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.
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.
So I figured it was time to take a look at the issue, at least from an Ohio State point of view.
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.
My favorite passage from a story by Gary Smith, is apparently retiring from Sports Illustrated, comes from a beautiful story he wrote in 1999 based on a picture of the TCU locker room before the Horned Frogs were to play Syracuse in the 1957 Cotton Bowl.
Some of you might not quite grasp what’s sitting and waiting for the Frogs in the room down the hall. Jim Brown stands 6’2″ and weighs 225 pounds, which is at least 35 pounds more than the average halfback of his day, not to mention 22 pounds heavier than the average player on the biggest line in the country, Notre Dame’s. He runs 100 yards in 10 seconds flat, high-jumps 6’3″, hurls the discus 155 feet and once won six events for Syracuse in a track meet, which gave him the notion that it might be fun to enter the national decathlon championship, which he did on 10 days’ practice and placed fifth. He scored 33 in a Syracuse basketball game and will be drafted by the NBA’s Syracuse Nationals, not bad for a fellow who at the time was considered to have been the greatest lacrosse player in U.S. history. He’s just finishing up a senior season in which he averaged 6.2 yards per carry, and he will average a record 5.2 yards per carry for the Cleveland Browns over the next nine years, leading the NFL in rushing in eight of those, before he’ll hang it up, as MVP, at age 30. Forgive me if you knew all that, but some legends get so large, the particulars get lost.
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.
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 →
Who better to rock us into Michigan week than Ohio’s Black Keys? We thought of a song of their most recent good album while looking at where the Buckeyes are and where they could be after another edition of the greatest rivalry in all of sports.
What we learned last week: Maybe there is something to be said simply for going undefeated in and of itself.
I had not really believed that before, but I’m inclined to reconsider after the Buckeyes pulled out another close one at Wisconsin and the rest of the top five endured another week of upheaval.
No, that does not mean I am going to make the case for them as Associated Press national champions, at least not yet. (Certainly not before Notre Dame loses as it seems to me from here the Fighting Irish have played a tougher schedule, but there will be plenty of time to examine that in December.)
But where does gettin’ er done rank in terms of valuing a sports team?
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s name was all over Twitter yesterday after he publicly questioned the practicality of adding another game to the ledger for teams in the national championship hunt.
As Spencer Hall pointed out, Meyer was for a playoff before he was against it. That sent me back to the BCS Championship conference call in December 2006.
The head coach of Florida at the time, Meyer was a beneficiary that year of the backwards way the BCS works. His Gators were awarded a spot in the national championship game for lack of a better alternative, (and of course we know that eventually worked out pretty well for them and their coach*) but he still sounded like someone looking for a better way.
“I believe there’s an imperfect system,” he said then. “Everybody believes that. That’s just the way it is. It’s going to be imperfect again next year until at some point we figure out a way to determine it on the field.”