It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Silver Bullet Points

Written December 5th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

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Interesting Tuesday in college sports, to say the least. We’ll get to all the movers and shakers, but first a little traveling music.

Buckeye 411

  • Out In The Cold- Monday’s Heisman announcement that Braxton Miller would not be getting an invite to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York spurred a mixed bag of emotions for Ohio State fans. On the one hand, if it’s unlikely that he’ll be in the top three, it makes sense to not include him- Football is not about “participation” trophies. On the other hand, though, many Buckeyes saw this as another slight at the program and a way for “the media” to disregard the hard work that Miller and his teammates accomplished this season.

Most of the frustration was aimed at the inclusion of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, who we’ve argued here before is only a finalist due to his team’s success, solid (but not great) numbers, and the great “story” that his season has been- both for him and as a heart of the awakened echoes of the Irish program.  Tony Gerdeman from the OZone compared Te’o to AJ Hawk, the last linebacker to be seriously considered for the Heisman, and found that Hawk’s numbers eclipsed the Irish’ star. He, along with the guys at Land Grant Holy Land (check out the infographic) continue to compare his numbers to Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier- Gerd points out that, in the last three games of the season, Shazier outplayed Te’o and almost doubled his statistics, minus the interceptions. Given that Te’o plays in a variation of the Tampa 2 defense which requires more coverage, this might make sense- different roles for both players. But it does highlight the fact that Te’o is a debatable finalist… and as such, might have just as well been left home with Miller and Marquis Lee (who I believe is the best player in the country this season).

With no hope of a national championship, the Buckeyes saw excellence as its own reward—and achieved it. What better example of pure sportsmanship could there be? Next year, Ohio State will once again be jockeying for a high-profile bowl berth and all the cash that flows from it. This year’s team, by contrast, will stand forever as the one that played not for money but for pride.

  • Selling Out- Not the Buckeyes, but Buckeye Nation, who have now snatched up all of the available tickets for this Friday’s celebration in St. John’s to honor the 2012 undefeated team, as well as impress the heck out of a ton of recruits. We’ll have a quick look at who’ll be in the building on that front later this week.
  • We’re Number 4! Nope, not football… they’re Third in the latest AP poll. Men’s hoops drops to Seventh after the loss to Duke. Your Wrestling Buckeyes, though, are Fourth in the nation this week. W00t!
  • Also? Vibe’s got your back as well, Buckeye Fans.
  • The Heart Returns- Here’s a look at the new Basketball Floor that’s set to be unveiled for the Kansas game later this month… pretty nice!

No "#Swoon" Hashtag?

  • Eddie! Eddie! On Tuesday, the University announced that Heisman Trophy Winner Eddie George would be returning to Ohio State as an “Associate VP for Business Advancement”. In other words- “Help The Campaign Raise Money”.  No word on what impact this will have on his role with Fox Sports’ College Football team, although I can’t imagine he’d miss the chance to get away from Joey Harrington.
  • Also Significant- Mr. George wasn’t the only Buckeye running back making news on Tuesday; this great article talks at length at the impact that Butler By’note’s message to the team, particularly their head coach.

Filed Under: Things I Should Have Had My Wife Watch Before Going To The Game

 Coaching Changes

The B1Ggest news on Tuesday was the surprising revelation that Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema had decided to leave that program and take the job as the new head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Some pointed this as being a sign of the conference’s downfall- a man left a B1G champion to go to a mid-range SEC program that will probably never win a divisional title (say hello to Alabama, LSU, and aTm for us, Bert), but there are other factors in play here as well.

First, it’s probable that Coach Bielema thought that this was the perfect time to make a transition. He’s won three straight trips to the Rose Bowl, (although one was a shared conference title, the second was after an Ohio State coaching meltdown, and the third came with a 5 loss team and a huge asterisk), and the strength of the top two teams in the conference was not going to dissipate any time soon. He had to also look in the mirror and realize that his record wasn’t likely to improve with the shifting conference schedule: In his tenure, he was 23-1 against Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois, while only amassing a 16-18 record with the rest of the conference.  He was also 11-14 versus ranked teams while he was in Madison, 2-4 in bowl games and 0-2 in the BCS. The ceiling may have been reached.

Second, though, the money was better. Projections have him making a million more in Fayetteville in addition to the possibility that he’ll have greater funding to complete his staff- the B1G is notoriously “thrifty” when it comes to hiring assistants (tOSU and TTUN are exceptions, and it shows). Given those factors, the move makes sense for him… and is hilarious for the rest of us who have believed all along that Wisconsin is a second tier program in the conference who just happened to have risen to the top for a while. Iowa did it, Northwestern did it, Michigan State did it, and some would say that Penn State did it as well.  If you’re going to be in the middle of the pack, at least go where you’re going to get paid.

And now the irony- A man raised on a pig farm is leading the Razorbacks in the SEC, a conference he said he didn’t want to be anything like when complaining about Urban Meyer’s recruiting strategies.  And he traded “jump around” for folks who think this is a good idea:

Godspeed, Bert… It was good knowing your name. Too bad you won’t get to coach your team to their third straight BCS loss.

  • Ripples- With Wisconsin now open, Paul Chryst at Pittsburgh has been named as a possible candidate, as well as Kirby Smart from Alabama. Chryst is a Wisconsin alum and former coach for the Badgers, so that makes sense. Willie Taggart has also been mentioned- Wisconsin was one of the first B1G schools to hire an African American coach, so this might be an interesting take.
  • Part Deux- If Chryst leaves, it’s important to remember that Coach Fickell was part of the interview process for that opening last year… although he seems to be very well established in Columbus. It’d also be funny to see Pitt go through yet another coaching search- wonder if the Arizona State staff has bought property out there yet?
  • Other Names- Auburn returns to a familiar face, tabbing former offensive coordinator Gus Malzhan to head their program. North Carolina State also has named Northern Illinois’ Doren to their top spot, and Coach Stoops has made himself at home in Kentucky- his contract stipulates that he gets 100K for every SEC win after first one per season. Also on Tuesday it was announced that former Urban Meyer assistant Steve Addazio has  moved up the coast from Temple to Boston College.
  • Rumors- Tennessee is close to hiring Louisville’s Charlie Strong, unless they aren’t. Colorado seems to have found their guy in Cincinnati’s Butch Jones, but Mark Magino’s name has also been thrown around out in Boulder (the name is probably the only part of him that anyone can throw). Finally, no word on the open South Florida position, since no one remembers that USF has a football team until they manage to upset someone.
  • Welcome!! We’re as excited as Boilermakers that former Ohio State and Kent coach Darrell Hazell has been named the next head coach in West Lafayette. Be sure to check out our friends at Boiled Sports for the latest in this situation… it couldn’t happen to a better coach and nicer guy- will certainly make beating them every year a lot more bittersweet.  This means that there are three Tressel assistants are now heading programs in the B1G; MSU, Illinois, and now Purdue. Interestingly enough, Coach Hazell will be the first African-American Big Ten head coach since Bobby Williams was at Michigan State from 2000-02… which is a shame, given that the Big Ten was an early leader in this area.

Commentary: BCS Mess

Before we got all bent out of shape with all of the changes on the coaching carousel, the drum that was being beaten to death by the media was all about how horrible the BCS is this year. Most of the angst has been focused on whether or not Boise State Northern Illinois deserved their Orange Bowl bid against Florida State. It was particularly frustrating for NIU fans as well as people who are tired of the Four Letter Network’s influence on this whole issue. As a friend of mine posted on Buckeye Planet-

ESPN is complaining because they’ll take a ratings bath in the Orange Bowl, and they weren’t able to engineer the matchup they wanted. They saw the chance that Kent State had to get in to the BCS, and they responded by having several talking heads mention the 33-point loss to Kentucky lately, trying to influence voters to drop Kent State out of the top-16 if they beat NIU.

But ESPN apparently didn’t foresee the possibility of NIU jumping into the top-16 with a win over Kent St. So they didn’t have the time to trash NIU’s resume before the voters placed them into the top-16. And it was the human polls that got NIU into the BCS – the computer averages for Nebraska, UCLA and TSUN were all higher than NIU’s.

ESPN tries to influence the voters to fit their agenda all of the time. Last week Rece Davis asked a couple of talking heads about the possibility of tOSU reaching AP #1, and he framed the question something like this: “Ohio State got a close win over a Michigan team that was thrashed by Alabama, do you think they have a chance to be AP #1?”.

This week, does anybody think he’ll ask this question: “Bama just squeaked by an UGA team that lost to South Carolina 35-7, do they deserve to stay ahead of undefeated Ohio State?”

It’s important to remember that these events are purely exhibitions, money makers who are only geared to be profitable for the tax exempt committees that sponsor and facilitate them. And, given that only 2 of 36 bowls are not on ESPN/ABC, and that ESPN owns controlling shares of at least seven games, the other goal is television revenue. As such, the FLN has every reason to try to do what’s profitable for their interests and partners… and that’s different than “reporting”.

Enjoy it while you can

The other thing to realize, though, is that this is the “unintended consequences” for those across the conference and the nation who wanted Ohio State to get “hammered” for their transgressions. Like Southern Cal before them, Ohio State’s absence in the national post-season exhibition situation will be felt deeply- their bowl ban breaks a seven year streak of the B1G having two teams in BCS games. Consequently, Northern Illinois gets in, and the rest of the “marquee” gets shuffled in the BCS. Just think how things might have been- Ohio State/Notre Dame, Alabama/Oregon, Florida/Kansas State, Stanford/Oklahoma, Louisville/Florida State… that’s a pretty good slate of games, even if it doesn’t include another B1G team.

Instead, because of Ohio State and Penn State’s sanctions, many of the B1G are playing above their heads one or two slots. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Las Vegas has ever single conference team as an underdog in their games; the closest matchups are Michigan State and Northwestern at +2. So, get ready for another year of “The B1G can’t win big games…”; as if this season wasn’t already full of examples of the conference’s struggle.

In addition, the “little brothers” of the B1G are missing out on their payday this year. We’ve talked before about how it’s actually more financially lucrative for Indiana to continue to be inadequate during the season- no bowl expenses and they still get their cut of the conference’s bowl share. A share that will be less this season, without a National Title game or an additional BCS payout or the bowl money from Penn State’s appearance.  Granted, this year OSU and PSU don’t get a cut of the conference money, so the rest of the schools do profit from their situation… but overall, the fact remains that the conference needs its programs to be strong, and that starts at the top.

So, fans of other programs- enjoy the games, make your jokes, and remember two things. 1) Ohio State only has to miss the post season this year, and has pretty significant plans for it in the future, 2) The sport you love will be significantly better when they’re back.

Around the NCAA

And Finally

‘Tis the season… to really hate your neighbors:

8 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    December 5th, 2012 at 9:17 am

    My goodness, a lot to report on this week. A commentary on your commentary;

    The bon mots about karma, pay-back, etc., might apply to ESPN regarding the bowl season matchups. IIRC, the FLN (four letter network) had a significant place, if not leading the parade when it came to Ohio State’s compliance issues. It was a ‘great story (as in lots of web-hits/eyeballs) then, but as it played out, maybe there were consequences that may not have been soberly reported/analyzed.

    If FLN does suffer some financial distress over this, so be it. I doubt if it teaches them anything, because the 1st letter in the network name, ‘E’ is there for a reason. The only bowl game matchup that really interests me is oregon-KSU. This frees up a lot of time over the holidays for me.

    Yes, a MSU-fan friend of mine emailed me the 2012 OSU Bowl Shirt last week. I replied that 12-0 is not bad and thanked MSU for being part of it.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 5th, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    My reply when our friend Yost from the MZone sent me that shirt was “Thanks! It’ll look great with my Michigan B1G Conference Champions jackets from 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005.”

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    December 5th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Well played, my friend.

    [Reply]

  2. C-DogNo Gravatar
    December 5th, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Many good points this week, especially the reinforcement of my thought about how the NCAA actually hurts itself by banning good teams from bowl appearances.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 5th, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Well, actually- the NCAA gets next to nothing from the bowls, so there’s no “hit” on their part other than PR.

    As Ken said, though, the fact that ESPN beat the drum and now is reaping the revenue loss from lack of viewers is pretty awesome in my book.

    [Reply]

    C-DogNo Gravatar
    December 5th, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    The NCAA LOVES pr, though.

    [Reply]

  3. C-DogNo Gravatar
    December 5th, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    NCAA motto: Say whatver you want, but don’t quit watching.

    [Reply]

  4. NorCal BuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2012 at 1:10 am

    The gifting grab bag suites SCREAM hypocrisy more than anything I can remember, especially for us Ohio State fans. Absolutely outrageous. I don’t know how the NCAA compliance people can stand on a leg of moral authority since they’ve signed up for that crap. What does that have to do with competing in a game?

    I’d love to see how many of those items (iPods, watches, gift cards) are still in the possession of the tens of thousands of athletes that received them over the years (150-200 players each bowl game).

    Yet the schools lose millions of dollars, often on the state taxpayers dime….

    [Reply]

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