July 23, 2014

Four-star recruit Johnnie Dixon chooses Ohio State

One day after landing a five-star linebacker from the state of Georgia, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes have added a four-star wide receiver out of West Palm Beach, Florida. Deciding between Alabama, Miami and Ohio State, Johnnie Dixon, a 5-foot-10-inch burner from Dwyer High School, chose to call Ohio State home for at least the next three years.

Known for his elite speed and precise route running, Rivals.com has Dixon ranked as the 109th-best player in the country, the 17th best at his position. Dixon helped lead Dwyer to a state championship on Friday with a 55-39 win over Niceville, Fla., a game in which the receiver had five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s an immediate impact guy because of his speed and ability to play inside or outside,” said Rivals recruiting editor Mike Farrell. “I think he fits perfectly into what Ohio State likes to do because he can gain yardage after the catch and turn a bubble screen or slant into a nice gain and hit a home run here and there.”

Dixon is the 19th commitment for Ohio State. He had scholarship offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Purdue, and Virginia Tech among others.

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

Ohio State lands five-star recruit Raekwon McMillian

The much-maligned Ohio State Buckeyes defense landed a huge shot in the arm on Monday afternoon by landing five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan. McMillan, a 6-foot-2, 242-pound linebacker from Hinesville, Georgia, announced his commitment in a live ceremony at his school on Monday morning, providing Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer with yet another player from SEC country.

After teasing the crowd by grabbing the Alabama hat which was placed on his table, McMillan ultimately donned a red Ohio State cap to announce his decision. The linebacker stated that early playing time was an important factor in his decision. Meyer had previously been reluctant to start true freshmen on the defensive side of the ball, but defensive end Joey Bosa (a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) broke that mold this past season after replacing an injured Adolphus Washington.

“There was just something special about Ohio State,” the five-star recruit said.

McMillan had whittled his choices down to five finalists: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State. He is rated as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals and is also the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Georgia and the No. 19 player overall in the Class of 2014.

[Related: Video: Ohio State coach delivers a Braveheart-like speech to recruits]

Video: Ohio State coach delivers a Braveheart-like speech to recruits

Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs is slowly becoming one of the greatest orators of our region, a William Wallace of the recruiting trails. A year ago, he delivered one of the better recruiting speeches known to man. This past weekend, he took to the recruiting ranks once again, this time aiming his words at the class of 2014, all under the headline of What Makes Ohio State Special.

A few highlights:

“When you go to kick off, you’re going to know the other 10 guys are passionate, not just about Ohio State, not just about the university, not just about winning but about you.”

“We don’t win by accident at Ohio State. We win on purpose, and we win with a purpose.”

“You will expect your teammates to strain and stretch and fight for you, because that’s what you will do for them.”

“We’re waiting on a couple of you. We don’t mind saying it. We don’t mind looking you right in the eye and saying, ‘Come on and join us.’ What are you waiting for?”

“We’re going to be difference-makers, and that’s special. You get to be a part of it. You’ve got a front-row seat. Congratulations and thank you. This is going to be a phenomenal experience. I want you to watch today what the locker room experience looks like. I want you to get ready to go.”

Watch the full video. Would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance… Walk-ons are always welcome.

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

(h/t CoachingSearch.com)

While We’re Waiting…Buckeyes’ bowl game and Alex Tanney is a victim of the No Fun League

WFNYBanner wwwThe Boston Herald’s Ron Borges hoped for a fun interview with the Browns’ Alex Tanney before this Sunday’s game against the Patriots but instead found him to be another victim of the No Fun League.

“So the thought was here’s an upbeat story with a possible Hollywood ending. Two weeks after being signed off the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys, Alex “Trick Shot” Tanney has a chance to start an NFL game because both Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell are recovering from concussions. Had this not turned into a sad story rather than a glad story there would be no need to mention that quarterbacks who start games for the Browns seldom finish them.

To avoid writing about how the Browns have lost six of their last seven games plus two quarterbacks a call was made to Cleveland’s public-relations department seeking a few minutes of Tanney’s time. The reply was as surprising as his trick shots.

Browns PR director Zak Gilbert reported, “Alex doesn’t want to talk about the video. He doesn’t want to represent himself that way.”

He doesn’t want to represent himself what way? As a guy who can make a football do whatever he commands? What’s he want to represent himself as?

A week earlier, Tanney told the Cleveland media he “kinda regrets” making it. What’s to regret? That he had some fun with a football?” [Borges/Boston Herald] [Read more...]

Ohio State’s Urban Meyer is not a fan of the BCS

Without spending much time on it, because it’s not fair to our team for me to spend much time on it, I will say this — I think it’s a flawed system. But when you logically think about what the BCS people have done, and which obviously we’re all part of, I think it was great for a while. I think you take an imperfect system and you do the best you can without hosting a playoff. [...] I imagine there’s going to be controversy with the playoffs too, now. It’s not a 64-team playoff; you can only have four guys. What’s that fifth team going to feel like?

— Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, Monday, in discussing the current, and future, championship-crowning systems within the NCAA. The Buckeyes, despite winning 22 straight contests since Meyer’s arrive, continue to lose ground in the BCS standings, clinging to the No. 3 spot by one one-thousandth of a point.

[Related: Buckeyes hang 60 on Illinois but defense disappoints]

(Source: ESPN)

Buckeyes hold off Hawkeyes 34-24, Bradley Roby ejected for targeting

Iowa gave Ohio State all they could handle in a back and forth battle, but in the end the combination of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde proved to be too much firepower for Iowa to keep up with as the Buckeyes extended their winning streak to 19 games with a 34-24 victory.

Miller was  22-27  passing on the day for 221 yards and 2 TD’s to go with his 101 yards on ground while Hyde rushed for 149 yards and 2 scores on 24 carries. The Buckeyes never punted on the afternoon converting 10-14 on 3rd down.

Iowa started off the game by precisely carving up the Buckeyes’ defense for 12 play, 80 yard opening drive touchdown. Jake Rudock capped off the drive with a 2 yard playaction pass to CJ Fiedorowicz in the back of the end zone.

OSU answered with a field goal drive of their own to bring the score to 7-3. The drive was highlighted by fancy display of running by Braxton Miller who juked and spun his way to a 16 yard game. However the drive stalled on the Iowa ten yardline as Miller’s third down pass was knocked down.

The most talked about moment of the game came on Iowa’s next possession when Rudock completed a pass to Fiedorowicz, and Ohio State All-American corner back Bradley Roby launched his helmet and shoulder at Fiedorowicz, jarring the ball loose. Roby was flagged for a 15 yard penalty and ejected from the game thanks to the NCAA’s new “targeting rule”. The ejection was upheld by the replay booth who confirmed Roby’s hit was in fact a violation of the new targeting rule.

According to a handout produced by College Football Officiating, LLC, if officials see the following things, the risk of a targeting foul is high:

• Launching toward an opponent to make contact in the head or neck area.
A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust with contact at the head or neck area
• Leading with the helmet, forearm, fist, hand or elbow into the head or neck area.
• Lowering the head before attacking and initiating with the crown of the helmet.

According to that same handout, the following factors would indicate less risk of a targeting penalty being called:

• A heads-up tackle where the crown of the helmet does not strike above the shoulders.
• A wrap-up tackle.
• The head is to the side rather than used to initiate contact.
• Incidental helmet contact due to players changing position during the play.

The Buckeyes’ defense responded after Roby’s ejection by holding the Hawkeyes to a field goal and keeping the score at 10-3.

OSU’s next possession, Braxton Miller found a wide open Philly Brown streaking down the middle of the field for a 58 yard touchdown pass of play action.

The back and forth battle continued as Rudock methodically led Iowa back down the field on 15 play which ended in his second touchdown pass of the day, this time a 6 yard pass to a wide open Kevonte Martin-Manley in the back of the end zone. Iowa’s 15 play drive was the longest scoring drive allowed by the Buckeyes all season.

The Buckeyes threatened on their next drive coming to a 4th and 10 at the Iowa 29. Instead of opting for a 46 yard field goal attempt for Drew Basil, Urban Meyer decided to go for it. On 4th and 10 Miller threw a jump ball to Evan Spencer in the end zone. Spencer was able to get his hands on it, but was in double coverage and the play was broken up for a turnover on downs to allow the Hawkeyes to go into the break with a 17-10 lead.

Ohio State started the second half with a very Iowa like drive, controlling the ball on the ground and Miller going 4-4 in the air with controlled, efficient passing. Carlos Hyde pounded the ball in from the one yard line to give the Bucks a tying touchdown after a 13 play, 75 yard drive.

The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes traded scores once again. Devin Smith’s 14 yard touchdown from Braxton Miller was quickly matched by Jake Rudock’s 85 yard TD pass to tight end Jake Duzey leaving the score knotted up once again at 24-24 late in the 3rd in quarter.

Carlos Hyde gave the Buckeyes the lead back with 13:24 to play in the game after Hyde broke a tackle in the open field that knocked him 5 yards sideways, regained his balanced, sprinted towards the end zone and dove for the pylon for a 19 yard score.

After an OSU stop, the Buckeyes controlled the ball on the ground with more Miller and Hyde, leading to Drew Basil 25 yard field goal to bring the lead to 34-24 with 5:50 remaining.

Basil’s field goal proved to be the knockout punch on Iowa who battled back against the Buckeyes all day. Attempting a hurry up offense to Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock was intercepted by Tyvis Powell, giving the Bucks the ball back with a two score lead and 4:25 remaining.

[Related: Examining the Buckeye Defense at the midpoint]

 

While We’re Waiting…Rating the Browns offense, Breaking ‘Bama, and The American Pharaoh

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNYBanner www

 

“I’ve never really been in a situation where I’ve been doubted like this – and it lights a fire, motivates me to get into this building before anybody, study at night more than anybody because I want to prove everybody wrong,” Weeden told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “I want to prove to everybody that I can be the guy to lead this franchise to the places we want to go.

“If I’m worried about making mistakes, I’m making it harder on myself. So I just want to go out, have fun, just let it rip, and try to make the plays to help this team win. I have confidence in my ability and in everybody on this football team. So when I do it, hopefully, everybody will come back and say, ‘I can’t believe we doubted him.”’

Browns fans have doubts about Weeden’s ability to ditch the methodical minor league pitcher still ticking within.

“I hope Brandon proves me wrong,” said long-time Browns fan Breanna Makowski, 33. “If he can give us a reason to be hopeful, that would be great. Brian Hoyer came in and gave us reason to hope. It’s hard to be hopeful when you get crushed every time as a Browns fan.

“Brandon’s been too slow to get rid of the ball. Hopefully, he learned from watching Brian.”
[Corbett/USA Today]

[Read more...]

WFNY talks about Ohio State and off-field issues

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Urban Meyer probably feels like he can’t catch a break these days. In his first season as head coach of The Ohio State University, he had to deal with a postseason ban that he wasn’t expecting and the arrests of veteran leaders like Storm Klein, Jake Stoneburner, and Jack Mewhort. In the offseason since then, he’s seen the University President forced to resign, one of his former high profile recruits at Florida being arrested and charged with first degree murder, incoming recruits having legal issues (Timothy Gardner and Marcus Baugh), and now the issues with junior Bradley Roby and senior Carlos Hyde.

With all of these distractions taking place, it’s a bit of an uneasy time for Ohio State’s football program. As the arrests pile up, all in the wake of one of the biggest scandal’s in OSU history 2 years ago, public perception and national reputation are changing. With so much going on, it seemed like a good time for Kirk, Rick, and myself to talk about some of these issues and to share our opinions on what’s going on, and how much impact this will have on the school and the program. [Read more...]

NCAA Tournament: Statement on Ohio State-Iowa State charge

The NCAA has released an official statement on the controversial charge call from the end of today’s Ohio State-Iowa State third round game in Dayton.

Here is the response from John Adams, NCAA National Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating, that was sent out to the media this afternoon:

“I spoke with the official, and he determined the defender established legal guarding position outside the restricted area prior to the offensive player leaving the floor to start his shot. When asked, the official said he did not see the defender’s foot over the restricted area line. By rule, this is not a reviewable play.”

Moments after this supposed charge was taken by Aaron Craft, he nailed a three-pointer that sent the Buckeyes to the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles. Our friends at SB Nation have an excellent review as well of the detailed nuances behind this NCAA decision.

[Related: Animated: Aaron Craft sends Ohio State to the Sweet 16]

Big Ten Basketball – The Bizarro World

Tyler GriffeyIn case you have been all football all the time and have not paid the least bit of attention to what is going on in College Basketball so far, your old friend and College Hoops Honk is here to get you up to speed with the best conference in America.

My man @ClevTA (a must-follow on Twitter) said it best last night – Big Ten Basketball is the bizarro Big Ten Football right now. We watched all fall as mediocre team after mediocre team played boring, uninspiring football. Yes, your Ohio State Buckeyes came out undefeated under Urban Meyer, but even the most ardent OSU supporter would tell you this was far from a National Title type team. The next best thing in the league was probably either a Michigan team that was throttled by Alabama, scored nine points against a Nebraska team that allowed 70 to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, and needed a miracle bomb with less than a minute to go to force OT with Northwestern at home. An argument could be made for four loss Penn State as well, but two of those losses were at home to Ohio (not Ohio State, Ohio) and a bad Virginia team.

The bottom line – in the glorious history of the Big Ten conference, 2012 was as bad of a season as the league has ever had. [Read more...]

NCAA Basketball News: Ohio State Revises Coach Thad Matta’s Contract

While this season has been a bit of an up and down year for the Ohio State men’s basketball team, their head coach Thad Matta is still being rewarded with a revised contract that sees a boost to his annual salary. According to Rusty Miller of the Associated Press, the new contract will see him receive a 10% bump to his salary (bringing him to over $3.2 million per year) including academic bonuses.

Additionally, the contract also revises some language regarding NCAA violations. The contract now requires Matta to report anyone who “may potentially have violated NCAA rules”. The new wording is presumed to be an effort by OSU to avoid some of the ambiguities that made negotiations with Jim Tressel a little trickier in the wake of the email coverup scandal that ultimately cost the coach his job.

Thad Matta is now under contract with Ohio State through July 2019.

[Related: Meltdown In Game’s Final Minute Spoils Deshaun Thomas Show]

Braxton Miller finishes 5th in Heisman voting

Ohio State sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller finished 5th in the voting for this year’s Heisman Trophy. The star of Ohio State’s undefeated team received three first place votes.

Texas A&M redshirt freshman quartback Johnny Manzel won the award, collecting 456 first place votes. Manzel is the first “freshman” to win the award.

OSU LB Storm Klein Arrested

Ohio State senior linebacker Storm Klein was arrested Friday evening in Columbus on charges of domestic violence and assault.

Klein, who has started 10 games for the Buckeyes and a potential starter, remains innocent until proven guilty of course. But his arrest marks already the 3rd arrest for Buckeye players since Urban Meyer’s arrival.

The Buckeye coach came to Columbus with a reputation for having players with legal issues at Florida and while he didn’t recruit any of the players who have been arrested, this certainly isn’t going to sit well with the coach. If the charges stick, expect Klein to be made into an example by Meyer.

No details or comments have been released by Ohio State at this time.

OSU’s Jared Sullinger Not Invited to NBA Draft Green Room

This is not hyperbole right now. I’m not sure Ohio State has had a player with higher character than Jared Sullinger since Thad Matta took over. First round draft picks rarely need sympathy, nor to be hyped up, and it’s tough to feel bad for a guy who is about to be very rich playing the game he loves.

Never the less, things keep going bad for Sullinger. The latest comes from ESPN’s Andy Katz who reported that the NBA did not invite Sullinger to the NBA Draft Green Room. The distinct priviledge, normally reserved for the top 10-15 prospects, was once an inevitability for Sullinger. However, after the crushing blow of having doctors red flag him for his back issues, Sullinger’s stock has been in a free fall.

Surely being in the green room, while not the most important thing in the world, was a long time dream of Sullinger’s. Now that dream will never be realized, as he will be stuck on the outside looking in. Sullinger, who made the decision to return for his sophomore year rather than face an NBA lockout, was a likely top 5 pick last year. The decision to come back likely cost Sullinger at least 10 draft slots and millions of dollars over the lifetime of his rookie contract. Hopefully the experience and lessons learned from the extra year of seasoning will allow Sullinger to eventually make up the difference. Because, really, this could not have happened to a nicer guy who deserves it less.

Ohio State Wins ESPN’s Lawsuit Over Public Records

If you recall a while back, we talked a little bit about the ESPN lawsuit they brought against the Ohio State administration. The basis of the case is that when the Jim Tressel scandal broke, ESPN’s Tom Farrey made repeated requests for information from the University, citing Ohio’s Open Records Laws.

While OSU did turn over much of what Farrey and ESPN requested, some items were withheld by the University with the school arguing that turning over the records would violate FERPA’s student privacy protection guidelines. ESPN wasn’t satisfied with that answer, and took it to the courts to try to get the documents handed over to them.

It was an interesting case with some fairly serious ramifications no matter which way the courts decided. After several months of arguments, the court has reached it’s decision:

The court on Tuesday unanimously ruled that for the most part Ohio State properly shielded records as either protected by federal privacy laws or attorney-client privilege.

The court said in a few cases Ohio State must remove certain names from documents which it then must provide ESPN.

The court also denied ESPN’s request for attorney fees.

This is a big decision, not just for Ohio State, but for all public Universities with high profile athletic departments. While many media outlets were aligning with ESPN in the case, several educational institutions were siding with Ohio State. By upholding Ohio State’s right to protect the privacy of its students, a precedent has been set for similar future cases with other schools.

[Related: ESPN v Ohio State: The Lawsuit and What It Means]

Ohio State Lands 4-Star QB Prospect JT Barrett

Urban Meyer has landed yet another highly thought of 4-star recruit. JT Barrett, the 7th ranked QB prospect in the country out of Wichita Falls, Texas, confirmed Wednesday afternoon that he will be a Buckeye, according to Scout.com’s Bill Greene.

Barrett is a QB very much in the mold of Braxton Miller. Though Barrett is smaller than Miller, Barrett seems to fit the mold of what Urban Meyer wants to do with Ohio State’s offense. He is agile enough to keep plays alive with his feet and operate plays in space, but he also has the ability to stand in the pocket and make good throws. The very definition of a dual threat QB.

[Scout.com: Barrett Goes to the Buckeyes]

Jared Sullinger turning pro after sophomore season

After a move the surprised a few people in returning to Ohio State for his sophomore season, Jared Sullinger has decided to make himself available in the NBA draft.

Sullinger and Buckeyes coach Thad Matta are expected to appear at a news conference at 2:15 p.m. ET Wednesday at Value City Arena, on the Ohio State campus.

Short of winning the whole thing, it is hard to argue with Sullinger’s resumé for the NBA. Sullinger nearly averaged a double double in back-to-back years for Ohio State while playing over 30 minutes per game.

What remains to be seen is what path Sullinger’s NBA career will take as a 6’9″ power forward who seems somewhat undersized at times. When WFNY has discussed the topic, scenarios from LSU’s Glen Davis, to Duke’s Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer have all come up as potential NBA ceilings. There is little doubt though that Sullinger probably would have gone higher in last year’s draft than he will in the upcoming one, but we’ll see.

[Related: Jayhawks end OSU's NCAA journey]

The Sweet Sixteen and the NBA Draft: Cuse, OSU, Marquette, and Baylor

With the Sweet 16 upon us and the end of the NBA season rapidly approaching (didn’t it seem like this season last like a month?), this will be your (and NBA scouts for that matter) last few chances to see some of the top prospects play real competition. I have never been a “workout” guy. I go by what I see on the court.

With 16 teams left, I thought it would be a good time to take a look into who is left in terms of NBA prospects the Cavaliers could be interested in with four draft picks this June (two first rounders and two second rounders). If the season ended today, the Cavs would have the eighth worst record in the NBA. So unless they essentially end up losing out the rest of the way, they will be picking somewhere between sixth and ninth with their first selection.

The first part of this series, we looked at the #1 Kentucky Wildcats. We followed with the UNC Tar Heels.  This piece will focus on the prospects of Syracuse, Ohio State, Marquette, and Baylor. [Read more...]

Sullinger: “I was focusing on other stuff besides the basketball team”

The Ohio State men’s basketball team has certainly been struggling as of late, and perhaps the biggest reason has been the wildly inconsistent and unproductive play of star big man Jared Sullinger. Going into this season, Sullinger was on virtually everyone’s short list of national player of the year candidates. Now the talk is about how much damage Sullinger has done to his draft prospects this season.

It’s been a mind scratching season for Sullinger, the coaches, and fans and observers alike. Some have wondered if there’s an internal chemistry problem that is eating away at this team. But according to Sullinger, he’s just allowed himself to be too distracted as of late. Per Ari Wasserman of Scout.com:

It’s not one thing that’s been bothering Jared Sullinger, who admitted Tuesday that he hasn’t been playing his normal brand of basketball. It is the sum multiple small things that has had the sophomore All-American distracted.
And that could turn into one big problem for the No. 10 Ohio State basketball. Sullinger acknowledged that while offering an explanation for why he’s been playing noticeably different.

“It is just the little stuff,” Sullinger said. “It is just me letting the refs get to me, or letting everything on the outside get to me and it letting it creep in. I was focusing on other stuff besides the basketball team and what this team needs me to do to win basketball games.”

That may not be the only factor that has caused the Buckeyes (23-6, 11-5 Big Ten) to lose three of their last five games while slipping out of the race for the Big Ten Championship, but head coach Thad Matta most certainly knows the impact of not having Sullinger completely focused.

“I don’t know,” Matta replied when asked about his big man’s focus following the team’s 63-60 loss to Wisconsin on Sunday. “He was battling a cold, but he’s played with a lot worse than that. I know this: When Jared’s playing his best basketball, he’s engaged and into it.”

Sullinger and the Buckeyes return to the court tonight against Northwestern. It will be interesting to see whether the focus is back for the Buckeye big man.

[Related: Wisconsin Wears Out Buckeyes, Sends OSU Into Complete Meltdown]

Michigan Strikes Back at Ohio State in Recruiting War

It’s not just a rivalry on the football field. Perhaps the greatest rivalry in college football, the disgust and animosity these two states feel for one another permeates all aspects of life. If an Ohio State fan beats a Michigan fan in a coin toss, said Buckeye will feel the almost the same level of pride and joy that is felt on those cold November afternoons when the scarlet and gray came out victorious. Almost.

But where the battle between these two great Universities is quickly heating up the fastest is on the recruiting trail. And it’s a battle that could potentially have implications for The Game.

Not much known about Brady Hoke when he accepted the Michigan, but Hoke has wisely leaned on his Ohio roots to build connections with Ohio high school coaches. In his own way, Hoke is developing a tenacious reputation as a recruiter himself. He is showing no fear of Urban Meyer and seems to be content to go toe to toe with the new man in charge in Columbus.  [Read more...]