Thursday Skull Session

By Jeremy Birmingham on February 23, 2012 at 6:00a

Hello friends and welcome to your eye-opening dosage of all the news that is fit to be news as I see it. It's an intoxicating blend of the inane and the startling, with a hint of nutty goodness that I hope you enjoy from start to the drip-drop finish.

As we move towards the end of the regular season in Big Ten hoops play, the Buckeyes will host Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon in what can only be described as a "must win" for Ohio State. 

On "Senior Day" in Columbus, Buckeye fans will have only one scholarship senior to celebrate, William Buford, but that won't stop the moment from being a moving scene. The game will be a school-record breaking 127th start for William Buford, and will come against a Badgers team that is quickly becoming one of the most fervently hated rivals of Ohio State fans and players.

Buford has been one of the most consistently inconsistent players on a Buckeye team that has been plagued by regular bouts of inconsistency this season. That hasn't kept him from moving up the school's all-time scoring list, nor has it hindered too greatly in the eyes of those who project a player at the next level

In Ohio State's nine games against teams currently ranked in the top 25, the Buckeyes are 5-4, with three of the four losses coming inside the B1G (OSU lost Sullinger-less at Kansas). In the nine games against ranked opponents, William Buford is scoring 12.78 PPG, which is not far off his season average of 15 a contest. On the year, he's averaging 3 assists per game, to go along with 2 turnovers per, against ranked teams, he's averaged 2.56 in each of those categories, a 1:1 ratio which is unacceptable for a senior leader.

Whether or not Buford can step up his game over the course of the next month is likely to determine the fate of the Buckeyes in the postseason. Which Buford will show up? The one who averaged 20.6 against against Florida, Duke and Kansas while shooting almost 44% from the floor, or the one who averaged just under 9 points a night against the Big Ten's ranked teams?

 FLORIDA STATE FILLS SCHEDULE GAP WITH SCHEDULED GAP. When the newest member of the Big 12, West Virginia, chickened out of their scheduled season-opening match-up with Florida State, the Seminoles were put in an awkward and unenviable position. Rather than having what appeared to be a high-dollar earning, marquee game to kick-off the year, Florida State would have to scramble to get a new opponent in short order. 

It's important to remember that college football schedules are agreed upon, usually, years in advance, so finding a quality opponent willing to risk an early-season "L" on the road in Tallahassee is not something that can just easily be remedied. So, what was Florida State, one of the early-season favorites for a possible national championship run in 2012, to do? Their non-conference slate, which consisted of West Virginia, Murray State (an FCS opponent), South Florida and Florida, a reasonable road that would prepare them for their ACC trek. Sure, the Murray State game is a joke, but everyone plays at least one joke game a year, it seems.

Well, FSU decided to make sure that everyone got the joke yesterday when they decided to schedule another FCS opponent, the Tigers of Savannah State. The Tigers will earn a reported $450,000 for their willingness to submit to a Seminole beat-down, a nice pay-day and a good chance for some big-time exposure for Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member. Unfortunately for FSU, there was a number of other potential options that refused that opportunity, and FSU is going to pick up some slack for their now seemingly laughable non-conference schedule. (Don't get me started on the laughability of their in conference schedule)

FSU is not alone in the hilarity of their non-conference games, and most will contend (rightfully so) that Ohio State's early-season contests against the Akrons and Kent States of the world are not much different than an FCS opponent. The landscape of college football is so rocky, and an upset is costly - something that could potentially cost your school and your conference millions of dollars, lots of publicity and a boon to your brand - so scheduling a few laughers is expected and acceptable. 

Plus, there's always the chance of a life-changing moment like this one happening. 

ACC-RIMONY. Randy Edsall has made himself quite popular poo-poo'er since taking the job as the head man at Maryland last year. First, he earned wide-spread praise* for the way he handled his decision to leave Connecticut, then in November he compared his new job at Maryland was similar to taking the UConn job 13 years ago, when UConn was making the move up from D2 to D1. That comparison understandably upset a pretty good portion of the Maryland fan base as Edsall passed off excuse after excuse for why his team was so bad this past season. 

Edsall's popularity continued to explode* last week when this article in the Washington Post lamented his unnecessarily abrasive personality and dedication to minutiae that is basically irrelevant when it comes to winning football games.

That article came on the heels of the announcement that Randy was preventing three players, including All-ACC QB Danny O'Brien, from transferring out of the school to the destination of their choice, which appeared to be Vanderbilt. You see, James Franklin, the former Maryland assistant who had recruited O'Brien is now the head-man at Vandy, and apparently Edsall and the Maryland administrator believe he was making some unethical, illegal overtures towards O'Brien in an effort to "recruit" him again.

In fact, Maryland has now commissioned the ACC to file a complaint against Vanderbilt, asking the SEC to look into the potential transfers, which Edsall has since changed his position on. What will the SEC do about it? That's anyones guess, but I would suggest that both Franklin and Edsall focus on their current teams and stop the whining.

Photo 24/7SportsCenterville lineman Evan Lisle received an OSU offer last night

IN-STATE DEBATE. As we have gone over a few times on this site recently, Urban Meyer likes to recruit. He loves recruiting, in fact, so does his entire staff. They eat, breathe and sleep, recruiting. They are offering running backs and wide receivers and lineman and linebackers and all sorts of players at a clip that is basically as anti-Tresselian as possible.

One position that Urban and his staff focused on when he was hired was the Buckeyes glaring need on the offensive line, and at offensive tackle, specifically. Those needs were addressed by the signing of Joey O'Connor, Taylor Decker, and Kyle Dodson, but it hasn't stopped Ohio State from getting back at it quickly in the 2013 class. Offers have gone out to at least seven offensive tackles for the class, but yet none have gone out to the best in the state of Ohio until late last night when Evan Lisle reported he had been offered by Ohio State.

Cincinnati Moeller's Alex Gall and Huber Heights' Lovell Peterson are all holding big offers from big schools, yet OSU continues to look elsewhere. Similar issues arise when you observe the linebacker position, where the state's best (in my opinion) has yet to receive an offer from the home school, despite offers from nearly all of the "big boys" and rivals.

What is the reason for this? Why is Urban Meyer allowing schools like Alabama to come in to the state and offer Evan Lisle, and only then the Buckeyes realize that perhaps they need to come through for the state's best offensive lineman? In their defense, Urban did come through with the offer, but it seems like the timing is a bit off, especially when looking at the state's top players, at a position of need.

Popular logic dictates that Meyer and his staff are just not "sold" on said prospects and are still evaluating, knowing that they have time on their side and that an offer would likely be followed quickly by a commitment, which we may see come to fruition in regard to Lisle. That commitment would subsequently put the Buckeyes in a position where they may be forced to pass on players that received earlier offers.

It's a dangerous game to play for Meyer and the Buckeyes, but at this point, can we really doubt anything that Urban and his staff are doing?

 SPARTANS GO-FER BIG WIN IN MINNESOTA. In what could have been a big help for the Buckeyes chances at winning the Big Ten regular-season title outright, Michigan State fought off a frisky bunch of Gophers last night for a 66-61 to hold on to their one game lead in the conference. 

The Spartans will get a bye on Saturday against Nebraska before they travel to Indiana to face the Hoosiers next Tuesday night. Then, next Sunday will host the Buckeyes in what could be an instant classic in East Lansing. 

Sparty topped Indiana by 15 in their first meeting, but the Hoosiers are a different team at home and Assembly Hall has derailed a few championship runs over the years, so it would not be surprising to see MSU and Ohio State tied atop the B1G when they tip-off next Sunday afternoon, assuming the Buckeyes come to play against Wisconsin and Northwestern before that meeting.

QUICK SLANTS. Eddie George does a terrific Calvin Johnson impression... One journalist with class, one without... I pretty much love Alison Brie and am thrilled "Community" will be back on the air in March... JaVale McGee offers up the best goaltending moment maybe ever... It's an election year, so this is pertinent.


Comments Show All Comments

Seth4Bucks's picture

In Ohio State's nine games against teams currently ranked in the top 25, the Buckeyes are 5-4, with all four losses coming inside the B1G.

Kansas beat us and Illinois isn't in the top 25.


Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Derp. Thanks for the catch.

German Buckeye's picture

In regards to the In-State Debate section - it could well be that Urban and crew simply feel that others nation wide are better than in state products.  I've read here and elsewhere that Urban and coaches are looking for the top 2-3 at the position only - not accepting "good" talent when "excellent" talent is out there.  We'll have a smaller 2013 class to fill, so I'm ok with him looking outside the state for "excellent" talent and offering those kids first dibbs on what will be a small recruiting class.  Now, if kids from Texas, California, PA, Florida ultimately stay "home", no issues, go with Ohio kids who will accept an offer on the spot.  Got to try and bring in elite talent over good talent. 

johnblairgobucks's picture

The phrase and practice of "committable offer" is silly.  Carpet bombing the country with scholarship offers, while telling Ohio kids to wait till the smoke clears to see where they stand, is a recipe for temporary success, not long term success. 

Florida State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame all go after the Nation's elite and have success reeling in some, and how much on field success has that garnered them, over Ohio State locking down Ohio's best talent?  I'd like to see OSU and Meyer build a strong foundation with Ohio's best, so when the time comes that Urban leaves OSU, he is not handing the next coach a burned out infrastructure of Ohio recruiting. 

Irricoir's picture

Interesting thoughts..

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think there's definitely a concern that could happen. The fact is that while Ohio State is a nationally recognized brand, it's still always been an Ohio-centric team and the relationships with Ohio high school coaches has been a huge part of that.

Will those coaches be understanding about new tactics and a more naitonal approach is a big part of the program moving forward.

Squirrel Master's picture

 I don't think he is ignoring the local talent, he probably just treats each differently. I know it must be disheartening for locals to see the offers going all over and not to them but I am confident Meyer is talking to them and making sure they know they are not on the back burner. 2012 class has proven that he will go after Ohio kids just as hard. Meyer doesn't just go after talent. He wants players with passion and heart and really wants to be at OSU. The situation with Devonte Neal proved that. We can speculate about what really happened but the truth of it is Neal didn't have that burning desire to play for OSU and Meyer didn't want that. He will take kids who may be lesser ranked but will play hard because of their fandom. but right now he has to play the game on the national level.

Great example is Dodson. The previous coaching staff did not go after him that hard and when Meyer stepped in, he made an offer right away and got him on campus.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Ethos's picture

I think Meyer dodged a HUGE bullet with Neal.  There is just something Fishy about how that kid acts.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Squirrel Master's picture

yep. I am sure this will not be the last we hear of him and I am not talking about him being a star on the field. I would feel very confident in betting that he will transfer out of ND in first 2 years. I just see it. He will go back home to Arizona and maybe get drafted. Now Diggs I think will shine even though Maryland sucks. I don't blame him at all for what he did. Good kid. He could become a star in the NFL.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

RBuck's picture

Nothing fishy about it. Neal is a prima donna and an a-hole.

Long live the southend.

pcon258's picture

I was wondering if someone could explain the difference between an offer and a commitable offer to me? Because, say for example, every athlete that the staff offered, accepted. Would they just get to the limit and then start telling the kids that their offers are no longer valid? Or is it like, if im a recruit with an offer, I have to tell the staff that I want to committ, and then they give me a comittable offer? Like with neal, he had an offer, then tried to committ, but was, seemingly, just denied? Is an offer similar to a verbal committment? In that its not really binding?

Sorry im new to the recruiting game, so I'm trying to figure out the semantics of it

Squirrel Master's picture

I am not 100% positive but the original offers that are going out are just verbal as you said. I believe a committable offer is in writing and can't be done until the fall of their senior year just like a verbal from a recruit doesn't become in writing until signing day.

now I think a university can pull those offers at any time before signing day even if they give an offer in writing. I think that only happens if there is a change in the players status, i.e. academic or criminal trouble. University can pull it for any reason but generally try to stay away from pulling just because the kid isn't as good as the one the university prefers. Like I don't think Urban could have pulled Mike Thomas's just because he would prefer to have Neal. He could but it would look bad.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

BuckPirate1981's picture

Alex or Jeremy could probably do a better job of explaining than I, but to the best of my knowledge, an offer is an offer. The reason between the two is semantics - and recruiting philosophy. Take Tress for example. He would only offer a select few kids, with the mind set that if you got an offer from OSU, it was a contract and a commitment to you. Which is a great way to go about it, as you don't usually have to worry about oversigning or telling kids their spot is taken up. You offer, get a yes/no essentially, and move on (see the Nick Montana recruitment as an example of how this philosphy played out, for better or for worse). 

Other coaches like Meyer and Hoke seem to carpet bomb offers, almost to make sure they are "keeping up with the Jones's." There's a sense of loyalty to the first school that offers you, and of course a better opportunity to build a strong relationship with a recruit the earlier on you offer. That said, I think it cheapens what an offer is to have them be "commitable" or "not commitable." I don't think this was the case with Neal as has been mentioned in other articles/forum posts, but it certainly has been with a lot of other kids, for better or for worse. On one hand, it is an interesting strategy Urbz is taking with some Ohio kids. In a way, it means that an offer to an Ohio kid is a "commitable offer." On the other hand, it gives other school from out of state a leg up on recruiting. Having seen kids like Jordan Hicks et al leave the state in the past, I think Urban needs to be careful with how he goes about this tactic, as not every one of Ohio's sons will be so accomodating to his apparent strategy. 

thatlillefty's picture

Javale McGhee... you serious brah?

buckeyechad's picture

That Eddie George video is hilarious

Squirrel Master's picture

I like Independence day but Bill Pullman sucked as a president. That speech was annoying. "This is our independence day!" What a historian.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

awwwwwwop's picture

Here is something hilarious.  Eddie George played Caesar in Nashville Shakespeare.  Here is the promo. They performed on my birthday and I didn't go, what a fool I am.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch