Good morning and congratulations for resisting the urge to commit to Urban Meyer and Ohio State yesterday.
If you missed it, Meyer and the Buckeyes secured pledges from offensive tackle Kyle Trout, defensive end Lawrence Marshall and running back/athlete Parris Campbell yesterday. It was an impressive one day haul that brought to five the number of young men in the class of 2014 who are buying what Meyer, Kerry Coombs and the rest of the staff is selling, namely a chance to celebrate weeks of hard work in Ohio Stadium.
Trout, a lifelong Buckeye fan from nearby Lancaster, got the party started early when he confirmed his commitment to Eleven Warriors shortly after noon. He's huge (6-6/285) and talented, rated as the 12th-best tackle in the nation and 4th-best overall prospect in the state of Ohio by the 247 Composite index.
Better yet, Trout fills a glaring need for the Buckeyes, joining Glenville's Marcelys Jones as the second offensive lineman in the class. The Buckeyes signed just two offensive linemen in the entire 2013 class and Meyer spoke at length about how the position was one of need in this next cycle.
Less than an hour later, Marshall became the fourth member of the class, taking up Mike Vrabel's offer to become a Buckeye. A weak-side defensive end, Marshall chose Ohio State over offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and numerous other Big Ten and BCS conference schools. He's rated as the nation's 14th-best WDE prospect in the 247 Composite index.
Marshall, from Southfield High School northwest of Detroit, is the second member of the class from the state of Michigan, joining Cass Tech cornerback Damon Webb. Clearly, the flags Kerry Coombs has planted across the Mitten State are starting to pay off and our friends from beyond the wall have descended into full-on fret mode.
Campbell completed the blue chip lightning round when he committed mere minutes after Marshall. The 6-foot, 180-pound running back from Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary held offers from Michigan State and Tennessee, with others closing quickly following his 165 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the Division III state championship game two months ago.
Just as important, Campbell is teammates with Dante Booker, an outside linebacker that is regarded as one of the top two players in the state of Ohio in this class and a top-three prospect at his position, nationally. Booker teased Buckeye fans a bit shortly after Campbell's commitment:
Should I join my bro Parris?— Dante Booker Jr. (@D_Book47) February 10, 2013
In other recruiting news, punter Andrew Gantz of Centerville, previously headed to Tennessee as a preferred walk-on, will likely change course and attend Ohio State. It's not a done deal yet, but a source is saying Urban Meyer phoned Gantz recently and asked, "Why are you going to Tennessee? Don't you want to be a Buckeye?" Sold.
GETTING TO 20. Indiana became the first B1G team to top 50% from the field against the Buckeyes this year and lo and behold, left Columbus with an 81-68 win yesterday. The Hoosiers played perhaps their most complete game of the season and dealt the Buckeyes a blow in their bid to repeat as Big Ten regular season champs.
With just seven games remaining, Ohio State finds itself two games behind league co-leaders Indiana and Michigan State. It's not an impossible gap to close, but then again, it will take a miracle of sorts to pull it off.
Standing at 17 wins on the season, the Buckeyes need to pick up three more to keep Thad Matta's streak of 20-win seasons alive. He's managed the feat in all 12 of his previous campaigns, spanning his time at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State, so which of the remaining seven games will provide the three wins needed? Let's take a look:
- Northwestern (2/14) - Likely win
- @ Wisconsin (2/17) - Likely loss
- Minnesota (2/20) - Likely win
- Michigan State (2/24) - Toss up
- @ Northwestern (2/28) - Likely win
- @ Indiana (3/5) - Likely loss
- Illinois (3/10) - Likely win
Minnesota and the game at Northwestern could easily go the wrong way if the Buckeyes don't come out to play, but Ohio State should be able to get to 20 wins during the regular season. Failing that, the Buckeyes would draw lowly Penn State in the first round of the conference tournament if the season were to end today, so there's a better than decent chance that they'll add a win or two in the Big Ten tourney, with the potential for another one or two wins in the NCAA tournament.
Consider the streak safe.
THANKS, DEREK DOOLEY. Seriously, thank you, Derek Dooley.
PATERNO FAMILY-FUNDED REPORTS SAYS JOE WAS HONORABLE, LOVED PUPPIES. The family of Joe Paterno has launched an all-out offensive against the Freeh Report, complete with a slick website and four different expert reports. The gist of the reports are that the Freeh Report was flawed, rushed, and ignored the good in Joe Paterno.
Mr. Paterno was on notice for at least 13 years that Sandusky, one of his longest serving assistants, and whose office was steps away, was a probable serial pedophile. Mr. Paterno was aware of the criminal 1998 investigation into Sandusky's suspected child sexual abuse. Indeed, the evidence shows that Mr. Paterno closely followed that case. Later, in 2001, another one of his assistants, Mr. McQueary, directly reported to Mr. Paterno that Sandusky was sexually abusing a young boy in Mr. Paterno's Penn State football locker room. The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno purposefully ignored this evidence.
I stand by our conclusion that four of the most powerful people at Penn State failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not even attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001.
Elsewhere, Penn State's blog of record took issue with Urban Meyer's intent to help the Big Ten up its recruiting game, pulling quotes from Bret Bielema and Mike Bianchi of all people to support its stance. Oh, and the Big Ten doesn't need to change anything because the league leads the country in Academic All-Americans and prepares "their student athletes who go pro in something other than sports."
Look, we appreciate the league's academic chops as much anyone, but let's not kid ourselves: 100,000 fans do not pack stadiums to watch spelling bees or to judge science fairs. Visitors to Penn State blogs are not visiting to follow the academics of the school's student athletes. They're there to celebrate wins on the field.
Did you know that in 1935, the SEC became the first conference to hand out athletic scholarships? This move outraged Harvard, Yale and many other northern institutions, yet here we are, 75 years later with the SEC holding seven crystal footballs.
AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE A BADGER LOCKER ROOM PARTY. Remember that GIF of Kansas celebrating a road win over Ohio State in the visitor's locker room? Well, here's Mike Bruesewitz and the Badgers doing whatever the opposite of that Jayhawk shuffle is:
MISC. Missed this a few days ago, but the Big Ten Circle of Parity is – for the most part – complete... College basketball TV ratings for most of the games played to this point; Ohio State shows well... NBC offered the Big East a $23 million media rights deal two years after the conference turned down an ESPN deal worth $130 million annually... The Grammy tribute was nice, but nothing approaches the original.