Back in December, with most of the recruiting class signed, it looked like February 7th would be a quiet day on the calendar—all things considered.
Instead Urban Meyer could add nine stars with two Signing Day commits and the Basketball team plays a top-15 matchup in the lair of the Midwest's most infamous serial killer, Purdue Pete.
Let's do this!
- Gene Smith called Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher contract "ridiculous" and Nick Saban's ballooning Alabama salary a "reactive style of management."
- Tracy Sprinkle snubbed as 11 Buckeyes accept NFL Combine invites.
- Options for replacing Greg Schiano (should he depart for New England).
- Greg Oden helping Buckeye big men prepare for Purdue's Isaac Haas.
- Reserve your (or your business’) spot next to the life-size statue of Woody Hayes coming to Newcomerstown!
Word of the Day: Treacle.
BOILER DOWN. No. 14 Ohio State tips off against No. 3 Purdue tonight in West Lafayette at 8:30 p.m. on BTN. The contest features the two frontrunners for Big Ten Coach of the Year in Chris Holtmann and Pete's underboss, Matt Painter.
“It’s probably more an art than anything in sports,” said Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News college basketball writer and Big Ten Network studio analyst. “There’s less science to that then about anything else you could have.”
Both present compelling cases. Purdue, a veteran-laden team, entered the year ranked No. 20 in the preseason Associated Press poll and took its only two losses while playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“Senior teams are very difficult to coach sometimes because they’ve been there, done that,” ESPN analyst and former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “They’ve heard your voice, and keeping their attention and focus during the season (can be hard). They’re great to coach, but they’re tricky to coach too. You have to connect with them, keep things fresh and challenge them. His ability to communicate and trust in the relationship is really important.”
Look, if Chris Holtmann doesn't win the award (barring a six-game slide to end the season), then go ahead and retire that trophy to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
On the other hand, the etching on the trophy may start tonight if Holtmann pulls an upset sans starting shooting guard Kam Williams, who remains suspended.
I'm not expecting a win. The short-handed Buckeyes weren't deep to begin with, and they have yet to play a game in an environment as Purdue's Mackey Arena.
If Keita Bates-Diop gets hot, however, bets are off (unless you made that bet with a bookie, who will break bones over unpaid bets).
Harken back, if you will, to 2010, when Evan Turner (32 points) out-dueled Robbie Hummel (35 points) for a win in enemy territory:
The loss still stings Hummel, as it will for the rest of his natural life:
ET out here ruining everything for us https://t.co/DYMraGK9yM— Robbie Hummel (@RobbieHummel) February 6, 2018
IT SWITCHED! After analysts predicted a quiet National Signing Day for Ohio State when flirtations with Dayton Dunbar three-star running back Tavion Thomas disintegrated, an unexpected tsunami of crystal balls crushed Columbus yesterday.
There are two names to watch today:
Four-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste chooses between Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Ohio State at approximately
8 a.m.12 p.m. after his school cancelled due to inclement weather.
- Five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, the No. 1 tackle of 2018, will announce during the 10 a.m. hour on ESPNU's NSD special. He will choose between Alabama, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio State.
Expect good news for the local team.
That said, Ohio State has positioned itself to land a commitment tomorrow morning from Oradell, New Jersey, Bergen Catholic four-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste despite the fact that he's been trending toward Nebraska for the better part of the last two weeks.
Academics are the most important factor to Petit-Frere and his mother, but that combined with the opportunity for early playing time and life after football has put the Buckeyes right in the thick of things late in the process.
The Gators have long been considered the favorite in Petit-Frere's recruitment thanks to proximity, but Ciao also said the Buckeyes hit this past weekend's official visit — which included a one-on-one sit down with defensive coordinator and area recruiter Greg Schiano — out of the park. Petit-Frere has kept things extremely close to the vest throughout his entire recruitment, but there's a lot of confidence in Columbus right now, hence the flurry of crystal ball predictions in favor of Ohio State this afternoon.
That's where we are with Urban Meyer: He can lose an in-state five-star tackle to Clemson and replace him with the only higher-rated prospect after two weeks of recruiting.
And FYI, here's how you pronounce his last name:
A heads up for tomorrow, its peh-tee freh-rare: https://t.co/3fv6NAiWSp— Andrew Lind (@AndrewMLind) February 6, 2018
For the uninitiated, here are highlights for your digestion. They both pass the highlight reel test:
EVIL WON'T VISIT SHOE... THIS YEAR. Unlike most people, I admit I have terrible taste in music. However, I can tolerate any kind—from Mozart to Nickelback— for hours on end with only two exceptions: hardcore death metal and country music.
Thankfully, there won't be a country congregation this year in our beloved Horseshoe.
Buckeye Country Superfest will take a hiatus in 2018 despite having drawn hundreds of thousands of people to Columbus since 2015.
The decision not to hold the two-day event at Ohio Stadium this summer was made in an attempt to keep the show from losing its spark.
“We’ve had the biggest headliners in country music,” said Gary O’Brien, director of communications and program development at the Schottenstein Center. “It takes a unique act to be able to headline a football stadium. They have to be at a certain level, and there’s only so many of them.”
As time goes on, there will be fewer and fewer headline acts... and fewer people willing to buy tickets with money. Until, eventually, humanity will blot the genre from history.
Props to Ohio State for maintaining the structural integrity of the Horseshoe, if only temporarily.
MEANWHILE... Ohio State could finish with the No. 1 recruiting class in America. Michigan fans didn't awake this morning with similar hopes. Their coach is out here recruiting like a mid-table Power 5 team.
Michigan signed 31 four-star prospects and four five-stars in back-to-back classes, providing the foundation for a team worthy of national aspirations. But the 2018 class, which will become official Wednesday during the recruiting cycle’s second national signing day, is devoid of the blue-chip players that are a prerequisite for the College Football Playoff.
The Wolverines have zero five-stars and just eight four-stars, a surprisingly low number for a blue-blood program with a head coach who carries significant cache on the recruiting trail. Meanwhile, Big Ten East brethren Ohio State and Penn State have two of the nation’s best classes.
Michigan’s class is ranked No. 14 by ESPN, No. 16 by 247Sports, and No. 17 by Rivals. Perhaps the most frequent criticism of Harbaugh and Co. is their penchant for taking projects, or players who are unheralded but could develop into stars.
Tell me that won't put a pep in your step this morning as you enter the office planning to fake work while refreshing Eleven Warriors until lunch hour, which will last 128 minutes.
*Billy Mays (peace be upon him) voice* But wait! There's more!
Ohio State has 11 top 100 players in its 2018 recruiting class.— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) February 6, 2018
The rest of the Big Ten has a combined 6.
Five of those are committed to Penn State.
The other is committed to Michigan in Otis Reese, who may flip to Georgia.
MGoBlog is definitely turning off the comments if the Buckeyes win a recruiting championship and the Wolverines lose their top-rated recruit to Nick Saban's adult son.
Plenty of them will rationalize it with "Stars don't matter." Yes, there are always examples of recruiting misses (Pat Elflein as Ohio State's lowest-rated recruit in 2012, for example.)
That's either strategic ignorance about statistics or stupidity.
"Recruiting rankings don't matter."— Nick Piotrowicz (@NickPiotrowicz) February 6, 2018
Except every single one of the past 17 national champs had at least one top-10 class within 3 years of winning it. pic.twitter.com/rt0SkgpjLQ
Makes you wonder if some Michigan fans won't be relieved after the Colts make a Godfather offer to Harbaugh after Josh McDaniels spurned them last night.
Am I serious or am I just trolling the 15 Wolverine fans that read my column for some reason? The answer is both.
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