August 26, 2014

Ohio State’s Marcus Hall gets Grantland “Athlete of the Year” consideration

Roger Federer, David Ortiz, and Cristiano Ronaldo all had their peer-dominating moments in 2013. As we come to a close, outlets across the world are publishing their “Best of” lists, typically focusing on heroic efforts and logic-defying comebacks. And while those stories all have some feel-good moments to them, Grantland’s Charles P. Pierce took things a different direction, heaping praise on the fist-throwing, bird-flipping offensive lineman of the Ohio State Buckeyes, one Marcus Hall.

The Ohio State–Michigan game would have been entertaining enough without the brawl that erupted after a kickoff. And the brawl would have been entertaining enough had Ohio State’s Marcus Hall not been ejected. And Marcus Hall would have been entertaining enough had he not reacted to being ejected the way he did.

Every year, we make a whopping big deal out of the traditional rivalry games — more so now since conference realignment has blown so many of them up. (Nebraska-Oklahoma, to name one prominent one, doesn’t exist anymore. Jerry Tagge wept.) So we cling to the ones we have, and we poison innocent trees over them, and we make terrific 30 for 30 documentaries about them. Michigan against Ohio State is one of those. Marcus Hall imbibed this from his youth. So his return guy takes a cheap shot and throws a haymaker from somewhere outside of Hamtramck. This results in the return guy getting his helmet torn off and thrown across the field. Marcus jumps in to protect the honor of Ohio from these helmet-tossing barbarians. This gets him thrown out of the game. The Michigan game! Fate is unkind to Marcus Hall, and now he has to walk up a tunnel lined thickly on both sides and above with Michigan people. So what does Marcus do?

Right there on TV, in front of god and the world, Marcus throws an emphatic double bird, both hands proudly over his head, both middle fingers proudly extended.

I mean, what would you have done?

As I’ve said before, if Marcus Hall ever pays for another meal in Columbus, people should be ashamed of themselves. Woody Hayes would have bought him a house.

[Related: Buckeyes and the Orange Bowl: An unsatisfying and challenging consolation prize]


Ohio State’s Roby to declare for 2014 NFL Draft

Ohio State junior cornerback Bradley Roby will declare for the 2014 NFL Draft following the end of the Buckeyes’ season. This relatively unsurprising news was declared by Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer on Wednesday. ranks Roby as the No. 2 cornerback eligible for the 2014 Draft, 15th overall, coming in behind only Oregon’s  Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

Roby, 5-feet-11 and 192 pounds, has eight interceptions and 32 pass breakups in his career at Ohio State. He considered entering the 2013 NFL Draft a year ago as a redshirt sophomore, but decided to return to Ohio State for “one more year.” Roby entered the season as a potential top-10 pick, but his rocky junior campaign—marred with mental mistakes, a suspension, missed tackles and an ejection due to “targeting”—has raised some red flags about his potential at the NFL level.

Meyer said Roby, who is techincally a junior, will be honored on “Senior Day” when Ohio State plays host to Indiana on Saturday.

[Related: Bradley Roby and Picking Nits]

ESPN: Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas needs help

In his quest to discuss the most over-worked and over-relient players in NCAA Division I men’s basketball, Basketball Prospectus’ John Gasaway has Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas front and center.

Gasaway, in a piece penned for, states that while Thomas’ growth over the last three years has been nothing short of brilliant, the way That Matta lives and dies by the 6-foot-7-inch forward is everything but.

Let’s get the obvious choice out of the way at the top, shall we? The arc charted by Thomas in his three seasons at OSU has been remarkable. Not only did the McDonald’s All-American come off the bench as a freshman, he actually didn’t come off the bench all that much, averaging just 14 minutes a game. Now look: Thomas is always on the floor, and he takes 32 percent of the offense’s shots during those abundant minutes.

At least when LaQuinton Ross is in the game Thomas has a partner in assertive shooting, but Ross averages just 19 minutes per contest. We’ve seen that a rotation of Thomas, a half-timer like Ross and six additional role players has not been very effective.

In the losses to Kansas and Illinois, Ohio State scored just 0.83 points per possession. Granted, that’s an extreme number that won’t recur. The Jayhawks aren’t exactly chopped liver on D, and on paper, this is still a pretty good OSU offense. But against top competition — the kind the Buckeyes will see quite often in Big Ten play — this offense is questionable because Thomas can’t do it all by himself.

Past Thomas, Matta’s rotation is filled with players who are efficient in the narrow sense, but one or two of those guys — whether it’s Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr. or someone else — need to be efficient while carrying a bigger chunk of the offense.

The knock on Thomas over his Freshman season was his willingness (and desire) to take every shot imaginable. Unfortunately, given the position the Buckeyes are currently in, it is Thomas who is now counted on to do just that. Thomas is, per ESPN’s Chad Ford, currently the 65th-ranked prospect for the 2013 NBA Draft.

[Related: Craft-tastic! Buckeye Point Guard Returns To Form In West Lafayette]