Some thoughts before PSU

Every once in a while, you have a ton of thoughts but nothing big enough to go into an article.  So, in bullet fashion – here are a few things ruminating around in my noggin…


  • I managed to make it to Wisconsin for the game last week and had a great time.  Though other OSU fans were treated poorly, I made friends with the guys in my section by talking Wisconsin football before they realized I was one of the enemy.  As a result, when they discovered that I was OSU to the very core of my being, they were kind and did not make a big deal of it.  I was able to talk to the guys next to me and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both squads during the game.  A big thanks goes out to the guys in Section 11, row 65/66 and seats 15-18.  You really helped make this Buckeye's weekend enjoyable.
  • How good is Gamble?  I mean as soon as he came on the field – I was happy about it because I KNEW what was going to happen.  He instantly became our best cover corner, and the Wisconsin fans were absolutely sick when he made that interception.  If I am Jim Tressel and the rest of the coaching staff?  I make sure that Gamble can tackle well enough to stop a RB charging out of the defensive containment, and I make sure he can cover in space.  If those two question marks are answered, then I say play him predominantly at CB the rest of this year.  Put him back at WR next year when (hopefully) we will have some blue-chipper defensive backs who come to OSU to help us out.  This helps Gamble learn to be a better receiver, it helps the team, and it even helps Chris' draft status down the road.  How many NFL teams would LOVE to have a guy who can step in as a kick returner, wide receiver, and even a cover corner in a pinch?
  • I am struck by just how young these players are.  For all that Ohio State fans (young and old) are ready to gnash their teeth and devour a Buckeye who makes a boneheaded play?  These guys are just kids.  I really think that perhaps we need to gain a little perspective on this.  I stood outside the locker-room last week after the game and watched the players leave.  They are just boys to a large degree, Man-children who are no longer little kids, but nor are they full adults.  I talked to some parents and then watched as one of the players came out.  I won't mention his name as I am not interested in embarrassing he or his family, but he walked over to his momma and gave her a hug and a kiss.  He hugged his father.  Then they walked off as a family to spend some time together.  I was honestly touched.  I wonder how much less critical of these guys we might be on any given Saturday if they were OUR children instead of someone else's?  So, the next time a player messes up – I am going to make a plea that we remember one thing… These are still VERY young men.  They do not have the maturity of a 35 year old.  They are man-children.  No longer boys, but not yet men.  They still miss home and love their mommas.  I would not be surprised to discover that some of them still send their laundry home on the weekends (I know I did when I was at Ohio State).
  • The key to the game this weekend is not on the offensive side of the ball for the Buckeyes.  It is all about defense.  Defense wins championships.  Period.  If Ohio State holds this Penn State team to under 20 points, then we win.  If we allow them over 20 – then all bets are off.  Had Ohio State's defense held last year, we win DESPITE any fumbles or offensive miscues.  Had our defense held in 1997 – we would have emerged victorious.  Check out the article I wrote before the season on our defensive statistics the past few seasons (yes I know – a shameless self plug here).  Don't look now, but if you take out the junk points scored by Texas Tech and others – OSU is allowing only 11 points per game.  Keep that up and we will likely at least win the Big Ten and maybe more.  Stumble and allow folks to start hanging 20+ on you and you end up an "also-ran who just seemed to collapse down the stretch."
  • Injuries will continue to be a problem for Ohio State down the stretch.  I liked that we were able to spend an extensive amount of time early in the season on fundamentals with our bye week.  I hated that we would then be playing 12 straight games.  That is a nightmare for coaches, players, and trainers.  The trainers feel constant pressure with no let-up to help keep the guys healthy.  Players are busy nursing nicks and pulls and strains that just won't heal without significant time off.  Coaches are holding their breath and hoping that the depth will provide a cushion for when key cogs go down for a week (or more).  Here is hoping that we can get healthy and stay there.  This week's big test is not Stafford, Douglas, Smith, Scott, or McNutt but Olivea.  We will see how the offensive line will react to the loss of Shane – who was spotted firing up his fellow linemen last week against the Badgers.
  • Looking for the lemonade among the pile of lemons…  The appendectomy of Shane Olivea was fortuitous in more than one way.  First, it happened early in the week.  This gives our coaches time to scheme to compensate for his loss and allows the offense to spend the entire week with his backup in the starting 5.  That is huge.  Second, the doctors did not have to split him open with a serious emergency surgery.  They caught it and were able to take it out in such a fashion that he will be able to heal quickly.  Best of luck healing Shane.  We will miss you, but I hope that we do not miss you too much if you catch my drift.
  • How bad are Frank Solich and Bobby Williams?  After taking over programs that were stocked and set for long-term success, their teams have just totally collapsed.  Both deserve a pink slip.  I think Solich survives 2002 but Williams does not.
  • What is going on in the SEC?  There are only 2 teams in the whole conference with less than 2 losses.  LSU and Georgia.  If those two get knocked off, then the SEC could very well be sending a champion with 2 losses to the BCS.  Georgia controls its own destiny at this point considering they are up two games on the rest of the division.  They are the conference's last hope for a national title this year.
  • Oklahoma better watch rubbing in the score on North division opponents.  Colorado (3-0) and Iowa State (3-1) look to be the most likely opponents for the Sooners if they reach the conference championship.  Giving a team a beating on national television when you have to face them again is not exactly good for your health.  You can bet Seneca Wallace and the entire Cyclone roster and coaching staff are just dying for another shot at Oklahoma.  If OU beats Colorado November 2 (not a given), they too will have a loss to avenge.  The only other team that could possibly play for the North championship is Kansas State.  Stoops and his boys do not face them, but the problem for the Wildcats is that they need Colorado to lose 3 of their last 5 games since the Buffaloes defeated them October 5.  It is possible, but I am not holding my breath.  Look for the Okies to face either Colorado or Iowa State twice.  Somebody is going to be out for revenge…
  • Florida State needs to do the world a favor and beat Notre Dame this weekend.  The Domers are a good team, but I really think they have been more than a little lucky.  UM had them beat had their field goal kicker been able to put it through the uprights.  MSU had them beat if only they could have stopped that huge play.  Purdue had them beat had they not self-destructed.  Again, nothing personal – this is a good Notre Dame team, but they are not great.  I am not even sure I would say Ohio State is a great team, but I think they would handle Notre Dame without too much problem.  The snag here is that I think Florida State is not the team they have been in recent years.  Their defense is questionable, and Rix is as inconsistent as any QB in D-IA this year.  One play he looks ready to be the next heisman winner, and on the next play he looks like he should be polishing the pine with his rear.
  • How much does it stink that Virginia Tech and Miami both play in the Big Least Conference?  They basically each have two tough games in the conference every season… Each other and Boston College.  Pittsburgh is decent, but they in no way, shape, or form are at the level of a top-tier team.  Syracuse has had one good season in the last 5 years.  West Virginia, Temple, and Rutgers have not done well for a good while.  I guess Miami could lose to Tennessee or Pitt might really get up for a game against Miami/Va Tech and give one of them a loss.  Otherwise, expect to see these two unbeaten rolling into their December 7 matchup in the Orange Bowl.
  • Expect the BCS to be a real mess this year.  I doubt the Domers end up undefeated.  They still have to play USC, at Florida State, and Boston College.  Still, Notre Dame is going to get a major spot and might have as many as 3 losses.  If they get one with 3 losses (doubtful they will lose 3 at this point), then folks are going to rear back their heads and howl.  This will undoubtedly exclude a more deserving team, but remember that the bowls are all about money and not fairness.  To add more criticism to the mix, I doubt that more than one team emerges from the year undefeated.  12 games is a BUNCH to go without losing due to an off day or critical injury.  Think about it.  Georgia and OU both have to survive a conference championship game as well as a couple of tough games on the way.  Ohio State still has Penn State, Minnesota (who is no joke as long as Mason is gunning for us every year), at Purdue (who is one self-destruction after another from having a very nice season), and Michigan.  Virginia Tech and Miami still have to face one another.  Who do you take if there are 6 teams with one loss?  Talk about a nightmare.

  • The two hottest names in coaching right now are Jim Tedford and Urban Meyer.  Both will garner more than their share of attention this offseason.  I am guessing that Meyer at least moves.  Tedford's moving will be determined by the size of the buyout clause in his contract.  If Michigan State is smart, they will be all over Meyer like ugly on a Michigan cheerleader.  UCLA should look to hire Tedford unless the Bruins right the ship in a hurry – a difficult task given that they lost their starting quarterback (Paus) for the season recently.
  • Some Big Ten fans are up in arms about Joe Paterno and his treatment of the referees.  I agree that it is inappropriate.  However, this has been the standard operating procedure in the conference for DECADES.  Both Woody and Bo intimidated and bullied referees long before JoPa joined the conference.  They may not have commented on the miscues publicly, but you can bet that the verbal tirades in front of tens of thousands of fans had their intended result.  This treatment is not even unique to football as Bobby Knight was absolutely legendary at getting every single questionable call for the Hoosiers (especially when they played at home).  The most famous case in recent years on a national level was likely Steve Spurrier before he faced Florida State.  He kept pointing out the late hits by the Seminoles defense on opposing quarterbacks.  The result was that Florida State was called for late hits and roughness penalties when they met up with the Gators.  Face it, this kind of behavior works or coaches would not do it.  In the past, it worked in our favor with Woody stalking the sidelines.  Let's see if it works for JoPa this weekend against Ohio State.
  • Is this going to be a great weekend or what?  Penn State visits Ohio State, N.C. State has to venture into the clutches of the Clemson Tigers, Iowa faces Michigan, Florida State meets Notre Dame, Iowa State looks to rebound against Texas, Oregon plays USC, and Alabama will try and whup Tennessee.


Buckeye Sports Top Stories