If there’s one thing I have learned officiating two of DRIVEN’s events, it’s that the former Buckeyes involved are just as competitive now as they were when they played. A few are just recently removed from their playing days for the Scarlet and Gray and the others? Well, they all hail from the National Championship Buckeyes and a couple stole the show Friday night at Marysville High School
The night began with a dinner of fellowship with the former Buckeyes and their guests. Some of the players brought family with them and some just brought themselves. After the eating and hobnobbing finished, the emcee for the evening, Pastor Steve Rouch began a question and answer session with each player asking them all about where they went to high school and how they became a Buckeye;what it meant to be a Buckeye; what was their favorite memory, and why DRIVEN.
I know that is a very loaded title, but I feel it best suits my current thoughts.
I understand the Mark May’s and Desmond Howard’s of the world taking every chance they get to smear the Ohio State University and our transgressions- they have been waiting for this day for so long. We have been a top program for the last decade and America likes to see the giant fall.
If it was Michigan, Florida, Texas, Oregon, Auburn we would probably jump on that train as well; unless you are of the opinion those that live in glass houses don’t throw stones. Those are the haters that you brush off though, because they always do so out of spite and dislike and they never go away. It hurts sometimes to be the brunt of jokes, but get back to doing what we should be and everything will be fine.
What is hard to fathom is how we handle our own. How many ex-Buckeye players, media, or fans have you heard badmouth Coach Tressel and Terrelle Pryor, for example? Or what about “snitching” or calling for the heads of your own president to be turned over on a silver platter? I completely understand some constructive criticism, but comments like “fake buckeye”, “I hate so and so”, “This player should be kicked off the team”, etc. coming from our own fans hurt.
That’s right, only 16 days left.
That makes Mr. Krenzel excited.
The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer. Every Monday and Thursday, Jim will be announcing a new player. Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th. Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins. To view the previous entries in our Top 25, click here.
His unbelievable performances in the clutch made for some heart-attack inducing victories, but a win is a win, and Krenzel’s 24-3 record as a starter speaks for itself.
Krenzel was known as a “game manager,” meaning that he usually wasn’t going to win a game for you by himself, but he was always able to put the team in a position to win by moving the ball down the field when it mattered and avoiding costly turnovers.
Plays like “Holy Buckeye” and the 4th and 14 conversion in the first over time of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl show the when it was crunch time, Krenzel got the job done.
There was absolutely no doubt about who our honored guest would be for Day #16. The legendary season of 2002 was all we ever needed to see in order to make the name Craig Krenzel a household name throughout the glorious state of Ohio.
We could start a poll and try to select a play from the 2002 National Championship season that truly encompasses the magnificent year that Krenzel and the Buckeyes had….but no single play could ever do it justice. Yes, Holy Buckeye would win that poll, but there were at least 10 other plays that will still bring a tear to my eye.
As a matter of fact, there were so many ridiculous plays from that season, I actually had to break out my list of box scores from 2002 to see if I missed anything.
Two plays will always stand out in my mind as the best possible result for Buckeye fans. Let’s jump in the Way-Back Machine for this journey.
Play #1 – November 16th, 2002 - Ohio State is 11-0 heading into a showdown with Illinois. Traditionally, Illinois always gives us problems. Being the game before Michigan Week just made this game extra-extra-scary. Letdowns happen, as many Buckeye fans will attest.
The Illini have again shown us that they are for real, and they will not go away quietly. Their defense has been tenacious and Krenzel has had a hard time throwing the ball successfully. With 8 minutes to play in the game, Ohio State has a precarious 16-13 lead and a tough 3rd-down-and-9 situation at the Illinois 35.
Krenzel went into the shotgun formation and took the snap. He dropped back a few steps, got happy feet and retreated to the 45, where he was being surrounded. One defender came at him hard from his left, while another grabbed his right arm. They spun him around a full rotation and the Illinois crowd roared for the apparent sack.
But Krenzel didn’t go down. The spin move he was forced into actually freed him from his opponents’ grasp, and he stumbled a few feet as he ran towards the left side of the field. He regained his form and picked up speed as he approached the first down marker, and was hit at the 28. His momentum carried him over the 25 for a huge first down, as WR Chris Vance pumped his fist into the air near the end of the play.
Watch the play here – it’s the second play in this short highlight film;
Play #2 – November 9th, 2002 - Ohio State is at Purdue, and they’re in big trouble. On what would most likely be their final chance with the ball, the Buckeyes take possession at the Purdue 46-yard-line, trailing 6-3. Ohio State loses four yards on their first two plays. On 3rd-and-14, Krenzel escapes pressure and finds TE Ben Hartsock for a 13-yard gain at Purdue’s 37. Facing 4th-and-1 on the road, and more pressure than any team should ever experience, Jim Tressel did something NONE of us thought he would do. He sent in a pass play.
The sold-out crowd was erupting. The Boilermaker whistle was blowing loudly. Two full fan bases were facing heart attacks as the players approached the line of scrimmage.
The rest of the story is summed up in two words from the lips of Brent Musburger…..”Holy Buckeye”.
Watch the final two plays here and feel the excitement;
If you’re not getting tears in your eyes right now, you’re not human. Or you’re not a Buckeye fan.
Craig Krenzel had ice water in his veins every single week. He will never be listed among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time at Ohio State, but for 14 straight games, he never let us down. In the end, he earned his biggest title of all – Champion.
Here’s to you, Craig Krenzel.
16 days to go!
Brandon Schnittker wasn’t widely known outside of the diehard Buckeye circles. He was a great blocker and when you’re lined up in the same backfield as a freshman RB who has 1,300 yards on the season, you just KNOW you’re not getting the ball very much. So his stats are not going to dominate the world.
But one glorious day, he had an amazing catch that began the most important drive Ohio State may have ever known.
November 23rd, 2002. Ohio State is 12-0 and with only 8:40 to play in the season, the Buckeyes are trailing Michigan 9-7. Tensions are high because the Buckeyes have had a season filled with late victories pulled out of thin air….will this be the one time that we can’t will ourselves to the win column? Also, this was still in the days when we would ALWAYS seem to lose our National Championship hopes to that state up north.
Ohio State took over on their own 37-yard-line. With Mike Nugent as our kicker, we were looking to get inside the 25 of Michigan to win this game and get to the Fiesta Bowl.
On the first snap from center, QB Craig Krenzel stepped back and fired a pass to our top WR Michael Jenkins. But the pass never reached Jenkins’ sticky fingers. Schnittker, who had been running a pattern to try and draw coverage away from Jenkins and Chris Vance, found himself in the path of the ball. He snagged it and used his strong legs to power himself further up the field, into Michigan territory at their 43-yard-line.
The roar of the crowd as Schnittker rumbled upfield was intense, and the drive would not be in vain. Krenzel’s legs, a brilliant pass to He Who Shall Not Be Named, and a 3-yard scamper by Maurice Hall broke the goal line and Ohio State took a late lead 14-9. That lead held up and Ohio State went on to win the National Championship.
Thanks to Tom, here’s the video of the drive….
That’s my biggest memory of Schnittker. He intercepted a pass intended for his own teammate. And I love the guy for it.
43 days until kickoff!
I’ve gotta be honest, I am JUST NOW hearing about this….but apparently, there’s a little bit of drama and a whole lot of “what, I didn’t see anything” coming out of Ann Arbor, Michigan these days.
MotSaG has the story down in a nice summary, but here’s a quick lowdown;
WR Adrian Arrington was drinking and driving and apparently beat his girlfriend the night before UM played Penn State. 9/11 call from the girl is made public. Carr lets his WR play, presumably because the Blue are VERY thin at WR. During the week of Iowa, Carr decides that his player will stay on the team because he doesn’t necessarily believe the story. Against Iowa, the Blue are still thin at WR, and Arrington plays anyway.
NOW, the Blue have a very weak schedule, where being thin at WR isn’t as bad of a dilemma. Who wants to wager that Carr suspends Arrington now???
MotSag sums it up best when he compares it to Mack Brown at Texas. Brown suspended his players, knowing that it would hurt his team but send the right message about following the rules. Brown was rightfully praised for this decision, as he knew that consequences come with poor behavior at Texas. But Lllloyd looked the other way JUUUUUUST long enough to get through a tough schedule of PSU and Iowa.
I don’t know about you, but that’s fishy to me. Let’s hope karma bites Lllloyd in the ass over this one. Jim Tressel may have had his share of bad times from players, but he ALWAYS gave them the discipline right away. The two best players he has seen in his tenure had troubles. Clarett was suspended right away and never saw his uniform again, and he sat Troy Smith out for a bowl game, and it indirectly led to the Texas loss last year. Hell, the guy even suspended his STARTING QUARTERBACK for the freaking MICHIGAN game for something that happened more than a week before.
Carr, you’re going to get what you deserve over this. Karma doesn’t play kindly to people like you. I wouldn’t be surprised if it bit you in a way you never saw coming.
With all the hype over Ohio State’s quest for a National Championship in 2006, I spent some time today thinking about how it all relates to the 2002 season. And I’ve gotta tell you, there is very little comparison.
Sure, there’s the obvious similarities. But most of the time, we’ve gotta actually LOOK for the similarities. But you’ve really got to take a serious look back, and then you’ll understand that this year is NOTHING like ’02.
For example, we are actually EXPECTED to play for the title this year. Sure, there’s the naysayers and the pundits on ESPN who don’t give us much credit and desperately want to find moments of weakness. But in 2002, we were not at all expected to contend. As a matter of fact, we weren’t even ranked in the Top 10 at the start of the season. With each win, we did manage to creep up the charts, but it was more due to other teams losing and us climbing the rankings by default. By the time we knocked off Purdue, many voters had no choice but to put us in the Top 2, especially because that was the same day Oklahoma finally lost, leaving only 2 unbeatens.
This year, there was a target on our backs from the first minute of the first game. In ’02, nobody outside of Ohio thought we’d keep winning, and everybody just assumed that some team would trip us up and they wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.
Craig Krenzel wasn’t a Heisman front-runner. Maurice Clarett was just a freshman with no quality wins under his belt. Michael Jenkins’ luck would run out on the long TDs. Jim Tressel was in over his head, having gone 7-5 in his first season at Division 1.
They didn’t give us the credit. They paid the price for that.
But this year, it’s different. we EXPECT to be highlighted on ESPN at the top of the hour. Defenses are geared towards stopping Ginn, and they know the penalty if they let Gonzo go unnoticed. How many guys named Smith can get recognized WITHOUT using their first name? Ours can. Tressel’s got legendary status in the Big Ten now. They point towards Ohio State when they want to prove that “reload, not rebuild” is not just an empty slogan.
To summarize, we ain’t sneakin’ up on nobody this year.
So expect a season FULL of games like the Penn State contest. Hard-fought early on, and it’ll take a big play or two to pull away. Fortunately, we have a lineup FULL of guys who can make the big play. But outside of a home contest against BGSU and a visit to Illinois later on, there isn’t going to be an easy one the rest of the way.
I’m sure Tressel knows this. I’m sure Smith and Company know this. But it’s time we start realizing it as well.