michigan week. And that brings back a ton of sweet and nasty and eidetic memories all the way to my misshapen youth. I was there in 1968 when Woody went for two. And I was there to watch "the greatest team ever" play it close to the vest and tie Michigan 10-10 in 1973. I was also around that same year when the Big Ten voted to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl anyway. In fact, that was an interesting era. Michigan went something like 32-2-1 in that three year span with the two losses and the tie coming to Ohio State. And they never went to one bowl game!
But I digress.
I am "old school". The kind of ancient relic that intones, "If we go 1-10 this year but beat Michigan, it's a good year. If we go 10-1 and lose to Michigan, it's a bad year". I say that. And I mean it. Every year to me, there's the "rest" of the season and there's a one game season. This is it. I grew up under Woody. Fortunately, so did Jim Tressel.
It's Sunday right now; my body is here but my mind has already kicked off.
I had people approach me – pre-2001 – and say that in their entire life, they never had a good streak going against TSUN. Yes, they were 18-19 and the only numbers that stood out to them were "2-10-1". The Cooper Years. Think about this: when Tressel wins this Saturday, he will be 5-1 against Those Guys. And that only gets back half of that ugsome 2-10-1 record we talked about. That was a bleak period, indeed.
Is there not enough at stake this weekend without piling on? How about this little wincing addendum: Ohio State has not won the Big Ten outright since 1984. Even the great teams that won titles since then have had to share. Enough, I say.
And when Jim Tressel is out on the field Saturday, ready to rumble through the vaunted Tunnel of Pride, the players will all feel like I do at that moment. Like the moment in Gladiator when Roman General Russell Crowe says confidently: "At my signal, unleash hell".
Because, that's what this game is all about…
* * * * *
Weather you like Chicago or not…It was interesting (at least to me…) that the weather in Evanston had improved on Saturday to get up to "miserable". I remembered an old quote by Richard Jeni: "I think that's how Chicago got started. Bunch of people in New York said, 'Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.'"
See? I thought that was interesting…Or maybe just part of an aposeopesis.
* * * * *
Recruiting junkies? I'm here with your fix…Just when you think it's safe to talk about the Big Game without those trivial recruiting distractions, well…Bucknuts is recruiting crazy at heart, you know. And after next week? What else is there going to be to talk about for 53 days? After all there are only so many Charlie-Weis-in-front-of-the-buffet jokes you can recount.
So, trolling through the sometimes-correct (often by accident…) Scout list of the Top 100 players in the nation, here is a list of players that Ohio State already has committed or has a chance yet to get. Please, I do know the problems with this Scout list but we have to use someone's.
11. Anthony Davis
12. Eric Berry
16. Ronald Johnson
17. John Clay
20. Terrance Toliver
28. Martez Wilson
37. Ben Martin
40. Kristofer O'Dowd
41. Deonte Thompson
49. Eugene Clifford
51. Donovan Warren
57. Rob Gronkowski
68. Robert Hughes
70. Josh Brent
76. Nate Oliver
80. Devon Torrence
91. Brandon Saine
Also, Joseph Barksdale, Major Wright, and Devon Still have popped up on Top 100 lists elsewhere. We have four Top 100 types already safely in the corral (the bold type). Having a class with 11 Top 100 student athletes is a very real possibility…
* * * * *
In a calmer more serene moment…Kirk Barton reflected on his career at Ohio State and getting the chance to block for – arguably – the best OSU quarterback ever. "That's the thing about playing here. Mike Nugent was the best kicker ever. AJ Hawk is one of the best linebackers ever. Ted Ginn is one of the best special teams players ever. We are always playing with guys who could be legends".
Now, that's a pretty nifty sentiment – especially when made into a recruiting pitch…
* * * * *
National champ versus national champ?... And other weird stuff to contemplate…There is that odd chance that the 2007 Ohio State opener will be an unprecedented showdown when Youngstown State comes to call on the Ohio State Buckeyes. Think about it: The defending I-AA National champion vs. the defending D-I national champion!? Right now, YSU is #7 in the Polls in I-AA so this is a possibility. It also shines more light on the historical successes of "Tressel programs" and takes a little heat off of the Buckeyes scheduling a I-AA foe…
* * * * *
Can you feel the draft yet?...Last year, Ohio State was the toast of the NFL draft as six players were drafted in the first day. Four went in round one (Hawk, Carpenter, Holmes, Mangold), then Youboty and Schlegel were taken in Round 3
Most of the naysayers about ranking Ohio State high in the preseason this year referenced that bountiful harvest in the draft. Did the Buckeyes have any fuel left in the tank? Well, now here comes the 2007 draft (well, in six months or so…) and we are burning quite brightly, thank you very much…
On the front burner, it now appears that Ohio State has three more first round draft choices in Troy Smith, Ted Ginn and Quinn Pitcock. After that? Seems that six Buckeyes in all should be taken with Downing and Datish possibilities to go on the first day and Jay Richardson positioned to go during Day Two.
One other little item/oddity that is both Buckeye and draft related: Based on the aforementioned, there could be three Glenville Tarblooders taken in the first round over the past two seasons. That might now be a record, but it's a hell of an average!
* * * * *
The pendulum and the Pitt…While other quarters are heard from, this quarter says – quietly – that I am kinda glad Antonio Pittman doesn't get the notice he deserves on a national basis. Because it's possible that Pitt being slighted helps Pitt come back for a stellar senior year. Hey – back-to-back Heismans? Hmmmm…
Just how good is this guy, Antonio? Well, he is sneaking up into some rarified atmosphere among all-time Buckeye rushing greats. And those greats are amongst the all-time best anywhere.
How "great" and how "sneaking"? After last weekend's game, Pittman had 2744 total yards for his career. That put him in the Top 8 and here are the guys still in front of him
Player Att. ...................Years
1. 5,589 Archie Griffin 924 ...................1972-75
2. 3,768 Eddie George 683 ...................1992-95
3. 3,553 Tim Spencer 644 ...................1979-82
4. 3,200 Keith Byars 619 ...................1982-85
5. 3,121 Pepe Pearson 659 ...................1994-97
6. 2,974 Carlos Snow 610 ............1987-89, '91
7. 2,951 Michael Wiley 509 ...................1996-99
8. 2,744 Antonio Pittman 529 .....................2004- ?
Some of the guys he has already passed include such luminaries as Raymont Harris, Jim Otis, Hopalong Cassady, Pete Johnson, Bob Ferguson and Ron Springs!
Plus, it is worth mentioning that after AP went over 1000 yards during the Northwestern game, he became only the fourth Ohio State back in history to gain 1000 yards in back-to-back seasons, following Archie (1973, 1974 and 1975), Tim Spencer (1981 and 1982) and Keith Byars (1983 and 1984). One more year and it would be just him and Archie…
You have to assume – even splitting the ball-toting chores with superstar-in-waiting Chris Wells, that AP will get 1200+ yards next season. There's a good chance then that only Archie will be in front of him when Pittman graduates…
* * * * *
How does a 20 game winning streak get to 33?...First, get to 20, I say! Then, the answer is: schedule, schedule, schedule. And here's what that schedule looks like for next season:
Youngstown State (9/1)
at Washington (9/15)
at Minnesota (9/29)
at Purdue (10/6)
Kent State (10/13)
Michigan State (10/20)
at Penn State (10/27)
at Michigan (11/17
You have to think that the Bucks won't struggle too much with their out-of-conference games although playing at Washington could be more interesting than we would assume right now. Then, Northwestern at home before going to two programs in decline (Minnesota and Purdue), then an open week (oops – I mean Kent State) gets us up to a 7-0 record while we break in the newbies and decide who should be the #1 QB. A disheveled Michigan State at home and then a stumbling Penn State on the road (though at their place – but a not-so tough team next year) should get us to 9-0.
The real season, then, is Wisconsin and Illinois at home leading up to the traditional upset of Michigan at the Big Outhouse. Dream on, eh? I can hardly wait until September 1…
* * * * *
What a long strange trip…From the first day of this glorious season to the anticipation of the penultimate Michigan confrontation on Saturday, what a long strange trip it's been, indeed. And once we win this most recent "game of the century" on Saturday, the season will continue gloriously. So why not continue it with us on a trip-of-a-lifetime out to Glendale, Arizona?
That's right – come along with all your favorite Bucknuts people to go to the National Championship game. I will be there and most of the cast of characters from Bucknuts will, as well. We anticipate Bucknuts tailgate parties and swapping lies and tall tales and just generally making nuisances of ourselves. Come along for the ride!
Look on the front page of Bucknuts for all the details. Don't miss out!
* * * *
Oh, yeah, and one more thing…
If you want to discuss tripping with Mr. B, or simply want him to look at your vacation pictures you have on-line, feel free to write him at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com