Thursday Skull Session

By Jeremy Birmingham on December 1, 2011 at 6:00a

Welcome to Thursday and welcome to December folks. You may all commence with the removal of copious amounts of facial hair.

I assume since most of you are Buckeye fans like I am, that you're have a wonderful week. Now, I don't want to go making a big deal out of nothing, but it appears the sun has finally decided to shine on Ohio State again.

It's a bit of an odd feeling to be so happy and optimistic regarding Ohio State football four days after losing to Michigan and finishing the regular season with a 6-6 record, but hiring of Urban Meyer seems to have had a "neuralyzing" effect on the memories of Buckeye fans.

Then of course, we have the basketball program. It's a team that might be the most talented roster in school history top to bottom, and the Schott was alive like never before as Ohio State opened up a can against Duke Tuesday night.

After a year that has tested the patience and ferocity of even the most dyed-in-the-wool Buckeye fans, it finally feels pretty darn good to be a Buckeye again.

BIG TEN POM POMS FROM KEN POM. If you're a college basketball fan, chances are you are familiar with the work of Ken Pomeroy. If you're not, head on over to and take a gander at the most extensive statistical analyis of college hoops anywhere.

If you're lazy and don't want to head to his site, then chew on this: Pomeroy is essentially the Bill James of college basketball, giving fans the real "scoop" on which teams are the stuff, and which are the fluff.

After Michigan State clinched the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the good guys, Pomeroy laid it out there for roundball observers, asserting his well-educated opinion that the B1G is the premiere conference in college basketball today.

As Wednesday evening concluded, the Big Ten had out-gunned the ACC 8-4, although the ACC did capture the "other" signature win of the challenge after North Carolina escaped Wisconsin in the final game of the event. Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota and Penn State all joined Ohio State in the winner's circle.

Buckeye fans are likely pretty stoked after the beatdown of the Blue Devils, and next Saturday's trip to Lawrence to face Kansas should provide an even greater insight as to what to expect as Ohio State prepares itself to make a run through the best conference in the country.

BRAX TO THE FUTURE. After he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and with the knowledge that he will be working under Urban Meyer for the foreseeable future, Buckeye fans have to be foaming at the mouth thinking about how Braxton Miller will explode over the next few years. What exactly to expect, that is where the picture gets a bit murkier.

Is it completely insane to expect Miller to produce numbers similar to Tim Tebow? What about Troy Smith circa 2006? Will the Buckeyes stockpile of bigger running backs, a luxury that Urban didn't always have at Florida, change the approach that the offense will take in 2012 and beyond?

Despite his inefficiency throwing the ball at times this season, Meyer is convinced that Miller is a capable quarterback - as in complete quarterback - and that he will be as valuable a threat for the Buckeyes in the pocket as he is out.

“I like the way he throws. I like his delivery. I think he’s a ridiculous athlete."

“We’ll have some great conversation throughout spring practice and after spring. But I’m just real excited."

“I think he could be special.

It's obvious that Meyer is a Braxton Miller fan. How that plays out in Columbus is dependent on the evolution of Miller as a passer, not just a play-maker.

Tim Tebow's offense at Florida came on the heels of Chris Leak's career 140.1 passer rating and propensity for turnovers (11 or more interceptions in three of his four seasons at UF). In Miller's first season at Ohio State, in walrusball, Braxton struggled but still had a 133.6 rating and only getting picked off four times.

Meyer no doubt knew that Tebow was best used as a bull in a china shop, and despite how talented Miller is on the move, I think Urban will make it a point to take advantage of his entire bag of tricks.

Urban pointing out a tear in Brady Hoke's pants

DON'T WANT TO PISS IN MY CORNFLAKES. I am on record, and have been for months on this site and others proclaiming my desire for Urban Meyer to take over the reins at Ohio State, as I thought no other candidate matched him in competitive fire, credentials, personality, knowledge of Ohio State, recruiting chops, and just the right blend of good midwestern boy and pure evil incarnate.

Now that my almost obsessive fascination has become a fascinating reality, I wonder if many of you have had to do a bit of the ol' "pinching yourself" as I have.

It's easy to look at the things Urban has accomplished in his career, from BG to Florida, and to see the tsunami he's created in the recruiting waters, and be overcome with optimism. It's easy to give in to the belief that Ohio State will not only maintain the level of play we've become accustomed to, but they could likely exceed it.

Pinch yourself again, if you need to.

The ten-year run that we as Buckeye fans have experienced under Jim Tressel is not one of the best in Buckeye history, but in any school's history. Jim Tressel won 82% of his games as the head coach at Ohio State, beat Michigan 9 out of 10 times, took the Buckeyes to 8 BCS bowl games and 3 BCS championship appearances. Ohio State finished ranked in the top five nationally 7 times in his ten years at the helm.

I have zero doubt that Urban Meyer is the 100% right choice to lead Ohio State for the next decade or more, but I hope that Buckeyes fans take a step back and realize not only how great we've had it, but also that it will likely never be that good again.

GIRLS CAN BALL TOO. A day after the men handled their business in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Buckeye ladies got a chance to showcase their team on the Big Ten network and to put their 5-0 record on the line against Florida State in Columbus. The 17th ranked Buckeyes found themselves in a tussle from start to finish, and even decided to play a few extra minutes of overtime before besting the Seminoles 78-75.

Ohio State was looking a loss squarely in the face, trailing 69-67, Ohio State's Tayler Hill weaved her way through the lane, going glass and getting a shot to fall with .3 seconds remaining in regulation. In OT, Hill once again paced the Buckeyes on her way to a career-best 31 points, and the Buckeyes were able to escape with the victory. The teams continued to compete post-buzzer, and nearly went to full-scale fisticuffs, but fortunately cooler heads prevailed.

In other ladies hoops news, Samantha Prahalis was named to the Naismith Award Watch List, given to the nation's best player.

THANK YOU TO YOU. Wanted to briefly say "thank you" from the #11W gang for an amazing month on the site. This past month was the busiest month in the history of the site, and without the gaggle of you guys and girls who have been here day in and day out, that would certainly not be the case. Yes, we've been fortunate to receive a lot of publicity lately, but we know who butters our bread: you do.

QUICK SLANTS. Steak House or Gay Bar? The best TV characters you never saw...Sorry for the TV fixation (I know that's Sarah's thing) - but here's my favorite person on TV right now...You know I used to be a cat person? That's true, go ahead, mock me....The world suddenly has a lot more Cougs fans.

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