football Edit

Rea Chat Archive: Nov. 12 premium subscribers got together in The Horseshoe Lounge on Friday afternoon for their weekly chat session with managing editor Mark Rea. Among the topics of discussion were the differences between the Buckeyes now and before their three-game winning streak and the switch of freshman Devon Lyons to safety. But the bulk of the conversation centered around an ex-player and a four-letter word spelled ESPN.
Here is a transcript of the chat:
rcarpenter62 got things started with this question: Are you in agreement that there is much more to come from ESPN? Every time I start to feel better about this mess, I hear that it is "just the tip of the iceberg". Any comments?
Rea: I think if there was any more than ESPN had, it would have shared it. The magazine piece was extremely one-sided and they continue to parade Friend and others out on their own shows to defend the piece. Isn’t the story supposed to speak for itself? Seems to me they’re doing damage control.
aurorabuckeye: What’s the deal with Herbstreit? Is he trying to bend over backward to seem impartial? Or does he have an ax to grind with JT? Or what?
Rea: He has to be impartial if he’s truly going to be a member of the media. He struggles with that occasionally. However, I have to say that he needs to step up and tell what he knows from his days at OSU. Robert Smith said there were “$100 handshakes” during his time with the Buckeyes. Herbstreit was there at the same time. Did he see that or is he reluctant to refute what a former teammate and buddy has to say? Sorry, Kirk, but you don’t get to play both sides.
gbuck: You mentioned when ESPN announced the game was going to be on at 3:30 p.m. that it may not be a national broadcast and to stayed tuned for more details. What are the "more details"? Is it a national broadcast?
Rea: It is a national broadcast and it is on ESPN. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. My confusion came because ESPN typically does not broadcast 3:30 games, leaving those for ABC and GamePlan. They have changed their policy these past two weeks.
gbuck: After watching the Michigan State game it seems Mark Snyder has come a long way in his defensive schemes. Northwestern made us look lost with the bubble screens but against MSU we kept balanced and they had nowhere to go. Against Penn State, he did a nice job of making Robinson beat us and he couldn't. Hopefully because Purdue is similar to MSU we can tackle better but keep them in front of us and make them punt. I was so disappointed because Dantonio's defense never was left looking as bad against a spread team as Snyder's was against NW and thought he was in over his head but he has grown a lot in the past month. Your thoughts?
Rea: I agree with what you said. I was disappointed as well early in the season because I thought Snyder would attack more. Perhaps some of the problem was that the defense was searching for an identity. Now it is taking on more of one because Snyder has figured out what he wants to do. They are blitzing more to get some pressure up front and are attacking more from angles. They still tend to overpursue and their tackling doesn’t seem to be getting any better, but there is more reason for hope. According to the guys at Purdue, they don’t think Orton will play this week, so that could be another plus for OSU.
11_CurtCurtis asked a series of questions:
1. I think the whole MoClar thing is ridiculous... and JT is not culpable in the least... that being said, is there enough of a groundswell that could lead him to be terminated? Remember it didn't take much to get rid of Earle (in a down year after a great year)? What kind of chance do you feel that a coup d’etat will take place and the board of trustees would terminate (with extreme prejudice) JT for these things.
Rea: I think unless the NCAA revisits the investigation and finds something it didn’t find before, the chances of the board terminating Tressel are somewhere between zero and zero.
2. What do you think of the move of Lyons to safety? I fear that means he won't be back on the O next year. What are your thoughts?
Rea: Well, it’s not like they were using him a lot on offense – 1 catch for 0 yards. They definitely have a need a safety right now and the kid is awfully athletic. It ought to be interesting. IMHO, I think they’re making a conscious effort to get bigger back there with the Purdue and Michigan receivers. They would have had match-up problems size-wise and Lyons can help with some of that.
3. How much do you feel Lydell will carry the ball this weekend? I would certainly hope that Pittman will get the bulk of the carries. Despite Hall's TD run in mop up time, I don't have much faith in anyone other than Pittman or Joe at TB right now.
Rea: I think it’s Hall starting, Ross second and then Pittman. Evidently, Pittman has a mysterious leg problem and is not 100 percent. Hall has been running marginally better and Ross is now back in the full-blown mix. If I had to guess, I’d say that Ross will have the most carries tomorrow.
gbuck: I have enjoyed your gameday appearances on "Buckeye Tailgate" on 1150 WIMA. Do you have any other appearances on gameday? Do you choose to go on with Cozza because he makes you look beautiful (ha ha) or do you just get the free BSB plug?
Rea: I’m on with them every week – this week, I’m scheduled on shortly after 2 Eastern. Vince and Mike do, indeed, have faces made for radio but they’re good guys and do have an almost endless supply of frosty cold beverages.
gbuck: The Jim O’Brien situation is sad situation but in your opinion does tOSU settle for maybe half to get it out of the way or does OB fight till the end and get the full amount?
Rea: I think this one goes the distance, and it seems to me that the university has the leg up. I know what O’Brien and his lawyers are saying, but it still seems extremely flimsy. Of course, with the legal system in this country right now, you never know. I can’t see OSU settling, though.
aurorabuckeye: I'm kind of (but I guess not really) amazed that OB was "shocked" he was fired.
Rea: Me, too. The guy gave money to a recruit, admitted it and says he’d do it again under the same circumstances. Every coach in America knows that will get you fired.
bhambuck: A Robert Smith question: Did he ever graduate from OSU?
Rea: No, I don’t believe he ever did.
LaserBuck84: I’d like to know your journalistic impressions of the tactics, the sources … does this make sense to you from a journalism perspective for an organization (ESPN) owned by ABC, which has historically and a VERY strong relationship with the B10/Ohio State? Their "non-credible" sources have now recently found God and are honest, and want to help society? All I can say is that ESPN/ABC must be pretty confident in what they have "in hand" to put the history and relationship at peril, by running with the words of a few "special" characters. Otherwise, they need to feel some supreme retaliation and pain from the Big Ten and Ohio State. Your take on the journalism aspect?
Rea: First of all, ABC can plead that it has nothing to do with the way ESPN runs its business and they would have a point. The two are separate entities under the same umbrella, but the Big Ten and Ohio State would be extremely foolish to make this an issue with ABC. The TV money is simply too great. From a journalistic standpoint, the way the story was done – and continues to be championed – sickens me and I’ll leave it at that … for now.
rcarpenter62: What do you mean “leave it at that, for now?” As you can see, I am very paranoid regarding the entire subject.
Rea: I simply meant that I have already written a column for BSB print that pretty much rips ESPN and its reporters a new you-know-what.
LaserBuck84: Not suggesting that in reality a severing of ties with ABC would be likely or even desirable, looking at it from a leveraging position - like when a neighbor calls to let you know one of your kids is acting up. Call ABC and tell them to take a good hard look at this garbage coming from "THEIR" house (ultimately), and ask them if they are going to do anything about it? Hopefully they would see it for the way it is playing, and also value the longstanding relationships at the same time. If someone believes we are crooked then turn us in and let the proper people handle it, rather than taking it on their "own shoulders" to convince the world we are terrible?
Rea: We talked to ABC and a rep basically said that they have no control over what other networks do. That was to be expected.
TBDBuckeyeITL: Do you think that ESPN has a hidden agenda, or Geiger or Tressel had upset the wrong person? What is your gut feeling on how all of this will play out, will there be an NCAA investigation and if so what about sanctions? I know you don’t have a crystal ball ... just looking for a gut feeling.
Rea: I don’t know what ESPN was thinking other than its magazine arm is pretty much a PR vehicle for the television networks. Long before this story was published, I gave up watching ESPN because it has become a place for screaming, preening, strutting people who masquerade as journalists when all they are are glorified jock-sniffers. I used to subscribe to the magazine until I discovered it was geared to more to X-game and Xbox lovers rather than the real sports fan. That said, they had spent a year of time, effort and money on the story and had to show something for it. As for the NCAA, it would not surprise me if they re-opened the investigation. But if OSU got a clean bill of health the first time – and because the school is not currently on probation, you would have to believe that was the call – I don’t see why they wouldn’t get one again. Very, very, very little of what was said in the article was new to anyone.
leftybuck: Personally, I like the idea of having Devon Lyons playing safety, but only in addition to playing WR too cause he'll be a real threat there as well. However, we've had size match-up problems in the past between our DBs and other teams WRs. I guess my questions are: Is it that hard to convince a kid who is 6'1"+ to play CB? I mean there are all kinds of WRs who are tall. Why not turn them around and get that advantage on defense? Is it because they don't want to play defense?
Rea: It’s more fun to play offense because you score touchdowns. That’s why receivers are a dime a dozen and cover corners are in short supply. Same reason why basketball players can’t make free throws and baseball players can’t bunt anymore. About Lyons playing both ways, it’s not that easy. I know Gamble did it for most of the last half of 2002, but his gas tank was on empty. It’s a very, very tough thing to do. Lyons and Ginn may be asked to do it, but it will take its toll. That’s why I think when you have someone of their talent, you allow them to function at 100 percent efficiency at all times – and that means just offense or defense, not both.
nashvillebuckeye: From what I understand, an athlete at a university cannot accept any cash from someone even if they are just a fan of the program (such as myself).If this is the case, I would suspect that the exchanging of money could run rampant at any school. When I think of how large of a university OSU is, which is in a metropolitan area, and the thousands of people who are either fans, alumni, boosters, faculty....etc, it seems like something like this would be impossible to monitor. I believe the accusations against Tressel are false. I can see where MC might of received cash from people outside the football program. However, it seems to me that he fudged the amount quite a bit. The media at ESPN never seems to talk about the good things Tressel has done at YSU and OSU. It seems that due to Tressel's low key approach to the media, guys at ESPN have never gotten to know much about him. It seems odd that Bristol Univ. is willing to give so much time to a habitual liar, and at the same time, never speak to the many OSU players that are on Tressel's side.
Rea: As for the money that Clarett received, that is not an issue. That came up last year when he was suspended, so it’s nothing new. The NCAA knew he got money improperly and one of the stipulations for his reinstatement was to pay that money back. As for Tressel, he treats the media pretty evenly and they are used to getting full access. Whether or not this is a way to get back at him for what is perceived by some as a “Holier Than Thou” attitude, I can’t say. If that is the case, however, shame on them.
Boomer7252: Do you think JZ plays much the rest of the year if Troy continues to get the job done. IMHO it would not be a good idea at this point in the year to mess with team chemistry if the Bucks keep winning.
Rea: If Smith continues to get the job done, I don’t envision Zwick getting much meaningful playing time. If Smith struggles, then all bets are off. IMHO, Zwick is still not 100 percent and his arm has not been even before the shoulder injury.
11_CurtCurtis asked another series of questions:
1. Can you describe the changes you have witnessed during our 3 game streak or how we differ as a team.
Rea: There are subtle differences. Smith is getting more and more comfortable at quarterback, the game plan on defense has been simplified and Ted Ginn is a tremendous factor that he wasn’t three weeks ago. There are still problems, though – lots of them.
2. I thought we looked uninterested on the sidelines even when Ginn was running his fourth quarter TD. The sidelines didn't seem wild on TV. Do you feel the team is emotionally focused on a strong finish? I felt we were in 2001 but I don't feel we are so much this year.
Rea: This is not a team that is especially rah-rah on the sideline. Again, a team can take on the persona of its head coach and maybe that’s what has happened. There are a lot of ebbs and flows with this team and that was amplified last week – up by 17 early, down by 2 late and winning by 13. It’s not an easy thing to watch.
3. I thought A.J. Hawk may have really sparked something with his INT. Can you discuss his play this year and do you feel that he has Katzenmoyer syndrome at all, meaning when the front studs are gone production has to go down.
Rea: Actually, Hawk’s production has gone up this year from last year when he had the studs in front of him. I think he has really stepped it up in the last three games and expect him to continue to be a play-maker these last two games. That interception last week was a special play by a special player. I would hate to think where this defense would be if Hawk wasn’t in there.
4. Do you feel our secondary is coming around (injuries not withstanding)?
Rea: The corners are getting better. Youboty is coming on and Fox is finally getting back to where he was before the injury. The safeties are still a little suspect, especially in coverage and they seem to want to make the big hit more than they want to break up the pass. But, yes, I think the secondary is playing better – and it needs to step it up even more these last two games because Purdue and Michigan will test them like never before.
AEL390: Where are the O’Brien backers now? This guy is a complete idiot. You pay a recruit and admit that you would do it again and are shocked that you would be fired. There were many on here that were supporting O'Brien when the firing came down, hope nobody is now. Pay a recruit, get fired, file a lawsuit because you got fired. Wow, only in America.
Rea: I’m not sure about the idiot part, but I’m afraid I have to agree with the rest of it.
aurorabuckeye: We’re all disillusioned. I still maintain he was a heckuva bench coach. I thought he was a good soldier. He wasn't.
DanNCols: Mark, I know you said that we should wait on the BSB print article - but I think you're not being media savvy. This discussion is going on NOW - making us wait feels like you also are playing the "tease" game ESPN mag is playing - seems to me you'll just sell more mags by sharing NOW - not waiting.
Rea: I understand what you’re saying, but we try to keep the Internet content and the BSB print content as separate as we can. We don’t always achieve that goal but we try.
11_CurtCurtis asked another series of questions:
1. I feel you made a great point in saying that this is the first game you saw us building on success on offense - meaning calling plays based on other successful plays. How can we continue to do this and do you feel we can do this passing as well as running?
Rea: First, thanks for the praise. Second, thanks for returning to the chats because you ask some of the best questions. I was beginning to think it was something we said to chase you away. Now … I think they can do that in the passing game especially using Ginn, both as a primary target and a decoy. Santonio Holmes has been very quiet this past month and with opposing teams now sure to key on stopping Ginn, I think it opens things back up for Holmes. OSU has seen how the slant pass works and you can expect more variations on that theme. I would think they have other quick passes designed to get the ball into the hands of guys who can do something with it after they catch it.
2. Do you think we can get pressure on the Purdue QB without the blitz? If not - who do you see coming? We don't do the kitchen sink blitzing anymore. I don't see our blitzes being that effective.
Rea: Without the blitz? No. Hawk has been doing most of the blitzing in the guard-tackle gap. Carpenter has been doing some as well. Also look for Youboty more on corner blitzes. The blitzing is being successful even if it doesn’t result in sacks. It gives the opposing QB one more thing to think about rather than sitting back and surveying the field like Basanez, Stocco and Tate were able to do.
3. Would you describe Schlegel as a disappointment? I thought his season was summed up on the play he was in the backfield but missed the tackle. He is All-American in the Mountain West but average in the Big Ten.
Rea: Earlier in the season, I would have agreed he was a disappointment. Last week was not his best game, but I thought he was coming on up until then. The thing I like about him is his constant motion. He is always around the ball. The thing I don’t like about him is that he has poor tackling habits. I think he’s getting better and better, though, and more used to the speed of the Big Ten vs. MWC. That was his problem at the beginning of the year.
4. I think Dionte Johnson is the best fullback we have had since Jamar Martin.. do you agree? Do you think he will see more passes after his key catch on our winning drive?
Rea: I was asked this earlier in the week and I agree that Johnson looks like the real deal at fullback. But let’s give him more than just two games of experience before we compare him to Martin. He does appear to have that potential, though.
5. I haven't seen much of Sian Cotton but heard he is a beast. Will he ever arise or is he just a dreaded potential player?
Rea: He is in the DL rotation although he’s at the back end of it. We may see more of him now that Patterson is committed to playing at end with Kudla hurt again. I, too, have heard he’s a beast, but he’s still a little bit slow to capture the defensive calls and exactly where he’s supposed to be at times.
gbuck: Not to get ahead of myself but do you think UM will be a double-digit favorite next week?
Rea: Maybe, but only if OSU lays an egg tomorrow. If the Buckeyes win, I would expect the line to be in the 6-7 range for the bad guys.
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