Wednesday Night Rumble: Youngstown Boys?

Written December 18th, 2013 by Jason

The Clemson Tigers await the Buckeyes in Miami to do battle in the Discover Orange Bowl on January 3rd. Meanwhile a little farther north in Georgia the Silver Bullets picked up what could be a centerpiece to the future. We’ll discuss “Youngstown Boys” and attack with quick hitters. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!

Orange decisions and Clemson (who also wears orange) 

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd

While it was unthinkable prior to, after the final gun sounded on the Big Ten Championship Game it became obvious to everyone where the Buckeye football team would be bowling this January. Outside of Dade County and the walls of the Orange Bowl committee, nobody wanted to think about or even consider the possiblity of the team being anywhere except Pasadena either on New Years Day or, more likely, the following Monday in the BCS National Championship Game. Meanwhile, all along it was a foregone conclusion that if eliminated from the games being played in the Rose Bowl the Buckeyes were going to be South Beach bound.

And while it seems like a consolation prize, and to a large extent it is, that’s something as fans we should take great pride in. With their first pick of the at-large schools (after Alabama was scooped up by the Sugar Bowl, which is an SEC tradition) the Orange quickly hopped on the Buckeyes because they know that it will get a high rating on television and there will be butts in the seats. Buckeye Nation travels and likes to spend money.

Another program that travels pretty well is the one in Clemson, South Carolina. Though as of Tuesday reports were they are having trouble selling their ticket allotment. This is a dream matchup for the Orange Bowl (short of having the Buckeyes against an SEC opponent) and a handicappers nightmare on setting an over/under.

Tajh Boyd and the Tiger offense

The Tigers come into the game with a dynamic offense led by senior quarterback Tajh Boyd. Many of you may remember Boyd’s recruitment. As a senior in Hampton, Virginia he was highly sought after by Jim Tressel. As the story goes, Boyd turned down Tressel to go to Clemson and sign with head coach Dabo Swinney because he didn’t want to have to wait to play while Terrelle Pryor (who had just finished his first full year as starter) played out the final two years of his career.

It’s interesting to think about how different things could have been and the ripple effects that his decision would have made if he had chosen Ohio State over Clemson. It’s also fitting that in his last collegiate game he faces the program he turned down. Certainly there is no anomosity toward Boyd from the Buckeye program and I’m sure he is happy with the decision he made. It’s just a bit ironic.

Boyd is a bigger guy standing 6′-2″ and weighing in at almost 225lbs. He wears number 10 and I’ve always thought his game resembled a stronger Troy Smith. Stronger in that he he can resemble a fullback at times when taking on tacklers. Smith, while tough to be certain, had a little more finesse with his feet. One thing that Smith certainly had (aside from that fateful night in Glendale) was ice in his veins and an ability to get the best out of those around him. Boyd has shown it at times, for example when they beat LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl last year and in their game with Georgia in Death Valley this fall. But more often has shown a tendency to seem overwhelmed and lost in the big moment, to almost wilt, for example in consecutive losses to arch-rival South Carolina, their last Orange Bowl appearance in-which they were destroyed by West Virginia, their match-up with Florida State this year and so on.

Clemson WR Sammy Watkins

Electric Clemson WR Sammy Watkins

Coming into this season I thought Boyd was going to explode and show the ability everyone thought he had coming out of high school. I like his mechanics and appreciate that he does the little things right with his feet and ball placement. They’ve polished him nicely in Tiger Town. But to my surprise it didn’t happen. After the superb effort he displayed in leading his team to a dog fight of a win over what we now know was a middle of the road Georgia team at home, his play in 2013 steadily dropped off. It bottomed out the night they were absolutely humiliated on their home field 51-14 by Florida State. Boyd was never the same and fought injuries and accusations of being scared the rest of the season.

Boyd has one of, if not the, top receivers in college football in Sammy Watkins. He’s likely a top 10 pick in the NFL draft and is a danger to take it to the house from anywhere on the field. He’s Boyd’s go-to guy and will be a handful for the Buckeye secondary. There will be some sleepless nights at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center watching film on Sammy Watkins.

As is the case with so many quarterbacks at this level, the way to slow them down is to pressure them. When Boyd has been at his worst are the games when his offensive line has been beaten up front. I hope that the Buckeye defensive staff learned their lesson from the Michigan State game and will not go away from their rotations on the defensive line thus allowing them to keep people fresh unlike the plan in Indianapolis that saw the same four guys go nearly the entire game. Clemson goes fast, not supersonic, but they hurry. Winning up front is key. Keeping people fresh and on top of Boyd is paramount to success.

Tajh Boyd has one more chance to get it right and lead his team to a win. As a whole, this is a game Clemson is looking at as a chance to make a statement that the ACC is a better league than the Big Ten and that Clemson football is elite and belongs with the top names in college football every year. We’ll see.

Happy Raekwonza

Monday afternoon the Buckeye coaching staff (and recruitniks across Buckeye Nation) sat paralyzed to their computer screens as they watched Raekwon McMillan, a 5 star linebacker and ESPN top 20 overall national recruit, decide between Ohio State and Alabama as to where he would be playing next fall.

In a move that had to get under the skin of the Bama faithful, McMillan announced that he would “Roll… with Ohio State” borrowing from the famous “Roll Tide” chant that Alabama fans love in an obvious attempt to dissuade people at the final second before picking up a hat and actually revealing his decision. One of our former colleagues @JPeanut05 on Twitter called it “masterful trolling” and I have to agree, it was beautiful!

Raekwon McMillan

Raekwon McMillan

McMillan has been being recruited since his freshman year of high school. He is the prototype middle linebacker in the mold of Ray Lewis. Will he play like him? I don’t know, but I’m glad we’ll get to find out while he is wearing a Buckeye uniform and not a Crimson Tide jersey.

Chad Simmons of Scout.com says of McMillan “He is a big kid with a great frame and he is very strong. He is a good striker at linebacker and he can bring that thump when he makes a play. His biggest strength is attacking the ball downhill. He can still improve on his play side to side and his ability to drop back into pass coverage. He is a perfect inside backer that attacks.”
McMillan was as close to a “must have” for Urban Meyer as there is. Give credit to defensive coordinator Luke Fickell as well for being the guy who stayed after it and wouldn’t let McMillan slip away.

With the addition of McMillan, a position that was dept depleted and seemed to be lacking in big time players is now a strength. For 2014 the Buckeyes return starters Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry. They will see an emergence from 5 star recruit and red-shirt freshman Mike Mitchell as well as sophomore (another 5 star from Meyer’s 2013 stellar class) Trey Johnson. Camren Williams saw a lot of playing time that should only make him better and provide strong depth along with Joe Berger. When you add in McMillan this becomes a very formidable unit with a lot of young talent.

Oh, and some kid named Shazier says he is leaning toward coming back.

Youngstown Boys

ESPN Films premiered their 30 for 30 series documentary “Youngstown Boys” on Saturday night after the Heisman Trophy presentation chronicling the story of Maurice Clarrett and focusing somewhat on his relationship with former Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel.

If you haven’t seen it I recommend watching it. It’s worth your time no matter how difficult the memories and thoughts of what could have been. The first 45 minutes recapping the 2002 championship team are worth it alone.

Jim Tressel at Youngstown State

Jim Tressel at Youngstown State

I’d like to say it was spectacular and that it is one of the best of the 30 for 30 series, but to me it was your average documentary. I’ve heard that people who aren’t fans of the program and don’t know the story very well loved it, and I can certainly see how that could be. I just couldn’t help noticed that a lot of things were left untouched or glossed over quickly that were emphatically important to the story starting with how it was barely mentioned about the items that were reported stolen from the car Clarrett was given as a loaner in early 2003 that kicked off the entire investigation.

I also really wish former Athletic Director Andy Geiger would have spoken to the filmmakers and given his side of the story. The accusations made by Clarrett’s support staff, particularly Jim Brown (yes, I forgot he was involved too) go undefended and it doesn’t seem fair to me. Geiger was a good AD at Ohio State. It’s hard to imagine he was the egotistical monster regarding Clarrett that he is depicted to be in the film.

But what really riled me up was the segment in which they talked about Tressel at Youngstown State recruiting “the state of Youngstown” and building him up to be the Paul Bunyan of the Mahoning Valley. It’s a bunch of nonsense. As a matter of fact, for all the good he accomplished at YSU his ego was the reason the program never took the step forward it should have taken.

I grew up in Youngstown and attended YSU when Tressel was head ball coach there. To define his recruiting of the Youngstown area schools is to say that he cherry picked a few kids from the area when it suited. Quarterbacks Marc Brungard (Springfield Local High School) and Nick Cochran (Girard High School) along with running back Sean Patton (Campbell Memorial High School) come to mind instantly. But largely and mostly Tressel recruited JUCO players or high school players from Florida, Canton and Detroit area high schools. He had no problem getting kids from the Cleveland area, or even Akron. But Youngstown? No, not really, unless you think 2-3 out of the 20 or so per year is a lot.

Jim Tressel won championships at YSU not by recruiting “the state of Youngstown” but by recruiting the state of Florida, the “state of Detroit” and players that were recently released from or avoided trips to the state penitentiary. If that sounds harsh I’m sorry, it is the reality of the events that unfolded. Tressel recruited 2-3 Youngstown area kids per class, the rest came from well outside the “state of Youngstown”.

That is unless a kid from the area’s father owned a car dealership and happened to be friends with Tressel. Those guys got scholarships too.

(Yes, I can name names on all the above accounts. Plenty of them.)

Not a lot of "Youngstown Boys" helped bring the national championship trophies displayed in Mosure Hall on campus at YSU

Not a lot of “Youngstown Boys” helped bring the national championship trophies displayed in Mosure Hall on campus at YSU

I don’t mean to go off on Tressel here, but seeing him heralded as a Youngstown hero really irks me. It upsets me that after winning four national championship and beating programs like Georgia Southern, Boise State, Central Florida and Marshall to get to and win them, the Penguins were actively being courted by the Mid American Conference to be a natural fit as a new member. A program that was beating Kent State and Akron on a regular basis while winning titles at the 1-AA level would take some lumps at first but certainly would be a competitor once it regained its seas legs two or three years in. Who knows, they may have came in and competed for the league title right away. Unfortunately we’ll never know because under head football coach Jim Tressel’s recommendation it was voted by university trustees to not expand Stambaugh Stadium to meet the MAC minimum requirements for seating capacity which meant the program would instead stay at the 1-AA level.

And I promise you that it wasn’t a money issue. It also wasn’t a situation that just didn’t fit or make sense. It was a coach that had built up a program into a winner and had no interest in doing it again in Youngstown, Ohio. People forget that he solicited himself and took an interview for the head coaching job at Miami, Fl. in 1995 before the job was given to Butch Davis. Tressel’s sights were set on a 1-A marquee program and there was no way he was taking any steps backward from what was already built.

What he did once he had his guys on the field was impressive, but how he left the city as a conquering hero despite holding the program back to better his own personal interests leaves this former resident and still at heart member of the “state of Youngstown” with a sour taste in his mouth.

As a matter of fact, there are a lot of people that feel the same way. That said, don’t be foolish, nobody was upset he used Youngstown to get where he wanted to go. Of course you’re gunning for a better job at a big name school, who wouldn’t? Just don’t act as if you gave opportunity’s to local kids and built a winner on the back of the now defunct Steel Valley and Metro Athletic conferences. Don’t act as though not making the jump to 1-A and the MAC was for anyone’s best interest except your own.

Seeing him portrayed as a Youngstown hero doesn’t sit well with me. Putting him in the YSU Hall of Fame for his accomplishments is understandable, just don’t try and sell me on this man being Youngstown’s spiritual leader. I was there, I saw it all firsthand and it’ isn’t true except to people who only see wins and losses and stay blind to the happenings that cause and are surrounding them. You never heard me once dispute any of the accusations thrown at him in the now infamous George Dohrmann article in Sports Illustrated that alleged to lift the curtain on Tressel and his awe-shucks image to reveal a cunning strategist who doubles as an opportunist. Why? Again, because I saw those things and worse while he was in Youngstown. What would make me or anyone think that just because he was now at Ohio State he would be any different?

Quick hitters

Johnnie Dixon

Johnnie Dixon

I can’t quit thinking about how big of a game the Orange Bowl is for the Buckeyes. You’re looking past Clemson or not very excited about the match-up and I get that because it doesn’t seem to have much sex appeal. Let’s face it, the Rose Bowl was Brooklyn Decker, the National Championship was Kate Upton and Clemson in Miami is somewhere between today’s Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Aniston: Really good just not what you really wanted. You have to look at the bigger picture at what is on the line. Ohio State cannot lose to a team that was thrashed on their home field by Florida State. They cannot lose to a team that South Carolina owns. They cannot lose to a team that isn’t good enough to win the ACC. Along with that are the copious amount of recruits in the state of Florida that will be at or watching this game on television. Like it or not, this is a huge game for the Buckeyes.

I wonder if Braxton Miller is getting the hint he should stay in college for his senior year? Kirk Herbstreit dismissed it as a non-issue on Twitter and during the BCS selection show. ESPN has been running a graphic that shows the “top 5 Heisman candidates for 2014″ that includes 2 quarterbacks that have already announced they’ll be back, 1 that can’t leave school because he hasn’t been out of high school long enough, 1 that is in no way ready for the NFL despite leading his team to the National Championship Game and Braxton Miller.

Tuesday saw another mega recruit commit to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes class of 2014. Four star wide receiver Johnnie Dixon from Florida chose Ohio State over Miami and Alabama. Dixon is a big play guy with speed who shows the ability to make an impact early in his career. This was a huge “get” for Meyer and his staff.

Wrap it up

Next week is Christmas! So please be careful while you’re traveling and finishing shopping and doing whatever else you folks do. We’ll have something fun for a Christmas Rumble next week and don’t forget to be on the lookout for bowl previews here at the BBC as the season gets underway! Until next week, Go Bucks!

Metallica track of the week

In keeping up with being the band is constantly looking for new challenges, Metallica took it to another level earlier this month by being the first band to play a set in Antartica. Dubbed “Freeze’em All” and sponsored by Coke Zero, contest winners from the deep south of the equator were chosen to be ‘tallica’s guest for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make history. The boys belted out a 10 song set in a dome constructed on the very bottom of planet Earth while utilizing another Metallica first and experiment in live technology whereby the people in attendance where given earbuds and fed the sound directly off of Metallica’s monitors to achieve the purest and cleanest live sound possible. Oh, the history thing? They are also now the first band to have played a show on all seven continents! Nobody, and I mean literally nobody, else can make that claim! So, live from Antartica where it’s late in the evening yet the sun is still shining in an outdoor dome powered by solar panels, here is Sad But True!

8 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    December 18th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Nice stuff here, Jason. I appreciate your perspective on Tressel and Youngstown,

    [Reply]

  2. KristyNo Gravatar
    December 18th, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Now, now… Jennifer Aniston is just as good as Brooklyn Decker! Lol great post.

    [Reply]

  3. EddieNo Gravatar
    December 18th, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    wondering if there’s going to be a tbbbc bowl contest this year? thanks

    [Reply]

  4. KenNo Gravatar
    December 18th, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    At my age, current Cindy Crawford is hot stuff.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 18th, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Have met her (and her kids) about two years ago in a non-modeling circumstance.

    She’s smokin’…

    [Reply]

  5. EddieNo Gravatar
    December 18th, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    thanks…awesome!

    [Reply]

  6. CaseyNo Gravatar
    January 18th, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Jason,
    I’m also from Youngstown and I know your not the only Youngstowner that feels this way about Tressel, but there is one false statement you put in there and that was criticizing one of his quotes that he did not “recruit the state of Youngstown”. I just checked the 1991 roster and he has 36 from the Mahoning Valley alone. This does not even count the guys from the rest of Northeast Ohio (i.e. Akron, Kent, Stow and Ravenna). He also had guys from Y-towns neighboring cities of New Castle and Sharon. The handful of guys were not from the area, it was from the JUCO Colleges. Trust me, I believe Tressel may have turned a blind eye here or there, but you cant deny what he did for the town. He gave the city of Youngstown something to cheer about, a sense of pride and belonging and something to look forward to on Saturday mornings. Tressel has never turned his back on Youngstown even when he was on top at OSU. Tressel still made visits, guest appearances and attended many fund raisers in the area. Other then that, I enjoyed reading this and respect your opinion. Please comment

    [Reply]

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