Good Monday, my brothers (and sisters) from another mother (and mister? It rhymes; let's let it ride.) Some of you are off for Martin Luther King Day (right on); the rest of us are going through the motions in a (somewhat) convincing fashion and hoping 5 or 6 o'clock comes faster than normal. Of course there was a little basketball contest against the Nittany Lions of Penn State origin Saturday night. Those that tuned in were privy not only to Ohio State's awesomely understated new duds (the backs of which were captured to perfection by national treasure Jim Davidson of O-Zone fame and glory. Click on the truncated, shrunk down image to the right to be taken to Jim's photo in all its glory. The backs are really a sight to be seen.) but also a grown-a man doing his thing in consecutive trips down the floor to ice the puppy. While the new Agent Zero assuredly won't have the sheer size advantage he held against PSU in every contest, it was none the less awesome to see him take charge and essentially impose his will down the stretch to preserve the W. Big ups, kid.
SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOT SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS (E'RYBODY) #1 with a bullet: That's where Ohio State figures to be after holding on late against a gritty Nittany Lions side. The 18-0 (5-0 in league play) Buckeyes are joined by Big XII leaders Kansas, Big East top-of-the-pack Syracuse, and MWC front runners San Diego State as the nation's loan remaining unbeaten sides. Certainly after the tough test administered Saturday evening, the probably completely out of touch with reality assumption that this Ohio State team even has a snowball's chance in hell at finishing the whole regular season unscathed has to be a feeling a bit more pollyannaish than maybe it did early in the week. That doesn't mean we can't enjoy the ride, however long we're privileged enough to have it last.
Fortune Favors The Bold While the Buckeyes hoopsters' schedule probably isn't doing them many favors at this point in the process, Ohio State is slowly but surely climbing the ranks of the RPI as they continue to survive and advance. The Buckeyes find themselves squarely in the sixth spot nationally, according to CBSSports.com's latest batch of projections, after this last week's two conference victories. The aforementioned other unbeatens all find themselves slotted higher as mildly curiously do one-loss Pittsburgh and Brigham Young as well. In all likelihood, Ohio State's 56th ranked schedule remains the weight keeping them from jumping the competition and slotting themselves higher in the mix with the rest of the group averaging mostly in the teens and twenties S.O.S.-wise. If Ohio State continues winning games, they likely won't need to worry in the least when Selection Sunday rolls around though maintaining sound footing on the possible one line could be all that stands between Ohio State and their first trip to the Final Four since Greg Oden was swatting game winning shot attempts as time expired. However, I'm a firm believer that you have to beat the best teams to get where you want anyways. "Bracket of death" be damned; the Buckeye's men's basketball team undoubtedly knows they'll have to get their hands dirty if they want to do something that puts them in the same rarefied air and in the same breath as the likes of Lucas and Havlicek.
Associate Commissioners Be Writing The ever fighting the good fight Oversigning.com got their hands on a correspondence from Big Ten Associate Commissioner Chad Hawley with respect to arguably college football's biggest glaring oversight. The AC is diplomatic as one may expect but certainly holds no barres with respect to his (and the league's) feelings on the matter:
I appreciate your interest in the issue of oversigning. As you may know, the Big Ten is philosophically opposed to the practice of oversigning in all sports, and our long-standing rules in this area reflect as much. Consequently, we are pleased to see that the conversation regarding oversigning appears to be picking up steam nationally. We’ll continue to monitor that conversation, and when given the opportunity, we will continue to share our position that our approach better serves student-athlete welfare.
I do believe that we are heading in the right direction nationally. For example, there is now an NCAA rule in football—effective for the first time this year—that limits the number of prospects who may sign National Letters of Intent with an institution (28 during the regular signing period). In general, the NCAA rule is not as restrictive as Big Ten rules, but again, it’s a step in the right direction—we voted in favor of the rule and will continue to vote similarly in the future.
I can’t say whether the day will come when NCAA rules prohibit oversigning in any or all sports, but we obviously would welcome such a day. Continued pressure from the media and the public certainly help the cause.
Taste the tacet zings. While the days of the 30+ recruiting classes have now been euphemized to a 'mere' 28, the problem still lingers and will continue to until the NCAA takes a hard lined unified approach to keeping kids from being sent packing like an underachieving 7th-round draft pick during training camp in the NCAA's alumni circuit.
So You're Saying There's A Chance The Dispatch's Ken Gordon surveys the appeal process to come for the Tatgate 5 and his findings in terms of precedent probably aren't exactly what you wanted to read:
• Sept.17: Georgia receiver A.J. Green's appeal of a four-game suspension was rejected. Green sold one of his game-worn jerseys for $1,000 to a man later determined to be a runner for a sports agent. Green claimed he was not aware of that connection.
After the hearing, Georgia president Michael Adams told reporters, "There's just not much that somebody in a position like mine can do on something like this. You can spend the money, you can get the best counsel and get the best advice you can get and make the appeal. I will say I think the university did everything to help (Green) that the university could."
• Sept.23: The NCAA upheld a four-game suspension for Middle Tennessee State quarterback Dwight Dasher, who had been given an impermissible loan of $1,500 from a community member.
• Oct.1: The NCAA upheld the suspensions of two North Carolina players, safety Deunta Williams (four games) and cornerback Kendric Burney (six games) for receiving improper benefits such as free travel and expenses.
Doesn't exactly sound promising. While they'd never admit it, the high profile nature of the case and perhaps even the role each of the five played in their controversial appearance in the Sugar Bowl might likely also force the NCAA's hand to try and maintain the illusion they're standing their ground. The Buckeyes' best bet may be to let the quintet serve their time and hope for some outstanding fill in work by the understudies.