Looking For The Exit?

On New Year’s Eve, Penn State lost their head coach to the NFL.

Bill O’Brien, who took on the enormous task of manning a wounded Lions program two years ago, left the college game for the NFL. He will now lead the Houston Texans, another franchise that needs rebuilding (but that’s another story for another time).

When O’Brien arrived at Penn State, many believed that the once-heralded team in Happy Valley was at death’s door. NCAA sanctions and a devastated reputation left the entire school in shambles, and it was going to be at least a decade before they could begin the recovery process.

The critics were wrong.

O’Brien turned PSU around in quick order. A 7-5 record in 2013 was unexpected, and so were two victories over two giants of the Big Ten. Wins over Michigan and Wisconsin, both ranked at the time, highlighted the 2013 season and took away the pain of their 63-14 destruction at the hands of Ohio State.

But now O’Brien is off to greener pastures and Penn State fans are feeling betrayed again.

I share no love for Penn State fans, having watched their willful ignorance over Joe Paterno’s enabling behavior during the crimes of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They threw Sandusky to the wolves as they should have, but repeatedly buried their heads in the sand when shown undeniable proof that Paterno was complicit in allowing the unmentionable crimes to continue unabated.

But with O’Brien’s departure, I feel their pain. Their head coach made promises to Penn State, and he has now broken them by leaving before the end of his contract.

If a player at Penn State decided to leave for a different school after two years, he’d likely be forced to sit out for a full year before he could take the field again. (Yes, I’m aware there are situations that allow a player to avoid being put on a shelf for a year, but that is the exception rather than the rule).

Should a coach of an NCAA program not be held to the same standards as the players he recruits? If a coach convinces a player to attend his university, should both men be asked to stay for the same length of time or face minor penalties?

When Bill O’Brien sat in the home of a recruit in January of 2012 and told him that he would be a part of the rebirth at Penn State, there was no mention that the coach might be gone by the end of the player’s sophomore year at PSU.

That player will not have an easy time changing schools, now that his coach has abandoned him. The NCAA has rules that will make his life difficult if he wishes to transfer to a different school (it goes well beyond sitting out a year and deep into bureaucracy). Even if he is skilled enough to succeed at the next level, laws forbid him from jumping to the NFL until he is three years removed from his high school football years.

That being said, is it time to place rules on college coaches that leave their programs before their contracts expire? Should coaches have to sit out a year before they can take on another job within the college ranks?

Obviously, the NCAA cannot mandate rules in the NFL for such situation – unless Roger Goodell behaves like he did towards Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor, having doled out suspensions for both men when they entered the NFL. But within the NCAA, can the same rules be applied to coaches and players?

Yes, the NCAA rule book is already a mess and it should be tightened up immediately. I propose that the rules for coaches are included in the next set of changes. Read More

Weekend Wonderings

Written December 15th, 2013 by Ken

chimp_skullWelcome to this week’s latest edition of Weekend Wonderings. Take a minute, come in from shoveling the snow, grab a beverage and let’s wade into this.

The James/Wexner

First, here’s a bit of good research news that involves The James:

(Reuters) – A closely watched leukemia drug developed by Johnson & Johnson and Pharmacyclics Inc maintained its effectiveness in keeping the disease at bay for most patients, according to long-term follow-up data from a midstage study being presented at a major medical meeting.

The oral drug, ibrutinib, last month won U.S. approval to treat a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma known as mantle cell lymphoma. It is awaiting a Food and Drug Administration decision on treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a slowly progressing form of blood cancer that primarily affects people aged 65 and older.

 ”With extended follow-up the remissions with ibrutinib appear to be continuing and the safety of this long-term is being maintained,” said Byrd, professor of internal medicine and director of hematology at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus.

This is a pretty big deal. The development of an effective cancer chemotherapy with significantly reduced toxic side effects is approaching Holy Grail status.

Now, moving on to cancer prevention in regards to kidney cancer, here’s a tip from The James; drink tea in the morning. On a personal note, our neighbor, and one of our best friends passed away from kidney cancer a year and a half ago, so this is a pretty touchy subject with me. Drink your morning tea!!

Read More

The Week That Were: 11.17.12

Written November 19th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

We’re going to do things just a little bit differently this week, given all of the amazing news and events that happened this past weekend. So, this will be part Silver Bullet Points, part Monday Morning Commentary, and the usual chunk of random observations from Saturday’s events in the world of college football.  Here’s something to listen to while you’re fighting the urge to tl;dr- we’ve certainly got a lot to be Thankful for.

Prepping for Kiffy?

In this year’s edition of the Battle For Los Angeles, the upstart UCLA Bruins jumped out to a quick lead and held on to “upset” the Trojans by ten points on a gray day in Pasadena.  While the Bruins obviously have been playing much better football this year, you’ve also got to wonder if the trajectories of the programs have now crossed, particularly given some of the issues that continue to swirl at Southern Cal.

As the team that was picked by many to contend for the national title, the frustration for many SC fans has been swirling since the loss to what we now know is a pretty good Stanford team. That game highlighted the Trojans’ issues with depth; injuries since then have continued to create problems and have certainly didn’t help in their back to back losses to Arizona and Oregon. The defeat by the Ducks made things even more problematic, since SC’s defense was a point of strength for them under current coordinator Monte Kiffin; their being gashed turned up the heat on the current coaching administration. And now, to lose to “little brother” has many wondering if it’s not time to make a change.

Coach Kiffin’s actions certainly haven’t helped this season- cutting media opportunities short, banning reporters outright… it certainly makes sense that he’d not want to leave the Rose Bowl via the obvious entrance on Saturday night.  Other controversy swirls around Lane as well; while possibly not related, it’s definitely not helping matters at all.  You may remember “inflation-gate” and the termination of a student manager following the revelation that game balls for kickers were under-inflated against Oregon. For those not infatuated with special teams- a “flatter” pigskin has a much larger “sweet spot”; as a great Buckeye Planet poster pointed out, the Trojan’s kicking game has not been anywhere near as efficient ever since they were penalized for this “mistake”.

In addition, earlier this week Tennessee was dinged for recruiting issues that occurred under Kiffin’s one year tenure in Knoxville- issues that involved Chip Kelly’s favorite videographer, Willie Lyles.  Given the length of the investigation into Oregon’s program and this new decision at UT involving Lyles, you’ve got to think that there’s more than a few million good reasons for Kelly to take the Pete Carroll route and jump to the NFL ASAP.

What does this mean for Kiffin? At this time, it’s difficult to say, but losing Matt Barkley for the matchup against Notre Dame this weekend, combined with the continuing scholarship losses for the next couple of years would certainly be reason to wonder how warm his office chair will be getting this winter.

Sentient?

Interestingly enough, the other two programs involved in “affair du Lyles” also had difficult weekends. Derek Dooley’s Volunteers lost to cross-state foe Vanderbilt, and it wasn’t even close. The win ensures that UT will have a losing season for the third time in as many years, and was only the second victory for the Commodores in 35 years.  Following the game, the inevitable happened… Dooley was fired, effective immediately.  If you’re an Ohio State fan, you’ve got to wonder if this might have an impact on current recruits looking at both programs… Vonn Bell is the name that pops up, but there may be others in the 2014 class. This year’s season ending clash between the Vols and ‘Kats will feature both coaches in either interim or lame duck status… it’s going to be a fun coaching carousel for the SEC this season.

Lyle’s third “partner” in all of this felt the sting of their first loss on Saturday, at home, to a Stanford team that should be in the conversation about the top programs in the nation.  Remember, they’re a botched call from extending overtime in South Bend and possibly ending the Irish Nightmare that we are currently facing.  I was most impressed with The Cardinal’s defense on Saturday- disciplined, aggressive, and never seemed to give up the big play to an offense that most often looks like throwing kerosene on a bonfire… one blink, and it’s over. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Ahem.

Does Nike gear wick away tears?

The loss can easily be attributed to a lot of things- Oregon being too confident, and this being the Duck’s annual brain fart game; Questionable officiating, A “trap” game, with the resurgent Beavers looming Thanksgiving week… But all of these would not do a service to the great work that the coaches at Stanford, starting with Jim Harbaugh, have done in building a program that can certainly play with anyone in the country. It’s also why I think that Alabama, if given the usual bowl prep to face Oregon, would beat them- I believe that the Tide’s defense is more athletic and much more disruptive than Stanford’s… and the template we’ve seen in the Ducks’ losses over the past four years is now pretty well known. You just need to have the horses to pull it off; Stanford did on Saturday, and now control their PAC12 destiny. They’ll need to beat UCLA twice in two weeks to do so, but doing so may have the Oregon Ducks on the outside of the BCS championship game AND the automatic Rose Bowl berth… along with USC.  It’s been that kind of year.

Oh, and on Saturday Northwestern, Stanford, and Vanderbilt all won.  Nerds, y’all.

Commentary: Polls and Playoffs Read More

Bill Sheridan Is A Buckeye!

Written January 26th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Ready For Rookie Coach Hazing Rituals

A bit of a departure from the usual “welcome to Columbus” news that we’ve had hereabout over the past month, as Ohio State is reporting that former Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Bill Sheridan has been hired to fill the open defensive coaching position with Coach Meyer’s staff.

Sheridan, a Detroit native who played linebacker at Grand Valley State University has coached at Maine, Cincinnati, West Point, Michigan State and Notre Dame prior to a stint at shudder Mich1gAAn, where he coached alongside current Wolverine head man Brady Hoke.

Once he wised up and left Ann Arbor, his next responsibilities were with the New York Giants franchise; he served as their linebackers coach and defensive coordinator prior to taking his current role with the Dolphins.

Buckeye fans are already thankful for Sheridan’s work, albeit unknowingly: His progeny was quarterback at TTUN during the first Rich Rod administration, and split time with Steven Threet.

Sheridan is known as a tenacious recruiter (a common thread for new Ohio State coaches), and it is expected that he will be coaching in the secondary although a formal announcement has yet to be made.

Welcome to the Buckeye Family, Coach Sheridan… we’re glad you’ve come to your senses.

B1G Has High Hopes For Urban Too

Written January 15th, 2012 by Chris

It’s amazing that the euphoria I have experienced is still going strong. When Urban Meyer was hired, it seemed like there was a tremendous burden lifted from the collective back of Buckeye Nation.

Glad To Be Here

There weren’t any more nagging doubts. There was no more fear of a football nuclear winter that was going to lay waste to the previous decade of success under Jim Tressel.

Finally the scarlet and gray ship, which had been battered for months by a hurricane of bad news, bad publicity, and bad play on the field had sailed back into calmer waters.  Sure the ship still has some flaws to fix from the relentless beating the vessel took, but there seems to be smooth sailing ahead.

I am often accused of being a Buckeye homer on the weekday sports talk show I host here in Toledo, and I usually agree that I am to a degree when assessing Ohio State. It had been very difficult for me to be objective about a program that I still had several friends and former superiors working at who were still fighting every day for their collective gridiron fate.

I often wonder what I am saying that has people accusing me of being something that I contend I am not anymore.  It all came to a head earlier this week when I was told it is because I don’t stop “gushing” about Urban Meyer and how great the move has been for my precious Buckeyes.

I touched upon this hire towards the end of the season during scUM week- this hire redefines B1G football in several different facets.

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Warinner and Hinton are (finally, officially) Buckeyes!

Written January 12th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Today, Ohio States’ full coaching staff was available for interviews, including the newest members of Coach Meyer’s staff, Ed Warinner and Tim Hinton.  These last two, most recently at Notre Dame, have been working with Buckeye recruiting over the past several days, but were only officially introduced and named today- they will also be a part of Coach Meyer’s introduction opportunity at halftime of the Hoosier Basketball game this Saturday.

Coach Hinton is a former Ohio State coach who’s career includes the following (from the press release):

Coach Hinton

Hinton’s 30 seasons of coaching experience includes 16 seasons in the collegiate ranks with positions at Ohio State, Wilmington, Ohio, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, and 14 years as a head coach at three Ohio high schools:  Zane Trace (1987-88); Van Wert (1989) and Harding (1993-2003).

“I have always felt it would be an honor to have an opportunity to coach for and to represent Ohio State,” Hinton said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to work with great people and great coaches at such a wonderful place.”

Coach Hinton will be working with the Tight Ends and Fullbacks- I’m sure Boren and Stoneburner are more than excited.

Coach Warinner doesn’t have previous Ohio connections, instead:

Coach Warinner

Warinner, who is 50, has coached at seven different schools: Akron, Michigan State, Army, Air Force, Kansas, Illinois and Notre Dame. In addition to his nine years in coordinator positions, he has spent 15 of the past 20 seasons coaching the offensive line. He has coached on teams that have won four national rushing titles, and earlier this season Rivals.com named Warinner one of the Top 20 “hottest assistant coaches” in the nation.

“I’ve always strived to coach in positions where I have a lot of responsibility,” Warinner said. “Serving as a coordinator goes beyond just coaching what my guys are doing. It is a thought process of attacking and moving the ball, and strategies and reading plays. There is a big picture as a coordinator that I am into and really enjoy, and it’s a position from where I think I can make a significant contribution to the success of a team.”

Coach Warinner will serve as co-offensive coordinator and work with the offensive line. Read More

Ohio State Gets Defensive; Formally Adds Withers and Vrabel to Staff

Written December 21st, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

In an announcement today that surprised no one, Urban Meyer has added former North Carolina interim head coach Everett Withers to the Buckeye Coaching Staff as Assistant Head Coach and Co-Defensive Coordinator (with Luke Fickell).

Welcome to Buckeye Nation!

Withers, who inherited the TarHeels after the tumult from this summer, has a legacy as a defensive backs guru, having coached the position at the college and professional level. From the press release-

Withers spent one year as defensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota prior to his North Carolina position. He also has been an assistant coach at the University of Texas (1998-2000; defensive backs), Louisville (1995-97; defensive coordinator/assistant head coach/defensive backs), Southern Mississippi (1992-93; defensive backs/assistant special teams), Tulane (1991; outside linebackers) and Austin Peay (1988-90; defensive coordinator/defensive backs; tight ends/special teams).

His first unit (at UNC in 2008) – ranked eighth in the country with 20 interceptions, a number that was just one off the UNC single season record.His 2009 defense was among the nation’s elite, ranking sixth in total defense, 10th against the run, 13th in scoring and 14th in pass defense. His 2010 unit ranked fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 30th nationally. Five players off that unit were taken in the NFL draft, including first-round pick Robert Quinn. And this past year the Tar Heels ranked 14th against the run.

As you can probably guess, he’s stoked:

I am excited, and I couldn’t be more excited to be on coach Urban Meyer’s staff at The Ohio State University. Ohio State is obviously one of the storied programs in college athletics. Having an opportunity to work at that university, and as part of Coach Meyer’s staff, is something that you just can’t pass up.

Additionally, after much speculation, it was announced today that coach Mike Vrabel will be retained as a part of the staff. Read More

Like A Runaway Cattle Stampede

Written December 11th, 2010 by MaliBuckeye

I have a lot of respect for the University of Texas. Solid program, great fans, and three classic games with the Buckeyes over the last half decade or so.

When Ohio athletes like Jordan Hicks choose to go to Austin instead of Texas, I understand and wish them well, even if begrudgingly so.

Wonder how she's doing now?

That being said- What a year for Longhorn faithful. They go from being in a punchers duel with Alabama for the national title to having their All American quarterback injured and their hopes dashed.

Over the summer, rumors swirl about a move into the Big or Pac Tens as a part of the national realignment madness that swept the nation. They end up with a sweetheart deal- rumors of their own television contract and a conference filled with members who have completely acquiesced to their every demand.

Fall arrives, and they kick off a season that sees them go from playing in the National Championship Game to not even being bowl eligible; including 5 losses at home in front of the burnt orange faithful.

And today, their “head coach in waiting” and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has accepted the position as the new head coach at the University of Florida. Rumors have Major Applewhite leaving Austin to be Muschamp’s offensive coordinator- he excels, though, at recruiting, which may impact the Buckeyes as well. Read More