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.
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
So Ohio State finally confirmed the hiring of Chris Ash as safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator. Along with new defensive line coach and assistant head coach Larry Johnson, Ash completes Urban Meyer’s staff for 2014.
After the two get off the road from recruiting, they will find a defense left in shambles at the end of last season, the last of three years of regression that followed a decade of stellar play.
Johnson has a reputation as an outstanding position coach, and he will find a group that performed well in a trial by fire this past season. The stout, fundamentally tough play he taught at Penn State could blend very nicely with the aggressive style outgoing coach Mike Vrabel instilled in the group.
Ash’s job figures to be much tougher, though he will have a nearly clean slate when he and holdover Kerry Coombs work to rebuild a secondary that gave up 268.0 yards per game last season, almost 25 more than a year earlier. Continue reading
This is admittedly a couple of weeks late, but you know time doesn’t stop anymore for the end of football season. Of course I like to let things breathe a little before picking them apart anyway…
What we learned this season: The 2013 Ohio State football team did not have enough mature talent to compete for a national championship.
That really is the long and the short of it. There might be enough good players on the roster to compete with the best of the best if the recruiting rankings are correct (and they usually are), but not enough of those youngsters contributed this season.
Interestingly enough, one could say the same thing about Michigan, which would show the stark difference in the state of the programs Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke respectively took over considering the respective 2013 records, but maybe that’s a topic for another day. It’s also worth pointing out both teams forced at least a couple of youngsters into the fire with widely divergent degrees of success (i.e., the OSU defensive line and the UM offensive line). Continue reading
The final 2014 Scout 300 had 17 Ohio State verbal commitments and 19 players from Ohio.
There are 21 four-star prospects in Ohio, and those Buckeye Staters who aren’t going to be Buckeyes are going to the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and – believe it or not – the Ivy League.
So another season of college football is over. And what did we learn?
The SEC isn’t the only conference where teams can be made up of big, strong Southern athletes, although anyone who didn’t know that must be under 30 or have a very short memory.
That’s because Florida State cornered the market on dominance for more than a decade leading up to and through the beginning of the BCS era. Before SEC teams were getting the benefit of the doubt in the polls because of recent history, it was the Seminoles. And they earned their place at the top by taking the place of the Miami dynasty that went off the rails after a swaggering, successful decade of the ‘80s.
I am curious what Michigan State might have been able to do in the national championship game because of its defense – the same reason I stopped being curious about how Ohio State would fare on the same stage. Continue reading