Yeah, it was only one day, but the Buckeyes’ DBs had a definite different look as they opened spring practice this week.
Defensive backs were the main eye-catchers on the first day of Ohio State football spring practice for 2014.
We have heard all about what effect new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash will have on a secondary that was the second-worst in Ohio State history last season, and it was on display yesterday as the Buckeyes worked out sans pads.
In case you were wondering, Nick Saban is still the worst secondary coach in Ohio State history – at least statistically.
The 2013 Buckeyes came close to setting a record for most passing yards allowed per game at 268.0 but fell short of the mark of 273.1 yielded in 1981.
Saban was Ohio State secondary coach that season as well as in 1980, when the Buckeyes allowed a school-record 621 yards passing in a game to David Wilson of Illinois. The only other 500-yard passing game by an Ohio State opponent also happened under Saban’s watch in ’81 at Purdue via quarterback Scott Campbell.
Head coach Earle Bruce fired Saban (along with defensive coordinator Dennis Fryzel and line coach Steve Szabo) after the ’81 campaign, but the Kent State graduate recovered nicely, as you may have heard.
He got his revenge on Ohio State in 1998 when as head coach at Michigan State he led an upset of what for my money is the best Buckeye team of the past 25 years at least. Oh yeah, then he won a total of four national championships at LSU and Alabama. Saban also was head coach at Toledo and served four seasons as defensive coordinator of the Browns before becoming the big boss of the Spartans.
As for his time in Columbus, Saban told the American Football Coaches Association convention last month the most memorable victory of his career was the Buckeyes’ 14-9 upset of No. 7 Michigan in 1981. Saban’s secondary was key in that victory as safety Todd Bell’s late interception prevented the Wolverines from adding to a 9-7 lead in the fourth quarter. Art Schlichter then engineered the game-winning touchdown drive for the Buckeyes.
You should definitely read the whole back-and-forth between former Ohio State players and current ESPN analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Robert Smith and Joey Galloway, but the part that I want to highlight comes from Herbstreit.
He seems to agree with my contention one of the NCAA’s biggest problems is perception, something it does little to help with its consistently tone-deaf responses to the debate about how major college athletes are compensated.
“It’s just bizarre to me that I don’t think we’re doing a good enough job of selling the student-athlete experience,” Herbstreit continued. “When you’re at Ohio State, it’s not just playing football and going to school. There are so many opportunities that you have that you don’t understand when you’re an 18- to 22-year-old kid and you’re going to these events and you meet people who are in the business community. Urban just committed an entire offseason to introduce athletes to business leaders in Columbus. You’re not going to get that if any of your sons or daughters went to Ohio State. I don’t know what an education costs if you’re there for four or five years, and you throw everything in, travel, all the stuff that you’re afforded.
“I just feel like people assume everybody is a Joey Galloway or a Robert Smith and they make it in the first round and make millions of dollars. 95 percent are me. They don’t play a down in the NFL and use this degree that I got from Ohio State to try to make something out of myself, and I just think we focus too much on the, ‘Wow, the athlete is being taken advantage of,’ when he’s not being taken advantage of. Maybe Braxton Miller is being taken advantage of, but everybody else on that roster is not being taken advantage of, so I just disagree completely with this notion of paying student-athletes. I just disagree with it.”
At the end he lapses into the overly simplistic “paying student-athletes” phrase that often trips people up in these discussions (because they are paid, so the debate should be if they get enough), but overall he hits the themes that people miss for the most part: While the system certainly could be better and needs some adjustments, it is already a pretty good deal for the players. That includes the rather large portion of the roster that never become standouts or even play, arguably players who get more out of their scholarships and college experience than they really pay back.
Some of the things being discussed could end up making things worse for many while only improving it for a few – and I would argue most of those who would see that improvement are already made whole when they reach the NFL, thanks in no small part to their college experience.
Here’s the full story, including responses from Smith and Galloway as well as debate about the Ed O’Bannon case, profiting off likenesses and more: Scout.com: ESPN Buckeyes Debate Paying Players.
In his “10 players to watch at the 2014 NFL Combine” for the National Football Post, Dave Miller compares former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron to Andy Dalton, saying that he has a chance to have a beginning of a career similar to the Bengals quarterback. That’s an interesting way to put it I would say because Dalton’s early career has been very admirable. The big question now is where he and the Bengals go from here.
Better quarterbacks have had great careers that didn’t start off as well as Andy Dalton, although there are other good quarterbacks especially recently who have had as good or better starts than him from a numbers perspective.
Dalton is an interesting case because he doesn’t have the physical tools that create high early expectations for somebody like a Matthew Stafford or a Cam Newton, but now he’s won enough, in part because of him and in part because the situation created by the Bengals suddenly learning now to draft over the past five years or so, that the expectations are very high just the same.
Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier and Cleveland State are all included in this edition of ”Vegas Bracketology” published by Fox Sports and Don Best Sports gaming analyst Todd Furhman.
He has the Buckeyes highest at at No. 4 in a killer region with No. 1 seed Louisville, No. 2 Arizona and No. 3 Kentucky.
Cincinnati gets a six seed in another region while Xavier is rated as a No. 11 seed, Cleveland State is a 12 and Toledo a 13.
As Furhman freely admits, this bracket projection has some unique and surprising entires topped by Iowa receiving a top seed, but he explains the differences are a result of using the power numbers generated by Vegas oddsmakers.
Check it out: Vegas Bracketology : Outkick The Coverage.
Per Scout.com’s Signing Day Primer we learn Rutgers and Maryland are all set to continue the Big Ten’s recent tradition of recruiting poorly:
Another sidelight to the 2014 class was the decimation of Rutgers’ class, which at one time was in the Top 30 but suffered through 12 decommitments.
The Scarlet Knights’ top in-state player is No. 10 Kevin Wilkins, and they only have two of the top 20 players in the state staying home. In fact, Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Miami each have as many commitments from New Jersey’s Top 20 as the Scarlet Knights.
Maryland didn’t have much in-state success either as only one of the top 25 players in the state opted to remain home, although the state’s No. 1 player, four-star offensive tackle Damian Prince of Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNamara, has the Terps among his finalists heading into signing day.
With National Signing Day one day away, Ohio State (at No. 4) is the only Big Ten team in the top 10 classes nationally while Wisconsin checks in at No. 19, Penn State is 21st. and Michigan is 24th. Continue reading
This morning Jerry Crasnick reported former Reds catcher Joe Oliver will be named manager of the Lowell Spinners, a Single-A club in the Boston Red Sox organization.
I spoke to Oliver for Reds alumni feature for Reds Report late last year and he shared his desire to get back into pro ball after devoting much of his time raising his family in Orlando (kids are all now nearly grown) over the past decade, so I’m happy to hear that an opportunity has arrived.
Oliver had a very solid 13-year career in the majors after the Reds chose him with a second round pick in the 1983 draft, and the finest moment is pretty certainly his game-winning hit against the Athletics in Game 2 of the 1990 World Series.
Joe Buck’s call is fantastic, and he notes the Reds beat stud Oakland pitchers Dave Stewart and then Dennis Eckersley to establish their 2-game lead in the series.