All posts by Marcus Hartman

Urban Meyer on Ohio State-Michigan State (and Michigan)

Monday in Chicago at the first of the Big Ten football media days, the head coach of Buckeyes was asked his thoughts on the Nov. 8 clash with Michigan State in East Lansing, a game getting more preseason hype at this point than the traditional regular-season ending clash with Michigan at Ohio Stadium.

“If we take care of business, it will be real big. But we’ve got some things in the way before we get there, so if we do our job it could be a real big game,” Meyer said. Big Ten logo

The natural followup was about the state of the “rivalry” between the Buckeyes and Spartans, the two teams that clashed in the Big Ten football title game last year and are considered the top two teams in the new Big Ten East Division this year.

“When I was at Ohio State back in the mid-80s they beat us at Ohio Stadium, so there’s a great rivalry already there. You’ve got to be clear, though, there’s one rival and that will never change. However, Wisconsin became a very big game and then obviously this one’s a huge game, and it’s a credit to both schools that they’re good programs, but there’s one rival.”

Who are the best Buckeye football players from out of state?

So, which state (other than Ohio) has produced the most Ohio State football players over the past 30 years? You probably won’t be surprised to find out it’s Florida with 52.

But who is the best of that bunch? After all, more than half have become starters, and one quarter have been drafted into the NFL.

Ryan Shazier talks to reporters in Columbus
Ryan Shazier talks to reporters in Columbus

We narrowed it down to six candidates and gave BuckeyeSports.com readers a chance to vote for their favorite. We did the same for Buckeye football recruits from Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan, too, and you can find the stories below.  Continue reading

A look at the first College Football Playoff trophy

The crystal football of the Bowl Championship Series is gone, replaced with a trophy of hardened steel surround by gold brackets.

It is three feet tall, and like the last trophy is composed of two distinct pieces so the 26.5-inch 35-pound “virtual football” trophy can still be lifted off the base, as winners famously were able to do with the crystal football trophy.

The trophy that will go to the winner of the College Football Playoff that begins this season.
The trophy that will go to the winner of the College Football Playoff that begins this season.

The Ohio State response to the return of LeBron James

The biggest sports story in Ohio this year — and perhaps in much longer — is the return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years in Miami.

Ohio State has long maintained a relationship with the Akron native, even setting up a locker for him in the men’s basketball locker room and wearing LeBron-branded stuff.  Continue reading

Ohio sports holiday weekend rewind: LeBron, baseball, etc.

So, anything interesting happening in the world of Ohio sports today?

Yeah, I know it was a long holiday weekend and now there are some major rumblings that a huge homecoming could give folks even more to celebrate than America’s birthday, so how about we get all caught up on what happened while you were out watching fireworks and grilling, shall we?

The Heart of It All:

How could this be anything but the ever-moving free agency of one LeBron James, the best basketball player to come out of Ohio in the past 50 years and and probably ever?

Sam Amico at FoxSportsOhio.com did his best to round up the rumors and reports that emerged over the weekend while adding his own reporting, while Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and Fox Sports 1 and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, experts on the NBA and LeBron, respectively, brought even more to the table this morning, painting a rosy picture for the Cavaliers’ outlook in bringing James back to the club he began his career playing for then backhanded on his way out the door four years ago.  Continue reading

Ohio State football recruiting continues to spread nationwide, but Ohio not being left behind

Ohio State picked up a pair of verbal commitments Wednesday morning, first four-star linebacker Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati St. Xavier then four-star defensive end Jashon Cornell of St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham. 

While Hilliard’s hop on board highlights one issue of interest in regards to recent recruiting (Ohio State in Cincinnati), Cornell’s commitment has its own significance.  The 6-3.5, 270-pounder is in line to be the first player from Minnesota to pick Ohio State since Willie Mobley in 2008 and only the third since 1988 (but probably much longer). When eventual All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis signed with Ohio State in 2005, he was believed to be the first scholarship Buckeye football player from the Land of 1,000 Lakes since the great Sid Gillman in the early 1930s. Relationships Lead Cornell to Buckeyes - recruiting - Scout

But we’re getting at a larger trend here.

Continue reading

Meyer mines Cincinnati for top linebacker prospect for Ohio State

Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati St. Xavier is the 11th verbal commitment for Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class and the second linebacker, joining Nick Connor of Dublin Scioto.

Buckeyes Land Hilliard - ohiostate - Scout

He is the seventh recruit from southwestern Ohio in Urban Meyer’s three-plus years as head coach of the Buckeyes and the third from Cincinnati, joining Adolphus Washington (Taft) and Sam Hubbard (Moeller). That makes a pair of Greater Catholic League pickups for Meyer in as many years with Hubbard having been the top-rated player in the state last year.  Continue reading

Comparing Careers: Ohio State football 3- and 4-star recruits

After taking a look at the success rate of Ohio State’s five-star recruits, we turned our attention to the lower rated but perhaps overall more important guys who account for well over 80 percent of the roster.

The study of the Buckeyes who signed as four-star recruits and those rated three-stars (or lower) brought out a couple more surprises than the five-star study, which served as more of an affirmation of the practice than anything else.

Continue reading

Are 5-star recruits worth the hype?

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is a source of conversation from time to time on message boards such as “Ask the Insiders” at BuckeyeSports.com, and it seems as though every year around National Signing Day you can find a new hot take about how recruiting rankings are overrated because not every five-star prospect becomes an All-American and plenty of four- and three-star players turn into big stars.

Comparing Careers: OSU Five-Star Recruits - ohiostate - Scout

So I figured it was time to take a look at the issue, at least from an Ohio State point of view.

Here’s what I found: Comparing Careers: OSU Five-Star Recruits – ohiostate – Scout.

Yes, the five-stars tend to outperform their lower-rated counterparts, but the degree of superiority actually turned out to be higher than I might have expected. And that was without making the same compromises in terms of personnel losses or even recruiting home-state heroes as opposed to national stars.

Protecting Jordan legacy motivating LeBron criticism? Yes, but….

Much of this suggestion (see below) LeBron James faces undue criticism because of the legacy of Michael Jordan is accurate, but it oversimplifies the situation as well. Why? Because sometimes the criticism is warranted.

If Jordan fans (of which I am one) are too quick to jump on James for every little thing he does (I try to avoid this,  as I gave him the benefit of the doubt on the cramping issue in Game 1), it is at least in part due to a tendency of those on the other side to crown James prematurely.

When LeBron came into the league, I looked forward to a chance to see someone new, someone truly from my generation who I saw play in high school, challenge the legacy of Jordan, who retired from the Bulls when I was 16. As much as I cherish the memories of watching him play during my formative years as a sports fan, there is also an appeal to having such a stud in my generation and watching him from nearly the very beginning.

Even when James’ last season with the Cavaliers was over, he was still was on track as far as I was concerned given his age, and I thought The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s cover shot noting no rings on his finger was a cheap one. Of course, “The Decision” changed the course, and I thought that took LeBron out of the running to really equal Jordan’s greatness because it involved trying to build a super team rather than going through the rigors of building one from scratch.

However, that has not proven to be the case as a result of James’ continued improvement, the decline of Dwyane Wade and how natural former high-scorer Chris Bosh looks as a role player. There is no doubt it is James’ team as much as the Bulls were Jordan’s, and I would say he has won the past two titles with a worse supporting cast than Jordan had for his first three-peat.

But the game has changed, and there are still plenty of variables that must be determined before James’ legacy is complete. If the Heat win this series, he will take another huge step forward in the race to unseat Jordan as the greatest player of all time, but he will also be only halfway there. I’m also going to suggest James’ claim to the top spot won’t be null and void forever even if the Spurs win this series, but it won’t help him when all is said and done to have at least two more Finals series defeats than Jordan because Jordan’s indomitableness was a big part of his legacy. He won the championship in each of his last six full seasons with the Bulls, and he won the scoring title in the last nine years he played in Chicago. Everyone talks about going out on your own terms, and no one ever did it better than Jordan.

Ultimately, James is going to be regarded as one of the all-time greats, and it is a shame we spend as much time debating his legacy as we do admiring what he does. His career is not going to neatly match Jordan’s, but that doesn’t mean we can’t compare now — for better or for worse.

I agree with the notion James is probably the subject of too much criticism in the present, but I also think often nowadays we are too guilty of overanalyzing not only every action in every game but also the reaction to that analyzation. The pushback is sometimes greater than the initial wave of opinions these days, and too often I think we forget that what we say today can change tomorrow as long as there are still games to be played. Much of it is just noise to pass the time, you know? Especially before they pass out the trophy and the rings every year.

Bottom line? It’s OK to criticize LeBron because he’s not Jordan yet as long as we’re willing to concede he could still be.

Much of Lebron’s Criticism | FOX Sports on MSN.