Tag:Luke Fickell
Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:09 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 3:49 am
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Ohio State to use two quarterbacks in opener?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the race to replace departed quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State has had four possible candidates emerge: Senior Joe Bauserman (pictured at right), sophomore Kenny Guiton, redshirt freshman Taylor Graham, and true freshman Braxton Miller. Each have their own considerable strengths and drawbacks, but the sense in the spring was that all four had a chance to compete for the role.

[READ MORE: Ohio State's four quarterbacks

Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the race has worked itself out to an extent, and two quarterbacks -- Bauserman and Miller -- have emerged as the top two quarterbacks in the mix. This isn't much of a departure from the consensus opinion from this spring; Bauserman's got far more time in the program than anybody else, and of the younger players, Miller's by far the most physically talented. 

Since two's an easier number to pick between than four, this means we're closer to getting a starting quarterback designation from head coach Luke Fickell, right? Well, via the Buckeye RapidReports... no:

QBs Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller are listed as co-No. 1 on the depth chart released Monday afternoon before the opener Saturday against Akron. Coach Luke Fickell has not said how long he’ll wait to designate a starter.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as Ohio State used the tandem of Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine back in 1996 to considerable success; those Buckeyes went 11-1, beating Arizona State in the Rose Bowl and finishing second in the nation.

Moreover, there's hardly permanence to a Week 1 status when it comes to quarterback races. In all likelihood, this race will sort itself out on the field over the next month or so, and if it doesn't lead to a starter by then, then OSU's probably better off going with a platoon instead.

Posted on: August 8, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Joe Paterno injured at practice after collision

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Scary news out of State College on Monday: Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has been hospitalized after getting run over by one of his players. Penn State announced that Paterno suffered injuries to his right arm and hip when unsuspecting wide receiver Devon Smith was running a route and ran into him. If there's any fortune involved, it's that Smith is scarcely bigger than Paterno, at 5'7" and 157 pounds. One shudders to think how much worse the collision would have been if Derek Moye (6'5", 202) had been the receiver involved instead.

Chris Fowler reported that Paterno's injuries are hairline fractures in both the shoulder and pelvis, and that neither will require surgery. That much is promising, but still: a broken bone is much worse news for Paterno than for, say, one of his players.

Now, it's not exactly news that Paterno is old. He's easily the oldest head coach in D-I football, and has been for a long time. People have been wondering if the next season would be his last for about the last decade or two. Old. Ollllld.

And yet, since Paterno's been maintaining his faculties to such a degree, continuing to coach football has been a possibility, so he's been coming back to the sidelines -- and coaching at a high level -- every year. Unfortunately, he's getting to the age where the body doesn't make much progress staying strong or healing quickly. There aren't many coaches other than, say, Pat Fitzgerald or Luke Fickell who can get trucked by an unsuspecting wide receiver and not get hurt. For an 84-year-old man, then, such a collision might be more than his body can fully recover from. And if that's the case, well, that'd be pretty lousy news.
Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Podcast: Mike Brewster talks 2011 Buckeyes

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's been a tumultuous offseason to say the least for Ohio State, but Rimington Trophy favorite Mike Brewster says the Buckeyes still aren't lacking for confidence going into their 2011 season under head coach Luke Fickell. Listen to his interview with CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer here:



Posted on: July 8, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 9:58 am
 

Report: Mike Vrabel could join OSU coaching staff

Posted by Chip Patterson

While the NFL lockout appears to be nearing the end of this extensive process, one legendary linebacker may already be considering a move into the coaching ranks. According to multiple reports, most notably from College Football Talk's John Taylor, "there's a very good chance" Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel will return to his alma mater and join Luke Fickell's staff at Ohio State.

As Josh Katzowitz from the Eye on Football pointed out, Fickell and Vrabel were roomates when they played for the Buckeyes. Vrabel technically is a free agent, and it is unknown what the market will be for the 35-year-old Pro Bowler with three Super Bowl rings. He started in all 16 games last season, and recently reminded media that he still has time left on the gridiron.

But when the lockout ends and free agency opens, it is possible that Vrabel will find his best fit back in Columbus. He has openly mentioned a plan to return to coaching eventually, and this kind of opportunity might be perfect for a passionate alum looking to aid a scarred program.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 6:30 pm
 

Hot Seat Ratings: The Big Ten And Zook's Quagmire

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's quick overview of the coaching situation this season, as per Dennis Dodd's 2011 Hot Seat Ratings

Big Ten    
Illinois Ron Zook 4.0
Indiana Kevin Wilson 2.0
Iowa Kirk Ferentz 0.5
Michigan Brady Hoke 1.0
Michigan State Mark Dantonio 0.5
Minnesota Jerry Kill 0.5
Nebraska Bo Pelini 0.5
Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 0.0
Ohio State Luke Fickell 3.5
Penn State Joe Paterno 2.0
Purdue Danny Hope 2.0
Wisconsin Bret Bielema 0.0
 
Obviously, this is a two-person list between Illinois head coach Ron Zook and OSU's interim coach Luke Fickell. One could theoretically argue that Fickell's rating ought to be higher, since he almost by default has to win big this year or he's out, but it's not exactly going to be a huge hit to Fickell's career if OSU ends up hiring a bigger-named coach after the 2011. It's not even a given that such a move would leave Fickell out of a job; wouldn't the transition period be softened if Fickell returned to being the assistant head coach for Ohio State under the new head coach, as was the arrangement under Jim Tressel?

As for Zook, though, his Illini are coming off a 38-14 thrashing of Baylor in the Texas Bowl (including this wholly unnecessary last-minute touchdown), and that 2010 squad set an all-time program record for most points scored per game with 32.54 ppg*. Considering the fact that QB Nathan Scheelhaase was just a freshman in '10 and all, the future would appear to be much brighter than Zook's job security would indicate.

But to think that is to ignore the history of Ron Zook, and the disappointment that defines his legacy.

It's to ignore the fact that the Texas Bowl berth was only Zook's second in six years at Illinois (the other being a still-unbelievable Rose Bowl, one in which Illinois was so thoroughly throttled by USC that ESPN eventually forced the Rose Bowl to start taking high-level non-BCS teams instead of marginally qualified Big Ten or Pac-12 teams). It's to ignore the fact that Zook couldn't go more than three games over .500 in any of his three seasons at Florida, while Urban Meyer turned Zook's players around and won a national championship with them two years later. 

Indeed, if there's any long-term method to Illinois' hiring of Zook, it was to replenish the talent stock to competitive levels, then to cut ties at the point when his teams started underachieving so a more disciplined coach can come in and take the program to new heights. Now, the fact that Zook's not only still around but the third-most tenured coach in the Big Ten means that A) it's been a weird decade in the Big Ten and B) Zook's actual accomplishments still do mean something. No coach is going to want to go to a football program that hasn't been to consecutive bowl games in almost 20 years, but will still fire a coach two years off a Rose Bowl bid, after all. Similarly, if Zook keeps getting to the postseason, he'll keep earning his paycheck year after year. So that's why he's still at Illinois and deserves to be.

It's just, well, it's hard to imagine that arrangement holding up on both sides for much longer. 

*Incidentally, that touchdown proved to be the difference-maker for Illinois breaking the record; they trailed the 2001 team by the slimmest of margins in PPG (32.50) before Zook called that bootleg. Now, a coach calling for a cheap touchdown long after a bowl game has been decided and his team breaking a program record on that play might just be a coincidence, but we're talking about Ron Zook here.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: June 17, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Buckeye signee Price asks for release

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With Jim Tressel gone and the NCAA hammer seemingly poised to fall this August, it won't be a surprise if some recruits who signed in February with Ohio State have second thoughts.

And now the first of those signees has made those second thoughts official. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Pittsburgh-area linebacking prospect Ejuan Price has requested -- but has not yet received -- a release from his letter of intent.

Price's Woodland Hills (Pa.) High School coach George Novak told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Price "just didn't feel any stability there" in Columbus, even before Tressel resigned and Luke Fickell took over as the Buckeyes' interim coach. Per Novak, Price doesn't have any particular school in mind as his fallback destination, but he has "some ideas."

As far as losing recruits go -- and assuming the OSU administration grants the release, a likelihood but not a certainty -- the Buckeyes could have absorbed a bigger blow than this one. Price was just one of four linebackers in Ohio State's 2012 class, including five-star recruit Curtis Grant; as things stand today, the Buckeyes have much, much bigger problems on their plate.

But if Price's decision to leave the program is just the first of many, the Buckeyes will end up needing all the bodies they can get. And right now, it looks awfully unlikely Price will ever be one of them.


Posted on: June 9, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:41 am
 

CBSSports.com CFB 100, No. 2: The Fall of OSU



Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's fitting that Jim Tressel's nickname was The Senator. In Columbus and around the rest of the nation, that nickname was used as unironic praise, a testament to the Ohio State coach's maturity, open faith, and businesslike approach to running his football program. The name stuck because it fit. It also stuck because people conveniently forgot that Congress is and always has been one of the most reviled institutions in American history, one whose abysmal approval ratings are fueled by an institutional history of corruption, hypocrisy, and mistruths. Oh, Jim Tressel is a senator, all right. People just didn't really know it.

Back in 2010, Senator Tressel made the grave error of placing his players, his program, and himself above the law of the NCAA, and that's why we're here today (here's the full timeline). He found out that QB Terrelle Pryor and several teammates had been receiving impermissible benefits back in April, and hid the evidence from his athletic department. Astonishingly, there isn't a guarantee that the compliance department would have punished Pryor or would have withheld him from the 2010 season; after all, the department ordered memorabilia dealer (and purported Pryor payer) Dennis Talbott away from the program during the season, but Pryor was allowed to remain eligibile. 

So now, not only is Tressel out of a job and likely facing a mammoth punishment from the NCAA -- not an ideal situation for a newly unemployed, 58-year-old coach to find himself in, to say the least -- but Pryor is gone from the program now as well, right on the heels of a major NCAA investigation into his relationship with several prominent Columbus figures, and there's even been some speculation that AD Gene Smith's job is on the line too, along with president Gordon Gee

There's also a distinct possibility that the NCAA forces Ohio State to vacate some or all of the 2010 season's victories. Tressel knowingly used several players who, under NCAA statutes, were ineligible to play. And if the NCAA does indeed come down hard and takes away the 31-26 Sugar Bowl victory -- the bowl for which the "Buckeye Five" had controversially been allowed special eligibility -- oh, how the cackles of glee will ring forth from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and throughout the rest of the Southeast. The one thing OSU had been able to hang its hat on from the 2010 season that it never could before is that elusive bowl win over the SEC. It's one thing for Arkansas fans to claim that the Buckeyes only got that win by cheating, after all; it's another for the NCAA to agree with them.

More on Ohio State
Related links

Still, it's worth reiterating that since the NCAA investigation is ongoing, it's impossible to know precisely how the story ends just yet. With Tressel and Pryor both gone from Columbus and thus no longer obligated to comply with the NCAA investigation -- though if Tressel ever wants to coach in the NCAA again, complying would be a wise idea -- the NCAA doesn't have as much to work with. That's not to say OSU's going to get off easy, though, since the NCAA probably has enough to justify significant penalties. How bad we're talking here remains to be seen.

As far as on the field goes, 2011 might be a little rough. Luke Fickell is the interim coach for now, and while there's probably a reason why Jim Tressel had named the 37-year-old his assistant head coach back in March, there's virtually no chance that Fickell has the gameday coaching chops, players' respect, or recruiting skill that Tressel had. No first-year head coaches do, for that matter. Fickell's going to have to make sure all hell doesn't break loose on that roster, keep as many recruits in the fold as possible, and also try to keep the team motivated for 2011 even if Ohio State receives some sort of postseason ban (an apt possible punishment, considering the strings pulled to keep Pryor and everyone else eligible for the game).

Meanwhile, under center, the loss of Terrelle Pryor could be disastrous. The long-running joke in Columbus was that the depth chart had been "Pryor and Prayer," and now Buckeye fans will have to prostrate themselves in front of the football gods in search of mercy. Left on the depth chart are four quarterbacks whose benefits scarcely outweigh their drawbacks at this point, and it's unlikely that any of them will be given a long leash in 2011 until a clear No. 1 QB emerges. Braxton Miller has the highest upside, but the kid is 18. Joe Bauserman was the backup last season, but he might not actually be any good -- and he's already 26. Neither Kenny Guiton nor Taylor Graham seems ready to start yet. Yes, this motley crew was going to have to take care of the offense for the first five games no matter what after Pryor was initially suspended by the team, but now there's no cavalry coming -- and Big Ten defensive coordinators know it.

More CFB 100
Related Links

The biggest consequence of Ohio State's fall from glory, though, might have nothing to do with Ohio State itself. Now, every compliance department is under increased scrutiny, whether from outside media sources or from within the program. There's no shortage of secretly terrified athletic directors who look at what's happening in Columbus and now have to double-check that their own athletic departments are actually on the up-and-up or if there's the possibility of serious malfeasanceColt McCoy's wife gave the city of Austin a collective minor heart attack when she went on the radio and described the uphill battle Texas' compliance office faces, but she stopped short of actually saying any violations had ever occurred. Is that because none had occurred, or she just knew better than to publicly admit anything? That's the type of million-dollar question every major football program faces now, thanks to Tressel and Ohio State.

And yet, regardless of what happens from here on out, the fall of Ohio State is still going to be an endless topic of debate in the 2011 season -- just as it has been already. Everyone's got an opinion on Tressel, and everyone's going to have an opinion on what the NCAA ends up doing to the Buckeyes. Once football season rolls around, all it'll take is one "how about this Ohio State situation" from a play-by-play announcer, and all of a sudden the guys in the booth have something to talk about for the rest of the fourth quarter of some inconsequential September blowout. Most of the opinions aren't exactly going to be positive, though Tressel will probably remain something of a sympathetic figure among the talking heads. He is not a crook, they will say, and they will be correct. Tressel is not a crook. He is a senator, and one whose senatorial hubris brought down his entire football program. Other powerhouses should take heed.

Posted on: June 7, 2011 9:58 pm
 

So who's Ohio State's next starting quarterback?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

With the wholly unsurprising but still consequential news that Terrelle Pryor is leaving Ohio State, there's now a rather large, quarterback-shaped hole in Ohio State's starting lineup. Finding a replacement QB isn't exactly a new challenge for the Buckeyes -- Pryor was suspended for the first five games of 2011 anyway -- but the dynamic shifts somewhat now that Pryor won't be coming to the rescue in Week 6. It's one thing to be a five-week placeholder; it's another to be a true No. 1 quarterback.

With that in mind, here's a look at Ohio State's new quarterback situation. 

Joe Bauserman, Sr.

PROS: Joe Bauserman is the most seasoned of the Ohio State quarterbacks now, and as always, that means he's old. Bauserman is 26, in fact, having pursued a baseball career after high school instead of enrolling in college. And being that Bauserman's 26, he's further along physically than his teammates are. From a foot-speed standpoint, he's not the most athletic of the quarterbacks, but he's experienced, has good footwork in the pocket, has the football IQ to look off defenders, and has the arm to make plenty of throws.

CONS: Bauserman has never distinguished himself as a passer during his time at OSU, and his 4-11, 42-yard performance in the spring game did little to quell concerns that he's actually just mediocre. Obviously, he'll do better than a 36% completion rate and 3.8 yards per attempt over the course of the 2011 season -- he went 16-22 for 174 yards in 2010, after all -- but as pure upside goes, Bauserman might be last on this list. Fortunately for Bauserman, OSU needs a quarterback right now, not in five years. 

Braxton Miller, Fr.

PROS: If Bauserman's ineffective at any point, Ohio State will probably go next to Braxton Miller, a tantalizing true freshman prospect who was rated the top quarterback in last year's crop of recruits by Tom Lemming. Miller has a frame more like Troy Smith than Terrelle Pryor, but that's fine, because Smith did win a Heisman, after all. More importantly, Miller's athleticism has drawn many more comparisons to Pryor.

Miller enrolled early at OSU in order to start getting acclimated to the offense; that's welcome news for the Buckeyes, because if Bauserman struggles early on, the Columbus faithful will probably be clamoring to see Miller under center. You can't balme them, either; Miller is electric in the open field, and he's already a competent passer.

CONS: Miller is still just a true freshman, though, so either the coaches will have to substantially dial back the offense for Miller, or he'll likely struggle too. He's probably a year away from really getting up to speed, but that's a luxury Ohio State doesn't have right now. Starting and struggling in 2011 may do wonders for Miller's on-field maturation process, but that doesn't make him the best option in 2011.

Kenny Guiton, So.

PROS: If it's athleticism that interim head coach Luke Fickell wants and Miller's experience remains an issue, however, OSU could also turn to Kenny Guiton. Guiton is a dual-threat QB with speed to burn. He's got all the intangibles a coach could want in a quarterback, and he has performed pretty well in spring game situations thus far. With Terrelle Pryor leading the team, that hasn't led to much playing time for Guiton -- just mopup duty behind Bauserman last year, in fact -- but that's probably about to change.

CONS: Guiton is in his third year with the program, and generally by Year 3, there's a pretty good sense of what a quarterback's going to be capable of. For Guiton, the passing acuity doesn't appear to be where it needs to be yet. His experience may make him a better option than Miller on Day 1, as the mobile QBs go, but that's a gap that'll move substantially in Miller's favor over the course of that freshman season.

Taylor Graham, RFr.

PROS: If quarterbacking were a matter of just looking the part, the OSU job would be Taylor Graham's to lose; Graham has the frame of an NFL quarterback, tall and strong. He's got the arm to match, too, with the ability to make just about any throw in the Buckeye playbook. He's even got the pedigree to succeed: his father is Kent Graham, a former Ohio State and NFL quarterback.

CONS: What Graham doesn't have is experience; he's just a redshirt freshman, and he spent a significant portion of his high school career on the sidelines, injured. The concern here isn't the injuries themselves, but the amount of time and repetitions they've cost him already. Combine that with the fact that Graham is only in his second year in Columbus, and he's going to have to blow coaches away with his passing if he wants to shoot up the depth chart. There hasn't been any indication that that's going on yet. The potential for rapid growth is there, though. 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com