Greetings from Charlotte, North Carolina! Yes, you read that correctly, Charlotte, North Carolina. A lot has happened since we last met on August 25th of last year. It's been a long time! But, here I am. All in one piece, of good mind and health, ready to resume telling you how things are and should be, and of course discussing sports in our great state of OHIO.
The NCAA tournament field has been drawn and the field of 64 (call me a purist but those "first 4" games are nothing but boring play-ins, which is why they are held in Dayton) tips off on Thursday at noon, yet all I can think about is Urban Meyer and spring practice getting underway.
Let's recap a little since we last spoke: A bowl ban and scholarship reduction was levied onto the program as punishment for "tatoo-gate". Gene Smith (miraculously) still has a job. Pretty much the entire staff has been replaced. Nobody bolted for the NFL despite the sanctions. We lost to that team up north. Brady Hoke gained 35lbs... in his chin.
Oh, and we have a new sheriff in town. Urban Meyer, an enemy from the south come to bring SEC football to the Big Ten and lead our Buckeyes into the future. What's that? Mickey Maroti came too? The guy who perfected "Florida speed" and churned out incredible athlete after incredible athlete? Well, isn't that a hoot!
I want to preface this next paragraph with this statement: I love Jim Tressel. I'll always remember what he did at Ohio State. Turning a lopsided rivalry back the other way. National title game appearances. A genuinely good man who had the school and his players in his thoughts first and always. But this guy we got now...
Urban Meyer has been my dream coach for Ohio State for as long as I can remember. Maybe not him specifically in name, but his style. The "we will out recruit and out work everyone" approach that has been lacking in the program, maybe since Woody and Earl. Urban is a "they wouldn't let me go for three" kind of guy.
As for recruiting, the crop he was able to put together at the 11th hour is absolutely stunning. He's been relentless and sold Ohio State to some of the country's top players in the face of sanctions and a bowl ban. He's gone the extra mile to get the five star instead of settling for the four star. In a lot of ways, his recruiting has caused me to be disappointed in Jim Tressel's efforts on the recruiting trail the last ten years. I can't recall Bert (I know it's Brett, but I call him Bert to mock) Bielema and Mark Dantonio crying to the press about JT flipping guys they thought were locked up. Meyer took the Big Ten's "gentleman's agreement", glanced at it for a second, then wadded it up, tossed it in the toilet and flushed that S.O.B. down! And that's how it should be. Like Meyer said, if a player tells them he's committed and doesn't want to be bothered any longer, back off and stop recruiting. But if he makes no indications that he is the lock Bert and Mark thing he is? Go get'em!
Anyone else wonder just how many points the Buckeyes are going to score at Camp Randall this year? I'm foaming at the mouth for it!
As previously mentioned, the Big Dance opens up Thursday at noon. Ohio State enters the party that night at 9:50 against Loyola on TNT. Looking at the bracket, I can't see the Buckeyes getting knocked off early. West Virginia (Sorry Ben!) nor Gonzaga scare me in the second round. Cincy doesn't really leave me in awe, and Florida State is 100% a bluff.
Yes, I said it. FSU is a bluff, and I'm willing to eat my words if I'm wrong, that's how strongly I feel about it. Living here in ACC country these days, I've heard a LOT about FSU on the radio. Yeah, they'd be a formidable opponent, but nothing Sully, Craft and the boys can't handle. Ohio State is just too good on defense for the Noles. If not for the three ball, FSU doesn't beat North Carolina in the ACC title game. As a matter of fact, they get whipped. And Carolina was without it's best defender. But more on the Elite 8 in later days. Confidence and bravado aside, let's just get there first!
No "Flynn to Win"
Am I the only sane person wearing orange and brown these days? Matt Flynn? The same "game manager" Matt Flynn who they were worried about being a liability against Ohio State in the National Championship when he was at LSU? Why is that relevant? Cause aside from two meaningless games and mop up time, that was the last game this guy played with anything on the line! As I write this, thankfully, we all now know that Browns president Mike Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert aren't going after him, despite what the media and "sources" may have been indicating. But the amount of folks clamoring for this guy and hoping they signed him was nearing unbearable proportions. Matt Flynn will get a GM fired somewhere. Luckily, Tom Heckert realized it.
We'll spend a lot more time discussing the draft in the coming weeks. I like the draft... hell I love the draft. It brings hope to us. For a few nights, everything looks on the up and up. Future superstars are ready to hold out of training camp and drive us all insane err I mean lead us into the next great generation of and rekindle the magic that was Browns football. The draft, where we're all experts!
Wrap it up dummy
In summation: it's great to be back! I look back where I was one year ago, then look back at where I was the last time I posted, it's been a crazy ride. I'm in Charlotte. Still weird saying that. I've been here three and a half weeks and it's still weird waking every morning and not being in Ohio. It's certainly warmer, sunnier, and a lot dryer, but still odd and taking some time to adjust to. And I'm only going to say this one time, I want and need only positive people in my life right now. Debbie Downers need not apply, take that shit to Michigan!
Metallica track of the week
One of these nights I'll have to do a "non sports blog" and discuss my trip to San Francisco to see Metallica's 30th anniversary party/show back in December. That show was unreal! Aside from the guest appearances, just being in the historic Fillmore theater, seeing Metallica in the historic Fillmore theater, the artifacts, meeting other fanclub members from across the country and the world, seeing them crush Outlaw Torn was the highlight of the evening! This has long been one of my favorite 'tallica ballads. It has exceptional lyrics by James, it's just an under-appreciated masterpiece. And that night they brought it to life.
I don't know how to add links to these blogs, so cut and paste into your browser the following address if you want to see the actual performance I'm talking about from December 9th at the Fillmore.
And if I close my mind in fear
Please pry it open
And if my face becomes sincere
And when I start to come undone
Stitch me together
And when you see me strut
Remind me of what left this outlaw torn