Good morning, Buckeye fans, and welcome to your Wednesday Skull Session.
With the basketball Buckeyes not playing until Saturday against Michigan State, we're forced to pay attention to the NFL this week. This Atlanta native will be cheering on the Falcons; who you got?
In times like these it's important to remember a few additional upcoming dates: February 6 is National Signing Day and we're only 60-odd days from the start of spring football camp.
A PROBLEM-FREE QB. One thing that occurred to me recently is how lucky we are that Braxton is not only a superstar on the field, but manages to stay out of trouble off the field as well.
While he might not ponder who steals from whom with the media, Braxton seems to keep out of trouble in Columbus. *knock on wood*
The same can't exactly be said for your 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel. The No Fun Police – i.e. Texas A&M administrators – sat down to have a talk with Johnny Football about all the fun he's been having lately:
“I told them he's no longer a freshman, and he's no longer a sophomore, junior or senior,” Hyman told the San Antonio Express-News. “He is a 'Heisman.’
“It's (about) education, and we've got to help the family and Johnny with the transition into being a Heisman award winner. There are things you have to learn, and we have to help him with that.”
Manziel has been the target of ridicule from fans and even some college coaches for pictures he’s posted on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. He was also the subject of a TMZ piece, which showed the 20-year-old holding a bottle of champagne at a Dallas nightclub. According to the nightclub owner, Manziel’s parents were present and no one in the club saw Manziel drinking.
The starting quarterback at a big-time SEC school who was voted player of the year is having a little fun out there? What?
Regardless of how non-newsworthy this appears to be, we are fortunate as Buckeyes that Braxton isn't blowing up Sportscenter with so much drunken High Street escapades.
WHERE THE BIG GUYS AT? I think I might have part of the basketball Buckeyes' problem figured out: the lack of an elite big man.
The Big Ten Network just rated the top seven big men across the conference, and no Buckeye bigs made the list.
Amir Williams and company will undoubtedly need to step up their game inside for the Buckeyes to continue their Michigan-beating level of play throughout the season. This probably also explains the premium we are placing on the recruitment of top high school centers like Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander.
GOING BOLDLY WHERE SPORTS WRITERS HAVEN'T BEFORE. You might expect this time of year to be slim pickings for college football articles, but thankfully sportswriters across the country are taking this part of the offseason to go ahead and make predictions about next year.
And not just any predictions, oh no – bold predictions. ESPN's Mark Schlabach takes a turn at such national bold predictions as Oregon making the title game and the SEC winning another. Totally shocking stuff.
Here are the B1G highlights:
6. Purdue's Darrell Hazell will become the next big thing. Hazell, who guided Kent State to a surprising 11-3 record this past season before leaving for Purdue, will become the latest African-American coach to strike it big at a school in a BCS league.
Hazell certainly won't have it easy at Purdue, as their football culture is entirely lacking based upon personal observation. My cousin is a student at Purdue and far from a representative sample, but he didn't even know that The Mustache was no more in West Lafayette. Engineers – what can you do? But I think 8-4 or so would be fairly extraordinary for Hazell in his first few years. Next:
The Big Ten will ditch Legends and Leaders as its division names before Maryland and Rutgers join the conference in 2014. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that a decision could be made as early as June...Sadly, Delany and the Big Ten's athletic directors and presidents will pass on the most appropriate division names available: Rose Bowl Loser and Capital One Bowl Loser.
BURN SCHLABACH, BURN. The Big Ten is actually a respectable 5-5 in the Capital One Bowl over the last 10 years, thankyouverymuch. Finally:
7. Ohio State won't go undefeated again.
The Buckeyes went 12-0 under first-year coach Urban Meyer in 2012, but were ineligible to win a Big Ten championship and play in a bowl game because of NCAA probation. Ohio State won't go undefeated again, after losing too much of its defense from this past season.
Behind Miller's passing and running, Ohio State will still finish 11-1 and will play Michigan in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. Ohio State will be equipped for a national championship run in 2014 if Miller returns for his senior season.
I think this was said just to get a gigantic fan base worked up, to be honest. It's hard to go undefeated, especially
25 26 games in a row.
Do I think the Buckeyes have a shot? You bet. Do I expect to go undefeated every year? No, but I'm disappointed when it doesn't happen all the same.
Finally, the Big Ten bloggers have their own bold predictions for next year, which are less incendiary. Of note:
- Ohio State and Michigan will meet in a rematch in Indy. (Rittenberg)
- Several teams have multiple 1,200-yard candidates, including Ohio State (QB Braxton Miller and RB Carlos Hyde).
- Nebraska plays Ohio State for the Big Ten title. (Bennett)
- The Big Ten adds two more teams. Just when we least expect it, the Big Ten will shock us again with expansion news.
DOES TRADITION MEAN NOTHING? Speaking of expansion, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski – or Coach K, as it's easier to spell – had some interesting comments about Maryland's move to the Big Ten and expansion in general.
And in Maryland’s case, that’s the only conference they’ve known. And they’re right in the middle of the ACC. And now their fans, they don’t have a place. They’re outsiders. They really are outsiders. What price? What price is paid for that? They didn’t get public opinion from their alums, from the people there,” he later said. “All these things are secret. It’s not out there. Some of it gets leaked, but in Maryland’s case it was never leaked.
I mean, he does have a point there: it's not like the alums were polled about his move. However, conference expansion has been happening for a long time without public opinion polls from alums. I think we're just a bit freaked out by the obviousness of the cash-grabbing TV deals, non-geographic conference footprint, and the speed of change. I did like this part of the interview:
“This is an assault on tradition,” Krzyzewski said. “What sets us apart from the pros? What sets us apart from the rest of the world? Intercollegiate sports is really something that only the United States has. No other country has that. And our thing is based on all the right values: loyalty, honesty, tradition. The branding that you have gotten from doing that has elevated the academic institutions that those athletic programs represent. And doing things the way we’re doing it now, based on money, I think it takes away from the academic missions and the innocence that an academic institution has.”
I don't know about "the innocence that an academic institution has," but I do support collegiate athletics striving to be different in some way from professional athletics. There's something unquantifiably special about college sports or else we'd all be on Browns or Bengals blogs right now.
NFL IS CALLING. College sports may be special, but that doesn't mean it's easy to turn down the big leagues. Record numbers of juniors are leaving for the NFL this year and that trend may be here to stay.
"This year there will be more than 70 when it's all over," Detillier said. The deadline is Tuesday.
The NFL's new collective bargaining agreement, which was signed in 2011, cut into the gap in pay for rookies drafted in the top rounds and lower rounds. That has created more reason to jump even when a player's draft stock could be improved with another season.
"More and more you are going to see middle-round juniors entering the draft because of the new pay scale from the new CBA," Detillier said. "As a third or fourth round pick, you can make between $350,000 to $500,000 with a signing bonus. And it's not worth it financially to stay another year in college to go up a round because the money is about the same. LSU is just one of the first real test cases where you had an extremely talented junior class. There will be others like this from other schools in the future."
Some argue that this will be so detrimental to senior leadership that college coaches might pursue paying players in the future. Thankfully the Buckeyes are doing just fine on this front, with Hankins as the only Buckeye on the list of early entrants. You can follow the madness of early jumps to the NFL here.
LINKS FOR YOUR TIME. And you thought you'd seen the last meltdown. This time Irish style... Discussion of favorite trick plays... The Mountain West lives again... Even the University of Georgia is using "the Percy Harvin role" to recruit. Wait what?... Bron Bron back in Cleveland?... VTech QB Logan Thomas is returning for his senior year even in a weak quarterback class... Vincent Smith talks about being eaten by Clowney... Evidence of water on Mars?