The Buckeye basketball teams backs are against the wall. A big time football player is rumored to be contemplating sitting out a season to his protect draft status and financial future. It’s Wednesday night, let’s rumble!
Hoops getting interesting
As you’re reading this, or maybe after you read this or a little before you read this, the Buckeye basketball team will be on the court facing the Minnesota Golden Gophers at The Schottenstein Center. This is a huge week for the Buckeyes after being slapped in the face with a backhand in Wisconsin on Sunday to the tune of a 71-49 beat-down.
At 18-7 the Buckeyes see their backs against the wall but home turf on their side as they face a must win situation against the Gophers. This would set up a huge showdown/rematch, again at home, against Michigan State. Win both games and watch the swagger return to set up the final push before the tournaments begin. A split has to be what the Buckeyes consider a worst case scenario as losing both would be catastrophic.
Michigan State took on the Indiana Hoosiers last night in a #1 vs #4 matchup. In a tight game that was actually pretty exciting to watch, it was the Hoosiers holding on to win 72-68 and keep their #1 ranking at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. Sparty will now come to Columbus facing the possibility of a two game losing streak and certainly a little grumpy. Tom Izzo will have his team ready for what should be a war at 4pm on Sunday. (CBS tv) Read More
The offseason brings us another variation from the format of your midweek news and notes, as a couple of big stories have dominated the college sports landscape. That being said, it’s not like I’m going to deprive you of your Wednesday motivational tunes.
Lack Of Institutional Control
On Tuesday, the NCAA finally sent their Notice of Allegations to the Hurricanes, after a week that saw the folks from Indianapolis as the well focused center of national ridicule. We’d be wondering what was taking so long in this process, given that the NCAA had been “involved” in the investigation for over two years- turns out that the time in question had been spent violating the NCAA’s own principals and going against the advice of their legal counsel in their conversations with Nevin Shapiro.
In addition to paying the attorney who was questioning Shapiro as a part of his financial issues, the folks at the NCAA also provided him with a “burner” cell phone to contact them and financial resources to his prison account. Again, not the best idea for an organization who prides themselves on holding people accountable because the “should have known” what to do and dings them for not doing it.
The fallout was immediate- NCAA folks terminated or “resigned”, and folks calling for NCAA president Mark Emmert’s head, which, given the recent friends that he’s made across the nation, completely seems within reason.
The news of the “injustice” done by the NCAA to the fine folks in Miami ended up finding many fans in an interesting place- turning to Da’ U as their white knight in the fight against the evils of Emmert’s staff. Tuesday’s official response by University President Donna Shalala continued to create the dissonance- she is right that the NCAA has overstepped themselves extensively, but seems to forget that the University’s representatives were involved things that led them to receiving what many say is the “lack of institutional control” label in their Notice. Read More
There are two story lines to this match-up and it appears that we will see many bowl games between teams who have left a conference for another. The Cotton Bowl hit on a biggie here with the Aggies and Sooners. First, you have the first ever frosh to win the Heisman in Johnny Manziel trying to keep the streak alive of proving there’s no such thing as a Heisman curse. The winners are 4 and 6 in the last 10 games they played after receiving the award. After losing four straight, which included former Buckeye Troy Smith, they are on a three game winning streak. In 5 of the 7 games during the last two streaks were winners playing for a National Title, Mark Ingram and Cam Newton were the only two winners in those games.
Second, you have a game that everyone is calling a good rivalry out of what use to be an annual Big12 game. The Aggies and Sooners first played in 1903 which was hit or miss for several years and the Aggies won 3 of the first 4. They picked back up close to the end of WW2 and after the ’51 season went forty plus years before getting back on track in 1993. Since then, the Sooners have dominated the rivalry having won 12 of 18 and took over the series in the 2000′s winning every year save for 2002 and 2010. The Aggies moved to the SEC and have surprised everyone with the season they’ve had upsetting Alabama along the way, thus winning the Heisman for Johnny Football. Read More
The Heisman trophy has been awarded. The Buckeyes are gaining recruits. Buckeye basketball players are shooting hoops. It’s almost Christmas time. Let’s rumble!
On Saturday the Heisman trophy was awarded to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Why did people outside the SEC region vote for Manziel? Yes, he accumulated 4600 total yards on the season. Sure, he won at Alabama. So, let me get this straight: The requirements to be the “most outstanding player in college football” is to have the most yards and beat an SEC “super power”? Being a leader no longer matters. Neither does keeping your nose clean off the field. Leading a team with the hardest schedule in college football to an undefeated season and spearheading a defense that allows ten (10!) touchdowns for an entire season doesn’t matter either apparently.
I should be ecstatic. Apparently having the name Notre Dame attached to yours no longer guarantees trophy’s the way it has in the past. We all remember when Troy Smith won the Heisman in 2006 and being worried that Brady Quinn might edge him out simply because of the name Notre Dame. After Saturday’s Heisman vote, that is clearly a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it’s been replaced by another stigma or fallacy, and that is simply being associated with the mighty SEC. Why do I say that? Let’s be honest: If Manziel plays for Texas A&M of the Big 12 and has his “Heisman moment” Thanksgiving night against the Texas Longhorns, I don’t care how many yards Manziel accumulated, Manti Te’o would be the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. But because Manziel plays in the SEC and beat Alabama, well, that’s Herculean and should obviously be rewarded.
If you don’t believe me, look at the voting. The southern region of the country ie SEC-land voted overwhelmingly for Manziel. Not really that surprising. The shocker was the amount of folks in the Midwest and East that voted for Manziel. Some surely voted for “Johnny Football” because they dislike the Irish, while others I can guarantee voted for him “because he did what he did in the SEC”. And that’s rubbish.
Manziel was not “the most outstanding player in college football” in 2012, stats be damned. The Heisman has always been an accumulation of stats, team achievement, off the field success, highlight moments and their personal story. With the exception of stats, Manti Te’o trumps “Johnny Football” in every category. But he didn’t win it. He lost to the stigma of the SEC.
How far is this going to go and when is it going to end?
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
A bye week can make for a lazy Saturday. Maybe you finish up some yard work before the weather really changes for the worst or maybe one last trip to do your favorite outdoor activities. For me, fun during a bye week is seeing the defending national champion aka the unbeatable aka the mighty aka the lock for the national championship game again from the otherworldly Southeastern Conference fall (at home!) to a mediocre Big 12 team with a freshman quarterback. I also enjoy thinking about the inevitable whipping that the Buckeyes are going to put on Wisconsin and the ensuing painful look on Bert Bielema’s face.
Maybe nobody has actually said it but it has been pretty apparent that Wisconsin has become the secondary rival to our Ohio State Buckeyes. The Badgers fill the “next level” rival spot for Ohio State that Penn State wishes it could be. The players this week have been pointing to the 2010 game (when the Buckeyes were ambushed at Camp Randall and a perfect season was ruined) as the spark that ignited the rivalry, but I think it goes back a lot farther than that. Let’s go back in time…
In the 1999 meeting of the Bucks and Badgers, the Buckeyes delighted the home crowd to a mid-second quarter 17-0 lead. Things seemed to be in cruise control and a blowout eminent, especially with freshman quarterback Brooks Bollinger filling in for injured senior Scott Kavanaugh for Wisconsin. The outcome? 42-17… Badgers.
The Buckeyes got revenge a year later in 2000 winning 23-7 in Madison. It should be noted: This game was played with the lingering stigma of Wisconsin finally returning to full strength after having 26 players suspended for obtaining illegal benefits from a local shoe store earlier that summer. In other words, Wisconsin felt due to the suspension their season was a bust.
In 2001 back in The Shoe, the Buckeyes once again went up 17-0. They would again not hold the lead and lost 20-17 to another Brooks Bollinger lead Badger team.
This made tensions high heading into the 2002 meeting at Camp Randall. As we all remember, the Buckeyes were undefeated and in the midst of making a magical championship run. The Badgers were beginning to be a real thorn in the Buckeyes sides. Would they play the role so many Michigan teams played in the 90’s and spoil the championship dream?
A little added fuel to the fire to help a blossoming rivalry also helped inspire and drive the Buckeyes to remain undefeated. The accelerant came in the form of an autographed picture Brooks Bollinger had given to a friend that was likely never meant to see the light of day. He signed the photo “The Horeshoe. They built it. WE OWN IT.” The Buckeyes won 19-14 and went on to win the national championship. 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.