From The Pages Of BSB: The Year 2008

A lot happened in 2008. How much? More than 7,000 words worth in BuckeyeSports.com's look back at the year. The journey through the major stories of the calendar year comes with help from the print publication Buckeye Sports Bulletin, as its "From the Pages" series moves online.

"From the pages of BSB" is a popular feature in Buckeye Sports Bulletin magazine, which comes with a yearlong subscription to BuckeyeSports.com, in which we look back at what was happening years ago in Ohio State athletics. With 2008 coming to an end, it seemed like a good time to bring that feature to the web to review the calendar year that just passed. Organized by each issue date, this look back at 2008 includes a look at what was happening in OSU sports at the time of each printing and provides a complete look at the year in Buckeye athletics.

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Jan. 12
Ohio State trudged off the field as losers of the Jan. 7 national title game, dropping a 38-24 decision to LSU in New Orleans. The Buckeyes led 10-0 early before LSU scored 31 straight points on the way to the win.

Mental miscues, including five personal foul penalties, three turnovers, a dropped touchdown pass and a blocked field goal, helped handicap the Buckeyes during their second straight national title game loss. Ohio State outgained LSU 353-326.

"We made too many mental mistakes," linebacker Larry Grant said. "We basically hit ourselves in the back with all the penalties we had, but I can't take anything away from LSU. That's a great team coached by some great coaches. That's just a crazy loss today."

Chris Wells ran for 146 yards on 20 carries – and had a 65-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the game – for OSU, but LSU quarterback Matt Flynn threw for four touchdowns, two to tight end Richard Dickson.

Ohio State entered the new year with 15 verbal commitments in its class of 2008 and five more in its class of 2009 after Ohioans Johnny Simon (Youngstown Cardinal Mooney), Jack Mewhort (Toledo St. John's Jesuit) and Adam Homan (Coldwater), all members of the 2009 class, gave pledges during the final days of the 2007 calendar year.

The Buckeyes still awaited the decisions of a number of class of 2008 stars, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor and offensive lineman Josh Jenkins. Pryor earned MVP honors in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5 by both throwing and rushing for a touchdown.

The men's and women's basketball teams staged the first major OSU athletic events of the new year on Jan. 3, as the women's team defeated Michigan 66-42 at home thanks to four players (Jantel Lavender, Ashlee Trebilcock, Tamarah Riley and Marscilla Packer) in double digits while the men beat struggling Illinois 74-58 in Assembly Hall behind 32 points from Jamar Butler.

Jan. 19
Five of the six juniors on the football team seriously debating leaving Ohio State for the NFL chose to come back to Columbus during announcements made during the opening half of the year's first month.

James Laurinaitis highlighted the list, which also included Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Freeman, Brian Robiskie and Alex Boone. The lone Buckeye junior to decide to forgo his final season was defensive lineman Vernon Gholston, who had just set the team record for sacks in a season and was projected as a top-10 pick.

"There are a lot of things money can't buy, and some of those things are the experiences of a senior season," Laurinaitis said while announcing his return the evening of Jan. 14.

Ohio State knew it would be missing another underclassman in quarterback Robby Schoenhoft, who announced Jan. 13 he would seek a transfer to Delaware.

On the recruiting front, the Buckeyes added two players to its 2008 class defensive back Zach Domicone and fullback Jermil Martin. Domicone, a 6-2, 210-pounder from Beavercreek, Ohio, was offered a scholarship on Friday, Jan. 11, visited the school that weekend and ended the whirlwind tour with a verbal commitment.

"It's a dream come true," he said. "Every since I've been little it's been my dream to play for Ohio State."

Martin, a 5-11, 215-pounder from Cleveland Glenville, committed while on a visit to Ohio State after receiving a scholarship offer in December.

Also in the house were Florida defensive backs Brandon Harris and Orhian Johnson, while Jenkins visited Florida State and Pryor prepared to have a number of coaches visit during the week of Jan. 14.

The wrestling team earned a 24-11 win against No. 1 Penn State at the Cliff Keen National Duals, ending their time at the event at 4-1 with three wins against ranked teams.

Jan. 26
A number of famous names related to Columbus and Ohio State sports discussed in BSB Ohio State's title game loss to LSU, the SEC's perceived dominance over the Big Ten and the progress of head coach Jim Tressel's program.

"How can you even ask that?" former head coach Earle Bruce fired back when queried about whether or not Tressel was on the right track.

"They were the better team," football legend John Hicks said about the LSU loss. "Plus we played them at home. When you play them at home, you spot them 10 points. That wasn't a fair location."

Opinion was split on the SEC-Big Ten debate, with former specialist Tom Skladany chiming in with the thought, "Other teams talking B.S. need to shut up. It's really hard just to get there. If that's true, how did Michigan torch Florida? People are stupid."

Pryor spent the Jan. 18-20 weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., visiting Michigan and listening to the Wolverines' pitch of early playing time. Jenkins was in Morgantown visiting his former school of choice, West Virginia, on an official visit. A new name surfaced on the recruiting radar in Keith Wells, a Georgia defensive end who had decommitted from Florida State.

The men's basketball team lost back-to-back games at No. 11 Michigan State and No. 6 Tennessee to increase its losing streak to three games.

Feb. 2
Pryor eliminated LSU from his list of schools just weeks after starting to consider playing for the defending national champions, apparently leaving just OSU, Penn State, Michigan and Oregon in the running. Jenkins awaited a visit from offensive line coach Jim Bollman on Feb. 1 while Keith Wells planned to visit Notre Dame, a new player in his recruitment, that same weekend.

The basketball teams went in opposite directions, as the men's team snapped its losing streak with wins against Illinois and Minnesota, while the women's team's six-game winning streak came to an end at The Barn with a 79-70 loss at Minnesota.

Defensive end Alex Barrow announced he would not return to the football team for his final year of eligibility, choosing instead to focus on his studies.

BSB began a series looking back at anniversary recruiting classes, taking a person-by-person look at the 1988 class brought in by John Cooper that was headlined by quarterback Kirk Herbstreit and Ohio Mr. Football Buster Howe, a running back/defensive back prospect.

Feb. 9
Scout.com's Bob Lichtenfels told BSB for its cover story on the Buckeyes' recruiting class that Jim Tressel's early work in getting commitments from players like Michael Brewster, J.B. Shugarts and DeVier Posey was "just like partition bombing – like an air war. They had the guys targeted that they went after and they landed them."

Tressel's late work was pretty good as well, as he earned a verbal commitment from Keith Wells on Feb. 4.

"As far as an all-around school, Ohio State was my best option," he said.

Wells became the 18th member of Ohio State's class with his commitment, and the Buckeyes figured to gain more on National Signing Day on Feb. 6 as Pryor, Harris, Jenkins and Johnson all were expected to announce their decision, though Pryor's announcement was in doubt because of his busy basketball schedule despite a scheduled televised press conference.

The Buckeyes' class of 1993 was spotlighted, a group that contained such famous names as Greg Bellisari, Matt Finkes, Stanley Jackson, Shawn Springs, Dimitrious Stanley and Mike Vrabel.

Women's basketball head coach Jim Foster earned career win No. 650 with an 89-53 win against foundering Penn State on Jan. 28 at Value City Arena.

Feb. 16
Nineteen players signed letters of intent to play football for Ohio State, though much of the talk on National Signing Day was about the one who did not sign.

After debating his status with his father, Pryor chose to continue his recruitment with eyes on making more visits.

"Me and my dad had a little battle of differences," Pryor told the media on signing day. "He had a different mind and I had a different mind. He likes a couple of schools. Not the school I was thinking."

Though Pryor didn't make a choice, Ohio State did receive a commitment from Johnson, who picked the Buckeyes with an early signing day announcement over offers from South Florida and Indiana. Johnson gave Ohio State 19 commitments in its class, two of whom in Brewster and Shugarts were already enrolled in school and present with their families at Tressel's press conference.

"I'm very honored and proud to have J.B. up here as a Buckeye," Shugarts' father, Bret, told the assembled media.

Tressel, meanwhile, discussed each of the commitments – as well as the big fish still in the pond.

"I think we had planned on having a quarterback in this class, and so, yes, in a perfect world – let's make a perfect world, let's go get a quarterback in this class, and our plans would be further along," he said.

Lost amid the shuffle was that Ohio State was rebuffed by Harris (who chose Miami) and Jenkins, who picked his home-state school in West Virginia.

Those blows were lessened Feb. 10 on a junior day when the Buckeyes got a 2009 commitment from Clayton (Ohio) Northmont defensive back C.J. Barnett.

BSB's annual signing day diary described reporters' experiences while tripping to Jeannette, Pa., to see Pryor; Westerville, Ohio, to see Ben Buchanan; Dublin, Ohio, to cover the signings of Mike Adams and Jacob Stoneburner; Washington Court House, Ohio, to see Nathan Williams; and Beavercreek, Ohio, to visit with Domicone.

Feb. 23
BSB's cover story about Ohio State's NCAA tournament chances bore the disappointing news of the Buckeyes' 80-70 loss at Michigan on Feb. 17, a setback that served as the first in eight games for OSU against its rivals. Manny Harris had 27 points to lead the Wolverines, who entered just 3-9 in the Big Ten.

Slightly more comforting for the Buckeyes was the fact that Butler earned his 517th career assist earlier that week during a win against Northwestern, a helper that allowed him to pass Kelvin Ransey for first on the all-time OSU list.

Pryor continued to attempt to lead his Jeannette High School basketball team to a state title, while 2009 recruiting heated up with visits from defensive end Melvin Fellows, an Illinois verbal, and interest from Pennsylvania teammates Dorian Bell and Corey Brown as well as central Ohio linebacker Will Studlien.

The men's hockey team won its Senior Night game 3-2 against Northern Michigan thanks to a goal by senior Tommy Goebel with less than a second remaining.

Feb. 30
The women's basketball team inched closer to a fourth straight Big Ten title by posting home wins against title contenders Iowa and Purdue to move into first place in the league standings.

Foster told reporters that he wouldn't mind if his team pulled away from the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers.

"We'll probably show (our players) the Belmont Stakes with Secretariat," the coach said in reference to the famed horse's 31-length win in 1973 that clinched the Triple Crown.

Meanwhile, the men's basketball team lost a chance at making its case for an NCAA bid by falling 58-53 to No. 10 Wisconsin on its home court Feb. 24. Only Butler, who didn't start because of an undisclosed reason but still scored 14 points, and Kosta Koufos (10 points) got into double figures for the Buckeyes, who at 17-10 and 8-6 in the Big Ten had not defeated a team ranked in the top 25 by late February.

Of more interest to some Ohio State fans was the action in the stands, as Pryor came to town to watch the game against Wisconsin and hung out with a number of Buckeye signees. OSU left without a commitment from Pryor but did get one from 2009 safety Jamie Wood of Pickerington (Ohio) Central.

The baseball team opened its season by winning the Service Academies Classic thanks to a 3-0 record, while Brian Hartline debuted with the track team and placed second in the 60-meter hurdles at the Zips Open in Akron.

The Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving former men's basketball head coach Jim O'Brien's wrongful termination lawsuit against OSU, bringing to an end on Feb. 20 the long-term legal battle between the two sides.

March 8
Drama was not in the air as the women's basketball team clinched its fourth straight conference title with an easy 74-50 win against Northwestern in Value City Arena.

That the Buckeyes had to share their crown with Iowa and that they ended with five losses, the most ever for any previous title winner, was not of concern to the Buckeyes after the March 2 win against the Wildcats.

"We can't really worry about that," Packer said. "We're excited for the postseason."

Packer led the Buckeyes with 21 points in the win, making 9 of 18 shots from the floor.

The men's basketball team's hopes of an NCAA tournament berth continued to dim thanks to losses at Minnesota and Indiana that dropped the team to 8-8 in Big Ten play.

Both programs were set to receive help from a planned addition to the Schottenstein Center that was approved by the board of trustees. The $20 million project was to include locker room, classroom and practice areas for the basketball teams.

"There are things that are lacking," OSU senior associate athletic director Ben Jay told BSB about the current setup.

A note on the hype beginning to swirl for Ohio State's upcoming football game in September at USC included a quote from College Football News writer Pete Fiutak, who dubbed the scheduled meeting an "epic matchup of superpowers."

March 15
Women's basketball freshman Jantel Lavendar earned Big Ten player and freshman of the year honors – the former of which she shared with Jolene Anderson of Wisconsin – but the team lost its opening game in the Big Ten tournament by a 64-58 score against eighth-seeded Illinois. Jenna Harris had 22 points, while Packer led OSU with 19.

The men's team suddenly sparked its NCAA hopes with an 80-77 overtime win at home against Purdue that it followed with a 63-54 home win against Michigan State. Butler led the Buckeyes in each game, scoring 25 points against the Boilermakers and 20 more against the Spartans.

"I knew we had it in us," Butler said after the win against Purdue. "I don't know what was wrong with us, but hopefully this will get us started on a run here."

The senior point guard later learned that he had earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.

A number of former football players worked out for NFL scouts at OSU's pro day, and winners included Gholston, who added to previous excellent workout performances with a sub 4.6-second 40-yard dash, and right tackle Kirk Barton, whose sub-5.0 40 prompted him to tell the media, "Oh, we're going out to dinner tonight," went through his mind after his run.

Wrestler Mike Pucillo earned Ohio State's first individual Big Ten title since 2004 by sweeping through the 184-pound weight class on the way to the crown. The Buckeyes finished fifth overall at the meet.

March 29
The Pryor saga finally came to an end when he announced at a press conference March 19 that he would be joining the Ohio State program.

"I just broke it down and got involved with a lot of the kids (at Ohio State)," he said. "I felt comfortable with Coach Tressel. It was my choice."

Landing Pryor however anticlimactically moved Ohio State up to fourth in the final Scout.com recruiting rankings.

The annual spring football preview issue included a cover feature on the team's quest for a third straight appearance in the BCS National Championship Game.

"I guess when you look at it, two national championship games in a row is pretty good," Jenkins said. "But it's not good enough. If you get there, you want to win it."

The men's basketball team's NCAA hopes finally came to an end, earning the final nail in its coffin when the fifth-seeded Buckeyes lost a contentious 67-60 decision to fourth seed Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. Ohio State instead earned a No. 1 seed in the NIT and started that trek with a home win against UNC-Asheville and a triumph against Cal in St. John Arena.

The women's basketball team exited stage right in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. The sixth-seeded Buckeyes trailed most of the game before finally bowing out 60-49 to 11th-seeded Florida State in a game played in Des Moines, Iowa. The Buckeyes shot just 35.1 percent from the field.

Two non-revenue sports earned headlines, accomplishments led by the fencing team, which won its third-ever national title at home March 16. Andras Horanyi won the individual national crown in men's foil. The wrestling team topped its Big Ten tournament performance, as Pucillo and 141-pounder J Jaggers earned individual national titles and the Buckeyes placed second to earn its best-ever finish.

April 12
An NIT title isn't the preferred finish for a lot of teams, but it gave the Buckeyes a measure of redemption after an up-and-down regular season. Ohio State defeated in-state rival Dayton to advance to the final four in New York City, where it knocked off Mississippi and Massachusetts in a row to win the crown.

"What is so crazy is our chemistry is crazy right now," Evan Turner said after the NIT title game. "We're all on the same page and we're all clicking. We're all a unit, everybody. It's kind of sad that it got clicking too late."

Koufos led the team with 22 points in the title game against UMass, while Turner had 20 and Butler added 19. Butler and Turner had led the team with 17 in the semifinal against Ole Miss while Koufos and David Lighty added 16 apiece.

Tidbits from the opening days of spring football camp included Chris Wells' proclamation that he wanted to win the Heisman Trophy and wideout Devon Lyons' transfer to West Virginia.

Initial reports began to surface that former Michigan offensive lineman Justin Boren, who had already announced he would transfer from the Wolverine program, was considering a transfer to his hometown school – U-M's main rival, Ohio State.

A feature on national reaction to Pryor's choice of OSU included a quote from Chicago Tribune writer Teddy Greenstein, who wrote that the quarterback made the right choice.

April 26
News on football continued to develop as the Buckeyes progressed through spring practice.

First, on April 11, a rare glimpse into practice for reporters showed that defensive backs Donald Washington, Jamario O'Neal and Eugene Clifford were not taking part in drills with the rest of the team, an occurrence that coincided with rumors swirling on the Internet of disciplinary action facing the players.

Tressel noted a day later that the players were in trouble, saying, "Sometimes you don't do what you're supposed to do and you lose your car keys."

Those comments came after the offense beat the defense 55-44 in the spring jersey scrimmage in Ohio Stadium. Todd Boeckman threw two touchdown passes to Hartline, while Antonio Henton threw for a touchdown and Brandon Saine scampered for another.

Finally, the team's spring game April 19 drew 76,346 fans to Ohio Stadium – some of whom were there early to take in the men's lacrosse team's win against Denver – to watch the Scarlet team's 20-7 triumph over Gray. Boeckman ran for a touchdown, Joe Bauserman threw one to Taurian Washington and Boom Herron ran for a score. Chris Wells, Brian Robiskie, Steve Rehring, Ben Person and Rob Rose were among those not to play because of injury.

Dan Potokar missed the spring as well as the walk-on wideout continued to battle the affects of testicular cancer.

"There isn't time to feel sorry for myself," he said. "I have to get on with my treatment so I can get healthy again."

On the recruiting front, the Buckeyes added verbal commitments from cornerback Darrell Givens, linebacker Bell and athlete Jordan Hall after the spring contest served as an opportunity to gather many of the program's top 2009 prospects.

The men's basketball team suffered a blow when Koufos announced he would forgo his final three seasons of eligibility to join the NBA.

May 10
Former head coach John Cooper talked with the media May 1 after being named to the College Football Hall of Fame's induction class.

"I want to let the world know how proud I am, how humble I am, to finally go into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame," he said.

BSB included features on how the offense and defense played during the spring as well as an in-depth look at spring football at the other Big Ten schools.

Vernon Gholston was taken sixth overall by the New York Jets in the NFL draft, earning approval from the often critical Jets fans that always take over the draft with their vociferous chants and, often, booing.

Recruiting continued to boom, as Tressel earned pledges from Zach Boren and his older brother Justin as well as Fellows and Youngstown (Ohio) Boardman offensive lineman Corey Linsley.

Commits came in for the men's basketball team as well as the cagers looked forward to getting the signatures of JUCO transfers Jeremie Simmons and Nicola Kecman.

On May 3, Ohio State officials were hosted by Ohio Wesleyan as the two schools combined to celebrate the first game in OSU history, which was staged on the OWU campus in on that date in 1890. Nearly 700 people were in attendance on a soggy day 20 miles north of the Ohio State campus.

"To think that it was all sparked right here in 1890, what a great day to remember," Tressel said.

The men's volleyball team won its way into the NCAA Final Four by capturing the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association title before dropping a 3-1 decision in the semifinals to Penn State, while men's lacrosse snagged an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2004 thanks to a 10-5 season.

June 2008
BSB's cover story featured an in-depth look at the football team's strength and conditioning workouts under director of football performance Eric Lichter.

"You earn it or you don't get it," was one Lichter quote that seemed to wrap up the gist of the five-page story.

Also included in the issue was a feature story on Tressel's recruiting philosophy and how it differs from that held by many other prominent programs.

The football team added verbal commitments in the class of 2009 from a pair of Michigan offensive players in wideout James Jackson and tight end Reid Fragel. Those gains helped offset the loss of Givens, who switched his commitment to Penn State. The women's cagers were helped by the commitment of Emilee Harmon of Pickerington (Ohio) Central, one of the top players both in Ohio and the nation.

Other news included the football team's high marks in the Academic Progress Rate, while the men's basketball team did not suffer a scholarship reduction because of an academic plan instituted by team advisors.

Men's volleyball player Daniel Mathews and women's track sprinter Jenna Griffin won the school's Big Ten Medal of Honor awards. The men's lacrosse team won its first-ever NCAA tournament game May 10 with a win at Cornell that featured a highlight-reel goal from goalkeeper Stefan Schroder before losing to No. 1-seed Duke a week later. Men's tennis continued its tradition of deep runs into the NCAA tournament before a quarterfinal loss to Texas.

July 2008
Two features made the July issue of BSB stand out.

The first was on the cover, as the magazine looked deeper into the recruitment of Terrelle Pryor to unearth some little-known facts about the more than yearlong process.

The second was about former OSU golfer Jack Nicklaus, who entertained reporters yet again with a press conference at the Memorial Tournament.

Also included was a ton of recruiting news, including the story of how eight players committed to Ohio State in the weeks around its two senior advanced camps. The list included Dominic Clarke, Adam Bellamy, Duron Carter, Carlos Hyde, Justin Green, Corey Brown, Bradley McDouglad and Jonathan Newsome.

The oft-rumored transfer of Henton out of the OSU program came to fruition June 23 when it was confirmed that the Georgia native would be returning home to play for Georgia Southern.

Other odds and ends included the loss of men's basketball assistant John Groce, who left to become the head coach at Ohio; a feature on the reunion of a number of former OSU women's basketball players; a preview of the Buckeye athletes who were set to compete at the Summer Olympics; and an update on newly drafted professional baseball players Dan DeLucia and J.B. Shuck.

August 2008
The annual football preview issue featured position-by-position breakdowns of the season as well as predictions, depth charts, statistics and more. Also included was a recap of the fall jersey scrimmage – another event won by the offense – and a night practice in Ohio Stadium that drew an estimated 12,000 fans. The status of defensive back James Scott remained in doubt when the Floridian did not report to camp.

BSB's annual preseason consensus poll – which puts together 19 preseason polls from media outlets across the country – had Ohio State occupying the top spot with Georgia, USC, Oklahoma and Florida right behind.

A recap of the Big Ten media kickoff in Chicago in late July featured a note about how the Buckeyes were named the preseason favorites in the league and featured the preseason offensive and defensive players of the year in Beanie Wells and James Laurinaitis.

"(The poll) hasn't been very accurate in the past, which is a little frightening," Tressel said.

The head coach also told reporters that he did not expect Clifford to be in camp when it started in early August.

The start of BSB's weekly flashback series to the 1968, 1973 and 1978 seasons included a recap of those important seasons in the career of head coach Woody Hayes.

Ohio State also gained a verbal commitment from offensive lineman Sam Longo, but the status of 2008 signee Shanwtel Rowell remained in doubt as he did not report to camp. Basketball was relieved that DeShaun Thomas affirmed his commitment, but fellow 2010 prospect Trae Golden withdrew his pledge to Ohio State.

The Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame announced in late July that its 2008 class would include former quarterback Bobby Hoying and former lineman and current team assistant Jeff Uhlenhake.

Former OSU athletes also shined at the Olympics in August fencers Hanna Thompson and Jason Rogers won silver while gymnast Raj Bhavsar took bronze.

Sept. 6
Ohio State opened its season Aug. 30 with the expected 43-0 blowout win against Youngstown State, but panic struck Ohio Stadium during the third quarter when tailback Chris Wells went down early in the third quarter with an apparent foot injury. Wells did not return, and information on his injury was sketchy after the game.

Todd Boeckman threw two touchdown passes in the game, and Pryor made his much anticipated debut by scoring an 18-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

After enjoying the game, five-star Florida running back Jaamal Berry joined Ohio State's football recruiting class.

"I told Coach Tressel in his office in front of my mom because it's her birthday," Berry said. "I thought that would be a good time."

The day before the game, the university announced a new compensation package for Tressel that made him the highest paid coach in the Big Ten.

BSB's Gameday feature series began with a story on the 800-member Alumni Band, which played before the game and at halftime.

"The favorites – Sloopy, the fight song and everything – you never forget that," said Thomas DeNicholas, who dotted the "i" in one of the alumni scripts in Script Ohio.

A feature story highlighted Ohio State's four captains – Boeckman, Robiskie, Laurinaitis and Jenkins – who were named near the end of fall camp.

Both the men's and women's basketball programs had reason to be proud when former cagers Michael Redd and Katie Smith captured gold medals as part of the United States teams at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

OSU fans across the Midwest were happy when the Big Ten Network appeared on their television screens in the hours preceding the game with Youngstown State.

Sept. 13
Without Wells, Ohio State needed a comeback – capped by a late punt return touchdown by Ray Small – to post a 26-14 home win over in-state foe Ohio. The win was the 800th in the storied history of the football program.

As the Buckeyes prepared to face USC in a showdown game in Los Angeles, they still did not know the status of Wells. After telling reporters at his Tuesday press luncheon Sept. 2 that Wells said he felt great that day, Tressel ended the intrigue for that week by announcing on Sept. 4 that Beanie would not play.

"I feel good about his progress but it wasn't enough progress to practice through yesterday," Tressel said.

The 12 members of the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame class were inducted at halftime of the OU game. In addition, Redd was honored for his Olympic accomplishment.

BSB began to turn its attention to the class of 2010 with notes on prospects J.T. Moore, Darryl Baldwin, Corey Brown, Devin Gardner, Seantrel Henderson, Jordan Hicks, Matt James, Marvin Robinson and Jamel Turner.

Sept. 20
The cover of BSB read "Dark Night" after the team's 35-3 blowout loss at the hands of No. 1 USC in Los Angeles.

The Buckeyes took an early 3-0 lead before allowing 35 unanswered points, the most damaging of which came on an interception return for a touchdown by Rey Maualuga that gave the Trojans a 21-3 lead at halftime.

OSU tried rotating Boeckman, who threw the INT to Maualuga, and Pryor but to no avail as the pair combined to throw for just 136 yards and two interceptions, both by Boeckman. Afterward, offensive lineman Alex Boone told reporters that he was "extremely pissed off" at his team's play.

Ohio State had to do without Wells in the game. Reports on the Tuesday before the game were encouraging, but Tressel told reporters two days before kickoff that Wells was "doubtful." He downgraded that status to "out" by the time kickoff came around.

Washington and O'Neal returned from two-game suspensions during the contest.

A feature on Jenkins focused on his activities as stepmaster for his campus fraternity, Omesa Psi Phi.

Moore, a 6-3, 216-pound defensive end prospect, became OSU's first 2010 commitment.

Sept. 27
After spending a week saying that Boeckman and Pryor would split time at quarterback, Tressel instead chose to go with Pryor as the signal caller for all but two of the team's plays against visiting Troy. The freshman responded with an excellent showing, becoming the first Buckeye freshman ever to throw for four touchdowns in one game during a 28-10 win.

"I feel good," Pryor said afterward. "It just helped me believe in myself even more. It's all about confidence."

When asked if Pryor had cemented his hold on the starting job, Tressel said, "Weren't you at the game?"

The Buckeyes, who allowed 315 yards against the visiting Trojans' spread offense, led only 14-10 going to the final quarter before Pryor threw fourth-quarter touchdowns to Robiskie and Hartline to cement the win. He had earlier thrown scoring passes to Rory Nicol on his first drive and Hartline.

The status of Wells – who did not play because of his continued foot injury – took a backseat during the week to the quarterback controversy. Tressel originally told reporters that the two signal callers would split the game reps 50-50.

Scott reportedly began taking classes at Mississippi on Sept. 15, ending his OSU career.

Oct. 4
Wells finally returned – and did so in style. His hurdle of Kyle Theret on a second-quarter run showed that the tailback was ready to go, and he ran for 106 yards during the Buckeyes' 34-21 romp over visiting Minnesota.

"It was great," he said. "All week I was walking around like a caged animal because I wanted to be out there the last three games, especially that big one, but I couldn't help it."

Pryor threw for two touchdowns and ran for two scores, while he and Wells keyed a rushing attack that totaled 279 yards.

Ohio State players decried fans' booing of Boeckman after he skipped his lone pass against Troy.

On the recruiting front, Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the first Scout.com recruiting rankings for the class of 2009.

A feature in BSB about former Buckeye quarterback Bill Long included Long's thoughts on his losing the quarterback job to Rex Kern in 1968 and how that related to the current OSU quarterbacking situation.

The men's basketball team received a commitment from 2010 guard Lenzelle Smith Jr.

Oct. 11
Pryor came of age dramatically during the final minutes at Wisconsin, leading the Buckeyes down the field before capping an 80-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to lead OSU to a 20-17 win over No. 18 Wisconsin.

"Everyone was telling me, ‘This is why you're here,' and, ‘We believe in you,' " Pryor said.

Pryor received a healthy assist from Wells, who ran for 168 yards and a touchdown.

A feature on campus life for Ohio State football stars discussed the endless autographs and requests for time the players must deal with.

"To me it's normal," Laurinaitis said.

Jenkins was amused by the strangest thing he had ever been asked to autograph.

"A baby," he said with a laugh. "I've had to autograph a baby."

Another feature story went inside the Ohio State equipment staff.

The women's basketball team received a verbal commitment from center Darryce Moore, the sister of football commit J.T. Moore.

Oct. 18
The football team harkened back to the 2003 season, using a special teams touchdown and three field goals to beat visiting Purdue by a 16-3 score.

"We just know we didn't play anywhere near how we can," tight end Jake Ballard said after the offense totaled just 222 yards.

The special teams touchdown came in the first quarter when Jenkins blocked a punt and Etienne Sabino returned it for a 20-yard score.

The Buckeye defense did the rest, as Purdue never advanced past the 25-yard line.

Football recruits Marlon Brown and Ra'Shede Hageman took in the game.

At halftime, Katie Smith was honored for her Olympic success as well as leading the Detroit Shock to a WNBA championship.

Quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels told reporters that he was feeling good despite continuing to battle cancer.

The men's hockey team began its season by making history, defeating Miami at Value City Arena in the first-ever shootout in Central Collegiate Hockey Association history.

Oct. 25
Ohio State began its toughest stretch of the football season by destroying No. 20 Michigan State 45-7 in East Lansing in what was supposed to be a statement game for the resurgent Spartans.

"They had their crowd riled up and it was hostile coming in here," offensive lineman Jim Cordle said. "It was good to see they had the student section in the white out, and half of them were gone by halftime."

The Buckeyes led 28-0 at halftime and completely shut down Michigan State's offense during the first half, forcing quarterback Brian Hoyer from the game.

Athletic director Gene Smith told BSB on Oct. 15 that he had signed a contract extension that would keep him at Ohio State through 2016.

Nov. 8
The Buckeyes' hopes for an unprecedented third straight Big Ten title took a serious hit when Ohio State lost a fourth quarter lead and dropped a 13-6 decision to No. 3 Penn State in Columbus.

The key play was a fumble by Pryor with Ohio State leading 6-3 that led to Penn State's winning touchdown.

"I thought I was scoring a touchdown," a devastated Pryor said of his decision to take a quarterback sneak outside.

Five-star defensive tackle recruit Corey Adams of Arizona was among a plethora of recruits on hand for the nationally televised night contest.

Nov. 15
The Buckeyes responded from the Penn State loss by returning from an open week with a 45-10 win at Northwestern. That win, coupled with Penn State's loss at Iowa, allowed Ohio State to move into a tie yet again at the top of the league standings.

"We still want to look up at the end of the year and see only two losses," Jenkins said.

Ohio State gained 441 yards while Pryor threw for three touchdowns and Wells ran for two scores.

Before the game, word leaked out that Small would be suspended for the game, a fact that Tressel confirmed before abruptly ending his Nov. 6 press conference because of the continued questions about the receiver's status.

The women's basketball team was picked to win its fifth straight Big Ten title and Lavender was tabbed as the league's preseason player of the year, while the men were not selected to finish in the top three.

Nov. 22
The Buckeyes defeated Illinois, 30-20 in Champaign, to set up a chance at a fourth straight Big Ten title a week later against Michigan. The OSU defense allowed the Fighting Illini to accumulate 455 yards, but the Buckeyes ran for 305 yards – their most since 2005 – and received rushing touchdowns from Pryor, Wells and Herron.

"To lose two hard-fought games like we did, it's tough, but at least we have a chance to control our own destiny," Freeman said.

Pryor got himself into some hot water when he gestured at taunting Fighting Illini fans following the conclusion of the contest.

BSB's Michigan Memories series included interviews with Dick Schafrath, Mark Stier, Bruce Elia, Alvin Washington and Matt Finkes about their games against the Maize and Blue.

Berry reaffirmed his commitment to Ohio State in the days prior to a planned visit to Columbus for the Michigan game, while a number of Buckeye commitments continued with playoff action.

The newspaper included its first look at Club Trillion, the blog started by men's basketball team walk-on Mark Titus.

The women's basketball team opened its season at home on Nov. 14 with a 75-56 win against Butler behind Lavendar's 20 points. Days earlier, OSU accepted signed letters of intent from Harmon and Brianna Sanders of Cincinnati.

Nov. 29
Ohio State ended November on a high note – and Michigan's season on one of its lowest down notes of many – by thumping the visiting Wolverines 42-7. The 35-point margin of victory was the third-best ever for the Buckeyes in the series.

Afterward, Tressel congratulated his 28 seniors, calling them a special group.

"On the last game of the season you're supposed to play your best game, and I think we did that today," lineman Steve Rehring said.

The Ohio State offense had a great game as Tressel won his seventh game in eight tries against the Wolverines. Wells ran for 134 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an injury, a fact that didn't seem to matter when Herron ran for two touchdowns. Pryor threw for two scores and Boeckman had another.

Small returned and had a big impact, returning a punt 80 yards to set up a touchdown.

Florida recruits Carter and Berry were in attendance, but Virginia quarterback Kevin Newsome did not make it because of inclement weather.

The men's basketball team began its season with a 70-42 win against Delaware State in St. John Arena. William Buford and Lighty had 13 points apiece to pace the Buckeyes.

December
The annual bowl preview issue included depth charts, stats and an in-depth look at the Texas team, as well as news and notes about the bowl and each team as they prepared to travel to the desert for the Jan. 5 Fiesta Bowl after the Buckeyes and No. 3 Longhorns were drawn together by the BCS early-December selection process.

The BCS game was to be the Ohio State's sixth in the Tressel era and the fifth to be staged in the greater Phoenix area.

"We're excited to have the chance to be with (the Longhorns) and compete against them for a week," the head coach said.

Ohio State players learned in December that they would be traveling to the desert with more fanfare after James Laurinaitis became the school's eighth three-time All-American and Jenkins pocketed the Thorpe Award and first-team All-America honors. Pryor was named the freshman of the year and Laurinaitis the defensive player of the year in the Big Ten by both the coaches and media.

Tressel announced at his Dec. 16 bowl media day that six OSU underclassmen – Hartline, Washington, Ballard, Cordle, Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman – had submitted paperwork to learn their possible NFL draft statuses, while Wells did not need to because he is expected to be a high first-round pick.

The football team received a commitment from Turner, a 6-2, 200-pound defensive end from Youngstown (Ohio) Ursuline, while five-star quarterback Tajh Boyd, a recent decommit from Tennessee, immediately jumped onto the Buckeyes' radar. Boyd was among a number of uncommitted 2009 players who visited during the Dec. 12-14 weekend while nearly the entire committed class was in town.

The men's basketball team entered the rankings after back-to-back wins over ranked Miami (Fla.) and Notre Dame, while the women sat at 7-2 with losses coming against ranked Auburn and North Carolina. The men's hockey team went into the holiday break at 11-6-1, its best such record in four years.

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