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Mr. B Is Looking For Signs

We are looking for signs.

I'm back, baby! Albeit briefly ...

We are looking for “bye signals” just a year after everyone around Buckeye Nation screamed “Sell, sell, sell!” Think about where we were a year ago.

Team record of 6-4 with three more losses to come. The coaches were, well…hapless and hopeless. The Peter Principle which states the employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence had taken effect with a vengeance. Common sense was no longer common and we were on our way to the most losses since the 1800s with no specific relief in sight. New recruits? A new head coach? More inept manipulations by the clowns at the top of our beloved program?

But fast forward to the here and now. As my boys in AC/DC would put it: “Hey Mama – look at me! I’m on my way to the promised land!”
No Highway to Hell here, although this is a Bucket paved with the best intentions. No, we are 10-0 and who amongst you doesn’t think the best is yet to come? Super coach Urban Meyer stalks the sideline growling and fuming over every little (and plenty of big gaffes, mistakes and mental errors). Hoo boy, plenty of those. He aims to correct all of it. He will dance this mess around to the heights we only used to think of as dizzying.

This football Saturday has been the first of the season we haven’t followed by railing and whining and bitching. I know we didn’t play but that’s almost beside the point. After winning, Buckeye Nation next loves most to complain. Hey – we have tickets for the game so we get the right to complain, no? And some people watch for free. And they complain, too. As Will Rogers put it pithily, “People that pay for things rarely complain. It’s the guy you give something to that you can’t please.” But he was talking politics and we aren’t. No way.

I am going out of my way not to offend anyone in these perilous times. I am listening to others’ opinions no matter how insightful or unknowing. I am heeding my parents’ warnings to respect my elders but they are getting harder and harder for me to find!

No, old Mr. B enjoyed the “bye” gone days. Now let’s get back to football. And looking for those signs…


Spanning the College Football Globe: The Facts and the Pub

With dogged determination, we are out looking for signs. And – yes – sometimes we get carried away…

The Big Ten and National Scene review by Dan Rubin, Bucknuts Publisher

*Attention, Indiana: That was not a performance worthy of a Big Ten title game participant. The fact the premise even existed that would have had the Hoosiers playing for the conference crown lets you know just how silly this Big Ten season has become.

*Give Wisconsin credit for taking care of business in dominating fashion in Bloomington to earn an asterisk-laden trip back to the Big Ten title game. But let’s see how the Badgers fare when a competent Division One outfit comes calling next weekend.

*Do we think Nebraska is consistently rope-a-doping opponents or do we think the Huskers are just more talented than Big Ten opponents like Penn State and Northwestern and that talent inequity wins out in the end? Having seen the Huskers in person, they are a big, physical, athletic group.

This approach of sleep-walking through the first half before waking up to beat a lesser opponent has become routine. But it wasn’t the night they got pounded in The Shoe. The one Big Ten team clearly more talented than Nebraska – your Ohio State Buckeyes – gave Nebraska a dose of its own medicine.

*Kirk Ferentz: No longer a coaching genius.

*This is the season that almost was for Northwestern. Wins over Nebraska, Penn State and Michigan in one campaign would have had them pouring in the mold for a Pat Fitgerald statue. Instead, Fitz’s squad lost to each late. Ouch.

*Is it possible – possible – that Devin Gardner is a more effective quarterback than ‘ol Shoelaces? Not as exciting, no, and not the home run threat, no, but more effective? Ray Roundtree and his 139 receiving yards yesterday on line one to weigh in…

He good.

*Bottom line from your Big Ten weekend? Bad season for the conference. Real bad. Really … bad.

And now a look at the national scene …

*Yesterday was my first chance for an extended look at Johnny Football. I’m sure there are a lot of ‘Bama fans saying the same thing although their account might be a tad more traumatic.

Dude can play.

Listen, it was written here last week and I meant it: There is not a player in Division One I’d swap Braxton Miller for. Think Texas A&M fans would make a Manziel-Miller deal? What Manziel did for the Aggies in Tuscaloosa doesn’t just mean he won’t pay for a meal in College Station and its surrounding areas for the rest of his life. It should have earned him a spot alongside Brax, Collin Quinn and [TBD] in New York for a certain award the Downtown Athletic Club gives out annually.

It also vaulted A&M’s Kevin Sumlin to the top of the spread-run it up-approach class of young head coaches. With Manziel a redshirt freshman and Sumlin at the helm of his dream job, it might be time to move that club out of the counterfeit category long-term.

*Notre Dame never really leaves you all that impressed but the Fighting Lane Kiffins could be all that stands in its way of a shot at the whole thing. Provided the Irish handle woeful Wake Forest next week, the ND-USC game in primetime on Nov. 24 will be ratings gold for ABC.

*Not even going to allow myself to think about Oregon, Kansas State or Notre Dame all losing at least once in the next few weeks while a certain Columbus-based squad wins its last two. Not yet, at least.

Always looking to the future. Always feeling positive!

*So here is what I think the top 10 SHOULD BE now: 1. Oregon; 2. Kansas State; 3. Notre Dame; 4. Ohio State; 5. Alabama; 6. Georgia; 7. Florida; 8. LSU; 9. South Carolina; 10. Florida State

That's it for me ... back to Mr. B and your regularly scheduled programming ...

Sudden impact – who is coming in that can play in 2013?... As we are grading and upgrading our beloved Buckeyes, we get back to the basics: rootin’ and recruitin.’ So I ask, which guys in the Class of 2013 will make “instant impact” on our evolving Buckeye team? This is the way I see it as of Sunday 11-11-12:

Jalin Marshall has a chance to be a superstar on pure talent alone. But where does he fit? He won’t displace Jordan Hall or Philly Brown in the Percyharvin (all one word…) role. So the impact will be gradual. Joey Bosa might be our highest ranked newcomer but as talented as he is, will probably not blow by Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Se’Von Pittman, Steve Miller and others. He could make an impact in the two-deep though. Offensive linemen? We have four starters back and Taylor Decker/Kyle Dodson anxious to make their move at tackle. Plus, there’s Chase Farris, Joey O’Connor and Jacoby Boren already primed in the two-deep.

Where do we need the most help? I would say safety (safety first!) and then linebacker. I think the young pups will bite next year at linebacker because, well…because they have to. Safety? Whew. Vonn Bell would be a huge help and a strong possibility for “sudden impact.” Cam Burrows could be in play back there as well and Eli Woodard is likely a two-deep guy from Day One.

Our other very highly ranked guys? I am seeing JT Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott having to wait their turn (plus Barrett will be re-habbing and we will have six (!) running backs). Two good defensive tackles are coming in (Billy Price and Michael Hill) but they will have to fight for scraps with Tommy Schutt and Michael Bennett and others established (it would help them if Big Hank moves on).

And there are likely more to come – a wide receiver or two, but I think we have a surprisingly good rotation already there.

So who is the one guy that we really need and will make the most immediate impact? Mr. Bucknuts sez: It will be our lowest ranked recruit, Johnny Townsend at punter. He is already better than Ben Buchanan (he of the short distance, no hang-time and taking-the-extra- step to fire his gun). The move from high school to college for a punter is only about nerves as everything else is pretty much the same.

The move from high school to college for Townsend will only about nerves as everything else is pretty much the same.

Maybe Percy himself is still out there somewhere but look for a Johnny Townsend/Frank Epitropoulos battle and Johnny will get his gun.

The ‘Canan will be heard from no more!

Hoke: I built that!... The Hoaxster has done middling well up north with players that were handed to him by The Riddler (DickRod). Now, all Michigan optimists (if that’s not redundant) say: Hey – wait until he gets his own recruits in! Well, we can wait.

We know he has a pretty good O-line with more coming in. We will stipulate to that. But who will they be protecting? The Gumby-armed Russell Bellomy or maybe the four-time Heisman winner to-be, Shane Morris? So far, reports on Morris are more three-star rather than the amped-up five-star rating. But maybe that’s simply biased/wishful thinking on Bucknuts’ part. So let’s dig deeper and ask: Who will those Michigan quarterbacks be throwing to – the super receivers that Brady is recruiting for the 2013 class?

This year, in an otherwise good class for the UMmers, here are the Michigan receiver recruits and their star ratings:

WR Jaron Dukes - 3 stars – Next best offers: Illinois and Toledo

WR Csont'e York - 3 stars – Next best offers: Illinois, Syracuse and Cincinnati

WR Da'Mario Jones - 3 stars – Next best offers: Central Michigan, Bowling Green and Toledo

The SS Michigander – she be taking on water!

When Ohio State still has a half-dozen on the board at the wide-out position and we are fighting off all the big boys and the potential OSU receivers are 4-5 stars and Braxton will be throwing to them next year and the year after, well…I like my chances to flip channels on those Flintstones. Like the difference between Bam Bam and Pebbles when it comes to recruiting…

Bottom of the Bucket

Mr. B scrapes up some final thoughts …

***Serendipity versus synchronicity…Pure random luck or meaningful coincidences? The planets aligning or just a roll of the dice?

Bear with me here as I take this example from the world of music. Fifty years ago, Decca Records wanted to sign one of two “finalist” groups to a big contract and have them tour England. They were unanimous in deciding upon Brian Poole and The Tremeloes, a can’t-miss quartet. The second place finishers were John and Paul and George and Pete, later charting some success as The Beatles. Well, not Pete, the drummer at the time. Pete Best had a really bad recording session on the day those Beatles tried to lay down “Love Me Do”, their first single. They fired him and hired Ringo from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. One bad day (certainly not his “Best day”), but timing is everything. Another trivia fact to impress your friends: Pete Best played more on stage in his career with the Beatles than Ringo did. Go figure

Some bad luck, some good luck. Like recruiting, which might be more art than science. The coaches saw Braxton Miller at nearby Wayne High School – allegedly offered him as a freshman. But on that same field was teammate Jerel Worthy, later to become one of the best nose tackles in the country. Unnoticed, to our detriment.

And we crack on Jim Bollman as someone who can never figure out trash from treasure. This year, Jim recruited two O-line prospects to Boston College that even the MAC teams didn’t want. The recruiting services wouldn’t list them as committed until Bollman called the services in person and insisted it was true! Whew – there is something to be said for consistency, at least.

Even after they get to Columbus, there still the art of the analysis. You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, as Joni Mitchell sang. Like when Bucks didn’t play Nate Ebner but the New England Patriots did. Or when Tress went to Alter High School to get a quarterback (Austin Boucher), a school with big Buckeye ties – like Jerry Rudzinski and Nick Mangold, f’rinstance – and he sees and passes on Chris Borland. Well, Austin will play a year or two at Miami after Zak Dysart is done. Borland will have four fabulous starting years at Wisconsin at a position we really need: linebacker. Just get the Ohio linebacker boys, Coach. Borland and Hicks and DePriest would have been, uh, an advantage over Shazier and Storm and Sabino, no?

Sometimes there’s no connection and other times you wish your call didn’t get through…

In the last NFL draft, we saw Ohio kids Luke Kuechly, Jerel Worthy, Whitney Mercilus and Isiah Pead all go in the top 50 picks. Fact-check this for me but I don’t think we offered any of them. Serendipity. Synchronicity.

It all adds up for us relentless recruitniks…


A Few Bullets at the Bottom

Quick hits, cheap shots and fill-in (the blanks)

***2012 Buckeye All-Americans?... As not all Americans realize, last season broke a 21-year streak in which Ohio State had at least one football player listed on someone’s first team All-American squad. That happens when most of your best players are suspended and the team has no coach and performs poorly. This season? Well, the following have been listed on “someone’s” mid-season All-American team, although not all on the first team: 1) Brax 2) Hankins 3) Roby 4) Norwell 5) Jack Mewhort 6) Reid Fragel and 7) John Simon. Significantly, most are underclassmen and there is a good chance that none will actually be first-teamers (unless one wins a Heisman)…

Don’t need to be a weatherman…to predict how these winds have been blowing. We all recognize the absurdities of the pre-season anythings as it comes to predictions. Here is yet more evidence: Do you remember the preseason Heisman favorites? (USC's Matt Barkley, Wisconsin's Montee Ball, Michigan's Denard Robinson, OU's Landry Jones, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, West Virginia's Geno Smith, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore.) Hasn’t worked that way like many pre-season predictions…
(As for over-hyped pre-season teams, I am nominating Oklahoma and Virginia Tech to be the new “Notre Dame” – the previous standard-bearer for that award)

** Mark your calendars…The 2014 BCS Championship Game is scheduled for January 6. That game, the final title contest for the Bowl Championship Series before the new playoff format is incorporated, will be played at the Rose Bowl; which would be ultimately fitting for a Buckeye Bash, no? (I am buying my tickets this year to beat the Buckeye rush…)

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