Wednesday, August 15

Mount Buckmore

I cannot possibly be more excited for football season than I am right now. There will be an extensive Ohio St Preview coming in the next week or two, but for now I thought I’d whet my appetite with this idea Andy came up with in his Mount Tribemore piece awhile back. The idea is simple - pick the four most legendary players of the franchise/university. (It’s a play on words with Mount Rushmore, get it?) Before I get started I want to say that I felt there are three players who really stand out, while picking the fourth amongst several other qualified options was the difficult part. Feel free to disagree and comment on who you would have selected. Because I have a flair for the dramatic, I’ll start with the guys closest to making it that got cut short and end with my selections.

Honorable Mention
QB Craig Krenzel, Coach Jim Tressel, K Mike Nugent, QB Troy Smith, LB A.J. Hawk, S Mike Doss, LB James Laurinaitis, CB Malcolm Jenkins, WR Cris Carter, WR Ted Ginn

With the exception of Carter, all of these guys were in my era, and I thought they deserved recognition because they were the best that I’ve seen and I loved watching them. Guys like Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, and Howard "Hopalong" Cassidy (who all brought home the bronze statue) among others would most likely be on OSU purists’ lists, but not having seen them they missed the cut on mine. Krenzel brought home the only title from one of my teams in my lifetime, and I will be forever grateful. The scandal that led to Tressel’s dismissal will tarnish his legacy, but what he did in his decade as head coach was something extraordinary. Kicker is an odd position to be considered for this list, but Nuge was the freaking man. Smith was beyond stellar for his Heisman season. A.J., Doss, Laurinaitis, and Jenks were some of the best defensive players I’ve ever seen at the collegiate level. Carter and Ginn were very close to making the mountain over the receiver that I ended up choosing. If I would have seen Carter in college I probably would have went with him because I loved him as a Minnesota Viking as he had the greatest hands I’ve ever seen, but unfortunately I was born a bit late for his tenure in the scarlet and gray. Teddy Ballgame was the most exciting athlete I’ve ever watched play. He was more of a personal favorite for me and I originally had him on the list, but put my bias aside and changed it last-minute. Now on to those that did make it.

Eddie George, RB, 1992-1995
Eddie George is my all-time favorite athlete in any sport. His 1995 Heisman season was a large contributor to my outrageous Buckeye fandom. Eddie’s 1,927 yards that season is still an Ohio St school record, as is his single game performance against Illinois, where he racked up a stupid 314 yards. That game was one of three where he topped the 200-yard mark, also a school record for a single season. He crossed the goal line 24 times that year, which was good enough for second in team history. He finished his career second in yards (3,768) and third in touchdowns (44) in school history, and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame last year.

When looking to see how dominant a player George was, the OSU record books are a great place to start, but to me he was so much more than that. I was ten years old at the time of his unforgettable senior campaign, and not only did I fall in love with Eddie and the Buckeyes that season, but football in general. Watching him play was a thing of beauty, and his hard work and dedication as well as his humbleness and respectfulness off the field made him the ideal role model for a youngster like myself. There will never be another player quite like Eddie George. EDD-IE!

Archie Griffin, RB, 1972-1975
Anywhere that George isn’t at the top of the Buckeye rushing records, it’s probably because this guy is ahead of him. Griffin is OSU’s all-time leader in attempts with 924 and yards with 5,589. We all know that he was the only player to ever win the Heisman Trophy twice, but he also holds some other records that are less known. Ohio St went 40-5-1 with Archie on the squad, making him the first player to ever play in FOUR Rose Bowls. Other accolades include being the only player to ever lead the Big Ten in rushing three different seasons, and rushing for at least 100 yards in an NCAA record 31 consecutive games. Thirty-freaking-one!

Griffin went into the College Hall in 1986 (a wonderful year, btw) and I think was summed up best by his legendary Coach, Woody Hayes, when Hayes said of Griffin, “He's a better young man than he is a football player, and he's the best football player I've ever seen.”

Woody Hayes, Coach, 1951-1978
Wayne Woodrow Hayes entered Columbus in 1951, and implemented his now famous “three yards and a cloud of dust” offense. Basically meaning - Woody hated to pass. He ran off-tackle over and over again, and his team excelled at it over and over again. After winning 205 games, five National Titles, 13 Big Ten championships, and appearing in eight Rose Bowls, Hayes will forever go down as one of the most successful coaches of all time.

He will also go down as one of the most controversial coaches of all time. Hayes’ passion for winning often crossed the line into an obsession that he could not control, and it ultimately cost him his job at Ohio St. During his tenure as Buckeye coach, Woody threw punches at reporters, broke photographers’ cameras, conducted post-game interviews after losses naked to clear the locker room of reporters (that’s just hilarious), and had an infamous meltdown against michigan in 1971 where he verbally assaulted the referee, tore up sideline makers, threw the first-down marker across the field, then promptly took the penalty flag he was issued for unsportsmanlike conduct and launched it into the crowd. His antics ultimately became too much for Ohio St officials to look past in the 1978 Gator Bowl, when Hayes punched a Clemson player in the throat after his interception ended the Bucks’ chances of a last-minute comeback. Hayes was fired the following day.

Although it was pretty obvious that the man was bat-shit crazy, Woody was a legendary coach and will always be fondly remember by me for one distinct reason - his hatred for michigan. He refused to call them by name, always referring to them as “that school up north” (a phrase that I’m sure you noticed I use quite often). Woody frequently said that he was Notre Dame’s best recruiter, because if he ever lost a player that he was recruiting he tried to sell them on joining the Irish, just so they wouldn’t go to michigan. I don’t know how much truth there is to the following story, but I choose to believe it because it’s the epitome of bad-ass. When driving home from a game in ann arbor, Hayes ran out of gas near the border. Declining to get gas in that wasteland, he pushed his car across the Ohio border to buy gas there. And of course there is my all-time favorite quote ever uttered. After laying the wood to the wolverines, Woody went for two after a late touchdown to rub it in. When asked afterwards why he went for two, Hayes responded with the perfect answer - “Because I couldn’t go for three.”

David Boston, WR, 1996-1998
As I mentioned while discussing my Honorable Mention selections, I originally had Ted Ginn in this spot. Then I looked back at Ohio St’s team records, and saw David Boston at the top of each of these lists - receptions in a career (191), season (85 in ‘98), and game (14 in ‘97 against Penn St), yards in a season (1,435 in ‘98), touchdowns in a career (34), and for good measure, punt return yards in a career (959). Wowzas. He also left college as the leader for yards in a career, but was later surpassed by Michael Jenkins.

I think I may have devalued Boston over the years after his flop of a pro career, but after seeing these numbers I thought back about his time in Columbus and remembered how dominant he was. No one could guard him. Another thing Boston has to push him over the top was that signature moment. If you don’t know what I’m talking about (I feel bad for you, and) let me refresh your memory. It’s the 1997 Rose Bowl game, and Jake Plummer has just brought Arizona St back to take a 17-14 lead with minutes to go. Joe Germaine marches the Buckeyes down the field, and with 19 seconds to go, finds David Boston for the game-winning score and Ohio St’s first Rose Bowl victory in 25 years.



Andy said...

Figgs, this is exactly the article I was looking for this morning, and I didn't even know it.

I liked your comment that the 4th was the hardest. It's always like that on a Mount _____more list - the first three seem easy and the fourth you have to pick from a population.

Woody Hayes' first head coaching job: that's right, New Philadelphia High School. Our stadium is Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium. I like to think he called dover a "school up north."

I'm going to take a little different tack from you. Like I did for my one Tribe post, I'm going to pick only players from my career as a fan, 1985-present, and I'm excluding coaches, all respect to Tressel and Hayes (and even Cooper).

I'll go with:

Chris Spielman
Two-time All-American and the best Buckeye defender I've ever seen. No one played harder or had more respect from his teammates, and he's only one of two Bucks so far from my fan career to make the CF HoF. I wore #36 in pee-wee football as a tribute.

Eddie George
I think you covered this gentleman.

Orlando Pace
I have simply never seen an offensive lineman this dominant. The guy won two Lombardis, an Outland, even got fourth in the Heisman voting as a tackle, and the term "pancake" was basically invented for him.

And as always, the fourth is the hardest. I've got Troy Smith, Cris Carter, Mike Doss, Chris Gamble, and AJ Hawk.

I'm taking Troy Smith in a really hard decision, but the guy won the Heisman and beat the school up north three times.

Figgs said...

That's so awesome that Woody coached your high school.

Like Carter, Spielman was just a bit before my time. I remember him as a pro but not a Buckeye.

Pace was an enormous gaff on my part. He probably makes it over Boston, but obviously at least deserved HM.

Joe Figgs said...

I'm a little late to the party here, but I just happened to read this and I wanted to share. Your lists are pretty good, and you would both know better than me. But I'll give mine anyway.

I initially thought Joey Galloway over Boston because he seemed more dynamic (and frankly I always loved the guy for some reason, even 15 years later when I drafted him 3 consecutive years in fantasy when he was in his late 30s). But I suppose numbers don't lie, so Boston certainly makes sense. But it's my list, so I'll give it to Joey.

Also, Pace for sure. The late Korey Stringer probably could have made it until Pace took over for him and made him and everyone else look inferior. (I still can't believe those two played together for a couple of years. Good luck trying to stuff the run!) I think Orlando might have invented using the word "pancake" to describe blocking someone.

Obviously Eddie makes it. Just when I thought they would never be able to replace the likes of Butler B'Note and Raymont Harris, this guy comes along and wins a Heisman. Not bad.

If your excluding coaches, then 4th I'd have to give to a linebacker. Lauranitis, Hawk and others are fresher in our memories and are having better NFL careers, but I'd have to give the 4th spot to Andy Katzenmoyer. He was a freak out there. (Remember how much Brent Musberger loved calling him the "Big Kat").

Anyway, that's my list: George, Pace, Galloway and Katzenmoyer.