Good morning Buckeye fans and esteemed readers, and welcome to your Thursday edition of the Eleven Warriors Skull Session. Get your coffee and Toaster Strudel ready and join me for a few moments, won't you?
It's a bit of a depressing Thursday morning, actually, because it's the first time in three and a half months where we enter a weekend knowing that there is no big-time college football to get us through the weekend.
For some of you, that may mean that you are forced to spend some time quality time with your wives, kids or friends. For that, I am sorry.
There's plenty going on in the realm of the Buckeye though, so let's talk.
PUTTING THE TEAM ON HIS BACK(SIDE). Yeah, we get it, Jared's got a big ol' butt, oh yeah - but as the second-ranked Buckeye basketball team prepares for its first road game of the season at #13 Kansas Saturday, the question of whether Sully's butt will be on the court looms large for Ohio State.
Sullinger missed the Buckeye's last game this past Saturday, a walk in the park for Ohio State against the University of Texas Pan something or other, but this Saturday his presence will be much more necessary if the Bucks hope to escape a Rock, Chalk, Upset at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks pose an interesting threat to Ohio State for a couple of reasons. As already stated, it's the first game away from the Schott for the Buckeyes, and it's not just on the road at Podunk State; Lawrence is one of the most intimidating places to play in the country. Kansas is big, with five players over 6'8 and play an intense defensive style that could give the Buckeyes fits in man or in zone.
Kansas is 6-2 on the year, but their two losses (against #5 Duke and #1 Kentucky) are certainly not "black marks" against them. Bill Self's team is led by the inside-outside threat of guard Tyshawn Taylor (16.8 ppg) and forward Thomas Robinson (17.4 ppg) and shoot 47.5% from the field as a team, including 35% from beyond the arc.
The key for the Buckeyes, aside from the availability and health of Sullinger, is to continue receiving solid play from Evan Ravenel off the bench, perhaps more this Saturday than against Duke, since Sullinger won't be at 100% if he plays. (Hint: I am pretty darn sure he will play) Sullinger leads the Buckeyes with 19.1 points a game, so it's important to get good starts from William Buford and Deshaun Thomas, who are second and third on the team in scoring, but are both notoriously streaky.
Ohio State is 3-4 all-time against Kansas, and 1-2 at Kansas. The only win in Lawrence was a 64-61 win against an unranked Jayhawks squad in 1983.
COACHING STAFF STILL IN FLUX Upon his hiring, one of the points that Urban was quick and clear ot point out was that he would do everything in his power to make sure that Ohio State's coaching staff, from top to bottom, was as good as any in the country. Since then, there have been a dozen or more names bantered about as potential additions, but as of yet, little has been substantiated.
We do know that some of the holdovers, like Luke Fickell, Taver Johnson and Stan Drayton have been out and about on the recruiting trail, and there are more rumors that Mike Vrabel has been as well, perhaps indicating that he would remain a member of the program moving forward.
Fickell, who will was in Maryland yesterday working on super-stud Stefon Diggs, will be making his way to Florida later in the week. He will almost certainly head up the defense (with or without a "co"-title) and perhaps the linebackers. Taver Johnson will remain as the cornerbacks coach, and Stan Drayton remain coaching the running backs. Vrabel, if he's in, would likely coach the defensive line (unless Luke wants to coach them, then Vrabel heads up the LB unit again). That's who is in, or in Vrable's case, trying to be.
That leaves a lot of questions on the rest of the staff, including almost the entire offensive side of the ball. The rumor that Notre Dame's Tim Hinton will join Meyer's staff has been strong and steady, so he could be penciled in at TE coach (or RB if other rumored choices, like former Minnesota HC Tim Brewster were to come aboard, moving Drayton to WRs possibly).
A few names have been tossed around as potential QB coaches, from former UM QB coach Scot Loeffler last week to ISU's Tom Herman this week. Another name to keep an eye on if Herman flames out is UConn QB coach Joe Moorhead, a Fordham grad who interviewed for the head job at his alma mater Tuesday, and is also rumored as a potential hire for Akron. The talk seems to be trending in the direction of Herman.
The two most important coaching slots, the defensive and offensive coordinator positions, continue draw the most debate and conversation, but neither position appears to be closer to clarification. One name that now appears to be fading from consideration though is Mike Stoops, who interviewed last week with Urban Meyer. Stoops falling out of contention may mean that Luke gets the full-time DC position, but Temple's Chuck Heater may also draw that attention.
Offensively, don't expect Clemson OC Chad Morris to be the guy, as he has re-upped with Clemson on a new deal. LSU's Greg Studwara remains the "favorite" among Buckeye circles, but he will likely be in line for any number of head coaching vacancies. "Stud" coached with Urban at BG before Meyer took the Utah job. Finally, if Studwara is not available, Meyer could look even deeper at the LSU staff, in the direction of WR coach Billy Gonzalez. Gonzalez was a member of the Florida staff under Meyer, and played at Colorado State when Meyer was coaching the WR's there in the mid-90's.
There are other names to think about, even if not seriously - including a few that have zero ties to OSU or Meyer, but that could certainly drum up dialogue if anything develops.
SCHUTTING DOWN THE MIDWEST? As Alex detailed yesterday, the USS Meyer recruiting ship is on the verge of becoming a runaway vessel, hellbent on destroying each and every opposition craft that dares get in its way. Or something like that.
This weekend will see players that are currently committed all over the B1G making their way to Columbus for a sit down with the new overlord of the midwest, and it's becoming a who's who of the nation's premier defensive line talent.
Se'Von Pittman, an MSU commit, Tommy Schutt, a PSU commit, and Noah Spence, currently uncommitted will vist this weekend. Spence is ranked as the top DE in the country according to Scout.com, with Pittman 9th. The Buckeye already have a committment from Cincinnati Taft's Adolphus Washington, who sits at #3 on that list.
Schutt, the #5 ranked defensive tackle nationally is a new addition to Buckeye recruiting conversation. The 6'3 290 pound from Illinois would be a mega coup as Meyer looks to restock a defensive line that will lose Nathan Williams and John Simon following next season. Stay tuned on this one, it's likely to get interesting.
RGIII WILL WIN THE HEISMAN TROPHY. At least according to this website, which seems to have a pretty good grasp on this sort of thing. I know there are a lot of different thoughts as to who should win it, but if Griffin wins it, then the voters got it right, in my opinion. I know there were others with astronomical numbers like Montee Ball, incredbile highlight reels like the Honey Badger, and unwavering awesomeness like Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson, but RGII was the most explosive, dynamic player I saw all year. He wasn't perfect, but this is a guy that single-handedly made Baylor a real player on the national stage.
QUICK SLANTS. Somethings are worth fighting for... Good thing there's no limit on the amount of space on the internet... Sun Devils fork June Jones over... This can help you do "stuff"... Fantasy play-offs getting started this weekend brought this to mind... Have you ever wondered how a superhero spends his free time?