I’m still basking in the glow of 12-0. And more importantly, I continue to cherish the win over Michigan and think about it every day. I didn’t realize how much the 2011 game impacted me until this week. To see them lose to TTUN after everything that happened to them in 2011, while playing maybe their best game of the season, was truly heartbreaking. But that memory can be suppressed, the undefeated Buckeyes have made it so. It’s Wednesday, let’s get ready to rumble!
Braxton and the Heisman
I was absolutely shocked when the Heisman trophy finalists were announced on Monday evening and Braxton Miller wasn’t amongst them. I realize he had “average” games against Wisconsin and Michigan to close the season, but his team did finish 12-0 and he put up some pretty gaudy numbers in leading them to that mark. I didn’t in any way expect him to win it, but in a year with no clear favorite how does the highlight reel quarterback of the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes get left off the invite list?
Without further ado: The finalists are Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. I know what you want to know now: Who should win it and who would I vote for?
If you’re looking for consistency then it has to be Klein or Te’o. If it’s the “story” that you’re looking for, it would have to be Te’o or “Johnny Football” Manziel. If it’s the guy who meant the most to his team, it’s Te’o spearheading one of the nation’s best defenses through a tough schedule and leading it to Miami and the national championship game. If it’s the statistically best player in college football, Klein has thrown for 2500 yards and ran for 900 more while Manziel has accounted for 4600 total yards on the season.
Who would I vote for? If Collin Klein’s team had finished undefeated, he would likely have been my pic. However they didn’t, so he’s out. I’m not giving the Heisman Trophy to someone simply based on what conference they play in. So while “Johnny Football” has ridiculous numbers and a win at Alabama, he can win it next year if he does it again. That’s provided he can hold off Braxton Miller and the run he will get just from having the Ohio State name and exposure attached to him. So that leaves Manti Te’o of the three finalists, and yes, he’d get my vote. I realize he doesn’t lead the nation in statistics, but if he were not on the Notre Dame defense, would they be in Miami challenging for the crystal football? I think absolutely not. He’s not only the best player on the number one team in the country; he is their heart and soul.
The Heisman used to be about awarding the best player in college football, regardless or conference, stats, position etc. A vote for Te’o is a throwback and I’d be “all in” for it. I’d have absolutely no problem checking the box to give the Heisman Trophy to Manti Te’o. Read More
Interesting Tuesday in college sports, to say the least. We’ll get to all the movers and shakers, but first a little traveling music.
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.
As you’re reading this, I’m somewhere above you making the phrase “flyover states” a reality, and heading back to the left coast. As such, this week’s review will be a bit shorter than previous ones, but know that I’ve only got one song on my mind as I write it
And now, we know the form of our destructor. Notre Dame has finished the season undefeated, and will play for the National Title, most likely against an SEC team of some semblance. Who knew that the Holy See was so closely connected with Tikal? We said early on that it would be an amazing accomplishment for the Irish to finish the year undefeated- and yet, here we are. Granted, they faced a down Southern Cal, a “choke-prone” Oklahoma, and struggled against Purdue and Pitt, but they stand atop the polls as our nation’s finest team. So, let the “Oh, I’ve totally been a Notre Dame fan forevah” crap begin- they’ve deserved it.
And, in an eerie way, they’re similar to a team that we just honored on Saturday in The ‘Shoe- unranked, under the radar, winning with great defense/limited mistakes/a lot of luck. The expectation is that they’ll get clown stomped in their bowl match up, but who’s to know? Any one, any where, any time… isn’t that what our flawed “single elimination Bowl Championship Series” has taught us?
One of the more controversial aspects of the Irish resurgence has been the Heisman candidacy of linebacker Manti Te’o, seen here getting really excited about seconds of sweet potato pie on Thursday. His statistics are pretty similar to Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, who may not win B1G first team honors, minus the fact that Notre Dame’s scheme has allowed Te’o to achieve seven interceptions this season.
From all that I’ve read, Te’o is an incredible human being and strong leader for his top ranked team; the Heisman trophy would not be dishonored by his name on it (unlike certain other Trojany folks we might mention). That being said, there’s still a lot of controversy on whether he should be a finalist for the award, and I can see arguments either way.
The fact of the matter is that, in addition to his play on the field, Te’o is benefiting from the National Broadcasting Corporation. By this, I’m not only referring to NBC’s deal to broadcast as many Notre Dame games are are possible, I’m also eluding to the Peacock’s impact on sports coverage as a whole. NBC, as you may know, has television rights to the Olympics, and has chosen to shape their telecasts of those events in a way that tries to reach the broadest audience possible. So, they’re less concerned with the actual results and scores and game achievements and more interested in establishing narratives and storylines for the “casual” fan to connect with and appreciate. As if being the world’s best was somehow not interesting enough.
This isn’t limited to NBC by any means, ESPN’s continual decision to push narrative over fact has significantly impacted their coverage of sports for the negative, as most Buckeye fans can relate to. However, NBC was, along with ABC’s “Wild World Of Sports”, one of the first to mainstream this philosophy- being great is not as intriguing as being great AND having a powerful “story”.
Which brings me back to Te’o: As you may know, he’s overcome some incredible tragedies in his life recently, including the loss of his grandmother and girlfriend just this season. These are horrible events, and it’s remarkable that he’s been able to perform at a championship level in the face of them; I’d probably be up to my ears in a bucket of Cracklin’ Oat Bran in a similar set of circumstances. But the question remains: Does “Solid numbers on a great team with a powerful personal narrative” override “Amazing numbers on a good team that totally relies on you“, particularly when the award has been acculturated to represent the “best” college football player in the nation (who’s most often an offensive skill player)?
I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Read More
Oh, college football… How I love you!!
Well, that happened.
While a lot of people were saying that Alabama was ripe for a loss against a Texas A&M team that’s been playing really well over the past few weeks, most of this felt like lip service. You know, the kind of things that ESPN makes one person say on the Gameday set in order to appear unbiased.
And then- “Johnny Football”.
There are a lot of reasons why Alabama lost- coming off of an emotional win on the road in Death Valley, LSU’s offense showed a lot of people the issues that the Tide have in their secondary, Saban’s fear of the high speed offense is based on his knowledge of his team’s weaknesses; but the fact of the matter is that the Aggies outplayed Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, in several key areas of the game.
The Crimson Tide defensive front was stifled, for the most part, by the aTm offensive tackles. Combined with concerns about a quarterback’s mobility, the Tide were not able to mount the type of disruptive pressure that they are so used to.
Alabama’s offense made key mistakes and turnovers, and seemed out of rhythm all night long. The three turnovers didn’t help, particularly when the Tide defense couldn’t get any of their own… and the mental errors were even more egregious. On the final interception, it seems to me that the receiver on the end of the line of scrimmage did a poor job getting depth in the end zone, making it easy for defenders to cover both him and the primary target. In addition, with Bama’s defense stiffening and forcing a punt, to have a member of their punt return/block team create a neutral zone infraction for an automatic first down is an aggressive penalty, but one that is terrible to have happen in that circumstance. Again, the intensity was there for the student in question, but the lack of focus eventually cost them a final chance at victory.
But we can’t miss the point here- this game was won by Johnny Manziel’s continual ability to make plays and put the Tide defense on their heels.
After the third week in a row with this type of performance (Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State), the redshirt freshman has lifted himself into Heisman candidacy- and for good reason. Given the lack of a clear “star” this year, given Matt Barkley’s struggles, the game this weekend was his “Flutie to Phelan” moment; outstanding performance in high profile opportunity. I’ll leave the debate to others, but will certainly enjoy watching the electricity that all of these candidates provide.
Even if he doesn’t win this year, you’ve got to think that next year’s Heisman race is going to be something spectacular- Braxton Miller, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Everett Gholston, Tahj Boyd, DeAnthony Thomas… and those are just the ones I’ve got off the top of my head.
(And since I’m on the topic, I think that Marquis Lee needs to be included in this year’s debate. But that’s just me).
Does this loss end the run of SEC titles in the final year of the BCS? Well, not exactly… more on this in a bit.
Like the annual haircut (whether needed or not), a new “look” makes a world of difference, no? Since all of the cool kids were getting new school clothes, we thought in only appropriate to join in on the blog couture arms race.
Big thanks to Chad of Digital:Construct, an OSU alum who was great to work with (even upgraded the old Etch-a-Sketch) throughout the process.
Now, news and notes from the intertubes:
REPORTER: You’ve lost 41 times playing other Ohio colleges.
COACH TRESSEL: You said that last year but you used 40.
REPORTER: Can you imagine what it would be like –
COACH TRESSEL: You asked the same question. You’ve got to get new material.
REPORTER: I need a better answer maybe.
COACH TRESSEL: What was my answer last time?
REPORTER: I don’t remember.
COACH TRESSEL: Then how do you know it wasn’t good? You weren’t pleased with it, but you don’t know what it was. Man!
No Clue At All: I know I’m a little late on this, but it’s been a busy week…
in various online fantasy football and baseball leagues. In all instances, he paid an entry fee and played for a chance to win prizes, which meets the NCAA definition of sports wagering.
Not only did the former head coach participate in wagering, he also purchased an online fantasy football business and oversaw its operations as part owner and managing partner. In 2008, the former volunteer coach, who was already employed by the university at the time, was hired by the former head coach to work in this business. The former volunteer coach acted as “commissioner” of the fantasy leagues, coordinating the competitions and monitoring the selection of players by those who paid entry fees to participate. In the spring of 2008, he traveled to Las Vegas to oversee a live “draft.”
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.
They could make a movie about Troy Smith’s journey at Ohio State. From an athlete who struggled to find a position on the team to a Heisman winning quarterback, the path Smith took was incredible, and there were many ups and downs along the way.
Troy’s transformation from an athlete into a quarterback was almost as drastic as his transformation from an immature college student into one of the best leaders to ever play at Ohio State.
Smith had a few run ins with trouble (including accepting illegal benefits that resulted in a two game suspension) but he learned from them and grew from them like only a true champion could. Read More
Let’s talk legacy, shall we? You think this year’s #9 has anything to live up to?
Not only is he at the university where his dad works, playing on the field where his dad won two Heisman Trophies (only one with two- suck it, Tebow!), when he looks at his number he sees 4+5. Yeah, those are some pretty big cleats to fill. Read More