Tuesday, August 28

Ohio St Season Preview

The shift in seasons from summer to fall means much more than just the changing color of the leaves. It means back to school, hoodies, Pumpkin Spice cappuccino at Kwik Fill and, most importantly, it means football. The Ohio St University is gearing up for another season (3 more days!) that promises to be full of excitement. With a new head coach, postseason ban, and a young and inexperienced - yet flashy and exciting - quarterback, there are plenty of headlines surrounding Columbus to discuss, so let’s get right to it.

Of course, just like every team in any season, I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises, but looking at this season at the end of August I see the amount of wins OSU can rack up basically depending on two main things. 1) Can Urban Meyer get his players to buy into a season that will inevitably end in November? And 2) How far has Braxton Miller come from his turbulent freshman season a year ago?

Ultimately, I am far less worried about the former than the latter. If you’re like me and have been unsuccessful in blocking out the ‘07 National Championship, then you’re aware of this - Urban Meyer knows what he’s doing. There have been questions about the timing and method of his departure from Florida, but when it comes to getting his players ready for game day, it doesn’t get much better than Urban Meyer. He has talked to Lane Kiffin, who did a tremendous job getting his USC players to adopt a “nothing to lose” type of attitude in the same situation last year, and I have complete confidence Meyer will do and say all the right things to get his players to do the same. The question is whether or not the players will go along with him. With senior leaders such as John Simon, Zach Boren, and Jake Stoneburner, I think we are in good hands and don’t see the fact that we can’t win the Big Ten or play in a Bowl game being a negative factor on this season.

The Braxton Miller situation is a bigger question mark in my mind. No doubt he has marvelous athletic ability and I don’t necessarily see any 1/4 performances out of him this season, but the fact remains that he is a 19 year-old with only one season (if you can even call it that) under his belt and a new offense to learn. I expect to see a lot of what we saw from Terrelle Pryor in his second season: some fabulous plays mixed in with some awful mistakes. As long as he can limit those mistakes and not make them at crucial times, I think he will be fine and could flourish in Meyer’s open-field system.

Last Season
I don’t want to write about this just as much as you don’t want to read it, so I’ll be brief here. Coming off the heels of the merch-for-ink scandal, the Buckeyes were minus their coach, star QB, workhorse RB, and playmaking WR. Needless to say, it was not your typical 10-win season for Ohio St. They began with unimpressive victories over a couple of MAC teams, followed by an embarrassing loss to Miami (FL) where Miller replaced Joe Bauserman for the first time and went 2-for-4 with 22 yards and an INT. To put it bluntly, it sucked.

Brax received his first career start the following week in a 37-17 blowout win over Colorado. Then Michigan St came to Columbus and the two teams combined to set the game of football back a century. In the most boring game of the season, or recent memory for that matter, the Spartans edged the Bucks 10-7.

A victory in Illinois was sandwiched by the two most exciting games of the season. In Lincoln, Ohio St met Nebraska for the first time since the 1950’s. OSU came out with their best half of the season, leading the Cornhuskers 20-6 at the break. Carlos Hyde’s second TD of the game gave the Buckeyes a 27-6 lead, after which Ohio State collapsed and allowed the biggest comeback in Nebraska history. Two weeks later, with Wisconsin coming to town for Homecoming, Ohio St almost did it again. A 26-14 lead with less than five minutes to play turned into a 29-26 deficit with about a minute remaining. In the play of the season, Miller connected with Devin Smith for a 40-yard touchdown to give Ohio St a thrilling victory.

The Buckeyes continued their winning streak the following week against Indiana, but were a blocked extra point away from completing a dramatic comeback against Purdue (where they ultimately lost in overtime) to keep it going. The rest of the season went the same way for the Bucks, with a bad loss to Penn St, a shootout defeat at the hands of that school up north, and a Gator Bowl loss to Florida.

Luke Fickell did what he could as interim head coach, but in the end there was just too much adversity to overcome and not enough talent left over, as the Buckeyes finished 6-7, under the .500 mark for the first time since 1897. Enough about the past - let’s look ahead to bigger and better things.

The Schedule
The 2012 Ohio St Buckeyes have more going for them than just a Hall of Fame coach and a great-looking super-fan in Northwest Pennsylvania - they also have a very favorable schedule. After the past four years of scheduling a power program in the non-conference (USC and Miami, 2x apiece), OSU is back to the typical ways of the Big Ten, as Cal is the biggest name on this season’s docket while Miami (OH), Central Florida, and UAB round out the non-conference opponents. Athlon Sports has Cal ranked 38th in the nation, with the remaining teams at 99, 66, and 106, respectively. Anything can happen, but even with a few growing pains to start the year, there’s no reason Ohio St shouldn’t be 4-0 going into Big Ten play.

When conference games do start, however, the Buckeyes will have their hands full, starting off by traveling to East Lansing and welcoming Nebraska to The Shoe. Michigan St lost its most successful passing duo of all-time in QB Kirk Cousins and WR B.J. Cunningham, but welcome back Heisman sleeper RB Le’Veon Bell and dominant pass rusher William Gholston. Nebraska may offer the conference’s most complete team, led by seniors Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead, though the Blackshirts on defense should see a decline with the departures of DT Jared Crick and LB Lavonte David.

The next four games offer the cushy part of the conference schedule, as the Buckeyes head to Indiana and Penn St and host Purdue and Illinois. Indiana should be awful as always, and Penn St did not look very good even before the disaster that was their off-season, so hopefully there are no hiccups on the road there. Purdue and Illinois are both mediocre, and having them both at home will help. Whitney Mercilus and his sack record are gone from Illinois, but his d-line mates Akeem Spence and Michael Buchanan make the Illini the stiffest test in this portion of the schedule.

As tough as the beginning to the BT schedule is, the Bucks will end with a couple of contests that could possibly be even more challenging. On November 17, Ohio St journeys to the not-so-friendly confines of Camp Randall Stadium. With Russell Wilson now a Seahawk, the Badgers had a QB battle going with Danny O’Brien and freshman Joel Stave. I recently cancelled my subscription to Faggot Weekly, so I’m not sure who is looking better to start the season. Not that it really matters, as the clear focus of the Wisconsin offense will be Heisman candidate running back Montee Ball.

As always, Ohio St will close the season against those bitches up north. This one will be in C-bus, and could most certainly play a huge factor in whether those jackasses play in the Big Ten Conference Championship or not. Being ineligible for the postseason, this will be Ohio St’s Bowl game. Offensive co-captain Jake Stoneburner said of the contest, "This year's michigan game is going to be like the national championship game. It's our Senior Day. It's our Super Bowl." It is also Urban Meyer’s first bitchigan game, and we all know how much an Ohio St coach’s legacy is defined by his michigan record (just ask John Cooper). Meyer faired awfully well in rivalry games at Florida, going 5-1 against Florida St, 5-1 versus Georgia, and 6-0 against Tennessee in his tenure. Then again, I don’t think anything Meyer went through can compare to the magnitude of this game.

While the preseason polls may be digging the Big Ten (michigan #7, Wisconsin #12, Michigan St #13, Nebraska #17), I’m not totally sold. Yes, most Big Ten teams have always been known for their running game and defense, and that will certainly continue this season as there are some good ones out there. But I just look around at the other QBs in the league and it makes me think Brax can sleep-walk to the All-Big Ten team. The top three signal callers of 2011 - Kirk Cousins of Michigan St, Russell Wilson of Wisconsin, and Dan Persa of Northwestern - have all moved on, so who are we left with? Aside from Miller (who could probably be lumped into the “runners” category), the conference’s other 11 quarterbacks are made up of guys with little to no experience and big shoes to fill (Wisconsin’s Joel Stave/Danny O’Brien, Michigan St’s Andrew Maxwell, Indiana’s Tre Robertson, and Northwestern’s Kain Colter), a couple of decent-yet-far-from-scary guys (Iowa’s James Vandenberg and Purdue’s Caleb Turbush), great runners with very little passing ability (Minnesota’s MarQueis Gray, Illinois’ Nathan Schellhaase, and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez), and the worst human being on earth (I’ll let you guess who that is.) You may notice I didn’t even put Penn St’s Matt McGloin on this list because, well, he just isn’t worth mentioning.

If I had to say win, loss, or too close to call for each game this season, I definitely don’t see any automatic L’s on that schedule. I’d chalk a tally in the win column for the four non-conference games and four in the middle part of the BT schedule, with the Michigan St, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and michigan games deciding the fate of the season. (Well, I suppose the NCAA already did that, but you know what I mean.)

The Offense
I already talked about Braxton Miller, and don’t have much else to say. His ceiling is enormous and expectations are soaring in Columbus, but he still worries me a bit. He should flourish in Meyer’s spread offense, and will certainly be given a chance to shine. I just hope he makes smart decisions and uses his legs as necessary. Kenny Guiton is entrenched as the backup and has some talent, but won’t see the field barring a Brax injury other than mop up time.

If Boom Herron could have played his entire senior season, he may have pushed Beanie Wells as Ohio St’s best runner since Eddie. Unfortunately for him and the 2011 Buckeyes, he did not, but thanks to his suspension the '12 Bucks not only have some talent at RB, they have plenty of experience. Expect Carlos Hyde, who led the Bucks with 5.3 YPC last season, to get the bulk of the carries. Hyde is the biggest back on the team at 235 lbs, but also possesses surprising speed and broke off several big runs last year (most notably his 70-yard TD against Nebraska).

After many years of riding their horse (Antonio Pittman in ’05 and ’06 followed by Beanie then Boom), expect much more of a timeshare in the OSU backfield this season, much like they did during Herron’s suspension last year. I thought we’d see a bit more of highly-touted freshman Rod Smith last season, but after only 29 carries I expect to see him more this season. Much like Hyde, Smith is a big guy (6’3", 230) with deceptive speed. Freshman Bri’onte Dunn should also be in the mix. The problem I have with him is that I like to shorten players’ names to one-syllable nicknames, but Bri just sounds too feminine. Am I comfortable going ’Onte? Only time will tell.

The other guy that is sure to see his share of touches is Jordan Hall. In Urban Meyer’s spread, he likes to have that one “X-factor” guy that he can line up in the backfield and out wide, much like he did with Percy Harvin at Florida, and Hall seems to be that perfect fit. Running backs coach Stan Drayton, who was also Meyer’s assistant at UF, says of Hall, “We’re going to play to Jordan’s strengths. He’s a guy who can be a versatile player for us. He is primarily a tailback, but we’re going to put more on his plate and see how much he can handle.”

With all four of those guys projected to see the field, let us not forget that last year’s leading rusher is also back in Braxton Miller. Plus co-captain Zach Boren, who has been a devastating blocking fullback the past three seasons, should also be more of a factor in Meyer’s offense.

The receiving corps is the biggest uncertainty of the offense. TE Jake Stoneburner and WRs Philly Brown and Devin Smith shared the team led in catches last season with 14. To put that in perspective, freshman Mike Thomas hauled in 13 grabs in the Spring Game this year. That being said, all of these guys are back and Ohio St should be throwing the ball much more then they did a season ago. Stoneburner is the most consistent of the group and will see a lot of balls thrown his way, especially considering Miller’s ability to scramble in the pocket and need for a dump off to his tight end on numerous occasions. Sophomore Jeff Heuerman and freshman Nick Vannett should also get some opportunities at the TE position.

Brown and Smith are the projected starters at wideout and both have the ability to spread the field. As I said, Thomas was the star of the Spring Game and seemed to develop a great rapport with Braxton. Chris Fields will also get his shot, as will Evan Spencer and Verlon Reed, assuming they can come back from injuries. While very raw and inexperienced, each of the six receivers I mentioned possess great speed, which fits well into Meyer’s spread attack. Again, Jordan Hall will also be a feature in the passing game as well as running.

Ohio St’s offensive line has some large, and I mean LARGE shoes to fill. Three three-year starters are gone in C Mike Brewster and Ts Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts. Brewster was a captain and really anchored the line for the past three seasons, but Corey Linsley showed promise playing guard and tackle last season and should be good to go to take over the center spot. Jack Mewhort, who has started the past two years at every lineman position, will take over Adams’ spot at left tackle. Mewhort is the best and most experienced lineman on the Bucks’ squad, and did get significant playing time at the LT position when Adams was out for a five-game suspension last season. Reid Fragel, a 6’8" converted tight end, has the inside track at taking Shugarts’ place at RT. Juniors Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall will be back to man the guard positions, and have hopefully gotten a little better. The starting five look alright, but the rest of the line is very thin. Incoming freshmen Taylor Decker, Jacoby Boren, Chris Carter, Kyle Dodson and Joey O’Connor will be the ones to push the starters and possibly take over should one falter. Decker has the best shot to see the field, Boren is looking to follow his two brothers who were/are very successful at OSU, and Carter has the size at 360 (and name) to make a splash.

The Defense
Ohio St may have some question marks on this team, but one unit that without a doubt will be devastating is the defensive line. Returning starters John Simon, Jonathon Hankins, Garrett Gobel, and Adam Bellamy make up one of the best and most experienced lines in the nation. Simon is the captain and leader of this team, and one of the front runners for Defensive Player of the Year. He has a non-stop motor and gets after the quarterback like whoa. With a great senior season (only an injury should prevent this), he’s getting close to A.J./Laurinaitis/Jenks legendary status in my book. Bellamy, who mostly played tackle last season, should start the season at the other end, but will be pushed by several freshman that make up one of the best recruiting classes of a single unit in recent memory. Noah Spence comes in as the #4 recruit in the nation according to rivals.com and was the best pass rusher at the high school level last year. Adolphus Washington (rivals #27) and Se’Von Pittman (#86) have a ton of promise as well.

Big Jon Hankins showed signs as a freshman two seasons ago, but was usually in Jim Tressel’s dog house for off-field issues. Last year he seemed to get over that and was just an absolute monster. If you want to run inside against Ohio St, please feel free, because you’re not going anywhere. Goebel is versatile enough to play anywhere and seemed to be in almost every play last year. A lot of Simon’s sacks came from Goebel forcing the opposing QB out of the pocket.

With the incoming freshman along with sophomores Michael Bennett and J.T. Moore, who both saw a lot of action last season, newly appointed D-Line coach (formerly in charge of the linebackers) and Buckeye legend Mike Vrabel will have his hands full trying to get everyone the playing time they deserve. A wild card is Nathan Williams, who was just as disruptive as Simon was two years ago but a knee injury kept him out all of last season. He was granted a medical redshirt and if he can make a full recovery the fifth-year senior can make this already fantastic line even better.

While it’s clear that the defensive line is the strength of the defense, it is just as obvious that the typically-strong linebacking corps is the weak link. Last season wasn’t the greatest for the Buckeye LBs, and leader Andrew Sweat has moved on. The lone returning starter, Storm Klein, was kicked off the team a month ago following a domestic abuse charge. He was recently reinstated by Meyer after the charges were downgraded, but will still serve a multiple-game suspension. Considering he lost his starting job before all of this even happened because he was out of shape coming into camp, I don’t think we can expect much from Klein this season and anything we get will just be a bonus.

Enough of the negative stuff though, because as Ryan Shazier showed at the end of last season and in the Spring Game, it’s not all bad in the middle of the defense. The sophomore has crazy athleticism and quite a nasty streak, and could be one of the more exciting defenders to watch in the nation this year. Opposite Shazier will be another familiar name, Etienne Sabino. Sabino has seen the field a lot the past few seasons, starting sporadically while often battling injuries. The senior is the only LB with much experience and will be counted on to lead this unit. Curtis Grant is raw but has a lot of potential and will man the middle. Redshirt freshman Conner Crowell had a productive off-season and will be in the mix as well.

The secondary has plenty of experience, boasting five guys with at least eight career starts. They have excellent ball-hawking skills, but often looked lost in coverage in the past. Meyer and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers’ new scheme calls for much less press coverage and more opportunities to make plays on the football, which should suit this unit perfectly. Senior Travis Howard will be in command of the DBs, and along with Bradley Roby make up as dynamic a cornerback tandem as there is in the Big Ten. The safety trio of C.J. Barnett (who led the team in tackles last season), Christian Bryant and Orhian Johnson have all dealt with injuries in the past but have all shown they can play when they stay on the field.

The specialists will look just like they did last year, with Drew Basil returning to kicking duties, Ben Buchanan back as punter, and Jordan Hall continuing to return kicks. Basil is solid to say the least, not missing a kick inside of 40 yards last season and leading the Big Ten in touchbacks. The Cannon has had his share of problems (and has often been verbally abused on this blog), but can hopefully improve his leg strength and does do a decent job at downing the ball inside the 20. As I said earlier, Jordan Hall is expected to play the explosive role in Meyer’s system, and should be able to make some noise in the return game. If he can’t or if things go really well for him in the offense and he becomes too valuable to risk injury on special teams, Philly Brown, Chris Fields, and Devin Smith all have good speed and experience handling the returning duties.

The Outlook
I expect this to be a fun season for our Buckeyes. Of course (unless you’re losing seven games) Ohio St football is always fun, but what I mean is that as unfortunate as the postseason ban is, it kind of gives this season a care-free type of attitude, and I think the players will go for this, especially for a guy like Urban Meyer. So we can’t make a Bowl game. It stinks but now we can just enjoy the regular season for what it is and end on a high note by beating that school up north. I mean, do we really need to wreck a great season by losing by 30 to LSU in the Sugar Bowl?

This may be an overly optimistic approach to the season, but I would honestly be more surprised with four losses than with zero. 18 returning starters, Urban Meyer, and a favorable schedule all point to a very positive season. Even if the Bucks do lose three or four games, just the fact that I’m talking about a possible undefeated season is crazy when you think about how far Ohio St has come in the past fifteen months. Can you imagine this when Tressel announced his resignation in May of last year, when the program seemed to be in shambles?

I can continue to talk Buckeye football for hundreds of more paragraphs, but the time for talking is over. All of the predictions and analysis are just that, and now it’s time to sit back and watch what Ohio St football can produce on the field and enjoy what should be another successful and entertaining season.

Up first: vs. Miami (OH), 12:00, Big Ten Network
As usual, the Buckeyes will start the season with a tune-up against a far inferior opponent. We’ll get a peek at the new-look Urban Meyer offense, but don’t expect him to give too much away until we get to the big boys. The things I will be most interested in seeing is how effective Brax can be throwing the ball and how Jordan Hall is used in the offense. I’ll have to do it early because don’t expect either one to see much of the field in the second half.
Prediction: Ohio St 37 Miami (OH) 3


Monday, August 20

Lord Stanley and I

Out of respect, I did not touch the Cup.

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.


Monday, August 13

Andy's Olympic Games Recap

Bill Simmons (whose coverage of the Games was outstanding, with wit and insight) made a good point about the Summer Olympics from the perspective of the United States fan: it delivers very consistently. Every four years we win a ton of medals, learn about a crop of new heroes, and generally have a good time of it. Pretty much every event has an American somewhere in the finals, so we have a vested interest in basically every event. It's great fun, every single time. Granted, we don't ever experience an underdog breakthrough like Great Britain did this year, but we don't have huge disappointments like...Great Britain most years. The 2012 edition was no exception (the US led the medal count with 46 gold medals and 104 total medals), and I'll take it. Here now are some unorganized thoughts about the Games of the 30th Olympiad.

I've really enjoyed telling people about the Modern Pentahlon, mostly to see the reactions when I explain to them exactly what it is. In case you were wondering, it's pistol shooting, epeé fencing, a 200m freestyle swim, a 3 km cross-country run, and equestrian show jumping. No, really, look it up.

The closeness of so many of the races amazes me. I saw a rowing heat decided by two thousandths of a second. But that's a short race; consider the gold and silver medal winners of the women's triathlon, both of whom finished in 1:59:48, requiring a photo finish. Imagine, after two hours of giving everything you have in an endurance race, to win or lose by sticking out your chest a bit farther.

For whatever reason, television coverage of the Olympics turns a lot of people into savagely cynical media critics. We hate the six-hour tape delay! The coverage is too United States-focused! Too many human-interest stories! Whatever. Chill out. Every time I tuned in, I saw Olympic sports and enjoyed them. I'm not sure why this has to be so complicated and inspire such negativity.

As usual, The Onion offered the best refutation of the time-delay situation, with the classic headline NBC: 'Sorry We Didn't Alter The Laws Of Space And Time To Accommodate People's Schedules'.

As for the whole USA-centric thing, which people mindlessly complain about pretty much every Olympics, let's think about this for a minute. NBC is a United States-based network. Most of the people who watch the Olympics on NBC live in the United States. The United States won easily more medals than any other nation and is pretty much routinely in the final of every event. Why on Earth wouldn't NBC feature American athletes and stories? What have I missed here? You make sure to show the medal events and races whenever possible, and when those aren't on, it seems eminiently logical to focus on the USA's representatives. Frankly, I think most people who complain about television coverage of the Olympics are just looking for something to complain about.

I read an article in the New York Times where a few writers opined about what Olympic events should be eliminated, and I thought they had a lot of good points. The contributors proposed dropping boxing (corrupt judges), synchronized swimming (because it's synchronized swimming), sailing (because rich white people do it), swimming (cut from a bloated 34 races down to 18), and tennis/basketball/soccer (not the pinnacle of their sport). I didn't always agree with the reasoning - it's not necessary to use class warfare to see that sailing is a dumb event, and boxing is awful even when judges have integrity, but I mostly agreed with the removals. I suppose in the end I'd keep tennis, basketball, and soccer, but when I watched I did prefer seeing the Olympic events that I don't usually see very often outside of the Games.


Usain Bolt is fast. I thought you should know that. In fact, a lot of people from the Caribbean appear to be rather swift, evidence by Jamaica cleaning everyone's clock in the men's 4x100 relay and Bahamas claiming gold in the 4x400 (the American women crushed the field in both relays). Every time I watch the Athletics events, especially the sprints, I wonder why Track and Field aren't more popular, but I suppose that will continue to be the way it is. They're thrilling events - all that buildup for a mad dash to the finish line that lasts less than a minute produces a heightened level of excitement that a typical three-hour sports contest can't sustain.

I read another article on ESPN that excoriated viewers and sports fans for not caring more about the American women's basketball team winning another gold medal in dominant fashion (it's OK if you didn't know they won again). Look, lady, I'm sorry no one cares about women's basketball..but we don't. We never will. It's not interesting, and there is no average margin of victory by the USA Women's squad that will make it so. Essays criticizing groups for not liking a particular sport or competition are pointlessly Quixotic and invariably annoying in tone, as if you're some kind of bad person for not caring about a sport. I'm glad the American women won, that's great, and I understand how strongly they played throughout the tournament...but that doesn't mean I have any interest in the games. You know the US also had a team with Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Chris Paul, right?

Note that this is different than my musing about track and field's lack of popularity. I'm not saying people should find Athletics more interesting - I pack it up for four years like most other people as well - just expressing some curiosity about why we do this, since on the surface the events seem to make for some compelling sport.

The things I wrote about the Athletic events in terms of excitement and watchability apply more or less equally to Swimming as well, though I think track and field has an advantage in that the sports stars aren't, well, underwater the entire time.

The Badminton intentional-losing controversy disappointed me, and by that I mean the conduct of the Olympic officials disappointed me, not that of the athletes. In case you didn't catch it, some of the women's matches head situations where both teams wanted to lose to set up more favorable draws for themselves and their nations in the medal rounds. These four teams (one South Korean, two Chinese, one Indonesian) were dismissed for "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport."

I say: nonsense. You're there to take home some hardware, and you do what's best for you and your team to get some gold, silver, or bronze. If that means taking a dive in a round-robin game, that's what it means. To me, this problem falls 100% on the shoulders of the people who designed a tournament where such an outcome would be possible. Naturally, those failures go unpunished while the competitors were DQ'd for trying to take the most logical path to a medal. I feel bad for those teams and resentful of the people in charge of badminton.

Despite the two disqualified teams, China went on to win all five badminton gold medals and 8 of the 15 total medals. China is really fantastic at racquet sports that Americans play in basements and at picnics.

I dind't catch much canoeing, but I saw enough that I wanted to break out the NES and play kayaking on Track and Field II. In fact, why haven't I played T&F2 yet?

The men's diving platform final took a long time to get through, but it was responsible for some terrific drama. Hometown favorite Tom Daley of Great Britain looked like he was in a favorable position to win after his final dive, but both Qiu Bo from China and David Boudia of the United States absolutely nailed their final dives to claim silver and gold, respectively. Clutch.

Despite that somewhat disappointing finish, Daley and his mates from the host nation had an outstanding Olympics, collecting 29 golds (3rd overall) and 65 total medals (4th). They won some huge ones too, like tennis, triathlon, heptathlon, rowing, long jump, and men's 5k and 10k. I liked seeing that.

Ashton Eaton of the US is the world's greatest athlete, in case you were wondering, having won the decathlon. Silver went to fellow American Trey Hardee, who was hilarious to watch because of his mid-event celebrations like one comical fist-pump before even reaching the apex of one pole vault jump. I very much enjoyed Hardee's performance and exuberance.

Good times on the soccer pitch, with México claiming their first Olympic gold in the men's tournament (over the ever-annoying Brasilians) and the American women avenging their World Cup final loss with a gold medal victory over their archnemesis, the Japan women's team.

I didn't watch any Gymnastics, sorry. Just not my style. I did, however, get harangued at a bar by a strange random fellow who expressed to me many, many times how appalled he was at a friend who had expressed some sexual interest in one of the gymnasts. I was like, yes, I see what you're saying, that would be an inappropriate thing to say, and he just kept on making his point loudly despite my lack of dissent with his argument. Ugh.

I did watch Trampoline, which made me think three things:
1) Trampolines are fun.
2) This is an Olympic event? Is fort-building one too?
3) I'm surprised none of the competitors have puked yet.

Remember how in the outset how I called this post "strikingly uninformed"? Well, here we're getting to that part, because I really didn't see a ton of the Games, just a few nights out worth. I don't know much about what happened in wrestling, weightlifting, handball, judo, shooting, sailing, field hockey, or table tennis, though admittedly I just looked up the latter of those and my guess was confirmed as China went 4/4 in gold medals. I think it'd be fun to immerse oneself in the Olympic Games sometime, but this year and this blogger wasn't the guy to do it. Still, as always, the Game provided lots of memorable moments.

Also: USA! USA!