Tag Archives: Ohio

When a tie feels like a loss

With Ohio State off this weekend, Ohio had a chance to focus on its pro football teams, and the Browns and Bengals certainly delivered plenty of storylines to get us through. Some thoughts on the men in stripes…

OK, so it wasn’t all bad. And it isn’t all bad. But it sure felt bad. And a day later it really hasn’t started feeling better.

The Bengals did some good things Sunday against the Panthers. They also did some bad things. The latter could have been erased with one kick by Mike Nugent, but the home-state hero didn’t come through.

The result was a 37-all final score that left the Bengals in first place in the AFC North but lots of questions about the rest of the season.

The way the Browns whipped the fading Steelers made the result all the more meaningful, leaving the division lead feeling more precarious, but the tie was not really the top story in Cincinnati.

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Ohio’s latest football export to the north? Michigan State’s defense

Most avid fans of Ohio State football know Michigan football has long made a living off talent from the Buckeye State. Mark Dantonio has taken up the practice at Michigan State over the past seven years, too, but that’s not all.

Turns out the Spartans’ defensive strategy is a direct import from Ohio as well.

Dantonio, of course, first became well known nationally when the defense he coordinated at Ohio State was an integral part of the Buckeyes’ 2002 national championship season. Dantonio, a Zanesville native who was brought to Columbus by Jim Tressel in 2001, moved the Buckeyes from the imposing, press defense installed by Fred Pagac Sr. in the late 1990s to a scheme built around more zone concepts, though pressuring the quarterback was a key for both men.
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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 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.

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Toast to Dayton

Naturally, I couldn’t let the Flyers’ surprise run to the Sweet 16 pass without sharing something from Dayton native son Paul Laurence Dunbar, a contemporary of the Wright brothers who was one of the first nationally popular African-American writers.

Love of home, sublimest passion

That the human heart can know!

Changeless still, though fate and fashion

Rise and fall and ebb and flow,

To the glory of our nation,

To the welfare of our state,

Let us all with veneration

Every effort consecrate….

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Time For More Buckeye Basketball In-State Battles

I have to agree with a piece earlier this week from BSB editor Jeff Svoboda regarding the dearth of in-state schools on Ohio State’s basketball schedule in the past decade-plus.

Scout.com: SvoNotes: Its Time For More In-State Battles.

As he mentioned, we have in the past discussed an idea for an All-Ohio tournament that could take on one of several forms and drive interest in roundball throughout “the heart of it all” early in the season.

Some will argue Ohio State has more to lose than to gain from changing the way it does business now, but I’m not sure there is much evidence to support that claim. 

If you really get down to it, the Ohio State basketball brand is still underdeveloped. Considering the success both recently and historically, fan support should probably be much more intense.  Continue reading

Before Another Season, A Moment To Reflect

If the sun has turned to sweltering in Ohio, you know football season must be around the corner.

If humidity nears triple digits, transcending sweaty all the way into sticky and uncomfortable, the preseason camps must be under way. And all is again right with the world.

After those boring acclimatization days and interminable hours of walk-throughs and conditioning sprints, the pads go back on and the time to hit is renewed.

Nowhere else can you find that sanctioned violence, the encouraged ferocity with just enough protection to let inhibitions fall away. A wonderfully unconscious moment sandwiched by fear and joy then rushing thrills of adrenaline. Perhaps a little pain. Even when you get the best of it, a reverberation comes back your way. A worthwhile and welcome sacrifice…

Even now, the smell of dewy grass alerts my nostrils to tell my brain it’s time for football practice. Then I get a little wistful.

Most of the time, I don’t miss the soreness and the bruises.

I’m always thankful I still get to at least talk football every day of the fall, and I don’t have to shirk duties at work to do so. This is exactly what I wanted to do when I reasoned that I may as well combine sports and writing to try to make a living.

That was in junior high. In 8th grade we had to pick a profession to study for a project, and I pragmatically landed on sportswriter because I like to write and I like sports. I can’t remember how long that was after I had realized Division I colleges don’t take 5-11, 210-pound offensive linemen, even if they love the game and can play a stand-up end in the old Oklahoma 50 defense, too. Later, I decided rather than pursue a D-III opportunity my time would be better spent getting started on the writing thing full time. (Again with the pragmatic approach.…)

I usually thought a little more than I should have on the field, too. I remember my brain sometimes slowing down my feet. I wasn’t a big hitter, at least not without a good setup, but I could usually get the job done. It’s easier to be crafty in Division VI because anyone who’s just too big to handle was generally too slow to do anything about a trap block. Angles were my best friend. So Woody’s offense still worked then if you executed it, and my old coach used it long enough to win nearly 250 games.

It was a pretty thing to watch those traps break open in the middle of the line, too. Or to see the defense finally wear down and the “Fullhouse 34” break for a long one. I still remember the adrenaline rush in the fourth quarter, even when almost all of us played both ways.

Then the locker room was so sublime afterward. A few yells of joy and exultations to beat the next opponent, then sighs of relief another ‘W’ was in hand as the bruises started to surface and soreness set in.

That was truly living. Now I’m just trying to have a life.

I’d love to go back but not to trade in today. That wasn’t a better time, just a different kind of good. There is no denying 2012 has been a tough year for me personally. I’ve endured some setbacks, but still I have a lot to be thankful for.

I always felt the football field was a place a young person, so far from really having accomplished anything, could really feel like he’d built a life. There was something unspoken and intangible built by our teams, and I suspect that is the case most places. That was our answer to the big presentation that gets an adult that big promotion at work. There were few better ways to really accomplish something at 16, with life still being laid out before us.

What training grounds those were, east of the school and north of Route 42.

How the sunset bathed the field in light you might find on a movie set, and what a surreal saffron picture it painted for a couple of hours on five Friday nights each fall.

The playoffs always began after the end of daylight savings time, so the sun had long ago gone down. Maybe that had some purpose, some way of reminding us we’d reached a new challenge, to be happy with the earlier goals we’d achieved and set our sights on something new, something we’d never attain but that we were happy to fight for anyway. Our winnings felt more permanent that way. The season was no less meaningful, the losses no less painful, but we knew there were just different sets of goals and we could be happy with them all.

I was not happy when the lights went out for the last time. That was tough. The tears flowed long and naturally in the old locker room at the big concrete stadium in Troy after a playoff loss to Marion Local, the eventual state champion.

I got home from my last game and found my college acceptance letter had come that day. What a fitting irony. The type of perfect transition for which I’m often searching now when I try to piece together quotes and facts for the next story I’m writing.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into then, but I can take solace in seeing how well things came together after the fact, like a 32 fullback trap where the tackle sealed off the ‘backer and the other guard shoved aside the nose guard and the defensive tackle who thought he’d lucked into something big saw just a second too late me coming from his left, and that fullback cut back just off my butt to gallop toward the goal line.

I often still wish I’d been more decisive then so I could have made more plays (defensively, especially) but I’m glad I was there anyway.

Now those dilemmas play out in their own real world way, but I’m happy to be in the game in my own way.

Another season awaits. Hope you’ll follow along. Should be a hell of a journey.

Isn’t it always?