Friday Skull Session

By poguemahone on December 17, 2010 at 6:00a

 Michigan State fans: not too bright.  Well, not these ones, anyway. It appears that some Spartan fans are angry about getting "snubbed" by the BCS despite having been the team that "convincingly" beat one-loss Wisconsin. To channel their anger, they have erected billboards throughout the state of Michigan like the one pictured to the right. In their mind, it should be the Michigan State Spartans headed to the Rose Bowl, and not the streaking Badgers who beat everyone else in the Big Ten like a red-headed stepchild, including our beloved Buckeyes. But never mind the fact that Wisconsin trucked the Big Ten's entire upper tier while Michigan State lost to Iowa by approximately a million points, Spartan fans just don't understand the rules:

Ultimately, the tiebreaker that determined the Big Ten's Rose Bowl participant came down to the BCS final standings. Wisconsin was ranked the highest followed by Ohio State and then Michigan State.

Ohio State received a Sugar Bowl invitation while Michigan State ended up without a BCS bid and will be going to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando to play Alabama on New Year's Day.

So, in other words, the selection followed a long-agreed-upon-and-adhered-to process in which the Big Ten utilized BCS standings to determine the Rose-Bowl bound champion at the end of a season with multiple one-loss squads. Wisconsin had a clear advantage in the BCS standings over Sparty, and beat the Buckeyes head-to-head, so it's a moot point. If there's anything to be remotely angry over, it's that Ohio State got selected to play in the Sugar Bowl before they did. But even then, it's hard to blame the Sugar Bowl Selection Committee for wanting to take the Buckeyes over the Spartans, if only because Buckeye football is a proven commodity with a mobile fanbase and a guaranteed ratings draw. 

Sparty has one more chance to prove everyone wrong, I suppose, in the Capital One Bowl, but isn't Alabama basically a more talented Iowa? 

Jim Tressel: (Master?) Motivator. Most of you out there will likely remember stories of the "Hater Tape" prior to the 2007 MNC game against LSU. Basically, Tressel and rest of the coaches put together an extended clip of all the Buckeye haters in the world - Mark May chief among them - refusing to give the Buckeyes a chance against the Tigers. It got the team fired up and angry, but perhaps they were a little too angry; the result was an unfocused, penalty-prone, mistake-filled night by a Buckeye team that roared out of the gates and whimpered heading home with its ninth loss to an SEC team in nine postseason games. Well, JT is at it again

Tressel produced a fan's e-mail the other day that said Ohio State couldn't compete with and didn’t belong on the same field with an SEC team. That’s timely since the Buckeyes take on Arkansas of the SEC in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.

It's far more subtle than the "Hater Tape" he compiled prior to the LSU game, and hopefully it will have a more subtle effect (i.e., no incredibly stupid personal fouls, roughing the punter, etc.). Pre-game hype is mostly mixed, as Arkansas isn't quite on the level of the talented Florida and LSU squads that rolled Ohio State in years prior, so I imagine Tressel has a very limited pool of hate to draw from. That's probably for the best; I'd rather the team not enter the game feeling like they have the weight of the program on their shoulders. I want them to have fun and end the streak.

More on that other team up north (TOTUN).  It's looking like the Buckeyes' stiffest competition from the rest of the Big Ten this year will come from Mark Dantonio's Michigan State Spartans, who are using a solid year to bolster a recruiting effort that, up until this year, has been more average than not relative to the rest of the Big Ten. The Spartans are definitely in contention for St. Vincent-St. Mary cornerback Doran Grant, whose father played in East Lansing years ago, as well as OL Aundrey Walker, a Glenville kid who you'd think would therefore be an insta-Buckeye. Unfortunately, that's not so: Walker has the Spartans at #1 on his list right now. Jim Tressel and Co. have done a bang-up job in recruiting this season, but would probably like to keep the fence they've built around Ohio's elite talent properly mended after losing Trey DePriest to Alabama and Jordan Hicks to Texas over the past two seasons. Landing one of these guys would do a lot to assuage fears over the durability of said fence.

"I can't keep up on the annoying message board memes: do we struggle more against spread teams or pro-style teams these days?" Perhaps stating the obvious, The Dispatch's Ken Gordon writes that Arkansas' offense is a vastly different beast from the spread teams the Buckeyes have faced in each of the past two bowl games:

Arkansas has an offense in the classic sense, with the towering Mallett preferring to stay in the pocket and launch to a fleet of talented receivers. The Razorbacks also have the country's best tight end, John Mackey award-winner D.J. Williams, and 1,000-yard running back Knile Davis.

"Sometimes they have a fullback in there, sometimes they have two tight ends in there, three tight ends," Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan said. "So it really is kind of a smash-mouth game they can play at times.

Depending on which media/message board meme you buy into, this either screams "DEAAAAATH!" or instills confidence that the Buckeyes can stop the 'Hogs. Arkansas does not run, as popularly believed, an air raid-esque offense; they like to run the ball and in fact prefer to have it as a consistent option so that they don't become as one-dimensional as, say, Texas Tech or Hawaii. Bobby Petrino was a coach in the NFL, which prizes balanced offense above all else,   for a reason, regardless of how briefly he was willing to hold onto the job. This article raises a good point though: arguably the most  intriguing parallel between the Sugar Bowl and the last two Buckeyes bowl games is that in each game, the Buckeye D has been tasked with stopping a top-10 offense with a veteran signal-caller at the helm. They mostly succeeded, holding both Texas and Oregon to some of their lowest point and yardage totals on the season. Doing the same to Arkansas would mean holding them under 20 points and 420 yards of offense for the first time all season. 


Comments Show All Comments

iball's picture

There's one fool proof solution to Sparty's troubles : WIN. That doesn't mean a couple 9 win seasons and a close game in the Alamo bowl. That means win the conference and win your bowl game. I feel the Cap 1 bowl could be the biggest game for Sparty in my lifetime. They are at a point where they could surpass scUM as the premiere S.U.N. Bama is still considered one of the best teams in the country and a win for the Green could go a long way. My only question to their program would be if there would be another school coach D would leave for?

I feel we have the talent to slow down the Hog O. But re-watching a few recent games, it seems at times we fail to use any shifts. It wasn't until Williams/Heyward began to run stunts did we finally stop Iowa. Confusing Mallet is something that has been done before. If he has one weakness, it's bad reads. We must take advantage.

A big key is finding a linebacker who can cover DJ Williams. If he is allowed to take our safeties out of the play that could mean deep one on one coverages for our CB's. Something we seem to struggle with. Chekwa struggles with keeping recievers in front. His speed is great, but his break times are often late.

Also, again, our safeties will be huge. The Hogs will stretch the field, opening huge running lanes. I hope OJ and Hines are putting in overtime on the film watch.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

tomcollins's picture

I live in Texas and still have to hear from the same idiotic argument that "Texas beat OU!  They should have gone over them in 2008!".  That was even a 3-way tie, unlike our situation where Michigan State was 1-0 against the teams they were tied with.

nickma71's picture

So how do you decide the Big 12 3 way tie? On the surface, Texas. They were the best. If you try and break it down, I see Texas lost a game on the last play. OU lost more convincingly by 10 I think it was, and Texas Tech lost by 40. And frankly, it doesn't even matter to whom. You don't get to lose by 40 and be in the discussion about the best. Sorry Sparty, that is what happens when you decide to skip a week.

tomcollins's picture

It's a tough scenario.  Let's say it's obvious Tech is the worst team of the 3 since I think that is univerally agreed.

Is it better to lose to a worse team close and beat a better team (not as close), or is it better to beat the worse team by 40, and lose to the better team by 10.  Losing to a worse team should be just as damning as beating a better team is convincing.

Buckeye Black's picture

I think Sparty will show up for the game.  I remember a couple years back when Sparty was playing shorthanded against a talented UGA squad, and gave them all they wanted.  I don't know if they'll win, but they will put up a fight.

btalbert25's picture

I'll take a beating for saying this I'm sure, but I would've much rather had Michigan State go to the Sugar Bowl.  It's not that I fear Arkansas, because I don't, but I wanted Bama in the bowl game.  I know they have 3 losses but people still believe they are better than the team we are playing. 

Denster's picture

Who gives a shit about what people "believe". Winning the bowl game is all that matters. People will hate regardless. To Hell with them.

"It's a double-barreled pistol that fires hard work and victory..."

btalbert25's picture

Well, I guess my thought is, if it ain't the big game who cares what bowl you get to.  I know BCS bowls bring more money to the conference and all, but when teams like UConn get to go a BCS bowl, I'd have to say it's really not that much more of an honor to play in the Sugar Bowl than it is the Cap 1 bowl.

tomcollins's picture

Arkansas probably is an inferior team but not by a huge margin.  Not enough to justify the difference between BCS and non-BCS.

OHIOinME's picture

What, you think Arkansas isn't a good team?

iball's picture

He's saying Arkansas is inferior to Bama.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

RedQueenRace's picture

Well, 'Bama did beat them at Arkansas.  The Tide lost two of their games by 4 points combined and in all 3 losses their opponents had a bye week prior to the game.   In the first (and worst) loss they were also away and wearing the #1 bullseye.

buckeyedude's picture

Did you hear about the Arkansian who passed away and left his entire estate in trust for his beloved widow?

She can't touch it till she's fourteen.


Did you hear that the Governors mansion in Arkansas burned down?
Almost took out the whole trailer park.


What do they call "Hee Haw" in Arkansas?
A documentary



Matt's picture

The scuttlebutt I've heard is that the OSU staff has cooled on Audrey Walker and was looking out of state for big time prospects.  Apparently his grades are questionable and the staff is concerned about the accompanying eligibility risk (perhaps feeling a bit burnt by Marcus Hall).  The staff is definitely still very high on Grant and it would be a blow to lose him to Sparty.

btalbert25's picture

Better to weed him out now than give him a scholly and not have him able to play I guess.  The last couple of years, grades have been quite a problem for this team.

Kasino Royale's picture

The last couple of years, grades have been quite a problem for this team.

Just think back to Cooper. You'll feel a lot better.

btalbert25's picture

I'm just saying important pieces like Hall and Carter have been lost because grades.  Does no good to waste a scholarship on a guy who can't make the field.

RedQueenRace's picture

I live in Florida so I don't get to see these kids, except for the rare nationally televised game like the Glenville/Dwyer game.

Everything I have read/heard about him says he does not dominate like a guy his size should.  He didn't stand out in the Dwyer game so I do not understand the level of concern about getting him that I see in many places, other than maintaining the Glenville pipeline.

btalbert25's picture

And even at that, how many kids from Glenville did Tressel miss on and it has come back to bite him?  Seems like the ones who don't come to Ohio State/as well as some who have, weren't really worth having them around anyway.  I'm certainly not missing LaTwaan.  I'm sure there are a few exceptions that I'm overlooking, but mostly seems like we aren't missing out on much with Glenville kids who opt to go elsewhere.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

In recent days, I've seen favorable comparisons between Ark's and Wisc's OLs. I'll believe it when I see it. Wisc's OL is not just massive, but very skilled - maybe one of the top 10 or so OLs I've seen in my years watching CFB.

Ohio State needs a big performance out of the DL in the Sugar Bowl. If they get it, the Buckeyes should be just fine.  


iball's picture

yea, I'm kinda thinkin' Wisco has THE best line in the country, by FAR. Carimi and Oglesby will be staples in the NFL for years.

Now I can see how Wisco could easily take TCU to the woodshed, Big Ten style.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

blazers34's picture

I agree.  I think Wisconson is going to HOUSE TCU

RedQueenRace's picture

I hope they do but I think it is going to be a much tougher contest than many here seem to think.

buckeyedude's picture

Wisconsin's D-line is pretty good too. That got that JJ Watt dude.



AK's picture

I can't recall for sure, but didn't Dantonio/MSU vote against changing the tie breaker to the BCS standings (likely b/c he could foresee getting screwed since MSU will rarely start the season in the top ten of the polls).  If so, I wouldn't call the process "long-agreed-upon-and-adhered-to".

iball's picture

LOL, so true.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

tomcollins's picture

I see this argument that it's so important where you start the polls.  But then again, where were Oregon and Auburn when the season started?

Part of it is teams get ranked high pre-season because they actually are really good.  So it's really hard to pass them since they tend to win and tend to be better teams.  It's a huge myth that you need to start the season high to finish high.  Oregon and Auburn passed a ton of undefeated teams on their way to the top. 

BacknBlack's picture

MSU just watched it's last chance to win a B10 title slip away. Now they have to beat out Iowa and Huskers just to play for a shot at the title. If you don't want to be treated like the second best program in the state quit acting like it, billboards? Like to hear Coach D's take on this.

Bucksfan's picture

Sparty is just unlucky this time around.  Having 3 teams tie for the conference title at 11-1 is frickin' rare.  Still, playing a game against TCU is worthless, Rose Bowl or not.  Yeah if you want to go see the awesome parade and the sights and sounds of the American jewel that is Pasadena, the Rose Bowl is second to none in terms of bowl excursions.  But, in terms of a better GAME, you should want to play teams that are considered tops...and Alabama is the biggest brand in college football right now.  So, suck it up, have the best matchup of the 3!

On a side note...if this was 2011, an 11-1 Michigan State would have had to re-prove it was better than an 11-1 Wisconsin in Indianapolis.  They would be HUGE dogs in that game.  The era of shared titles is officially over...Sparty should just be glad they got a trophy.

tomcollins's picture

MSU is lucky they didn't have to play Ohio State and get exposed for being the fraud that they are.  Or that Indiana dropped a TD pass to win against them.  Or that Northwestern choked away a 21 point lead on them.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I think Iowa was the fortunate beneficiary of the Indy WR dropping a would-have-been game-winning TD pass.  

tomcollins's picture

There was some other game that Sparty either had a miracle comeback or an epic choke by someone, just can't remember it.

RedQueenRace's picture

Purdue.  They weren't overly impressive against PSU either.

iball's picture

Oregon will get exposed, again.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

DotThei's picture

If anyone should be griping it's Wisconsin, which more or less threw away a shot at a national championship by playing an off game against these Spartan chumps. (Yes, I know, the Badgers would probably be left out).

Anyone who saw MSU at Iowa knows this team is smoke and mirrors and in for a beating by Bama. Besides a couple of Coach Bielema's Beatdowns, Iowa's win over Wisconsin ranked among the most lopsided game of the Big Ten season. And Iowa, frankly, isn't that great. Good? Sure. Great? Don't think so.

Finally, maybe I was dreaming or something, but I'm pretty sure that MSU needed a trick play to beat Notre Dame and Northwestern. These guys were a whicker away from 9-3 (or 8-4 if they played the Buckeyes), which is where their ranking ought to be. 


tomcollins's picture

You think Wisconsin would have jumped Oregon?

It really would have been a good argument.  I think if Ohio State won out, they would have probably won out over Oregon for getting in, but with the computers, it would have been close.  Wisconsin, might be a slight edge Oregon.

DotThei's picture

I do not. I think the undefeated Badgers would be playing undefeated TCU in the Rose Bowl, and if Wisconsin won it we'd likely have a split championship and more clamoring for plus one. Too bad it didn't happen, in my opinion.


Run_Fido_Run's picture

Off topic: Rittenburg on espn reported that Delany is warming up to the possibility that they might have to back away from Legends and Leaders and go back to the drawing board. With that in mind, I've been brainstorming . . .

If they're wedded to the concept of doing generic, aspirational-type division names (like Legends and Leaders), I'd suggest something more like Flight and Discovery. These latter examples wouldn't be as "arrogant," as they suggest future striving toward things, not so much patting oneself on the back for past accomplishments (unlike Legends, especially, and even Leaders tend to do), while still connecting to the region's historic importance in aeronautics, industry, inventions, etc.

Or, much better yet, they could have some fun with the old confusion about why Ohio, Indiana, etc. would be considered part of the "midwest." Simply call the Ohio State division the Midwest Division and the other one the Central Division. These names would be deliberate geographical misnomers, but in a hip, fun way: the Midwest teams would mostly be east of the Central teams, which would not really be central compared to the rest of the league, etc.      

DotThei's picture

Boy, I hope so. I've spent almost 20 years in marketing and while I see the tie-in to B10 programming the name make no sense as it fails at the most basic level: keep it simple. Ask yourself this? If you're not a Big Ten fan but interested in this new, improved conference, how the world are you going to remember who is in which division? You can't. Heck, longtime B10 fans might have a rough go. Which is why geography does make sense and why every other conference leans on it to make their splits.

I was for East and West in the beginning and these divisions: East--Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, MSU, Indiana and Purdue. West--Northwestern, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. Well, okay, that went out the window (a big mistake IMO, because they've seriously hurt the OSU v Michigan game). But they still have a shot to just make it North and South, with Wisconsin being a kind of northern anomaly that only a conference with 12 teams yet is named Big Ten could love.

Your idea is pretty good, too. Midwest and Central. Or Midwest and Plains. Perhaps use the lakes in some way.

The only non-geo names I kind of like are Black and Blue. Simple and you can use it to tie-in an improved logo, and I have little doubt the players/kids would get a kick out of it. I'd use reversible Black and Blue logo patches that each team should have on its jersey until everyone knows who is who.


Nappy's picture

I prefer "Pimps" and "Hoes". Ill let you guys decide which division *ich should be in

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

buckeyedude's picture

I've always like Great Plains and Great Lakes("Great" optional)from the first time I heard someone suggest it.

Beyond that, go with Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon Divisions.



RBuck's picture

Tress speaks on firing assistants...He's not listening.

Long live the southend.

Poe McKnoe's picture

That doesn't mean I have to start liking Jim Bollman.  I don't play for him or coach with him though.  I'd argue that our offensive line and offense has lost us some big games.  And I'm guessing West Virginia didn't come calling on DC Snyder because of his success in the 2004 season.

poguemahone's picture

He basically is saying that he will not fire an assistant because of external pressure, period. He'll put his own job on the line for that principle.

Well, as I've long assumed, it will be his stubbornness that will prove to be his undoing here at Ohio State. That makes me sad.

Bucksfan's picture

Concerning firing of assistants, does it really matter if Bollman goes in place of someone new?  I'm reminded of Norm Chow.  Chow was labeled an offensive genius while he was at USC, locking up 2 straight national titles before he left for the Titans.  While the OC for the Titans, they seadily improved into a wild-card team...k, fine.  But look at his tenure at UCLA so far...4 wins in 2008, 7-6 in 2007, back down to 4 wins this year including an early season 35-0 shutout by Stanford at home.  Same city, same pool of talent, completely different results from before.  I know it's just one example, but maybe it's relevant.

So, I am just a little unsure what a new offensive coordinator would guarantee.  Maybe the only thing it guarantees is uncertainty.  Tress likes consistency...if he were any more uniform he'd be Rainman.

JakeBuckeye's picture

We may be polar opposites concerning Terrelle Pryor, but you and I couldn't agree more on this. Even if Bollman was shown the door or left, the changes would either be trivial or unnoticeable.

tomcollins's picture

The offensive line might learn to block, though.