Meyer Agrees To Coach Buckeyes, Building Staff

Multiple sources close to the Ohio State football program have confirmed that Urban Meyer is assembling a coaching staff after agreeing to become the next head football coach at Ohio State.

Urban Meyer and Gene Smith on Sept. 3, 2011 at Ohio State before OSU game against Akron

(9/3/2011: Meyer & Ohio St. Athletic Director Gene Smith at Ohio Stadium)

The deal between Meyer and Ohio State was consumated in principle earlier this week in Columbus but not signed. It includes a multi-year contract that will make Meyer once again one of college football’s highest paid coaches.

In additon to Meyer’s generous compensation package, sources said a major factor in the coach’s decision to agree to take the position was the school promising him the budget to assemble what is expected to become the highest-paid assistant coaching staff in college football history.

Of that staff, sources indicate Meyer’s intial plan is to retain current Ohio State head football coach Luke Fickell and current Buckeye wide receivers coach Stan Drayton.

Meyer also aims to add Chris Spielman, Kirk Herbstreit, current North Carolina State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta and current LSU offensive line coach Greg Studwara to his Ohio State staff.

Studwara was offensive line coach for Bowling Green when Meyer was the head coach of the Falcons in 2001 and 2002. One source indicated Studwara is being considered by Meyer as possible offensive coordinator for the Buckeyes.

Meyer was one of two candidates Ohio State contacted during its hiring process. Jon Gruden was also approached by the school, but declined interest.

Photo credit: The-Ozone.net.

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Ohio St. Ignores Last Asset Left In Recruiting War

May 31, 2011, the day after Jim Tressel resigned as Ohio State head football coach, the top recruit in the ever-fluid 2012 Ohio State recruiting class, Ohio high school offensive lineman Kyle Kalis, called interim coach Luke Fickell to withdraw his verbal commit to the school’s football program.


From the COLUMBUS DISPATCH on June 1:

“I already knew what I was going to say, that my family and I had reevaluated things and I was going to de-commit,” Kalis said.

Then a funny thing happened. He and Fickell talked for 56 minutes, and the word de-commit didn’t come up until the end.

“I told him, ‘Coach Fickell, the meaning of my call was to de-commit, but you talked me out of it,’” Kalis said.

Two weeks later, on June 15, Kalis told Bill Greene of Scout.com:

“I am all-in for Coach Fickell from this point forward. As long as Luke Fickell is the head coach at Ohio State I will remain committed to the program. Losing Coach Tressel was hard and I don’t want to go through this again with a third head coach.

“I still talk to other coaches out of respect, but I tell them all I am 100% committed to Ohio State and I won’t be visiting their schools. As long as Luke Fickell is the head coach there’s no chance I would look at any other school.”

Six days later, Green reported:

A talk with interim head coach Luke Fickell convinced Kalis to stick with the Buckeyes, but now comes word of him cancelling a planned visit to Ohio State this weekend. Instead, Kalis will now visit Ohio State’s biggest rival, Michigan.

“My original plan was to go to Ohio State this weekend, but that has changed,” Kalis stated. “After talking to my dad, we’ve decided to visit Michigan instead. It’s my weekend with him and he wants me to get up there and see the program, so that’s where I’m going.”

Last night, Green reported:

Five-star offensive tackle Kyle Kalis has officially de-committed from Ohio State, the Lakewood St. Edward star announced Tuesday evening.

“I did speak to Luke Fickell minutes ago, and I told him I was de-committing from Ohio State,” Kalis announced. “I want to keep all my options open, and will consider several programs going forward, including Ohio State. That’s really all I want to say about my recruitment at this time.”

The sudden reversal by the five-star, in-state offensive line prospect followed a permanent de-commit by incoming 2011 OSU signee Ejuan Price, who has since enrolled at Pitt.

Though Price wavered throughout the recruiting process right up until signing day, Fickell personally closed the Pennsylvania linebacker in early February. But despite Price signing on the dotted line to play for the Buckeyes, the linebacker changed his mind last week and was subsequently granted his release by Ohio State.

The day Tressel resigned the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW had this on Price:

Price, who also was recruited to Ohio State by Fickell, wasn’t surprised by Tressel’s resignation.

“It was just a matter of time,” he [Price] said. “I thought he’d do it during the middle of the summer, though, when all the recruits had already come in (to campus).”

In confirming to Jeff Svoboda of BuckeyeSports.com on June 18 that he was seeking his release from Ohio State, Price indicated that Fickell wasn’t keen on responding immediately - for a very specific reason:

Ohio State’s class of 2011 football recruits are set to report to Columbus on Sunday, but it’s safe to say Ejuan Price will not be with the rest of the group.

The linebacker from Pittsburgh Woodland Hills said after the Big 33 Classic on Saturday night in Hershey, Pa., that he has been released from his scholarship by Ohio State.

“Yes, sir,” he said when asked if the release had been granted. “They were waiting for Friday so it wouldn’t cause a tumble effect or whatever. That came and went. All I need are the papers now and I’ll be good to go.”

When asked Saturday night, an Ohio State spokesman could confirm only that Price had asked for his release, not that it had been granted.

Particularly striking in those recent OSU de-commits is Fickell’s personal involvement with each recruit.

Price was recruited by Fickell while Kalis specifically cited the interim coach in re-affirming his ultimately temporary verbal commit to the Buckeyes after Tressel resigned.

While no one begrudges Fickell the opportunity of a lifetime, it’s hard to imagine why Ohio State didn’t install a higher profile interim coach as it awaits an infractions verdict from the NCAA.

With all the high profile former Buckeyes floating around, including several in Columbus, what did OSU have to lose in recruiting someone like Chris Spielman to step in for the moment? And if Spielman wasn’t interested, what of former Ohio State and NFL offensive lineman Jim Lachey? Might Kalis have elected to stay had someone like Lachey come calling - even as a temporary assistant coach?

Spielman and Lachey are just two of dozens of former Buckeyes who might or might not be interested in giving back to their school in its current, extraordinary time of need. And knowing the character of former OSU players like Spielman and Lachey, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t - at the very least - agree to help Athletic Director Gene Smith find a high profile coach willing to serve in an interim albeit temporary capacity.

These days, virtually every recruit who signs with a program like Ohio State does so with a possible NFL career in mind.  Smith installing a coach with no college head coaching experience, no NFL coaching experience and zero national profile can’t be looked at as any other than a disservice to the Buckeye football program and its fans.

Then combine the unknown extent of Ohio State’s impending NCAA penalties with Ohioans at the helm of the football programs at Michigan (Brady Hoke - Dayton) and Michigan State (Mark Dantonio - Zanesville) and the Ohio State athletic administration abandoning its last, best asset in stemming the long-term damage to its football program approaches the same, shameful negligence it has already perpetrated on the school.

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Spielman On Ohio St. AD’s Fate: “I’d Be Nervous”

48 hours after former Ohio State football coach John Cooper hinted that OSU athletic department officials may have been aware of the vast scale of NCAA violations engulfing the OSU football program during Jim Tressel’s now-disconnected tenure, Buckeye football legend Chris Spielman during two radio appearances lamented the same apparent lack of oversight of the school’s football program by athletic director Gene Smith - and an Ohio State compliance department led by former NCAA enforcement employee Doug Archie.


After noting on WBNS-FM Tuesday the myriad new NCAA and alleged criminal misdeeds emanating from his beloved Buckeye football, Spielman, who called for Tressel to resign weeks ago, indicated today during an appearance on WQXI-AM in Atlanta that Ohio State AD Gene Smith might soon facing the same fate. (”If I was Gene I’d be nervous.“)

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Video: Revered Buckeye Predicts Tressel Demise

Last night Ohio State football great Chris Spielman - who thanks to his glorious career as a Buckeye football player and his late wife Stefanie’s inspiring cancer fight may be the most revered former Buckeye football player alive - spoke at a high school sports benefit in Lima, Ohio.


From Spielman’s Tuesday evening speech and accompanying media appearances, there’s yet to be more ominous rhetoric emanating from inside the Ohio State Nation regarding Tressel’s plight with the Buckeyes.

Spielman to WLIO-TV in Lima:

“Coach Tressel will have a decision to make, on what’s best for the university going forward. Not what’s best for (Ohio State President) Gordon Gee or (Ohio State) Athletic Director Gene Smith or me.

“I’d be surprised if he was coaching (Ohio State) next year.”

This may be as bad a sign for Tressel’s future at the school as anything, because there aren’t many folks in Columbus more connected at Ohio State than Spielman when it comes to knowing the sentiment of OSU’s biggest school donors - at least as it pertains to the Buckeye football program.

Donors like ‘The Limited’ billionaire founder Les Wexner ($100M recent OSU donation) and the Schottenstein (Value City Arena donors) and Wolfe (Columbus Dispatch, WBNS radio and TV) families.

It will be those individuals as much as anyone who will make the final call on Tressel’s future at the school.

Spielman’s tone at the Lima event and in past weeks almost seems as if he’s bracing Buckeye football fans for what appears to be Tressel’s inevitable ouster.

If Tressel was as much a team player as Spielman, he’d have already departed the scene.

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Official Buckeye Station Can’t Handle The Truth?

In the late ‘90 I worked at WBNS radio in Columbus, the flagship station for Ohio State football and basketball. My duties at the station included hosting an afternoon drive talkshow and the pre- and postgame shows for Buckeye football broadcasts. I had nothing but good times in Columbus and at WBNS. I left the station for a job in Kansas City in 1999, but will always cherish my time in central Ohio.

Kirk Herbstreit Bruce Hooley Chris Spielman

(Source: Official Buckeye station management sped departure of its top talent)

I don’t envy the talk hosts currently in the business of giving their opinions on WBNS, for obvious reasons. Ohio State’s bungled response to football coach Jim Tressel’s confirmed major NCAA violation - which includes a contradictory defense from the coach himself - leaves any talk host with a fiber of integrity no choice but to criticize the school’s mishandling of the affair.

During my years doing a weekday talkshow at WBNS, there were many times that I would’ve been remiss had I not been critical of something involving the Buckeyes. On more than one of those occasions, Ohio State Director of External Affairs Larry Romanoff called the station to complain that I was being too negative about Ohio State.

Before today, I couldn’t begin to conceptualize how difficult it must be for current WBNS hosts thanks to Ohio State’s multiple, admitted NCAA and ethical indiscretions. Though from I’ve been told happened at WBNS the past week, I now have a pretty good idea.

Today the highest-rated talk host at WBNS, Bruce Hooley, announced that he was leaving the station. A station source told me today that Hooley’s January monthly ratings were higher than the station’s Ohio State football-bolstered fall ratings. With the winter radio ratings period ending shortly, Hooley was likely in line for a ratings bonus from WBNS.

In a blog entry on his personal site, Hooley wrote:

My employment at 97.1 The Fan ended Thursday, March 17, after nearly six years years when I reached a mutual agreement with the station to part ways.

If you would like to know the station’s rationale, you will need to contact General Manager Dave VanStone davevanstone@radiohio.com and Program Director Jay Taylor jay.taylor@radiohio.com

I did my final shows Wednesday and Thursday of last week in the aftermath of the press conference at Ohio State announcing head coach Jim Tressel’s NCAA violations in the Tattoo-Gate case. My show was pre-empted Friday by Ohio State’s opener in the Big Ten Tournament.

Late Friday afternoon, my attorney, Bret Adams, received a call telling me not to report to work on Monday. Mr. Van Stone said he wanted to meet with Bret to discuss re-assigning me to other duties. That’s when Bret and I suggested we explore a separation that would be satisfactory to both parties. Bret and Mr. Van Stone handled it from there. I’m very thankful their talks were both professional and productive.

When I was in Columbus in the ’90s, Hooley was the Ohio State beat reporter for the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER. At that time, he was known as the most aggressive guy on the beat, often breaking OSU stories. As a Columbus talk host, his reporting was a must-read in my daily preparation for the show.

Long after I left the station, Hooley joined WBNS as a fulltime talk show host, quitting his job with the Plain Dealer in 2005. Until today, Hooley had co-hosted weekday talkshows on the station with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman, while also going solo at times.

I’ve never met Hooley but from what I’ve heard of his WBNS work over the years, he’s the same direct, informative and honest guy about Ohio State as he was in print. Sometimes brutally honest.

In other words, a rare breed in the ultimate college town.

As someone who has basically done the same job as Hooley, though during a different era at Ohio State, I have a lot of admiration for someone who is willing to take the hits that often accompany an objective opinion on what is perhaps Ohio State’s highest profile house organ. So it’s a shame for Buckeye fans that Hooley has decided to leave the station one week after - perhaps not coincidentally - Buckeye icon Kirk Herbstreit announced he was moving his family out of Columbus because of harassment at the hands of Ohio State fans.

So why did Hooley walk out on WBNS? Read more…

Juan Pablo Montoya: Officially ‘Out Having a Taco

Juan Pablo Montoya having some fun on his Twitter today.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Let’s just hope Montoya steers clear of an inappropriate characterization of that new Black Taco thing.

Bob Griese’s Saturday off will consist of…

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Too Harsh? Griese Suspended For Taco Comment

Jim Utter of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER reports that Bob Griese has been suspended for one game for his “taco” comment about Juan Pablo Montoya.

 

Griese was forced to apologize at the end of his Minnesota-Ohio State telecast on Saturday and then again during halftime of ESPN’s Mississippi State-Florida.

Montoya’s response when asked by reporters was, “I don’t really care to tell you the truth.

ESPN suspends Griese for game for “taco” comment. Too harsh?

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Based on Griese’s apologies, and Montoya’s non-response, I think ESPN went overboard in suspending the guy. I certainly don’t think there was malice in his initial comment, more a reflexive reaction based on the generation Griese grew up in.
Read more…

ESPN Releases Statement: Griese’s Sorry (Again)

ESPN released this statement Saturday evening addressing Bob Griese’s “taco” comment:

(Video of original comment after the jump)

“During today’s telecast of the Ohio State-Minnesota college football game on ESPN, analyst Bob Griese made an inappropriate comment when discussing NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Bob apologized during the telecast, and plans to apologize again tonight during ESPN’s college football programming after his plane lands. ESPN has spoken to Bob and he understands that his comment was uncalled for.”

Griese then made this statement at halftime of the Florida-Mississippi State game: Read more…

Bob Griese And His 1975-Inspired Racial Sensitivity

UPDATE: Griese apologized about the comment just before the Minnesota-Ohio State ABC telecast wrapped. Still deserves a reprimand in my opinion.

Chris Mottram at SBNation.com has this exchange between Bob Griese and Chris Spielman today on the Minnesota-Ohio State ABC telecast:

Chris called it “subtle racism.” I’m more on the side of blatant. Griese should be reprimanded, or at the very least reminded that what he said was inappropriate.

Was Bob Griese’s comment racist?

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CollegeFootballTalk.com weighs in as well. As does the Twitterati.

And Wikipedia already has this: Read more…

Hawaii Hoping For Big BCS Financial Windfall

HAWAII HOPING BIG BCS BUCKS HELPS FOOTBALL FUNDS: With a win over Washington on Saturday, Hawaii hopes to land in a BCS bowl spot and get all the BCS money that comes with it - money the financially-strapped program could use:

Hawaii WAC champs

The HONOLULU ADVERTISER reports that of the top 12 teams in the BCS rankings, Hawaii ranks last in football revenues. While the Warriors netted $7.5 million last year, schools like Ohio State and Georgia brought in over $60 million to help fund their gridiron programs.It doesn’t help that on game days at Aloha Stadium, the only money the Warriors make is on ticket sales. As State Rep. Mark Katai points out, “None of the beer, none of the hot dogs, none of the parking revenue. Many other schools have their own facilities and generate a lot of revenue from that.”

Aloha Stadium

Lack of funds also means lack of upkeep to practice fields. During Friday’s game against Boise State, Hawaii officials were embarrassed when ESPN commentators Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman called the school’s facilities “shabby” and “shameful”.But a BCS trip can help Hawaii soothe some of their money woes. Last year, fellow WAC member Boise State earned $4.5 million for their Fiesta Bowl appearance.

Hawaii trees

With victory against the Huskies, the green on Oahu will be more than the lush tropical vegetation.