Tag Archives: NFL Buckeyes

Weekend Words: NFL labor dispute, NCAA football playoff, pigs, etc.

I’ve been covering the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis. Ohio State beat Iowa on Friday night and faces Michigan State on Saturday night, but there was an abundance of interesting reading available on the interwebs this week.

Here’s a chunk of it:

Spencer Hall points a finger at the owners in the unnecessary NFL labor troubles.

I generally side with ownership in these disputes because I figure their losing is more likely to hurt fans’ bank accounts, but looking back at past labor disputes in the various sports leaves me rather flabbergasted as I realize how much better the NFL owners, who have done basically everything to create this dispute, have it than the owners in all the other situations since baseball players gained free agency more than 30 years ago.

NFL owners basically opted out of the CBA because they looked around and thought to themselves, “You know, this is pretty good but IT COULD BE SO MUCH BETTER! Why pay for what we pay for now when we could pay for less? We’d be stupid not to try this!”

And to make matters worse, they have refused to even present their books to prove just how bad they have it.

Assuming costs such as stadium upkeep is part of being an owner and not something they should be pushing onto the players as long as management maintains the power to terminate contracts whenever it feels like it. And I don’t have any problem with the way contracts work in the NFL.

This might be a minority opinion, but I think they have the most fair system. Just because NBA and MLB players have guaranteed contracts does not make them a birthright for all athletes (or anyone, for that matter), and NFL players still have a significant amount of guaranteed money through signing bonuses. There are pros and cons for both sides, but what the owners are pushing for is senseless and over the line.

Is it fair if a player is released because of diminished skills, be it because of injury or age? Why not? Why should he be paid a wage he is no longer capable of earning? If that’s too much of a hardship, there are plenty of other more secure lines of work. Anyone can learn to be an accountant, even people born with enough natural physical ability to play a sport professionally, but that’s a one-way street, so I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the genetic lottery winners in this equation.

Yet at some point owners have to realize they have certain costs that are their responsibility to bear, just as players have to cope with the precariousness of their situations…

I was going to compile the NFL Scouting Combine numbers for the Ohio State guys and post them here, but Brandon Castel of The Ozone beat me to it. Soon I’ll provide some thoughts on who might be able to do what in the pros…

An NCAA-supported playoff? I doubt it, but OK. When NCAA president Mark Emmert was in Columbus last fall, he said he was content to let the BCS people handle things, and when there is a playoff, I fully expect it to be run by the same people in charge of the college football postseason now. They have no reason to relinquish the power unless bowls start going under in the face of some of these revelations about potential illegal activities.

Something to keep in mind: While many people, including myself, are willing to accept a small playoff that would not disrupt the bowls, I believe that would be nearly impossible for the NCAA to stage. I’m under the impression the organization would have to go all in and include a higher percentage of teams – say, 16 – to keep the government from wondering if everyone is being treated fairly. I think considering the NCAA’s tax-exempt status is different than examining the business practices of the BCS, but I could be wrong…

The Cedar Rapids Gazette explains how a ninth Big Ten football game every year could balance league schedules better than they will be for the next few seasons. Although uneven home-away counts would remain a problem, I tend to think overall quality of an opponent is more important. Haven’t thought far enough ahead to think how this might affect revenues, though…

One of many good explanations of what was wrong with the much-ballyhooed Sports Illustrated study/story about crime rates among college football players

Some love for Jack Nicklaus from Gold Magazine…

(Veering off the path here…)

DeMaurice Smith not only is privileged enough to have spent part of his life living in Cedarville, he also has an awesome hat

I just think this is a cool way to look at a box score by this Blackhawks blog…

End of an era: Don’t call pork “The Other White Meat” anymore. While pigs are the smartest farm animals – they are on par with dogs in terms of intelligence – I’m not sure any of the ones I’ve raised I consider inspiring. Well, maybe that one that figured out if it pushed through the electric fence the shock eventually stopped so it was worth it to endure the pain long enough to escape every day…

 

Weekend Words: Michigan’s New Offense, Concussions, Etc.

Often when I need a good laugh, I read about the plans for Michigan’s 2011 offense.

Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com provided the newest example this week after speaking with new offensive coordinator Al Borges.

While I previously advocated a move to a move back to a pro-style offense, I have serious questions about doing so with Denard Robinson as the quarterback, particularly the way it sounds as if Borges wants to do it with a ball-control passing game.

Maybe this is silly, but the picture I can’t get out of my head is Steve Young, an accomplished runner who morphed into an excellent passer… except I have no reason to believe Robinson can read a defense and consistently deliver the ball like Young did.

In fact, I wonder who has the more accurate right arm: Robinson or the southpaw Young.

Maybe Borges thinks Robinson is the next Young or Donovan McNabb, another running quarterback who thrived as a passer in the West Coast Offense once he got to the pros, but I tend to doubt it.

Given Robinson’s running skills, I would move him to a “slash” position and groom Michigan native Devin Gardner as a pro-style quarterback.

Gardner was regarded as quite raw as a high schooler but has the size (6-4, 210), arm and athleticism to be rated a five-star recruit at Inkster High School…

Also this week:

Colleague Adam Jardy trekked to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine and spoke with Ross Homan, Cameron Heyward, Dane Sanzenbacher and Brandon Saine….

This CFN list of offensive players to look out for in college football next year includes four running backs Ohio State will face next year: Montee Ball, James White, Lamar Miller and Rex Burkhead. The defense list includes two players: Micah Hyde and Devon Still….

The Columbus Dispatch’s Bob Baptist summed up the role of the media quite well in one sentence from his recap of a press conference one day after the Ohio State men’s basketball team’s second loss of the season:

Fans want answers, the media must ask the questions, and the buck stops with Matta

It might seem elementary, but I think sometimes this gets lost in the shuffle as people who are hungry for information nonetheless get frustrated if they think their teams are getting pressed too hard…

Lastly, Ohio State alumnus Doug Plank is worried about concussions after learning about the circumstances surrounding the death of fellow former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson.

I am thankful every day I got to play organized football for nine years, and perhaps nothing had a greater impact on my life. The stuff coming out now is scary, but I believe the game can survive and prosper, be safer without losing much if any of its appeal to the general public.

This wasn’t that long ago, but we were taught the proper way to tackle – butt down, head back, see what you hit, lead with your chest (not your head), wrap your arms, etc. – and leaving one’s feet was a strict no-no, especially in drills, barring absolute desperation (as in, that’s the only way you can get to the guy) and that remained the case all the way up through high school.

But I think anyone who has learned to tackle can attest it is easier to just lunge or leap at someone than to actually use proper technique, and that’s along with the desire to make the highlight reels explains why tackling has deteriorated over the years.

I believe the combination of better teaching and consistent penalization for headshots and spearing (which was already illegal but not called enough, IMO, in the previous decade) will make the game safer by cutting down on the kill shots, and I think guys will learn not only can they can still play defense without lunging and diving everywhere but they will actually become better players by concentrating more on making solid contact and wrapping up.

Of course that’s not the only concern. The repetitive pounding is believed to have a cumulative effect that is even worse than getting a handful of severe concussions, but I’m optimistic improved helmet technology can make an impact there.

And, as I wrote last week, I wonder if a weight limit is a good idea for the overall health of players.

Ohio State NFL Draft Prospects, Pre-Combine

In a survey of pre-combine mock drafts, the most optimistic for Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward is Scout.com, where they project Heyward to go to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 25.

Writes analyst John Crist:

Kentwan Balmer has played 43 NFL games and is yet to record even one sack, so Heyward is needed to help Chris Clemons get after the passer.

Meanwhile, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated both have Heyward going at 30 to the New York Jets.

According to SI.com’s Don Banks:

UCLA safety Rahim Moore is another prospect who seems to be rising into first-round contention as the combine begins, but despite New York having a need at safety, Heyward is the kind of disruptive and physical defensive end Rex Ryan loves. Getting him at No. 30 would also represent great late-round value.

Pro Football Weekly put Heyward in Green Bay at No. 32, while FoxSports.com has Heyward going No. 36 to Denver.

At NFLDraftScout.com, Chad Reuter tabbed Heyward as a future Packer as well.

“Heyward aids a three-man front potentially changing due to Cullen Jenkins’ free agency and Johnny Jolly working to return from suspension,” Reuter wrote.

The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, the best in the business, told reporters on a conference call earlier this week he sees Cameron Heyward as a great value as a 5-technique defensive end, an extremely deep position in this year’s draft.

National Football Post ranks Heyward the No. 3 five-technique player available for a 3-4 defense, behind Cameron Jordan of Cal and Marcell Dareus of Alabama. NFP left Heyward out of its most recent mock draft…

As for ratings, Scout.com released its preliminary player rankings for the 2011 NFL Draft in early February, including Heyward as one of 23 five-star prospects.

The rating service tabbed Heyward the No. 9 overall prospect in a draft heavy on defensive line talent.

Ahead of him were Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley at No. 1 followed by Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Dareus.

Ohio State cornerback Chimdi Chekwa was assigned four stars and did not receive an overall rating but was considered the No. 11 cornerback on the board.

Positional rankings were limited in the initial Scout release, but other players are expected to be added after the combine.

For now, Ohio State safety Jermale Hines and linebacker Ross Homan are both considered three-star prospects while linebacker Brian Rolle, wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, cornerback Devon Torrence and offensive linemen Justin Boren and Bryant Browning all received two stars (From what I understand, that is sort of an organizational thing and probably does not reflect much of anything as only the guys at the top have been evaluated so far).

Heyward, Chekwa, Hines, Homan, Rolle, Sanzenbacher, Torrence, Boren and running back Brandon Saine are invited to the combine.

Browning and any others who wish to will have the opportunity to work out for scouts at Ohio State’s annual Pro Day on March 11 at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center.

The NFP gave ratings to the top 10 Ohio State prospects, rating Heyward a 7.0, meaning he should be a starter as a rookie and a solid NFL player with no real weakness, while dubbing Rolle and Chekwa possible starters/developmental prospects with one deficient area they should be able to overcome.

Homan, Boren and Browning are rated backup-caliber players while Torrence, Sanzenbacher, Hines and Saine are all considered likely free agents.

UPDATE: Scout.com released its mock third round after this was published. They project the Jacksonville Jaguars to pick Chekwa at No. 80 overall. The Jags’ defensive coordinator is former Ohio State assistant coach Mel Tucker, although Tucker never coached Chekwa.

Eight Buckeyes Have Won Super Bowl, National Title

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On Sunday we saw A.J. Hawk and Matt Wilhelm of the Green Bay Packers join a select group of former Ohio State football players to win both a college national championship and a Super Bowl as players.

Preceding them as Ohio State national champions who played on the winning side in the Super Bowl were New York Jets running back Matt Snell (Super Bowl III), Baltimore Colts offensive lineman Bob Vogel (Super Bowl V), Miami Dolphins wide receiver Paul Warfield (Super Bowl VII and VIII), Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum (Super Bowl XII), Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl XLIII) and New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith (Super Bowl XLIV).

Snell, Vogel and Warfield all played for Ohio State’s 1961 national championship team while Tatum was a member of the ’68 squad that ran the table and was crowned No. 1.

Hawk, Holmes, Smith and Wilhelm were members of the 2002 Ohio State champions.

*Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau played for the 1957 Ohio State national championship team and has coordinated the defense of two Super Bowl championship squads in Pittsburgh but we’re talking players at both levels.
**Mike Doss was on IR for the Colts in Super Bowl XLI so he presumably got a ring even though he couldn’t play in the game, and that’s what we’re listing here.