Only one more day until Buckeye football is back in our lives. I'm going to spend the day by not getting caught shoplifting from Belk while also in possession of a $450 Belk gift card.
BOWL KINGPIN. Here's a stat you'll see during tomorrow's big game: Urban Meyer is 10-2 in bowl games.
Meyer has shown an ability to get the best out of his players, whether at Bowling Green or Ohio State. It all starts with a unique approach to a time of season that can easily turn miserable for coaches and players.
"Urban's just got a great ability to have meticulous detail and a knack for preparation, just getting the most out of players and coaches," said Boston College coach Steve Addazio, an assistant for Meyer at Florida when the Gators went 5-1 in postseason games with two national championship game victories. "It's working the clay and molding it. That approach to the bowl season, it's one of the many things that makes him different and elite."
Meyer's bowl approach is aligned and adaptable, firm and fun, and built around balance and variety. He understands he can't approach the layoff between the end of the regular season and a bowl game, which ranges from three to five weeks, like he does for a normal game. He also knows that even the most proven template for postseason success must be tweaked for each team. And he knows he needs help from trusted staff members to get the team to peak.
He goes, 'I've been on staffs in different places where you make bowl games so miserable for the players, coaches, everyone, trying to figure out a way to run power for the 19th time,'" said Rutgers defensive backs coach Bill Busch, who held the same post at Utah in 2003. "His deal was to have good energy and a good vibe and have the team in the right frame of mind. He made that very, very clear."
Judging by the looseness of the team at yesterday's media day, it looks like Meyer accomplished his goal once again, although final judgment ultimately depends on Saturday night's outcome.
Of course this record may not matter because Meyer is facing the guy who handed him that L. (An aside: It's hilarious that it's 2016 and Lloyd Carr has more wins over Urban Meyer than Brady Hoke and Jim Harbaugh combined.)
But as a competitor, you can remember every detail about your defeat. Losing to Clemson in 2014 was bad, but nearly three years later it switched.
THAT SNAPCHAT IS SO HOT RIGHT NOW. Whitney is five years younger than me. That gap turns into 150 years whenever she shows me "a Snap." Facebook disgusts me. Instagram is okay, but the non-chronological timeline is a joke. Twitter is somehow the best and worst thing to happen to my career.
Lucky for you guys, though, I don't control Ohio State's social media presence, which is as good as you'll find in college football. Meyer admits he beefed it up after witnessing success Clemson had with it.
As Ohio State’s football program attempts to capture fleeting attention spans of teenagers, it has turned to young talent like Sam Silverman, 26, and Kenton Stufflebeam-Hessler, 19, to join their graphics department. Silverman started as a volunteer with the Buckeyes in 2012 working at a pizza shop to supplement his income. He served a two-year internship and now is a full-time graphic designer for the football program. (He went to Ohio State with dreams of designing shoes for Nike.) He encapsulated his job interview with Meyer this way: “He said, ‘There’s three things I care about,’” Silverman recalled. “One is recruiting. Two is recruiting. And the third is recruiting.”
Meyer often speaks of investment, and few can offer a more tangible sign that Stufflebeam-Hessler. He has tattooed on his arm a handful of the core tenants of Meyer’s program including, “4-6 A-B, E+R = O” and “Take Care of Yourself” (Four to six seconds from point A to point B and Energy + Response = Outcome are points of emphasis in the Buckeye program). Stufflebeam-Hessler is not a student at Ohio State, just a fan whose vast design talent landed him a dream gig helping the program he grew up rooting for. He beams with pride when showing how one of the Buckeyes’ top recruiting targets used a graphic he created as his Twitter background. “They’re young pups,” said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith. “It has happened so fast and just evolved. It’s important. And they get after it.”
On game day, all of the creativity team has one task they execute through Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Says Silverman: “(Pantoni) wants it to be where a recruit in Florida can experience the entire gameday experience without having to come here.”
Personal shoutout to Stufflebeam and Silverman, two friends of the Skull Session. Having just turned 30, I may have to get "Take Care of Yourself" tattooed on my forehead before filing for social security next week.
And what a stroke of genius from Pantoni. It's much easier for a recruit to open Snapchat than travel to Columbus, and even a Snap critic like me can see the value when explained like that.
GLOVER-WILLIAMS TO ZONE 6, PLEASE. Dwayne Haskins drew rave reviews playing Clemson's Deshaun Watson in practice, but Haskins isn't a fluid running threat like Watson.
For someone to mirror that threat, Ohio State turned to safety that stands out on special teams.
“He’s a little shifty guy, a tough, rugged little dude,” linebacker Chris Worley said. “There’s not a lot of guys like that out there. He gives us a great look, and we’re grateful to have Eric Glover-Williams.”
Worley said he and others believe that Glover-Williams could have a future on that side of the ball, and have told wide receivers coach Zach Smith that.
“Before games, me, Marshon (Lattimore) and Malik Hooker sit with coach Smith and tell him that you’ve got to put Eric on offense, seriously,” Worley said. “He’s like the real deal with the ball in his hands.
Seems like just yesterday we were watching grainy cellphone footage of a high school fight and wondering if Glover-Williams would make it to Columbus. He did, and he looks to be the next in the long line of blue-chips who had to grow up to thrive in Meyer's program.
And while 2016 wasn't a breakout year, next year could be. The defensive backfield will be loaded, so I'm all aboard the Glover-Williams-to-Zone-6 swagwagon. Real recognizes real, and if three bosses like Worley, Lattimore, and Hooker are stumping coaches for you, you're a special talent.
For those who don't follow recruiting, here's a reminder of what Glover-Williams can do.
WHY NOT TWO PLAYOFFS? It looks like the Group of 5 has seen the financial benefits of the College Football Playoff and would like to create its own windfall.
Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier is among a growing number of Group of 5 officials that favor adding a playoff specifically for the Group of 5 schools.
"It's time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5," Frazier told ESPN. "Why not?"
"There is absolutely no ability for us (teams in the Group of 5) to be in that national title conversation," Frazier said. "That's just reality. Anyone that says we can: That's a flat-out lie."
Maybe Northern Illinois will never make the playoffs, but Tom Herman would have had quite the case if his team didn't lose to Southern Methodist, Navy, and Memphis.
YIKES. Alabama will be without defensive tackle Dakota Bell against Washington because he shot an index finger off two weeks ago while hunting in Georgia. Yes, that's exactly what you just read.
Alabama DL Dakota Ball looks like a deleted scene from The Revenant. pic.twitter.com/2JTTJxTr7v— Matt Scalici (@MattScalici) December 29, 2016
"I shot my finger off with a 12-gauge shotgun," he said matter of factly.
His left hand was still heavily bandaged, but he isn't shy about showing the picture of his missing index finger. A row of staples closed the gap where his index finger once was.
"It's completely gone," he said. "I shot it right at the knuckle and blew it off."
"I was tying a rope around the barrel and around the stock to keep the shotgun from falling out of my lap," Ball said. "I was tying rope around the barrel and it just went off. I didn't have my hand on the trigger."
I don't hunt, but if I did, this is why I would use a bow. It's a silkier weapon with less risk of self-injury.