Alex Anzalone Decommits- Quick Thoughts

Written May 4th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

“May you live in interesting times”- Ancient Curse

With news today that PA linebacker Alex Anzalone has both decommitted from Ohio State and is no longer considering the Buckeyes, it has certainly been an interesting week for Ohio State Football recruiting.

First, Lewis Neal acknowledged that his jumping on the Buckeye Bandwagon and that he needed to slow down and assess his future before making a solid commitment.

Anzalone’s change of heart was the second of the week, but could easily be seen as the third; since Buckeye “lock” Mike Heuerman decided instead to head to Notre Dame.

Interspersed in all of this was the story of Charles Waugh, a registered Kentucky sex offender who interacted with a number of Ohio State recruits on twitter and facebook; and even met up with several (Anzalone and Heuerman included) at the Spring Game.  For the most in-depth coverage of this, please see the work that Luke Zimmerman did over at Land-Grant Holy Land.

So, here are some things that are currently rattling around the ol’ brainbucket here at Mali Manor:

  1. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that these are NOT all connected. Heuerman chose Notre Dame because of their history of using the Tight End and the fact that he wouldn’t have to compete against his brother. Neal has not decided where he will be in the fall, but his getting interest from SEC schools had to open his eyes a bit to the totality of his options. Anzalone and the Waugh situation are, in my opinion, connected; I’ll get to that more in a bit.
  2. Is Bosa Next?” is the current level on the tOSU freak-out-o-meter. Who knows, given his being contacted by Waugh… but you’ve got to think that his deeper Ohio State ties will give him a different perspective.
  3. As a part of a fanbase that takes slights (real and imagined) very personally and is advocating for ledge-jumping to be an Olympic Sport (think of all of the NCAA Directors’ Cups we could win!), it’s important to remember that it’s only May. The recruiting process has significantly accelerated, but signing day has not moved up at all.  Friday Night Lights is coming this summer (huge recruiting benefit for Ohio State), and the football staff are relentless evaluators and recruiters.  Things will be fine… and they don’t give out crystal footballs in May anyway.
  4. That being said, Lewis Neal may actually be on to something. With the influence of media (social and otherwise) as well as the economics of college sports, there is more and more and more pressure to make commitments and decisions; both from the programs AND from those of us who get excited looking at stars and rankings and numbers in the recruiting game.  Perhaps slowing the whole thing down to make a wise decision, for everyone involved, is not a horrible idea.
  5. I don’t blame Alex Anzalone, and support whatever decision he ends up making. If indeed this is due to the situation with Waugh, I honestly can’t blame he and his parents for being freaked out enough to make a change- you want your young adults to be safe when they choose an institution. Sure, it’s not fair to judge the University by the people who choose to unofficially affiliate with it, but that is the way that these types of things happen- and we fans do the exact same thing to other programs as well.  My hope, though, is that at some point the Alex and the Anzalone family will at least take the time to listen again to the OSU coaching staff and make a decision that’s less informed by this situation (again, if true).
  6. I asked this last night on twitter (savor the irony): What level of contact should fans have with athletes and recruits?  Particularly given how accessible athletes and recruits are, and how many enjoy the contact and attention (who wouldn’t) that their “celebrity” brings (again we create and reinforce this), there should be a lot more questions asked and boundaries created than is often the case. And, for those of us who “work” on the interwebs; should there be a different level of contact?  Oh, and I know that there are “professionals” who do this for a living… the rest of us, for the most part, are fans first and foremost.
  7. With that in mind, I thought I’d add this: The Buckeye Battlecry is not a site where you’re going to find the latest interviews or insight directly from student athletes or recruits. There are two reasons for this- A) There are other people who do this for a living and do it well and B) It’s just not something we’ve figured out how to do without the possibility of getting involved in something odd.  Again, your humble correspondents are fans first- we never want to do something that will harm the program, the young adult, or the other folks we write with.  This may change at some point, but not until we’ve thought it through really really well.

To be clear- this isn’t a comment on other sites’ decisions; several of the BBN do great work connecting with young adults. Rather, it’s more commentary that we haven’t figured out how to have these types of conversations as carefully as we’d like to, in spite of numerous conversations with the Ohio State Athletic Department.

“Ask before you act” is a great motto to have in this matter, and we’d rather be behind the news than make a huge mistake.

Oh, and believe it or not… It’s a GREAT day to be a Buckeye.

Nothing Says Loyal Like Silver Bullet Points

Written May 2nd, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Ah, the joys of a new server to bring you the midweek morass that is SBP. Thanks to everyone’s patience as we had a bit of a sabbatical earlier this week to upgrade the hamsters in the wheel.

Circle of Life

Buckeye 411

Before we get into the usual links and fun-making, I wanted to talk a bit about fan expectations.

Over the past few days, Buckeye Nation has seen both sides of the loyalty of young adults, and hopefully our amazingly rabid fan base can gain a bit of perspective.

First, we watched in shock as Ohio State Senior (and tBBC favorite) Michael Brewster went undrafted in the NFL selection process.  Even more shocking was that several centers from inferior programs did not suffer the same fate- Western Oregon? Michigan? C’mon…

While there are surely lots of reasons that this happened, including, as our friend Jeremy Birmingham pointed out, really REALLY poor coaching during his college career, it’s difficult to pinpoint one specific instance that led to Michael falling from a first rounder as a junior to an afterthought as a senior.  It could be some of the season’s struggles- Michigan State and Florida both indicated that they could get a jump on their rush due to his rhythm (Might also explain Shugarts’ issues); at times his shotgun was a bit off target as well.  It could have also been the “post-season”; reports that he had some challenges at the senior events, rumors of a rift that led to a last minute change of agent.  Or, like many members of last year’s team, perhaps all of the off field drama and change caught up with him all at once.

But for Buckeye fans, our feelings of empathy and sympathy for Mr. Brewster were also tempered with another realization- this happened, in part, because he is a Buckeye.  No, I’m not insinuating that the NFL is intentionally snubbing Ohio State players- the data proves that to be less than accurate.  Instead, I believe the Michael cost himself lots of money because his loyalty to the program and to the coaches wouldn’t let him cut and run in the middle of the chaos.

Granted, we don’t know what went on behind the scenes other than this- of the members of the “Block O/Brew Crew”, Michael was the highest profile recruit and player to not find himself in the papers on a regular basis for off field issues, particularly during the past 13 months.  To the contrary, as his friends and teammates (some of whom he helped bring to Columbus) continued to make decisions that led to last season’s issues and were over and over again sanctioned in ways that hurt the team, Brew was the anchor that sought to keep things together. During a time when it would have been easy to jump to the next stage in his career- first round projections, programmatic instability, loss of friends and coaches, Michael chose to stay in the Scarlet and Gray.

And that decision, in part, cost him on draft day 2012.

Let me be clear- Michael Brewster doesn’t need me to be an apologist for him.  He’s landed with his home-town team (although Kansas City would have been nice for family reasons), and is bringing the positive attitude and hard work mentality to his current situation in the same fashion that he showed in Columbus.  Tuesday’s Dispatch has a great article on where he’s currently at, including this great quote-

Just more people that I get to prove wrong. I think it’s an exciting challenge.

But you’ve got to wonder- if you took off your Ohio State glasses for a minute, and imagined that he was your son or grandson or family friend; If you knew in January 2011 how the season would end up for the Buckeyes, what would you tell him to do? Would you ask him to be loyal to his alma mater, or pursue his dreams in “The League” even if that made Ohio State weaker in a key position?

You’d hopefully choose the career option in your advice- particularly if you had the wisdom of hindsight. And yet, as fans, we often want young adults to think not of their own needs and dreams, but to have the same needs and dreams that we do- to be enthralled with Carmen Ohio no matter the cost.

And that brings us to Lewis Neal. Read More

Lewis Neal Is A Buckeye!!

Written April 23rd, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Making Fans Already

And the good news keeps rolling, as North Carolina’s Lewis Neal becomes the lucky thirteenth member of the OSU class of 2013.

The 6’3″ Neal is projected as a defensive lineman, and plays weakside end at James Hunt HS in Wilson North Carolina.  He visited the ‘Shoe on Saturday for the spring game, which gave us what could easily be the most awesome recruiting photo ever, seen on the right.

Neal’s offer list is a strong one, particularly given that he is rated as a three star by most of the major recruiting sites. He held offers from Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and Purdue.

After the jump, you can get a better look at his film- great first reaction and tenacity, although the technique is a bit raw (who’s wasn’t in high school?). From what we hear, he’s just now coming into his own in terms of his abilities, and is a hard worker both on and off the field.

It will be interesting to see if Ohio State keeps him on the line or bumps him back to linebacker- our recruiting team seems to think that this commitment more than makes up for Courtney Love’s decision to head to Nebraska over the weekend.

Read More

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