I have to salute the dudes at Buckeye Empire (www.buckeyeempire.com) I salute them for gathering the collective thoughts of all Ohio State fans, pulling them together into one pent up bundle of frustration and coming up with a slogan that we can and all should get behind (literally because it's on a t-shirt): Embrace The Hate. Because the hate isn't going anywhere. Even when things seem docile and the focus is on other sports or events, someone, somewhere is going to take a leap at fame and take a shot at the Ohio State football program. It is inevitable. Why not embrace it?
Look at the amount of "we have the REAL story on what it is REALLYhappening at Ohio State" stories and ask yourself: would you rather be a lower rung Big Ten team? Would you rather have loudmouth Bert Bielema pacing your sidelines, leading your team to another Rose Bowl loss or a shot at perfect insignificance? Would you rather be a UCLA Bruin? A Domer? To me, the hate is nothing but recognition of excellence. So, like my guys at Buckeye Empire's t-shirt says, I'm embracing the hate. Bring it to me! I've said I was wrong, apologized and been slightly embarrassed enough since December 23rd, 2010. Now, I say get what you got, pack a lunch and bring it! The bottom line is that they hate us because they ain't us!
By the way, I also have to give kudo's to the guys at Buckeye Empire for having a website under construction yet operating a fully functional web store. It's very tongue in cheek when I say, nice priorities fella's! (literally, laugh out loud) But I say that in jest, their twitter feed alone is enough to make me want one of their shirts. Good work boys!
All of this leads me to this weeks hack writer of an "in-depth" and "fully researched" and filled with completely credible eyewitness testimony expose' that will expose Urban Meyer for what he truly is: an ex-SEC football coach.
That's right, I'm talking to you Matt Hayes. Way to go all out and spend three months investigating these "stories" and putting on your best George Doerhmann impersonation. This was going to be it for you, wasn't it? This was "the big one", the one that was going to catch your cell phone on fire with the big boys of tv calling and begging you to come on and be their star guest and discuss this brilliant work. This was going to win you a Pulitzer for sport journalism. Just start calling you "The most fascinating man alive." Screw that Dos Equis guy! You're Matt freaking Hayes!
Well luckily (?) the majority of the major media types looked right through the garbage and the Matt Hayes story never blew up like he and I'm sure Sporting News thought it would. Urban gave star players preferential treatment? Well, from what I've read from guys who played with him and aren't afraid to say their own names, YOU try dealing with Percy Harvin. And don't forget, if you toss him off the team or he quits, try explaining to the Florida media and fans how a guy like that is no longer on the team.
If you haven't, read Hayes article... if you want. Here's a link:
Just know that Hayes himself went on Paul Finebaum's radio program the day it was released and said he feels the exact same things that Meyer allegedly did (favoritism, hiding failed marijuana tests, roster "manipulation" also known as over-signing)happen at "most major college campuses around the country". To me, this whole thing is a case of exactly what he said on Finebaum when asked what prompted him to research and write the story: "My editor asked me 'How did Florida fall so far so fast?" And instead of saying "Charlie Weis, Will Muschamp, a new offense that doesn't fit the players or the conference, a lack of talent on defense..." he decided to put on his Andy Rooney hat and dig in. The problem is, he didn't expose anything that anyone one who is honest with themselves and the state of college football didn't already know was in some capacity, to greater or lesser extents, already going on.
Way to go Matty. You took the movie "The Program" and adapted it to Florida's championship run in the mid-late 2000's. All the way down to Percy Harvin being cast as Darnell Jefferson.
You know who I want to hear from on this story? The guy I want to tell me what is fact and fiction amidst all this? Tim Tebow. If he's willing to speak, you know he (no pun intended) won't lie about what he has seen. It's funny that Tebow has never had a bad thing to say about Urban Meyer, yet all this was going on right in front of him...
Just to let you know where I stand with Urban Meyer, his recruiting tactics, his attitude, his drive, his willingness to destroy everyone he plays... I love it. All of it! I realize that means we can't recruit a team of Boy Scouts. So be it. With the sanctions levied on Ohio State right now, the way the eyes of the haters are focused on Columbus, begging for one guy to slip up, I trust Meyer and his staff are aware and keeping extra tabs on everyone. They have to, literally, they are on probation.
Every time I've sat to write the last few weeks, I've told myself "You have to at least begin touching on the draft and who you want to see on their way to Cleveland" and then something else grabs my attention and I say "Ah well, next week." Well, we're running out of weeks!
The big question is who's coming off the board at number four? It seems likely that the Browns will have their choice of some serious quality stock. Justin Blackmon (WR OK ST), Trent Richardson (RB Alabama), Mo Claiborne (CB LSU) possibly even Matt Kalil (T USC). Unless they trade down, the pick is going to be one of these four players. For my money, it's Trent Richardson.
Rather than sit here and tell you all about Richardson and how he looks on film and stats etc, let me just explain the importance that Richardson can play on the Browns offense. Everyone hears "west coast offense" and instantly thinks it's Andre Ware and some variation of the run n' shoot whereby running backs are a dime a dozen and essentially wasted roster spots. Not so, as we seen last season. The tailback plays a huge role in this offense as a triple threat, running, catching and blocking. Richardson does them all and excels. And, love it or hate it, he did it against SEC defenses that were ripe with speed. Colt McCoy, or whoever is the quarterback, has got to have a reliable option in the backfield. I'm sorry, but Montario Hardesty and Peyton Hillis weren't, and in Hardesty's case still aren't, reliable feature running backs. Richardson will be. He will be that work horse back that everyone wants in fantasy football. Most importantly for the Cleveland Browns, he will score touchdowns, something that has been in short supply recently.
You can make a valid argument for any one of these guys. Blackmon is the big play receiver. Claiborne opposite Haden split by Ward is the real revival of the Dawg Pound secondary days of Hanford Dixon, Frank Minnifield and Al Gross. Kalil solidifies the offensive line into a juggernaut with himself opposite Joe Thomas with Alex Mack in between them at the center. I can get down with all of it. I just happen to hope they take Richardson. To me, he's the guy they need the most right now.
The big decision comes at 22, the Browns second first round pick acquired last year from Atlanta for the rights to draft Julio Jones. I think this pick has to be another skill position playmaker, just obviously not the same position as the guy they take at four. Since I stated I'd like to see them bag Richardson, for me the pick at 22 is Michael Floyd (WR Notre Lame). I like Floyd so much that I'd give up my second round pick and whatever else it took to get him in the event he doesn't fall to them and they have to trade up to pick him. He's got good enough speed, so stop it with that argument. His body control is incredible. His hands are like Spider-Man. He's fearless. He's played on a big stage since he started as a true freshman. I realize he's had a few off the field issues, but I say refer back to what I said a few paragraphs above about Urban Meyer's recruiting: they can't all be Boy Scouts if you expect to win.
If at the end of the night on Thursday, April 28th, the Cleveland Browns are on the draft board with the names Trent Richardson and Michael Floyd next to their orange helmet, we should be happy fans this fall.
A few reminders:
Saturday, April 14th, if you have a BuckID card (and if you don't, just forget about it because if you could get one you would have it because you need it)there is an open practice at The Shoe for anyone who brings their valid card. Follow @SaturdayAtShoe for more details. Looks like a lot of fun and great access!
Saturday, April 21st at 1:30 is the annual Scarlet and Grey game. If you can't be in Ohio Stadium (like, say, for example, you live in Charlotte, NC) it's being shown live on the Big Ten Network. Check local listings for channel designation. (Yes, I thought I was cool telling you to check local listings for channel designation)
Enough, wrap it up
It's been an interesting week since we last spoke/wrote/read/whatever. I hope everyone had a great Easter and realized I wasn't playing around when I said "Creeping Death" is the story of Passover, along with being a destructive metal force.
I took a ride up to Kannapolis and Mooresville this past Saturday, about a 15 minute hike, to Hendrick Motorsports and DEI Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. Very impressive! If you're a NASCAR fan, you MUST visit the race shops. More on that next week!
Until next time, SEE YA!!!
Metallica track of the week
Since the first time I heard it, this song has captivated me. Dramatic word, yes. But true. Here's 'tallica playing Unforgiven live in Mexico City in 2009. Enjoy!