Spring drills opened on Tuesday. Here's what you need to know from the pros:
- Urban Meyer presser bullets, in which he told defensive lineman Dylan Thompson "to do something."
- With 11 players sidelined during camp, Meyer admitted he's in uncharted waters.
- Bri'onte Dunn will get the first look at RB, but Mike Weber will push for time. In the end, as many as four players could tote the magic diamond for the Buckeyes.
- Offensive observations: Dontre Wilson looking sharp, Johnnie Dixon looking healthy, and more.
- Defensive observations: Tracy Sprinkle and Michael Hill and with the first-team defensive line, Eric Glover-Williams worked with the first-team safeties, and more.
Hard to believe it's been five springs under Meyer. It seems like two weeks ago I marveled at the novelty of Braxton Miller and five wide receivers on the field at the same time.
"Life comes at you fast," originally an insurance tagline, will go down as one of the 21st century's greatest proverbs.
THE OLENTANGY WOULD RUN RED. Us fans love to flaunt the term "student-athlete" and the value of an education from the university we all know to love. But how many of us would sit idly if a gang of professors nixed a championship bid to a Buckeye team fresh off a 50-20 stomping of Michigan in Ann Ann Arbor? Big Nut creating a hostage situation wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility.
Yet a professor power play was the case in 1961 when Ohio State faculty nullified a title bout featuring Woody's 8-0-1 Buckeyes against a UCLA team it smothered 13-3 earlier in the year.
Never in love with Hayes, nor with the power and prestige Ohio State football enjoyed in Columbus, the Ohio State University faculty voted 28-25 to decline the Rose Bowl’s offer, thus denying the Buckeyes any chance to play for, and win, a national championship: the trip went to Big Ten also-ran Minnesota instead. The faculty professed several reasons for their decision: some faculty felt that since classes would begin the day after the game, making the trip was a slap in the face of the university’s educational mission; others felt that the expense of transporting the team, boosters, officials, cheerleaders and band took valuable funds away from more important programs. Underneath the stated reasons for the vote lay the simmering dissatisfaction on the part of some faculty members with Hayes, and the football leviathan he had built at Ohio State.
When news of the vote hit, campus exploded. Thousands of students engaged in two days of rioting and protests, including an impromptu four-mile march to the Ohio Statehouse. Legislators railed, the Dispatch published the names and addresses of faculty members who voted to decline the Rose Bowl invitation, and the Ohio State campus descended into lawlessness. City, state and local police had to be called in to quell the disturbances.
It was in this environment that Woody Hayes had one of his finest moments. As incensed as he was, he asked for quiet on campus, and publicly stated his obeisance to the faculty decision. In a move that must have crushed the competitive coach, Hayes defended the faculty’s decision:
“I don’t agree with those 28 ‘no’ votes, but I respect the integrity of the men who cast them, if not their intelligence. I would not want football to draw a line of cleavage in our university. Football is not worth that.”
Even though the FWAA named that team national champions anyway, Ohio State suffered in recruiting for years.
That said, the dichotomy of Woody Hayes fascinates me. He could be a temperamental bully, but he could also make Abe Lincoln look thoughtless and divisive. (If only those forsaken Millennials would've heeded his words; maybe they wouldn't have embarrassed themselves by pillaging their community.)
Urban Meyer wouldn't have been so acquiescent if a humanities professor barred him from an opportunity to kick Nick Saban's for a Natty (beer or title). This is probably why professors no longer hold that kind of sway, because life is a spin-off of high school. Nobody pays money on Friday (or Saturday) night to watch kids read geometry books.
DECKER LOOKING SVELTE. LeCharles Bentley is one of the most respected offensive line coaches in America. Taylor Decker is one of the top offensive line prospects in the 2016 draft.
When two talented people collaborate, the harvest is bountiful:
People sometimes ask why Bentley isn't involved with the program as an assistant. It's because he makes a comparable salary (if not more) to run his own dojo.
DEVELOPMENT IS IN THE AIR. Urban Meyer instills intensity into everything his team does, but that doesn't mean there aren't differences between spring drills and fall camp. (Differences beyond, you know, staying at a hotel and grueling two-a-days under the August sun.)
“Fall camp is a grind. Spring ball is great,” [former offensive lineman Steve] Rehring said. “It’s a lot of fun, because you’re not preparing for the game. Guys are serious about winning a spot and developing their own game, but there is not the pressure to get ready for game week. It’s more physical than mental. You’re just playing football."
“Spring practice is really about setting the tone for next year and what you want to accomplish,” Rehring said. “If you’re third team, it’s a chance to move up to second or maybe even first. Especially with this team, there are a lot of spots to fill. It’s a chance to step up through internal competition, to set yourself apart.”
But not fall apart. As Rehring put it, a player can lose his job in the fall by having a bad spring.
This makes me feel better about the 11 guys missing spring practice due to various injuries. It gives Ohio State a chance to develop critical depth across the board.
BAKER MAYFIELD CONCERNED ABOUT HERBSTREIT'S PICKS. How did you spend your Monday afternoon? Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield worried about Kirk Herbstreit's objectivity come September:
— Baker Mayfield (@baker_mayfield6) March 8, 2016
It bemuses me how fired up people get over Kirk Herbstreit, a guy who drops benign college football #takes for a living. Although it's good to see the Buckeyes already rented some real estate in Mayfield's mind. The paranoia of the OSU media machine's tentacles should thicken throughout the offseason.
As part as the vast conspiracy, some Ohio State media members—maybe even Herbstreit—will pick the Sooners to win at home against a young Buckeye squad.
LAKERS CHAMPIONSHIP PARADE ROLLS ON. The Los Angeles Lakers, who won the NBA championship on Sunday by beating the Golden State Warriors, have reached the point of boredom where they're hitting trick shots as part of their victory parade.
Here's D'Angelo Russell showing off before the Lakers' merciful exhibition against the pitiful Orlando Magic:
As required by The Washed-Up Man Act of 1789, I'll be in bed before this 10:30 p.m. ET affair ends. My prediction is Byron Scott uses this Vine as a reason to bench him in crunch time.
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