First impressions from Ohio State spring football 2015

Reporters were allowed to watch an hour of practice on the first day of Ohio State spring football, and then we spoke with Urban Meyer, Joshua Perry and Taylor Decker. There was not a whole lot to learn, but a few interesting things did pop up….

The issue of motivation becomes a cliched one, but Meyer and both players had some interesting things to say about the topic.

Ohio State football spring practice at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center
Ohio State football spring practice at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center

Well, Meyer actually said he’s not worried about it right now, which came as a surprise because I was under the impression he is ALWAYS worried about motivation and other various psychological issues surrounding his team. The coach said right now he just wants everyone in the mood to work hard, but I guess I would think that’s a matter of motivation, too.

Then I have to admit Perry and Decker both made fairly strong cases about how the Buckeyes — you know, the defending national champions who return 14 starters, including a whole bunch of guys who were really young and figure only to get better as more members of their recruiting classes move into starting roles — could actually be doubted.

Continue reading First impressions from Ohio State spring football 2015

Ohio State football facility has some new decorations

The Buckeyes began work on defending their national title today.

Look for plenty of info on that in the days to come, but first here’s a peak at some of the new banners in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Continue reading Ohio State football facility has some new decorations

This Week in the Big Ten is agreeing with The Vest

Some weeks figuring out the biggest story is hard. This was not one of those weeks.

Jim Tressel did something last Monday he almost never did when he was head coach of the Buckeyes: Create headlines with a substantive speech.

Not only did the former Ohio State head coach stir up the rivalry between his old employer and Michigan by declaring the Wolverines are “a ways away from being at the level where there’s going to be a 10-Year War,” he also shared one of the secrets of their decline over the past decade or so: problems recruiting Ohio.  Continue reading This Week in the Big Ten is agreeing with The Vest

This week in the Big Ten extolls nuance

So the intention is intended to be a weekender type thing, but sometimes life or other jobs get in the way, so here you go a little late…  

We start with one championship-winning football coach from northeast Ohio passing some heavy praise on to another as Jon Gruden called Urban Meyer’s 2014 “the greatest coaching job of all time.”

I can admit I was a doubter prior to the Wisconsin game, and I declared Meyer should be the unanimous national coach of the year if the Buckeyes won that game, so I am inclined to agree with Gruden here. But more interesting than his declarative about what Meyer did as far as a coach is what Gruden said about Meyer’s recruiting.

“I think what happened at Florida, he won the national titles, and then he wanted to be the No. 1 recruiting coach in the league and probably signed some players that didn’t fit the Urban Meyer profile. 

“When he went to Ohio State, I think he learned a little bit from that. He’s looking for guys that fit a certain profile, and he’s going to build his team around those guys. That’s clearly what he’s doing.”

This could be interpreted as a type of talent, but I think it’s more about personality. Meyer was so obsessed with putting together all-star teams at Florida, he ended up with a roster he couldn’t control. Now, every roster is going to have some questionable characters, in part because coaches are almost always willing to take a chance on a guy with talent and also because sometimes people just change — especially between the ages of 17 and 22. The best kid in high school could still turn into a problem in college when he gets away from his home and vice versa. That goes for those who grow up in Upper Arlington or South Florida, but the Ohio State players from Florida I’ve talked to over the years took pride in the chippiness and attitude their state is known for.

Meyer has to spread his recruiting over a larger geographic area, but he might find it easier to put together a more balanced roster at Ohio State than at Florida. This was something I’ve been curious about since the day Meyer took over in Columbus

Further discussing the silly freshman ineligibility discussion with some interesting spins last week were Stewart Mandel of FOX Sports and Matt Hayes of Sporting News. Mandel wondered about the real motivation regarding starting discussion about something that won’t happen while Hayes suggested it’s just the first shot over the bow in an effort to overhaul things.

Essentially the idea is administrators are going to start paying players more but feel that means they also have to emphasize the student part in student-athlete more, whether that is for the good of the game, the good of their business or the good of the players. It’s probably all of the above.

The business goes kaput if they have to go to an open market because too many schools would be priced out and too many fans would lose interest if they began believing all that was going on was minor league football or basketball. Some fans would still watch because they like the sports and the competition, but the golden goose would be dead.

FWIW, I do think the administrators truly care about academics. They want there to be a balance. Like anything, there are pros and cons to the arrangement that has evolved over the decades since college sports went from pastime to big business. I even think the vast majority of coaches care about academics to a significant degree, though under the auspices that winning is not optional of course.  And players care about academics, at least as much if not more than the average student…

Outside the sports world, the ever-changing fate of journalism and writing as a whole generally fascinates me, and Newsweek provided a moment that was even more ironic than it probably realized or intended over the weekend.

The magazine republished a column from 1995 titled, “Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana” that as you might expect contained a bunch of amusing predictions about the Internet that turned out to be false and are thus hilarious to look back at 20 years later.

The writer mocked the idea of telecommuting, growth of virtual communities and the rise of online shopping and e-books. He was wrong to question the usefulness of making government data and documents available online (eventually), but I’m not too sure the Internet has improved democracy overall. It’s just made cheating a little harder to get away with (not to mention having a civil discussion about politics, but I digress…).

Most ironically he declared “no online database will replace your daily newspaper,” although I’m pretty sure magazines like Newsweek are in even worse shape, and it’s probably remarkable newspapers have held on for 20 years hence if we’re being honest.

Computers have enhanced the educational experience, but I think most would agree a good teacher still trumps learning from a computer as much as it does getting everything out of a book.

A “network chat line” beats being alone, but it is in fact “a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee.”

So like most things, this story had plenty of bad but plenty of good as well. A piece by piece examination could be rather fascinating, but i guess the person who runs the Newsweek Twitter feed didn’t agree.

I guess nuance is just not something we do on the Internet in 2015. Did Clifford Stoll predict that?

Replacing senior QB has gone better than you might expect for Buckeyes

Things can’t go much better than they did in 2014 for Ohio State football, the winner of the national championship despite having to change signal-callers before and during the season, but this was not even the first season in which a senior watched while a sophomore led Ohio State to the promised land.  Continue reading Replacing senior QB has gone better than you might expect for Buckeyes

This week in the Big Ten: Bad idea receives poor reception

Another week of the college football offseason has gone by, and the last day or two was dominated by talk of something that will never happen: freshmen becoming ineligible again. Big Ten logo

Even if this were a good idea, it wouldn’t happen because of the impracticality of it. I guess I agree with those who are viewing this as a shot across the bow at the professional leagues, particularly the NBA, regarding how their rules affect colleges, but I’m not too convinced it’s going to do anything if that is the case. They have plenty of their own things to worry about.  Continue reading This week in the Big Ten: Bad idea receives poor reception