Good morning, folks. For the first Tuesday in a few weeks, we don't have an Ohio State basketball game to watch later tonight, but I guess that frees us up to celebrate
Daniel Day-Lewis' Lincoln's birthday in style.
This week, the Buckeyes play on Thursday and for the second year in a row, one of their games falls on Valentine's Day1. Move over, Virginia. Looks like Ohio State is for lovers.
While Thad Matta prepares his team to take on the shorthanded Wildcats — who will be without starters Alex Olah and Jared Swopshire, both of whom were injured on Saturday against Iowa — he still found the time yesterday to pull an Urban Meyer when David Bell, somewhat of a sleeper recruit, committed to Ohio State.
The junior center is 6'10 strong (and growing) and had started gaining interest from major programs, but the lifelong Buckeye fan jumped on Matta's offer. A day after the hoops team lost in large part because they couldn't stop Indiana's inside presence, it was good timing for Ohio State to pick up a big man. That doesn't mean Matta is content, though. He, along with almost every other school, is still going after center Jahlil Okafor, the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2014.
Urban's power didn't just extend to his basketball counterpart. He wanted more night games and the Big Ten removed the ban on November night games. He spoke out against the new NCAA recruiting proposals and the Big Ten released a statement outlining its objections.
He also got a shout-out from Stephen Colbert, who said on his show last night, "I'm a big fan of Urban" and even if that was in a papal context, Colbert is most likely a fan of someone who is as big an alpha dog as Ohio State's football coach.
"From my understanding after seeing what was reported, a lot of that was taken out of context," Fitzgerald, who chairs the Big Ten coaches' group, told ESPN.com. "It was more, 'How can we continue to further our brand? How can we make our in-game experiences improve? How can we make our pregame experiences improve?' All those things in the vein for our fans, the game-day experience of Big Ten arenas and for recruiting."
Basically, he's just looking for the B1G as a whole to create a better game-day atmosphere that will appeal to recruits. More night games, even in November in the Midwest, will certainly help with that.
But really, the nerve of that guy2. What does he know about how to win over recruits?
WE WAIT AND WE WONDER. Now that National Signing Day has come and gone, Mark Schlabach updated his Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 list. After last week's haul, Ohio State moved up a spot to No. 3 in his rankings, behind Alabama and Stanford, respectively.
One notable movement on the list was Michigan, who jumped from No. 23 to No. 12, based mostly on their offensive commits, especially the 17 offensive linemen they signed. The other two Big Ten schools were Nebraska (23) and Northwestern (24).
With regard to the 2013 Ohio State class, Schlabach was bullish on the speedsters, such as Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson, as well as the crop of defensive backs, including Eli Apple and Vonn Bell. He thinks some of the new recruits could help what he referred to as Ohio State's "much-maligned defense", because I guess it's still mid-October.
But it is true that the Silver Bullets have players like John Simon and Big Hank to replace and for as talented as the incoming freshmen are, some should be able to step up right away.
IN THE AIR TONIGHT. One player who could contribute from the start is wide receiver Corey Smith, who Athlon Sports labeled as an impact JUCO transfer:
Ohio State doesn’t recruit JUCO players often, which means Smith isn’t being brought in to sit on the bench. The Ohio native caught 51 passes for 733 yards and nine touchdowns at East Mississippi Community College last year, while posting 28 receptions for 438 yards as a freshman at Grand Rapids Community College in 2011. Smith doesn’t need to emerge as Miller’s go-to threat, but he should be a valuable pickup for a team that had only two wide receivers catch more than 15 passes last year.
I think everyone expects an improved passing game from Ohio State in 2013 and not just because they were ranked just 101st in the nation last season. Braxton Miller will continue to make strides as a passer, especially with almost the entire starting OL returning and with more weapons at his disposal.
Surprisingly, the rest of Athlon's JUCO list was not simply comprised of Kansas' entire roster, but it did include Nebraska3 DE Randy Gregory while "others to watch" featured the likes of Wisconsin QB (of course) Tanner McEvoy and Penn State QB Tyler Ferguson, who is apparently going to juggle both that and his role on Modern Family.
PHIL COLUMNS. In an ongoing series, Phil Steele is trying to figure out which conference was the toughest in the 2012 college football season, basing it on different components like bowls and non-conference records, specifically against more formidable opponents.
In bowl games, the SEC had the most wins against ranked teams with four. The ACC and Big 12 were tied for second with two apiece, though of those three conferences, only the ACC performed better than Vegas predicted. Big Ten teams were underdogs in all seven games and although they hit the over by going 2-5, they also didn't notch a win against a ranked team.
In non-conference action, the Big 12 led the way in overall record (26-4) and vs. BCS teams (5-1). The SEC was 8-6 vs. BCS teams while the B1G was only 6-6. It didn't help the B1G's reputation by going 0-3 to MAC teams, but the SEC went 0-3 to the Big East and also dropped two to the Sun Belt and the narrative didn't change and it won't until a team from a different conference wins the national championship.
So get on that, Ohio State.
DON'T LOSE MY NUMBER. In his updated bracketology predictions, Jerry Palm put Ohio State as a 6 seed, down from a 4 seed the previous time. And even though I'd be disappointed with that right now, there's over a month to go until the NCAA Tournament starts and there are plenty of tough games left on the schedule, which means I won't get too up in arms about anything just yet.
Palm projects seven B1G teams to make the field, the same number as the Big East. Michigan State is his pick to win the conference, probably because he knows better than to count out Tom Izzo. But it's Michigan and Indiana who he expects to receive No. 1 seeds.
Tonight, the Spartans and Wolverines face off in East Lansing for an important game in the B1G title race. It will also be the first time the two rivals will met when they're both ranked in the top 10.
Tipoff is at 9 on ESPN.
OH LINK TWICE, IT'S ANOTHER DAY FOR YOU AND ME IN PARADISE. I normally don't like Tom Crean, but this was a classy move... Star Ohio State baseball player Josh Dezse is out for at least two months... For the first time in his NFL career, Chris Gamble soon may be looking for a new team... Tim Miles' version of the Harlem Shake vs. the Dallas Mavericks. I still have no idea what it is... Bill Murray fed his divot to a fan, who was sadly not Les Miles... With Saturday delivery coming to an end, the Postal Service found the time to release a new song... Quite the patriotic sunset.
- 1 If your significant other doesn't find this romantic, then you're doing it wrong. ↑
- 2 I think a lot of us can understand not liking the guy when he doesn't coach your team, but man, some people sure are quick to jump on him for things he didn't actually do or say. ↑
- 3 Now that's a much-maligned defense. ↑