Banished Buck Bits

-         36 hours and counting until the deadline to declare for the draft and no word from Smith or Jenkins.  I cannot help but take this as a good sign that the young men will be back.  Personally, I would like to see them finish their degrees and come back for one more season.  If they do, they have the potential to be remembered as fondly as Doss.  I wish them well either way but think it could help them in every way to return for one more season.

 

-         Shockey and Winslow Jr.  What do they have in common?  Despite being incredible talents, they display a real lack of class.  If I am a parent, no way would I let my kid play down in Miami right now based on the way the last two tight ends are turning out character-wise.  An NFL career may last 10 years (if you are incredibly lucky).  How a young man is shaped in his college years will last the rest of his lifetime.  It impacts him, and his children, and even their children.  Folks, I watch college football - lots of it.  I read about college football - voraciously.  I don't know many coaches I would choose over this one in Columbus for the total package.  Character formation, football development, academics, and NFL hopes are all priorities at Ohio State -- just in a different order than most schools.

 

-         I think that the number of Juniors jumping this year is stunning - as always.  I am wondering if there is any way to keep more young men in school to finish their degree.  I doubt that there is, but I wish that something could be done.  Why?  Why worry about a young man who is making $1,000,000 per year?  Well, the agent gets 3%.  The government may get close to 50%.  Expensive toys take up another 10-15% (at least).  Throw in another 20% for a nice house (and more in some NFL markets).  What does that leave a player with?  Not very much.  Many players are one catastrophic injury away from bankruptcy.  That means that their degree (if they get it) could be the difference between losing everything they worked for and sacrificed their body for... and ruination.

 

-         I think that so long as Ohio State maintains its scruples in the upcoming seasons, recruiting will continue to have a high success rate.  All too often, a coach can start out with a group of young men who just want to play team ball and will work hard.  They do that and win a plethora of games.  The result is that program X is now a hot place to go and many fine talents with little character want to go there.  The coach, overwhelmed, is more than happy to oblige these top rated athletes and turns his head at possible character flaws.  He convinces himself that these young men just need a chance, that they have had a rough childhood, that they will straighten out, that they will apply themselves to their books, and that they will win lots of games...  Then, the arrests start, the selfishness factor goes up and the team factor goes down, the kids who survived become "survivors" and lie to their coaches, they flunk out, and the coach is fired.  No matter how talented the young man - without character - I would not give a plugged nickel for him.

 

-         Two high profile young men who are "character kids" have left Colorado in the last year.  Craig Ochs and Marcus Houston were widely considered fine talents with character to spare when they came out of high school.  It was a serious coup for Barnett to land both of them, and most felt his backfield was set for years to come.  Ochs was the starter when he left early this past season, but Houston has struggled with injuries and was running a distant 4th team by the end of bowl practices.  Is this a pattern or is it merely a case of two kids who did not fit in for assorted reasons?  I have no idea, but I am keeping an eye on the situation.

 

-         All the flap about Herbie being happy for the Buckeyes is a load of manure.  There is this myth about media being completely neutral.  Give me a break.  It is the same myth that exists about school teachers loving every student.  Don't believe it for a second.  Sit in a room with teachers and one discovers that there are "favorite" children and... umm... ahhh... shall we say "Not so favorite" children for each instructor.  Herbstreit has worked his tail off and succeeds admirably in his attempt to be a professional and pick the best team rather than his emotional favorite from week to week.  Where were all his critics when he picked against Ohio State in past seasons?  In my most humble opinion, they can crawl back into the same hole they were living in back then.  The man has a right to root for his alma mater just as Bob Griese did his son when he ended up all choked up in the booth in the closing minutes of the 1997/98 Rose Bowl.

 

-         For any Ohio State fans getting anxious out there, I have a new way to induce serenity.  Repeat 10 times slowly while using proper breathing technique:  "Ohio State is the National Champion for one whole year."  If that does not work then try this:  "Jim Tressel is only 50 and could coach at Ohio State another two decades."  Finally, if serenity just will not come, say: "Jim Tressel is 2-0 against Michigan and may just have his most talented team yet this coming season."  I am feeling better already - how about you?

 

-         I am still waiting for the lengthy articles from national writers issuing apologies to the Big Ten for the bashing this season.  All year long it was, "The Big Ten stinks worse than a dead fish left to rot in a hot Florida trunk."  After compiling a stellar record against solid competition in both the bowls and the non-conference opponents, the Big Ten smells a lot more like roses.  Sure, there has been the, "Wow!  What a surprise that the Big Ten did so well in their bowl games!"  What I am talking about is a genuine apology stating that not only were they off, but they were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off and owe the conference better in the future.

 

-         Miami is going to be hurting early in their season.  As of right now they have officially lost their top 3 weapons on offense, two starters on the offensive line that Ohio State mauled, and their entire front four on the defensive line.  Still, don't cry for them because they play in the Big East and have several "tune-up" games to get the train back on track and steaming downhill once again.

 

-         I wish Willis McGahee all the fortune in the world.  The one regret I have about the Fiesta Bowl is that Willis was injured (even if it was on a clean hit).  I think if I were an NFL executive, I would take a chance on this young man.  He seems to have fine character and a potential to be a strong NFL back barring issues with rehabilitation.  He is worth a third round pick for multiple teams who need a marquee back with size and speed.  Even if he loses a step?  The kid is still faster by far than most backs playing on Sundays.

 

-         I think that the Big Ten is poised for another fine season in 2003.  If I were forced to pick the top 5 in the Big Ten for 2003?  #1 – Ohio State.  Smith and Jenkins returning would cement this pick.  #2 – Michigan.  They look to be improved next season with Perry and Navarre both picking up their games behind a more seasoned line.  #3 – Wisconsin.  With the exception of Bollinger (who I always felt was over-rated), they have a ton of weapons returning.  Their wide receiver corps should be one of the top 15 in the country.  #4 – Purdue.  Their only issue is the loss of 5 starters on the offensive line, but their defense returns 9 starters.  #5 – Minnesota.  Won their bowl game and so long as they can replace both kickers, they return 17 other starters.  Bear in mind that waiting in the wings behind these five are Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, and Illinois – who all showed that they have talent in 2002.  Each has questions unanswered at this point, but if they can put their proverbial ducks in a row?  Yikes.

 

-         I think the SEC is up for grabs in 2003.  Not only did the league suffer an awful year with regard to NCAA sanctions and investigation, but the hemorrhaging may not be over yet.  The early draft list looks like a who's who in the SEC.  Who will step up?  Tennessee must overcome internal strife and stay healthy.  Georgia must replace its starting offensive line, running back, wide receiver, and fullback.  Florida has to find someone with the talent to step in for Graham, Grossman, and Jacobs.  South Carolina returns only 7 starters.  Kentucky just lost its coach and most of their defense along with it (what little there was to begin with).  Vanderbilt might make a move from the cellar, but they will have to improve mightily.  Bama is still on sanctions and lost 14 starters along with Franchione.  Ole Miss loses 6 offensive and 7 defensive starters and is praying that Eli Manning stays just one more year.  Mississippi State needs to improve to save Sherrill's job, but in order to do so they need to cut down on off the field distractions. 

            Only LSU, Auburn, and Arkansas look to have top 10 potential right now. 

LSU must replace its defense (though I have faith in Saban and his staff).  Arkansas must find an offense to go with that defense.  Ditto for Auburn.

 

-         The Big 12 South is now the toughest division in football.  Texas, Texas A&M (Franchione), OU (Stoops), and Okahoma State (Les Miles) all in one 6 team division?  Are you kidding me?  Talk about a recipe for disaster.  Expect one of these gentlemen to get fired in the next few seasons because alumni do not understand just how tough it will be to win here.  Throw in the mega-salaries of Brown, Franchione, and Stoops – and I expect this to get ugly at some point for someone.

 

-         How about Kenny Peterson?  He looks to be a possible first round pick in a fairly deep draft.  I cannot help but think to myself what a great story that is.  Three years ago he was thought to be a possible bust.  Three months ago he was off the radar screen for most NFL teams (at best a third or fourth rounder).  On the third of this month, his display of defensive prowess shot him up the draft boards.  With an impressive showing in the combines, he could easily find himself making millions.

 

-         I cannot believe that it will be 8 months before I get to see another college football game.  Oh!  The humanity!  I miss it already.  This season was simply amazing.  Capped off with a double overtime national championship, there is no doubt in my mind that it is the best sport out there.

 

 


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