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June 6, 2011
It's going to be a long summer for Ohio State coaches, players and fans. Every move made by Buckeyes players is going to be scrutinized and every scrap of information pored over by the media.
Ohio State is scheduled to appear in front of the NCAA infractions committee in August, and the scrutiny will be especially intense in the two weeks leading up to the meeting.
But the spotlight isn't going to go away once the season starts. There's the matter of the five-game suspension for five key Buckeyes, including trouble-magnet quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and Buckeyes folks should get ready for incessant questions about, "Who's going to coach in 2012?"
The next-coach debate already has started.
Former Florida coach Urban Meyer, who is working for ESPN this season, released a statement through ESPN last week that said, in part, "I am committed to ESPN and will not pursue any coaching opportunities this fall."
The "this fall" part is more than a bit disingenuous, as Ohio State already has an interim coach in place for this fall in Luke Fickell. The "this fall" part of the statement means Meyer is going to be inundated this fall with questions about whether he would consider coaching the Buckeyes in 2012
Like Meyer, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is an Ohio native. Pelini also is a former Buckeyes safety
Until he says something specific about the job, Pelini can expect to hear a lot of, "Hey, Bo, what about the Buckeyes' coaching job in 2012?" Unfortunately for Pelini
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is another Ohio native whose name was floated as a potential Buckeyes coach last week. Pinkel didn't release a statement, but he did tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "There's 5,000 names probably up for that. ... I'm the head football coach at the University of Missouri and I'm committed to trying to continue to build the program and make it better and better. And that's what I intend to do."
Unlike Meyer, Pelini and Pinkel
The questions are natural, given that the Buckeyes' job is one of the three or four best in the nation.
There are some observers who think that potential NCAA violations may scare off some potential candidates. Pshaw (that's an old-fashioned way of nicely saying "get serious"). Again, this is one of the three or four best jobs in the nation, and if the sanctions are severe, the new coach's contract will reflect that.
Ohio State has an advantage that schools such as Florida, USC and Texas don't have. In Ohio, if you're a stud football prospect, you don't grow up wanting to play for in-state schools such as Toledo or Ohio U. or Cincinnati; you grow up wanting to be a Buckeye. That's not necessarily the case in other big player-producing states, where there are two, three or even four other big-time football schools. Ohio State enjoys the same advantage as LSU in terms of keeping big-time, in-state kids at home.
As for Tressel, no way he coaches again, but you wonder if any media outlet hires him as an analyst. You also wonder if his transgressions will keep him out of the College Football Hall of Fame
Finally, as to the Big Ten, I think the league's holier-than-thou attitude
Math lesson for the SEC
At the annual SEC meetings last week, league presidents voted to cap signees at 25 each February. That is the NCAA limit
There was much hoopla in some circles about the SEC putting the 25-signee cap in place, but those folks who actually think oversigning was the main reason the SEC has been dominant of late are delusional.
There's no question some SEC coaches used it as a crutch and as a buffer for signees who didn't meet academic requirements. And, yes, some SEC schools do run off players that coaches deem not good enough. But that's not going to stop. If, for instance, the coach at School A thinks a player can't help, the coach at School A still is going to "suggest" a player moves on.
What the cap should do is cut down on the number of academically risky signees by SEC schools; coaches know which prospects are suspect academically, and with a cap of 25 players, a heck of a lot more of those at-risk guys are going to go unsigned.
But let's give the SEC coaches who annually oversigned a little credit. These guys know what they're doing. They're not going to suddenly lose it overnight because they no longer can sign 28 guys each February.
Man, you have to feel for new Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni. UConn lost its starting quarterback and its top two running backs from last season; last week, the school announced that it would be without its top receiver from last season, too. Michael Smith, who led the Huskies with 46 receptions and 615 receiving yards, will miss the season for academic reasons. With Smith gone, sophomore TE Ryan Griffin likely will play an even bigger role in the passing attack. UConn hasn't exactly been an offensive juggernaut, so the Huskies better hope their defense can carry even a bigger load than usual. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Huskies followed up their BCS appearance from last season by finishing last in the league this season.
From the "Man, The Timing Sure Could Have Been Better" department comes word that West Virginia will sell beer during home football games. WVU coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen recently was in the news for being escorted out of a casino for unruly behavior linked to alcohol. Athletic director Oliver Luck has said beer sales could provide about $500,000 in revenue for a season.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe may be overseeing the incredible shrinking conference, but he got off a good line to the Dallas Morning News last week. Beebe was asked about the meeting that BCS executive director Bill Hancock will have with Department of Justice lawyers who are looking into the BCS. "It's good to know that they've chased down all of the people who have caused our banking system to have problems," Beebe, who has a law degree, said of the DOJ.
Kansas defensive coordinator Carl Torbush
New Miami (Ohio) coach Don Treadwell better hope his passing attack is sharp this season. Thomas Merriweather, last season's leading rusher, was a senior, and last week, leading returning rusher Tracy Woods decided he wanted to transfer. Junior Danny Green, who rushed for 41 yards last season, now looks like the likely starter at tailback. Good news for Treadwell, who had been offensive coordinator at Michigan State, is that the RedHawks' passing attack should be one of the best in the MAC.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said last week at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., that West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti is the front-runner for the Rebels' starting quarterback job. "I love his attitude and his work ethic," Nutt told reporters. "I just really appreciate the way he goes about his business." Brunetti, a sophomore, left WVU after one season to be closer to his sick mother in Memphis. Brunetti has the best dual-threat skills of the three candidates; the others still in the mix are Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt.
Former Texas governor Bill Clements died last week at age 94. College football fans should remember Clements because while he was governor at Texas, he played a role in the slush fund that funneled money to SMU players in the early to mid-1980s.
CBS has announced three of its televised SEC games for this fall: Tennessee at Florida on Sept. 17, Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville on Oct. 29 and Arkansas at LSU on Nov. 25. The others will be announced during the season.
Former Georgia starting tailback Washaun Ealey has transferred to FCS member Jacksonville State. Ealey, who announced his intention to transfer a few months ago, has good speed and the toughness to run between the tackles, but he frequently inhabited the ... uh ... doghouse of Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.
Notre Dame center Dan Wenger, who suffered concussions with the Irish that led to the end of his career at the school, plans to transfer to Florida. Notre Dame doctors would not clear Wenger, but media reports say he has been cleared to play for the Gators. If healthy, he could start for the Gators, who don't have a clear-cut starting center. Wenger is from powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas and was recruited by Florida out of high school.
The Big Ten Network is no more. Instead, it's now called BTN.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.