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  • Team Up North Quote-o-Rama

    Some Ohio State football traditions become engrained and apparently one of them is the idea to allow reporters access to players the Monday of the Michigan game and then sealing off the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

    That’s what Urban Meyer did this week while referring to Michigan only as “our rival” or “that team up north.”

    Meyer assented to the Monday availability of several key players including seniors who will be honored Saturday but followed in the footsteps of predecessors Luke Fickell, Jim Tressel, John Cooper and his mentor, Earle Bruce, in cutting off player access in the days following.

    The idea, of course, is to put complete focus on The Game and one sports greatest rivalries. Fortunately, there were enough quotes of note to go around – a plethora, as a matter of fact.

    So what follows are some of the highlights from those player interviews this week as No. 6 Ohio State (10-1, 7-0) prepared to host underperforming Michigan (5-6, 3-4) at Ohio Stadium on Saturday afternoon (noon Eastern, ABC):

    Wide receiver Evan Spencer on what The Game means to him – “This game, it’s really everything. I’ve been thinking about it all day and really all week. Whatever you do in this game is immortalized forever. If you go for three touchdowns or you have however many tackles or sacks, everybody is going to remember this forever. This game means a lot to us and it even means more to us as seniors.

    Spencer on learning the rivalry from his father, former OSU running back Tim Spencer – “It definitely gives me a different perspective. Growing up and watching it on TV, I never liked them that much. I’m sure they felt the same toward us. I went up there a couple of times as a young kid. I don’t like the place. I’m glad I don’t have to go back to Ann Arbor and I’m glad I don’t have to go back (for this game).
     
    “I’m going to do whatever I can to beat them up pretty good this week and go out 3-1 against them.”

    Tight end Jeff Heuerman on if this is just another game – “No, I don’t think so. I remember back at Media Days (in Chicago), everyone was asking about the Michigan State game. I think what makes the Michigan State game such a good rivalry is when both teams are really good. The Team Up North game, regardless of records, it’s a big game regardless. It’s going to be a war, no matter what the records are.”

    Defensive lineman Michael Bennett on his reaction to seeing Michigan players on the same field –
    “I’m thinking it’s time to go now. Whether we go there or they come here, when you actually see the opposing team all suited up … I’m sure they’re going to be yelling and stamping their feet you know its time to go play a football.”

    Linebacker Joshua Perry on his feel for how The Game will play out – “I’m pretty confident just because we don’t want to have something that happened last year happen again. I think we’re going to prepare really well for this game, guys are going to take it really seriously. We know what’s at stake, it’s a little bit more than what people would imagine.”

    Perry on how he reacts to the UM helmet – “It kind of pisses you off a little bit, to be honest. You get a feeling in your stomach and you just want to go out there, you got a bad taste in your mouth. As the whole part of the rivalry, we got a lot of stuff — we don’t like the colors, the whole deal.”

    Cornerback Doran Grant on his four years at Ohio State – “Honestly, our senior class when we came in with everything with Tressel, then coach  Fickell being the coach, then the hiring of Coach Meyer, we just sat back and really talked to each other. A lot of of guys in our class are like, ‘We haven’t won anything since we’ve been here.’ We’ve won a couple Eastern Division championships, but we haven’t won a Big Ten title or anything bigger than that. That’s our main goal is to win the Big Ten championship and of course beat the Team Up North.”

    Perry on the physical nature of The Game – “It’s a really, really physical game. Everything’s clean, not cheap shots or anything. Guys are just getting after it. You want to hit your opponent hard between the whistles, you want to make sure they feel it.”

    Offensive tackle Darryl Baldwin on Michigan having a top-10 defense –
    “They just play pretty well together. Their front is very active and their linebackers are pretty physical, I don’t know much about the secondary. I think they play very well as a defensive unit.”

    Perry on the Wolverines’ desperation – “I think there’s going to be a lot on the line for them. They’re going to be really excited just because of what everything means. I’m pretty sure that they’re going to have something. Guys are probably going to be really emotional on their sideline but at the same time we’re going to be pretty emotional over here on our sideline, too. I know that this means a lot for us. So preparation is going to be key.”

    Linebacker Curtis Grant on the last time he uttered the word “Michigan” –
    “Probably a few minutes ago, to be honest. It was because Coach (Meyer) wasn’t around.”

    Perry on his personal motivation – “Being from around here, growing up watching all those guys play in the game and the success we’ve had in the past. That’s what motivates me. I just want the team to play really well, want to go out there and put the best product on the field.”

    Curtis Grant on what he knew about the rivalry growing up in Richmond, Va. –
    “I really didn’t know that much about it. I just knew one of my best friends growing up, he was a Team Up North fan. He used to talk about how crazy the rivalry was, but I didn’t really understand it until I got here. I had a couple of other buddies back home that are Team Up North fans, and we go at it all the time.”

    Curtis Grant on Meyer’s speech about controlling emotion – “He said he wants the game to be very intense, but if anybody throws any punches this year we’re just dismissed. He pretty much put it out there yesterday, so there’s no telling what will happen if you get into a fight this year. So we have to be on our best behavior.”

    Bennett on the same subject – “You toe that line every game you play if you’re playing with intensity, anger or aggression. It’s a rough sport. Guys are going to be jawing back and forth. You have to know what the limits are. You have to know what’s worth doing and what’s not worth doing. Sometimes you can get away with doing stuff between the whistles and guys go for it. When you start jawing at someone and you throw a punch, it’s not well thought out. You know you’re going to get kicked out of the game and miss the next one.”

    Curtis Grant on his favorite Michigan memory –
    “Like I said, I really didn’t watch it growing up. I’d say last year just because it was a very intense game. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but you just want to win so bad. For them to gamble for it all and Tyvis (Powell) makes that play, and it’s just like, ‘Wow. This is a great joy and feeling after the game.’ ”

    Bennett on giving up 41 points to the Wolverines last year –
    "It was just really annoying. It felt like every play that they got was a trick play or a screen or something like that. It was annoying that we couldn't feel it, it was annoying that we couldn't redirect and get it and it was annoying that they kept doing those plays instead of just trying to run it down our throats and then we would have stopped them. They actually wanted to win the game, and that was annoying.

    “I just remember sitting on the sideline and being upset the whole time because we needed to stop them and it's hard to just rush these guys and do all this stuff when you're worrying about Devin Gardner rolling out for a 40-yard run or him rushing this way and turning around, and tossing off his back foot for an 80-yard screen.”

    Perry on Powell’s win-clinching interception last year – “That was pretty cool. The real cool thing was he caught the ball and I don’t think he put it down until he got back home in Columbus. I mean he went in the shower with that thing, he was getting dressed with the ball, the whole deal. So it was just really cool to see. That was obviously such a big play and he’s got that ability to make big plays like that.”

    Curtis Grant on the UM offense – “They have a lot of talent, from that quarterback position to the receivers. They have talent all over the field. It’s kind of hard to wonder what’s going on up there, like ‘How come they’re not winning more games?’ I just got done watching film. They have multiple running backs. They have good receivers. Any time this team wanted to explode, they could and just go crazy.”

    Spencer on the danger of playing 5-6 Michigan – “They are going to come out swinging. I’d be the first one to tell you that. I have watched them all year. They are a good football team. They have athletes and they have mismatches for everybody they play. But at the same time, I like our checkers better than theirs. We will match or surpass their toughness and go out and take care of our business.”

    Heuerman on UM players dealing with a black cloud over coach Brady Hoke – “Turing on the TV every day and seeing your coach under such fire and stuff, it obviously affects you a little bit. To what extent, I don’t know how much. I don’t know what the locker room is up there. I don’t know the feeling the players have toward the coach.”

    Curtis Grant on the Hoke factor –
    “It all depends on how much respect that those players have for their guy. If they have a lot of respect for him, they’re going to give it all they’ve got. If they don’t, they’re not going to play worth anything.”

    Bennett on the makeup of the OSU defense –
    “Last year we had issues in the secondary, we were inconsistent on the D-line, we were inconsistent in the linebacker play. I think this year we're so much more consistent. We're more together than we were last year. Guys play for each other. Guys support each other there's no negativity on the sideline. I think all around we're a much better defense.”

    Doran Grant on the defensive goal – “That’s what we’ve all been talking about is basically finishing. We’ve got to finish as a defense, finish as a team and we’ve got to do our part. We’ve got to do a better job with that and I think this is another opportunity for us to do that.”

    Baldwin on Hoke – “I am not too sure what is going on with that situation. Any time you have a fear that you are going to lose a coach obviously if it is your last game with him it is going to be emotional so I am sure they are going through some stuff right now. It is making it that much more important for them also.”

    Baldwin on preparing for his last home game – “I have been thinking about it a lot and I am not excited about it, it is going to be sad obviously and I just have to cherish the moment.”

    Spencer on this being a different week – “There is obviously a lot of stuff going on on campus this week. At times, it’s hard to stay focused. It goes to show you how much the fans and the students have our backs. I was going to class and I’m walking in my building and I don’t see any Ms on any of the signs or the building names. That shows the severity of our hatred for them. It’s universal throughout the Ohio State campus.”

    Spencer on his initial reaction to seeing Michigan – “Personally, I have grown to not like them very much ever since birth. Every time I hear that fight song and see those damn helmets, not great feelings come up, I guess. At least I get to get all of that out for the last time on Saturday.”

    Baldwin on if he believes the Wolverines would lay down if OSU bolted to a quick lead –
    “I don’t really see that ever happening. It is just that big of a game that even if you get down two or three scores early that you are not going to want to quit, especially in a place like the stadium we are in.”

    Spencer on the price of saying the ‘M’ word in front of Meyer – “I’m sure the conversation you get following would not be too comfortable. In the weight room, there would probably be some kind of physical punishment, whether it’s push-ups or whatever. I am going to try and avoid it all cost.”

    Doran Grant on his favorite Michigan memory – “I would say the 12-0 year my sophomore year in 2012. That was a good team win and everybody rushed the field, undefeated season. We didn’t get to go anywhere after that, but it was just good to be with your teammates after that one.”

    Heuerman on if his four years at OSU has flown by – “It really has. I got a text from Coach (Jim) Tressel last night. Thinking back to four years ago when I showed up here it’s just crazy how quick it goes. It’s been awesome, man, I love it here. I have no regrets.”

    Heuerman on if he has maximized his college experience –
    “Oh yeah (laughs). Oh yeah. I’ll leave it at that.”

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  • Christmastime Quote Treat

    We’ve covered a lot of ground with Quote Me over the years mostly because, well, there are a lot of quotes out there in the sportsworld.

    SportsRappUp.com, of course, tries to bring to light the more compelling ones, especially if they relate to Ohio State football or basketball, but, alas, there isn’t always enough of a forum to relay them.

    But then we thought about it a little more and realized this is cyberspace, dammit, and there is always room for more.

    Therefore, we created this section of the website to give life to the quotes that (almost) got away.

    As the end of the 2013 calendar nears, it’s now time to revisit some of the better quotes from the beginning of basketball season and the stretch run for the football Buckeyes that did not make it into SRU articles.

    Here goes:

    Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller on the first conversation he had with OSU coach Thad Matta, his good friend, after their teams faced each other in the Sweet 16 – “Honestly, it was kind of business as usual. I was curious to get his feedback on some of our young players on our team moving forward for us. And obviously I was hoping he’d get to the Final Four.”

    Miller on what he foresaw for the 2013-14 Buckeyes – “I think (LaQuinton) Ross is going to be a star transitioning from the role he had a year ago and how he played so well at the end. Aaron Craft, he makes them go on offense and defense. But I think their perimeter, when you consider their talent and how experienced those guys are, is really going to be the strength of their team.”

    Miller on OSU forward Sam Thompson – “He thrives so much in transition and you’ve got to worry about him driving the ball. To me, he’s going to do nothing but get better.”

    Offensive tackle Jack Mewhort, a Toledo native, on growing up in the center of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry – “I think all my friends if they were fans of that school, they’re more fans of me now. They switched their allegiances. I don’t think anyone I’m really that close with are fans of That School Up North. If I find out, we’re going to have a problem.”

    Freshman running back Dontre Wilson on getting ready to face Michigan for the first time – “I don’t know that much about it, but I’m sure I’m going to find out pretty soon.”

    Defensive end Michael Bennett after the Buckeyes beat Indiana and stretched the program-record winning streak to 24 games – “I feel like when we’re on all cylinders, we’re a hard team to beat. Coach (Urban) Meyer always stresses, ‘A man with a vision is hard to beat; a group of men with a vision is impossible to beat.’ I felt like we had a vision today, and maybe that purpose was to send the seniors out right. But I feel like when we focus as a team, good luck beating us.”

    Matta, after the team’s exhibition with Walsh, on the importance of naming his starting lineup – “I wish they didn’t turn the lights out and have dry ice and fireworks and all that stuff because it’s not that big of a deal to me who starts the game.”

    Meyer on his emotions moments after OSU’s 42-41 survival at Michigan – “Whatever is inside of you it feels like it just shoots out of you. I just have great respect for this rivalry and it’s just instantaneous. I thought about back in ’86 and ’87 when Coach (Earle) Bruce was here and coached his final game. I had flashbacks of the great games that I’ve witnessed.”

    Meyer on his defense barely holding up in The Game – “We were blown out on defense. We’re playing guys too many plays. I wanted to call a timeout and give them a breath so they could strain to make a play.”

    Meyer on his belief in senior running back Carlos Hyde – “I know at Boston College my friend, Steve Adazzio, has a great back as well, but it we had a draft I’ve got mine.”

    Center Corey Linsley on going out with Mewhort – “I’ll remember that Jack was an extremely tough individual. He’s a caring individual, he really cared about the progress of the program, the progress of individuals, besides himself, and that he was a great friend throughout my four years here. Playing with Jack Mewhort has been an honor from my standpoint. I’ll always remember him as a great guy.”

    Basketball center Amir Williams on watching walk-on Jake Lorbach put together a six-point “explosion” – “He works on those moves in practice all the time so it doesn’t surprise me he made those shots. He looked good man, I’m going to take my lessons from him for now on.”

    Matta on Lorbach – “That is exciting for him, and it’s exciting for the guys because they know how hard he is. It’s good to see it pay off.”

    Meyer on the 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, which ruined OSU’s undefeated season – “It’s going to haunt all of us, I imagine, for a little while. If you’re asking me to measure the levels of hurt, I’m not sure I can do that.”

    Linsley on the same subject – “Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Everybody was selling out and (we) still didn’t get it. What could have been will always bug us.”

    OSU basketball assistant Dave Dickerson on the Buckeyes facing his alma mater, Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge – “I enjoyed my four or five years there as a student-athlete in the mid-’80s and late-’80s – boy, it’s been a long time – and my nine years there as an assistant coach are probably the best nine years of my life. And obviously winning a national championship and going to back-to-back Final Fours was a big deal for me and my family.

    “But my ties are to Ohio State now. I have emotional ties to Lenzelle Smith and Aaron Craft and Sam Thompson and those guys. This is my first time ever coaching against Maryland, but as far as the emotional part of it, it lies with Ohio State.”

    Former OSU assistant and current ESPN analyst Paul Biancardi on the development of Ross – “That is a credit to the coaching. LaQuinton Ross didn’t know the game, he didn’t play hard. He was just one of those talented kids that you take a chance on, and I think Thad knew that, and his staff. But they worked with him, obviously, and they got him through that first year, which was a crucial year. And obviously the kid invested time in himself.”

    Matta on Chris Jent’s contributions to the staff before returning to the NBA as a coach – “He was phenomenal; he was awesome. He made all of us better. When Chris and I sat down and talked about it, I said, ‘Hey, do what you need to do because you’ve made the program better,’ and that’s all that I’ve ever asked of guys that have been on the staff and moved on, that they’ve left it a little bit better than they found it.”

    Matta on replacement Greg Paulus and the former Dukie’s rapport with Craft – “Number one, I think they’ve got a great relationship just from the standpoint of both were a point guard, both were a quarterback. What can Greg do for Aaron that the others can’t, I don’t know. Hopefully he can get him to shoot 47 percent from the three-point line for starters. That would be good.”

    Linsley on trying to block linebacker Ryan Shazier in practice – We try to keep the contact between the ones sort of at a minimum, but it’s a heck of a time blocking that guy. He’s pretty fast. He’s really good with his hands. It’s obvious why he’s as highly rated as a player that he is. He’s going to be successful. He has all the tools in the world.”

    OSU football assistant (and soon-to-be James Madison head coach) Everett Withers on the notion that there should be no limit to contact with recruits – “Some of those things are really to me not very smart – to be able to allow schools all those mailouts and to do all those things, text messaging and all that stuff. Kids lives are already being intruded upon so much. They wouldn’t have a life at all if some of that stuff was going on, the schools that would do that – mail thousands of letters and send hundreds of text messages a day.

    “So I think it was smart those rules did not go through. It’s good for coaching, it’s good for recruiting, it’s good for the college game.”

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  • Football Hits Halfway Point

    Well, we’ve gotten to the halfway point of the college football regular season and already the leftovers are filling the fridge.

    The Ohio State Buckeyes are always a news item in these parts and SportsRappUp.com tries to be on top of the story as much as possible, but sometimes some of the noteworthy quotes still don’t make it to a story.

    Think of it as the perfectly good cucumbers that stay on the store shelf for whatever reason. Well, we don’t believe in waste around here. Plus, we want to give life to the comments that deserve it.

    That’s the whole idea behind Quote Me. And with so much going on in terms of OSU football coverage, it’s time to look back at the extra quotes of note and remember how we got here.

    In the spring, the Buckeyes had high expectations and we’re not afraid to share them. Also, we were able to get a little closer to the program and get to know the people involved.

    In the summer, head coach Urban Meyer encountered some difficulty as a couple key players – cornerback Bradley Roby and running back Carlos Hyde – were involved in bar incidents that led to police investigations and, eventually, suspensions.

    On a much better note, former Buckeye Cris Carter, an Ohio native, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

    As the season unfolded, more storylines emerged, perhaps none more interesting than the absolute explosion of stellar play by backup quarterback Kenny Guiton with starter Braxton Miller sidelined with an injury.

    That led to Miller’s return vs. Wisconsin and a midseason run with three out of four games scheduled to be staged at night.

    So with the magic of quotes that almost got away, let’s look back at the run-up to the middle of the 2013 football season.

    Here goes:

    Athletic director Gene Smith introducing Meyer at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast just prior to national signing day – “His great gift is motivating players, to instill that passion and competitive spirit that allows a team, like ours this past year, to
    overcome significant challenges that they faced for the last 24 months and do what only five other teams have done in our history – that’s to run the table, go undefeated and kick a lot of butt.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, I have been in this business for a long time. I’ve been blessed to work with some outstanding leaders as coaches for a number of different sports. Many have won championships on all levels. But I’ve never had one quite as talented as this one.”

    Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs on Meyer’s leadership of the program – “He is brutally honest and direct. If there’s a thing you could hang our program’s hat on, it’s honesty. Let’s don’t sugarcoat it. This is what this is.”

    Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell when asked for his reaction to seeing former linebacker David Perkins talking Brutus in an offseason practice – “I’d like to … no I wouldn’t like to know what was going through his mind, to be honest with you. The reality is there are some guys who react and respond, and we push them to be very reactive. It was a very good form tackle and we’re going to use it on our tackling tape.”

    Former Buckeye John Simon, who grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, with a family of Steelers fans, on being drafted by Baltimore – “We’re diehard Ravens fans – no longer Steelers fans. Some of the things in the house were Pittsburgh things but not anymore.”

    Simon on playing for coach John Harbaugh – “Coach Harbaugh is a professional and a very passionate guy about football, and very energetic. He shows that out in practice and you can tell he loves football. As a player, that’s the kind of guy you want to play for.”

    Meyer, while in Chicago for Big Ten Media Days, on the off-field trouble that his the program – “On Friday before I left for vacation, I walked up to our strength coach and as I was walking out, I said, ‘I don’t like this’ and he goes, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘I feel too good. Something’s not right here.’ Usually I’m not a feel-good guy. But with the leadership meetings we were having … then woosh! All of a sudden a tire blows out.”

    Former Buckeye Eddie George, now an analyst for FOX Sports, on his excitement over the summer that the network has rights to the OSU-Cal game – “It will be fun. Last year, I had to watch it on one of the smaller screens in the studio and screamed my head off at the television. Now we actually cover them. It’s going to be exciting.”

    George’s view of the matchup as it appeared going into the season – “Everybody is going to be watching what Ohio State does this year because they’re intrigued by Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller and what he’s able to do, and if the Buckeyes can win the Big Ten. And that’s going to be a game that’s going to be interesting.

    Sonny Dykes is a heck of a coach. He’s got a lot of weapons and they played Ohio State last year at Ohio State and it was really, really tight at the end. So I’m curious to see how they’re going to respond on the road, and given the situation now with Roby and Carlos Hyde how can they navigate that and go out there and pull off a victory.”

    Bill Conley, Carter’s coach at Middletown (Ohio) HS and a longtime Ohio State assistant, on Carter making the Hall of Fame – “He was a great basketball player first. His brother, Butch, was a pro player, and he always kind of wanted to be a basketball player. I took the job the spring right before Cris started his junior year. We had a football camp and I could see he had some pretty good skills. We had a little serious talk and I said, ‘Cris, I know you always wanted to be a basketball player but keep all doors open.’ Of course, he became all-state and All-American in both. But the greatest thing about him is he was very confident and very competitive.”

    Conley on Carter’s greatness – “I was very, very fortunate in my career. I coached three players that I can honestly say never had a bad practice and never had a bad game. Cris Carter was one of them, Chris Spielman was another one, and Mike Vrabel was the third. Those guys loved to play the game, they loved to compete, and they believed in themselves and they believed in the team.”

    Wide receivers coach Zach Smith, prior to the season, on the Meyer effect – “It’s too early to tell how much success this team is capable of. I think the sky is the limit. But the good thing is Coach Meyer is so phenomenal at developing the psyche of a team and motivating the team. At Florida year after year we were successful because he is so profound at managing the team. He’s doing it again this year. You don’t go to practice and feel like, ‘We went 12-0, we’re going to do it all.’ That’s not what it feels like. You go out to practice and it’s like, ‘We’ve got a ways to go, we’ve got to work.’ ”

    Wide receiver Evan Spencer on Guiton taking control during the win over San Diego State – “He prepares so hard and he’s so smart and he knows what’s going on so well that it’s hard not to trust him. If you’re ever down, he’s there to pick you up, and whenever you make a mistake, he’s there. I think having that in our offense, especially for some of the young guys, is big.”

    Freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott prior to Hyde’s return in Week 4 – “He’s a great leader, he helps everyone out in practice and just that competition aspect of our room, it helps us grow as players.”

    Linebacker Curtis Grant on the worthiness of the OSU defense after the unit gave up 34 points at Cal – “That’s for them to determine. All we can do is play. Like Coach says, at the end of the year people are going to form their own opinions about us. As long as we stick together and play together as a team we don’t have nothing to worry about.”

    Meyer on the Guiton phenomenon – “Can you imagine how many times we’ve said ‘Kenny Guiton’ in the last three weeks? And it’s deserved. I can’t imagine a better story. Someday ... maybe I’ll do it. Maybe I’ll write a book about him some day. He’s grown up and matured. If you cut him open, he’s an incredible person.”

    Offensive coordinator Tom Herman when asked how many other places Guiton could start – “I would think half, at least, if not more. I think he’s that good. His velocity might hinder his ability to do that but at the same time all those intangibles are something you can’t overlook. We’re blessed to have him. I know I’ve been a lot of places throughout my career that we’d have been doing jumping jacks and cartwheels down the hallway if he was our starting quarterback.”

    Offensive lineman Jack Mewhort after Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland amassed a career-high 16 tackles vs. the Buckeyes – “He’s great player. Their whole defense is a bunch of tough guys, but 44 is the leader of it and I’ve played against him it seems like forever. He’s an awesome player and good guy, too. I have a lot of respect for him.”

    Coombs on how he found Australian punter Cameron Johnston – “Coach Meyer made it pretty clear. He said, ‘Go find your punter now. I don’t care where you find him or where you get him, but go find you a punter.’ We looked everywhere. I mean everywhere. We’ve got film coming in from all different avenues.”

    Coombs on making sure Johnston fit the bill – “We had to try to find out if he’s got that inner character, because that’s a different deal now. I remember the first conversation we had with guys in Australia, we said, ‘You know, I’ve got to see the guy against the rush with a helmet on.’ The next thing I know he’s sending me video of him in a helmet and shoulder pads and these other jokers running at him. It’s still not the same, but at least it shows you something.”

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  • Catching Up On Coaches Comments

    Sunday is Media Day for the Ohio State football team, which means the Buckeyes will get a very temporary respite from the grind of preseason camp and reporters will be scurrying around to find that magic quote.

    Especially important is gathering information and insight from the assistant coaches, and they will be made available as well.

    So before SRU fills up another recorder, we felt it was time to clean out some of the leftovers from the offseason regarding the coaching staff’s view of the football team.

    Here goes:

    Offensive line coach Ed Warinner on why he is encouraged by the play of former defensive lineman Chase Farris – “He’s very competitive, he goes hard for 4-6 seconds. He has a high motor, and he’s strong and powerful. We just have to teach him the position. That’s the only thing he lacks is just experience in there and understanding how things work there.”

    Warinner on if coaching offensive linemen at Ohio State is any different than his previous stint in the Big Ten –
    “I don’t see any significant differences other than there are more and more teams in the shotgun running spread offenses. So I see that more. That wasn’t as common as before. When I was at Illinois in 2005 and 2006, Illinois was one of the few spread teams in the Big Ten and I think there’s just more and more of that going on. But I don’t see anything specifically different in how it’s called (by referees). It has evolved, so I’m sure it’s different than it was eight years ago or 10 years ago, but I don’t think it’s that much different.”

    Warinner on his aims with recruiting to his group – “We would try to shoot for a guy who has a little bit more athleticism because if you’re going to be in the shotgun and you’re going to pass, you tend to get wider rush defensive ends, so they have to be able to move around in space a little bit better. So from that aspect, yeah, we would probably look for a guy with a little bit more foot quickness and ability to change direction in our tackles than we did 10 years ago.”

    Wide receivers coach Zach Smith on the uniqueness o playing wideout – “If you run the wrong route or you don’t get open or you don’t catch the ball, it’s not like people don’t notice. It’s center stage, right in front of you, so to develop the confidence you have to be successful in those opportunities. But that spotlight on you can also rapidly increase your confidence because everyone does see you make the play and all of a sudden your confidence skyrockets. It’s kind of gift and a curse, I guess.”

    Smith on the emergence of senior Chris Fields – “Chris was a flash-in-the-pan type of guy last year. He would show you something that you loved and the next play he would let you down, so it was kind of an emotional roller coaster with his performance. He came into this spring more committed and had a better understanding and was more confident that he could do those things consistently. I felt like he was going to be more consistent and make those plays that we needed him to, but we needed to see it, and he did it. In 15 practices (in the spring), he did what he needed to do.”

    Smith on Fields coming to life around the middle of last season – “I saw a light come on, but at that point it wasn’t tryout time. So when the season ended is when he clicked into action. He needed to go show everyone so the confidence and the trust could be developed to where we could count on him and he’s one of our guys.”

    Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman on the improvement in the passing game – “I’m not frightened to call a pass play anymore. It literally sent shivers down my spine at times last year. Now, are we where we need to be? Absolutely not. But at least as a play caller I don’t lay awake at night with night sweats saying, ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to have to call a pass tomorrow.’ ”

    Herman on teaching QB Braxton Miller to trust the system and not get happy feet in the pocket – “I think he’s at his best when he’s confident that he knows where guys are going to be. Throwing and catching the football is really, really hard because of everything the defense can do, so the more reps he can get over and over and over again putting himself in different scenarios vs. different defenses, I think the calmer we’ll see his feet.”

    Herman on whether Miller could even survey the field last year – “To say he had just a void of understanding would not be the truth. I think he would be the first to admit that he wasn’t the best at that. But he’s pretty good. So it is pretty remarkable that he was able to take over games the way that he did and really kind of operate at that rudimentary level of understanding. So it will be exciting to see in the next couple years how much progress he makes.”

    Herman on the difficulty and demands of the position – “The things that those guys have to see standing back there and the decisions that they have to make in 1.5 to 2.2 seconds, it’s mind-boggling. It’s hard to wrap your brain around every single time”

    Herman on the emerging leaders of the offense – “(Corey) Linsley is really good – really, really good – as the center should be. (Jeff) Heurerman can be. We need to keep working on that. I think Philly Brown can be but he’s not there yet. Those two would be the next two in line to kind of make that move.”

    Herman on young QB J.T Barrett – “Super smart guy. A really refreshing guy. I’ve coached a lot of coaches’ kids and he is not like a coach’s kid. He’s not. But he’s very intelligent and understands the game. You’re still kind of nervous about what you’re going to get physically.”

    Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell on how to keep the Buckeyes hungry coming off undefeated season – “I think it starts with us as coaches. When good things happen, it’s easier for people to believe in them. It’s just like seeing. When you see something, it’s a little bit easier to believe in it. When something works, you don’t question it as much. But we have to remember the criticism is not what’s hard. It’s the success when you have it and can you continue to have it. Are you going to have the same work ethic and all of those things when they’re telling you how good your are.”

    Safeties coach Everett Withers on the importance of putting seniors Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett in mentoring roles – “I think our seniors understand we’re going to need everyone and if we don’t develop and help develop some of the younger guys we’re not going to be very good. I think they’re ready to take that on this summer as a challenge to do that.”

    Withers, who is also co-coordinator, on Ohio State’s ability to change from 4-2-5 and 3-3-5 defensive looks when in nickel – “We’re able to rush four out of it, we’re able to rush three out of it, and we’re able to bring pressure out of it, so it’s kind of a multiple package. It gives us the ability to cover more and also pressure more.”

    Withers on freshman phenom  Vonn Bell – “He’s an athletic guy. He’s got really good ball skills. I think his development in the scheme will be crucial. He’s a good tackler. During the recruiting process one of the things I really liked about him was his range. He can run, he can cover ground, he plays well with the ball in the air, he understands angles. Hopefully he can fit and maybe help us at some of those sub packages like nickel, dime and maybe even at the free safety position.”

    Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs on the critical importance of offseason development – “If we’re not any better in August than we are today then we’ve lost a golden opportunity. If we continue to grow and enhance and improve, if we continue to stay healthy and we all buy in to what the head coach is selling, I don’t think there’s any question we can be a really, really good football team.”


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  • Another Thrilling Hoops Season

    Usually this space is reserved for a hodgepodge of extra quotes from several different teams that are under the umbrella coverage of SportsRappUp.com.

    However, the Ohio State basketball team made another deep postseason run this spring that included a Big Ten Tournament championship – the program’s third straight conference tourney net-cutter – and ended in Los Angeles a win short of the Final Four.

    Once again, Thad Matta took the Buckeyes to the end of March and basketball Buckeyes fans experienced a thrilling campaign – and some heartache at the very end.

    The action was so fast and furious we’ve let the dust settle and compiled some of the best quotes that were left behind as Ohio State made its journey through a palpitating 29-8 season that included contests with eight top-10 teams.

    The Buckeyes suffered preconference losses in high-profile contests with Duke and Kansas and endured embarrassing 20-plus-point defeats at Illinois and Wisconsin, but they also rose up to knock off rivals Michigan in Columbus and Indiana in Bloomington when each was ranked No. 2 in the country.

    Despite coming up just a hair short of a piece of yet another Big Ten title – which wasn’t decided until a Michigan layup attempt vs. IU rolled off the rim in the final seconds of the regular-season finale – OSU made its mark in Chicago with wins over Nebraska, Michigan State and Wisconsin and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    That set up crowd-pleasing results in Dayton with wins over Iona and Iowa State and another nail-biter against Arizona in L.A. LaQuinton Ross’ game-winning three in overtime marked OSU’s 11th straight victory, but the balloon finally burst two days later in an Elite Eight loss to Wichita State.

    It was another memorable and exciting campaign, certainly worthy of its own Quote Me recognition.

    Here then are the hoops-related quotes of interest that almost got away through the course of the season, presented in semi-chronological order:

    Matta discussing Ross’ development heading into the 2012-13 season – “It’s getting him to understand what he has to do within his capabilities to help us win games. I think he’s had a great spring, he’s had a good summer in the weight room and that sort of thing. It’s going to be a little bit new to him but by the same token going through the same practices and having been in the arena hopefully he’ll be ready to go.”

    Former Buckeye great and current CBS analyst Clark Kellogg on his preseason assessment of OSU – “They will surprise on the high side. That’s my initial feeling, that they will not be expected to be as good as they’re going to be. I think Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft are going to come back determined to prove that Sully (Jared Sullinger) and Will (Buford) are gone but we’re still here and we’ve got stuff to prove ourselves.”

    Matta on the Nov. 28 mathup with Duke – “I hope in 25 years that our program is still at the level that it is, because that’s exactly what Duke has done. They’ve stood the test of time. There’s been a lot of great players rolling through there. We’ve had a lot of great players. Not as many because we haven’t been here that long. They recruit at the highest level; we attempt to recruit at the highest level.”

    Matta on how difficult it would be to stay at OSU as long and be as beloved as Mike Krzyzewski is at Duke – “(Lou Holtz) told me, ‘Don’t ever stay for more than seven years at a place because the longer you stay the more you fall in love with it but the more they fall out of love with you.’ It’s funny because my seventh year we were 34-3 and we won by 12 and people were like, ‘only 12?’ ”

    Matta on going to Cameron Indoor Stadium and a similar ACC/Big Ten Challenge road game at North Carolina in 2006 – “It had to be 120 degrees on the court because at halftime my pants were stuck to my leg.”

    Matta on Kansas’ Dec. 22 visit and his developing rivalry with KU head coach Bill Self – “Obviously he’s proven with the success he’s had. He is in an elite crowd in terms of coaches and his assistants have gone on as head coaches. I’ve got the utmost respect for him and the job that he’s done over the course of time.”

    Craft on the surprising effectiveness of sophomore center Amir Williams vs. Kansas – “It’s in him (to play like this every game). He is growing and just needs more experience. He needs to continue to be consistent in these big game situations. He can come in and make an impact immediately.”

    Kansas guard Ben McLemore on Shannon Scott igniting OSU off the bench – “He surprised me with his speed. He can get up the floor fast. Thankfully, we slowed them down in the second half in transition defense.”

    Self on the Jayhawks’ 74-66 win, Kansas’ third over OSU in the course of a year – “The first time we played last year, Sullinger didn’t play. The second time we played, they controlled the game and we made some plays late in the game. Today’s probably the best we’ve played against Ohio State in three games.”

    Matta on the same subject – “The first game we played them was hard just because we weren’t at full strength. To be honest this game was a lot like the second half of the Final Four game in New Orleans where the ball just wouldn’t go in the basket for us. The leadership they have … I haven’t had four seniors in about eight years. And Ben McLemore is as good as any player in the country.”

    Ross on his off-court personality – “I’m a real laid-back guy. I’m not too much into parties. I’m a real gentle guy, laid-back and goofy. I’m the one sitting back and cracking jokes.”

    Ross on Scott – “He’s like a little pest. He’s like the brother that you didn’t want.”

    Matta on if he planned to go out and celebrate the pay raise the university granted him in January – “Not with these new tax laws.”

    Matta on the school recognizing his efforts since becoming OSU head coach in the summer of 2004 – “One of the things I’m most proud of is what we built here. We were at Ground Zero nine years ago in terms of the uncertainty of the future of our program, and we’ve been very, very fortunate with the teams that we’ve had and the job that the coaches have done.

    “For me personally, I’m a lot more proud of that than I am with a contract. I feel as blessed as I can be to be at Ohio State. I love this university and I’m extremely grateful in terms of what they’ve allowed me to do and how they’ve taken care of me throughout the time I’ve been here.”

    Gangly freshman guard Amedeo Della Valle on being a fan favorite – “I like it a lot. I really see myself being like a regular student and most of the students maybe see themselves as me, because maybe I don’t look like a basketball player. They can tell I’m working really hard to try to be successful.”

    Matta on Sullinger’s rookie season with the Boston Celtics being cut short because of back surgery – “I haven’t talked to Jared. We’ve texted back and forth, and the first thing I texted when he got out of surgery was, ‘Please tell me you can move both your feet.’ You hate to see it, but in talking his agent, David Falk, he broke it down for me, why they did what they did, and I think long-term it was definitely the right thing to do.”

    Craft on his rematch at Michigan with fellow Ohioan and UM point guard Trey Burke – “He comes from a great family and they definitely keep him grounded. That’s what it takes. I’ve seen him be very successful at just about every level. It’s great to see another guy we kind of grew up with having some great success.”

    Scott on another Ohio-based point guard, Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson (son of former Buckeye great Jim Jackson) – “I played him like a couple times in AAU, not too much. With the game against Minnesota where he got the last shot, he probably has great confidence and he’s playing great basketball right now. I think guarding him is going to be a great challenge for me, but I believe that I’ll be ready for it.”

    Sophomore and Chicago-area native Sam Thompson on going back to familiar environs before the team’s trip to Northwestern – “It’s weird. We fly into the airport and drive through downtown Chicago, going past things I’ve seen for the last 20 years. I can’t go home and I can’t do the things I normally do in the city. So it’s kind of a weird feeling. But it’s definitely fun to go home and play in front of my family and my friends.”

    Matta on the team getting hot after an eye-opening 71-49 loss at Wisconsin on Feb. 17 – “There’s going to be ups and downs. I remember two years ago we got to 24-0 at one point and in there after the game we’d be all upset at how we played, and (assistant coach) Dave Dickerson, who just left Tulane, would be like, ‘Hey, fellas, I only won nine last year. I’m having the time of my life. This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.’ ”

    Craft on losing his title as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, which went to Indiana forward Victor Oladipo – “Victor did a great job of coming out and having a great year. I don’t think it’s a knock on me. I think it just attests to what he was able to do, and he did a lot. He’s that guy out there you’re always worrying about on the defensive end and you’ve got to give him a lot of credit.”

    Thomas on Craft being listed as a candidate on ESPN.com’s Most Hated Pool – “I voted for him.”

    Craft on the same subject – “I would love to win that one, too. I do know that I have a higher seed in that tournament than (OSU video coordinator) Greg Paulus. I just like to make sure to let him know I continue to beat him at various things. But I’ve got a tough matchup with Joakim Noah. That’s a tough one, but we’ll try to pull the upset.”

    Craft on the comparison to Paulus, a former Duke point guard – “It is what it is. I know I wasn’t the fondest of Gregory when he played and I’m assuming it’s probably similar to what’s going on right now with me. Greg’s one of the nicest guys I know. I didn’t know him (then), I just chose not to like him very much.”

    Matta, at the Big Ten Tournament, on the notion that a league team needs to win a national championship soon to confirm its reputation as an elite basketball conference – “Yeah, it’d be nice. That team we had in ’07 was as good a basketball team as I’ve ever seen but wouldn’t you know we’re playing the defending national champs with five starters back. There’s a lot of things that happen and a lot of it is matchups and who gets rolling. I think there are some teams in this league who have a legitimate shot to win it this year.”

    Matta on hearing the news that 13-year Northwestern coach Bill Carmody had been let go by the school – “I think Bill Carmody maybe has the best offensive mind of any coach I’ve ever seen in my life, and I think he could be the most unlucky with the injuries just in the time I’ve been here with nine years in the league. It’s amazing to see the things that have happened to his team.

    “We’re No. 1 in the country a couple years ago and John Shurna runs into a basket support and has a concussion and can’t play against us – and we go down to the wire. Who could win and keep coaching those guys and stay competitive with what he lost this year?

    “He’s one of the greatest human beings and he coaches as well as anybody.”

    Matta on his preference for OSU’s soon-to-be-announced NCAA Tournament bracket – “Dayton hasn’t been real kind to us so I don’t want to go there. We haven’t fared too well there – 1 and 2.”

    Matta on going to the postseason – “Ohio State, the thing I’ve learned – and I like it about it – people either love Ohio State or they hate Ohio State. There’s no gray area.”

    OSU assistant Jeff Boals on the “one-way conversation” between the coaches and players after the loss at Wisconsin – “You look at the tape and you could see it wasn’t normal Buckeye basketball. Our guys understood that. Thad did a great job of making them understand that the next two days in practice. We watched a lot of tape, did a lot of talking, and they corrected it.

    “They always say the tape doesn’t lie, and these kids have personal pride and team pride. When you let your teammates down, that’s when you feel the worst.

    “He made it clear that’s not acceptable. We told them they embarrassed the university, embarrassed the team and embarrassed themselves. That’s not what he stands for, and wasn’t going to let it happen.”

    Lenzelle Smith on Ohio State shooting a high percentage and getting to empty the bench in the NCAA tourney blowout of Iona – “It does a lot. A lot of guys got to see the ball go in, which is very good. They can relax a little bit and the pressure is not really on their shoulders anymore.”

    Senior Evan Ravenel on the Gaels coming into the game with no apparent fear of the Buckeyes – “When someone’s talking trash to you or saying stuff through the media, you kind of want to take your game up to another level. It does add fuel to the fire.”

    Boals after the Buckeyes nipped Iowa State to return to the Sweet 16 – “We’re playing with a lot of confidence, and our three guys off the bench – Ravenel, LaQuinton Ross and Shannon – are all giving us something different. It’s different from game to game, it’s different things at the defensive end and different things at the offensive end. When those guys started playing that’s when we kind of lifted off.”

    Arizona coach Sean Miller on preparing to face OSU and his good friend Matta – “It’s not like they’re a bad team on offense. I think they’re really good. They’re not as talented, maybe, as some of the most recent Ohio State teams, but they make up for it with really unselfishness and togetherness. They have a guy that gets 20 every night, Deshaun Thomas, who from a scoring perspective, is as good as it gets.

    “They play together on both ends of the floor. Aaron Craft is exceptional at what he does. Deshaun Thomas is equally exceptional at what he does, and they have a lot of other good players that play Ohio State basketball.”

    Thompson, after the loss to Wichita State, on the exit of Ravenel – “It’s been a great honor to play with Evan these last two years. I wish him the best of luck wherever life may take him. My hat is off to him for a great Ohio State career. He did a lot of good, he’s a great teammate and I love him to death.”


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  • Ode To A (Rare) Undefeated Team

    Usually this space is reserved for a hodgepodge of extra quotes from several different teams that are under the umbrella coverage of SportsRappUp.com.

    However, the Ohio State football team just logged an improbable, thrilling and somewhat unfulfilling 12-0 season. It was an odyssey that actually began with Urban Meyer’s hiring a little more than a year ago, continued through an eventful run-up to the season, and materialized as the Buckeyes overcame their flaws and setbacks while finding a way to win week after week.

    But the sixth unbeaten, untied season in Ohio State football history didn’t merit much more than an atta-boy – and a celebration before a few thousand soggy fans at St. John Arena on Dec. 7 – since the program had been docked with a postseason ban as part of a lengthy NCAA punishment.

    Therefore, SRU has decided to dedicate this installment of Quote Me solely to the 2012 OSU football squad.

    Here then are the football-related quotes of interest that almost got away through the course of the season, presented in semi-chronological order:

    Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers on being an interim head coach at North Carolina last year amid turmoil – “I learned really for 18 months that kids are resilient. That’s probably the biggest thing I learned. Kids are resilient and they’re just looking for somebody to coach them and love them and teach them how to be good people off the field and on the field.”

    Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell on him serving in the same role for Ohio State in 2011, which ended with a 6-7 record – “I just want to make sure everyone knows, we had expectations and they were very high.”

    Meyer on talking about what he inherited while speaking to fans at the team’s spring preview –
    “Our football program is in good shape. Coach (Jim) Tressel is a dear friend and his staff did a fabulous job. What they’ve done the last decade is nothing short of arguably the 10 best years in the history of this program. So it’s an honor for me and my staff to come in and take this over and do the very best we can.”

    Senior wide receiver Jake Stoneburner when reminded during late May interviews that it was the one-year anniversary of Tressel’s resignation – “It’s pretty crazy. It’s almost like it didn’t happen. We haven’t played a season yet with Coach Meyer but I feel like everyone is excited about the season again. And I feel like media around the country is wondering what Ohio State is going to do with a new coach, how good are they going to be. We’ve got good expectations. For losing one of the best coaches at Ohio State ever just a year ago to be where we’re at right now, we’re pretty fortunate. I didn’t expect it to be like this, but I’m definitely happy about it.”

    Former Buckeye Will Allen on the major NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State because of the scandal involving former coordinator Jerry Sandusky – “At the time it was ambiguous. Nobody knew. The opponent didn’t even know. So how is that even measurable? But obviously the NCAA wants to wipe the slate clean.”

    Meyer on a summer arrest of running back Bri’onte Dunn – “He’s going to plead not guilty. We did a series of tests and everything came back that he was honest with me. However, if there is some charge that sticks then they’ll be a penalty like all kids that have a charge.”

    Meyer on the notion that the Buckeyes could go undefeated heading into the open week – “If those kids hear that, I have to beat it out of them the first week of training camp. I can promise you after day four, they aren’t going to be worried about 10 and 0. They’re going to be worried about getting through day five. It’s going to be a really, really hard training camp.”

    Meyer at the Big Ten media conference in Chicago on the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry – “What makes a rivalry really great is histroically it’s two really good teams playing against each other. If it’s two lousy teams than it’s not a rivalry. I know (Michigan) has a really good team.”

    On his budding coaching rivalry with UM coach Brady Hoke – “I think coaches are overrated. If there are two good teams, he’ll get a lot of publicity and so will I. If Braxton Miller’s a great player, the rivalry is going to be really good, but if he’s not really good the rivalry won’t be as fiery. It’s all about the players. They won the game last year – not because of some coach or motivational saying. It’s because they have a freak at quarterback (Denard Robinson) who made some great plays. He was dynamic. Our guy wasn’t bad either. That’s why it was a great game.”

    On his relationship with Miller – “He has a virtue that is relatively non-existent nowadays and that’s humility. It’s refreshing to see that. It’s good for football. Here’s a kid that’s not looking to be out front and he’s a hard worker. His positive is he’s extremely competitive. The area he needs to work on is leadership. That’s to be determined. I’ll tell you after the first week of practice if he’s a good leader because if we throw the ball decent and guys are catching it, it means he led them all summer. If they don’t then he’s not where he needs to be.”

    On his goals with training camp days away – “Every school in the country is going to show a ton of enthusiasm, so I’m not looking for enthusiasm. That’s going to happen. What’s really important to us is that we can throw and catch a pass, and I mean at a high level because we weren’t able to do that (in the spring). If I see those receivers coming out of breaks and the quarterback spinning the ball on time, that means we have a chance to be really good on offense. If they don’t, we’ve got a problem.”

    On John Simon, Johnathan Hankins and the defensive line – “If you notice the way we’re recruiting right now, (the defensive line) is where you start. Spread offenses, shovel passes and all of that are kind of cool but at the end of the day if you have the best defensive line there’s a great chance you’re going to have one of the better teams in the conference, and I like our guys. I don’t love them yet but I like them a lot.”

    Senior linebacker Storm Klein on being reinstated to the team after assault charges against him were dropped – “Coach Meyer, he’s a good guy. He’s a guy who cares, and you can really tell that. In the beginning I didn’t know him very well but through everything we’ve become a lot closer and we understand each other.”

    Hankins on all the speculation surrounding the Buckeyes heading into the season – “I don’t feel it gets to be too much for me because I don’t pay too much attention to the media or Twitter and all that. Haters are always going to be out there, so you just have to deal with it. I’m not really bothered by it.”

    Stoneburner on if the Buckeyes were playing to silence their critics – “We’ve always got something to prove. We’re Ohio State. People are always doubting us, people are always with us. I feel like every year we have to be one of the best teams in the country or else it’s a disappointment. And no matter where we are, what we did last year and who’s our coach, we’re always circled because it’s Ohio State.”

    New offensive coordinator Tom Herman on why he believed the team made so much offseason improvement –Mickey Marotti, without a doubt. I know it’s cliché. I’ve been a lot of different places and he’s the best strength coach in America. I came from a place where I’d thought I had seen the best and I came to a place that I realized I hadn’t yet. He and his staff, they’re off-the-charts good.”

    Offensive line coach Ed Warinner on returning to the Big Ten Conference – “That’s part of the great thing about Ohio State is it’s in a great conference. I’ve coached at two schools in the conference, so I’ve been through the league. I respect it and know the quality of the coaching staff and the players. It’s going to be exciting. There will be new energy in the building tomorrow when everyone comes in.”

    Backup Kenny Guiton on what he picked up from Miller – “I’ve been trying to come every day to work and he told me that being a quarterback every day people are looking at us every play. So we have to lift them up if they’re having a down day and things like that. Just me watching Braxton every day, I’m learning, because Braxton is a great player.”

    Wide receivers coach Zach Smith on challenging players to improve on last year’s leading reception total of 14 – “It was definitely a selling point because as a wideout that’s not the year you want. I mean, your fourth-string Z receiver is supposed to be the guy who catches 14 balls in a year. Like Coach Meyer says all the time, I’m used to guys catching 14 balls in a game, not for the whole year. It’s time to go.”

    Receiver Corey “Philly” Brown on if he could play defensive back like the team’s other Corey Brown – “I would be the nickel probably. Travis (Howard) is having a tremendous year so far and (Bradley) Roby is a lockdown corner also, so I would probably be a nickel. I wouldn’t start over either one of those dudes.”

    Meyer after OSU routed Miami (Ohio) in the opener – “The day overall, it was a great day. “Hang on Sloopy” kicked it off in the fourth quarter. And I stared at that for a while, watched it. Told a couple of people that I’ve never seen that before. Checked that out.”

    Offensive co-captain Zach Boren on Miller keeping the ball 27 times against Central Florida – “I know we don’t want to run Braxton all the time. He’s the leader of the offense and we need him all year. With as many carries as he had today, we don’t want that. But when we need to win the game, we’re going to put the ball in Braxton’s hands.”

    Central Florida QB Blake Bortles on the crowd noise at Ohio Stadium, which his coach, George O’Leary, called a place where fans “sit on their hands” – “It was definitely a factor. We had to switch to our silent count because the noise was such a huge issue. We had two false starts right from the beginning, so yes the noise affected us.”

    Running backs coach Stan Drayton on trying to develop youngsters Dunn and Rod Smith with Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde hurt – “The beauty of this offense for that position is they’re trained to do pretty much everything. They have to run the ball effectively, no doubt, but they have to be solid in protection and we ask those guys to do things in the pass game from a route standpoint. They’ve got to be able to read defenses and make adjustments on their routes and they have to be great pass protectors. There are a lot of things that have to be checked off that list before they’re cleared to play.”

    Defensive end Nate Williams on the chippy nature of the Cal game – “I like that kind of game, actually. They were a good group, their offensive line. Their center was their anchor and he was a great player. They ran a great offense and kept us on our toes. The way the game evolved is how it evolved.”

    Hall on the same subject – “That’s football. They’re out there on the West Coast, we’re on the East Coast and we want to see who’s better. At the end of the game we shook hands. That’s how the game is.”

    Roby on OSU’s recent troubles with Purdue days before the Buckeyes hosted the Boilermakers – “The two losses are both away and the whole atmosphere at Purdue is like … there’s not that many fans, the field is not all that nice, and things like that. It’s kind of a gloomy type of atmosphere, and when you play at Ohio State you’re kind of used to playing in big games, big crowds, and things like that. It’s kind of tough to mentally focus.”

    Hankins on Guiton emerging as the hero vs. PU – “Kenny Guiton is like Kobe (Bryant) in clutch time. He knows the game and I feel like he’s a coach for us on offense. He’s doing a good job. I never lose faith in Kenny.”

    Sophomore tight end Jeff Heuerman on catching the all-important, game-tying two-point conversion against the Boilers, which sent the game into overtime – “Coach (Mike) Vrabel told me after the game those are the hardest ones to catch and I definitely agree. It seemed like the ball was in the air forever.”

    Safety Christian Bryant on his developing relationship with his head coach – “I love Coach Meyer, man. He’s a player’s coach, and I can say that first-hand. We feed off of him each and every day and each and every week, his intensity. He just keeps us up. He never wants us down. He might talk bad, but that’s like a kid and his parents. But I love Coach Meyer.”

    Illinois coach Tim Beckman after his Illini failed to slow down Miller – “Braxton Miller is a fantastic football player, he fuels this Ohio State team with his ability to make guys miss and that is how he hurt us today. He also made big plays with his arm and exposed some coverage issues in our secondary.”

    Terry Hawthorne, senior UI defensive back, on the same topic – “I’ve played against him before in high school and he was just as slippery then as he is now.  He is the same exact guy, but he has more control of the ball now.”

    Meyer on his affinity for Boren, who willingly switched from fullback to linebacker midseason – “One of the most undervalued characteristics of a football team is leadership, and that’s what No. 44 gives you. I really admire him. Not a very good leader whatsoever throughout spring, throughout the winter, has developed into one of my all-time favorites in my coaching career as far as a selfless leader that does it all for us.”

    Meyer on the senior season of Howard – “Travis to me – I can say this because of how much respect I have for him now – was not a good player. He was a guy that kind of lined up out there, but I wouldn’t consider him to be a good player. He and his coach (Kerry Coombs) have worked him into what I consider a very good player.”

    Stoneburner, prior to the Wisconsin game, on his college career winding down – “It’s bittersweet, surreal. It’s kind of hard to explain. We’ve three practices left maybe, two games, only one game left in the ’Shoe. Five years flew by. Everyone says it goes by pretty quick, and I guess it does, but it’s also been a long time. I just want to end it on a great note.”

    Senior defensive back Orhian Johnson on the announcement that Tressel would be honored along with the 2002 team during the Michigan game – “I don’t have any animosity towards Coach Tressel in any way, shape or form. There’s no love loss for him.”

    On what it feels like to play Michigan – “You’ve got to beat them. That’s all you think about. As close as football can get to war, that’s probably it. And if you need a motivational speech for this game, you probably won’t touch the field that day.”

    On going into the Michigan game knowing no bowl game was on the horizon – “I’m pretty sure it will add to it after it’s all said and done, like after the game, but, honestly, I kind of came to peace with me knowing that I don’t have a bowl game and with me knowing that there’s no option for that. I really haven’t been staying up at night worrying about something that I can’t control. It’d be nice if we could, but we are only guaranteed of 12 games going into each and every season so I just want to make this last one count.”

    Herman on the same subject, after the game – “We knew what the end game was going to be. We knew that this was it. And when you know that going in it’s not like somebody yanked it out from us a week ago. So when you deal with that then and accept it, you can rise to the challenges that are presented every Saturday, and our guys did that.”

    Senior Zach Domicone on Tressel being hoisted onto the shoulders of 2002 team members during the on-field recognition of the national champs of 10 years ago – “He’s a great guy, great coach and great person, and I think that was well deserved for him.”

    Herman on Miller’s growth at QB – “The sky is the limit for him, and to say that he’s a finished product is not even close to reality.”

    Herman, who came over from Iowa State, on the camaraderie of the 2012 Buckeyes – “Whether it was against Purdue and taking that last drive down with a backup quarterback or whether it was against Wisconsin, when the defense and special teams carried us, whatever the case may be we found a way to win football games. I told the guys in the locker room it’s by far the best team I’ve ever been associated with – maybe not the best players, maybe not the best group of this or that at different position. But as a team – as an offense, as a defense, as a special teams unit – it’s by far the best team I’ve ever been associated with.”

    Domicone on his Senior Day experience – “The whole day has been unbelievable, just the emotions that have been running through me. Everything is the last – the last time you’re running out of the tunnel, the last pregame meal, the last time you’re in the locker room. So just to go out there and have my parents down there and play with my team and have everyone on the field, it was just unreal today.”

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  • Penn State Fallout, Urban, Etc.

    When football preseason practice begins, I always have to make the same declaration to myself: Summer is over.

    But what an eventful summer it was.

    Urban Meyer stressed the Ohio State football program’s need for a quiet offseason but headache still ensued. Veterans Jack Mewhort and Jake Stoneburner were arrested, freshman running back Bri’onte Dunn also had a brush with the law, and senior RB Jordan Hall cut his foot so severely the injury required surgery and now has his playing status up in the air.

    Even with those setbacks and the fact that the Buckeyes will not be eligible for the postseason the excitement continues to build for the 2012 season with Meyer at the helm.

    Onto basketball, Jared Sullinger dropped down the NBA draft board but still went in the first round to the Boston Celtics. Meanwhile, his two-year OSU teammate, William Buford, was not selected.

    The hammer fell – no, mashed – down on Penn State after the NCAA went off the findings of the Freeh Report and bludgeoned the football program with sanctions.

    Thad Matta and his trusty assistants hit the recruiting trail in search of help and Meyer, other league coaches and select players headed to Chicago at the end of July for Big Ten Media Days.

    Even in our efforts to cover all of those events and more, some of the quotes slipped through the cracks and landed here. So we offer the more interesting ones that got away – almost – in the last few months in this compilation:

    Meyer on senior defensive end Nathan Williams still trying to come back from a nasty knee injury – “Your heart bleeds for a guy like Nathan Williams. I’m starting to really know that guy, and taking football away from him is like taking … I think he lives for it. It’s been hard. It’s not been an easy road to not play, not practice, not do anything. We’re being very cautious. We can’t have a setback.”

    Two-time Heisman Trophy winner and OSU Alumni Association president Archie Griffin upon hearing about the Penn State sanctions – “They were very, very steep penalties, and I expected it. There are some that I agree with, especially the financial penalty, because I think they should be doing something for the victims and for child abuse. I agree with that. I’m not so sure that I agree that a lot of the people who have been hurt are the current players who had absolutely nothing to do with this. That’s the part I have a hard time with.”

    Former OSU head coach John Cooper on the same topic – “I think it’s a sad day for college football, certainly a sad day for Penn State. I like the fact that they fined them. They’re going to take some of that money and hopefully make sure that maybe those young guys who were abused over there get taken care of and make sure that this doesn’t happen again. That’s the whole theme of this, I think. But I think it’s worse than the death penalty. When you start taking scholarships away for four years and letting these kids transfer out, Penn State’s not going to be very good for the next eight to 10 years in my opinion. I think this is very devastating to Penn State football.”

    Meyer on reinstating listed starters Mewhort and Stoneburner after their arrest for public urination and eluding police – “I never felt they did it. They’re not good students; they’re great students. They’re leaders. They’re on my leadership committee. I think the code word there is stupid. That’s the word you’d associate with that. Are they less stupid right now? I don’t know. We’re going to do the best we can to help them be less stupid. But if there was a ‘bad guy’ situation, they wouldn’t be playing here.”

    Evan Turner on helping Team Columbus nip Team Cleveland in the first-ever Battle for Ohio at St. John Arena on July 7 – “We just wanted to win. That’s the whole idea, not losing. I didn’t want to lose, my teammates didn’t want to lose. That’s what it’s all about: winning. And charity, obviously.”

    Former Buckeye Dallas Lauderdale, Turner’s OSU teammate, on getting to play alongside Cleveland Cavalier power forward Tristan Thompson in the same game – “He’s a great talent. You saw what he was doing out here. He was playing point-center, bringing the ball up and making all kinds of plays. He’s a great talent and he has a bright future.”

    Lauderdale on the indoor temperature of about 90 degrees for the game – “We knew, but it was all for the fans. They were probably more hot than us, just sitting there watching.”

    Meyer, after the first full team practice of the preseason, on pushing his players in everything they do – “It’s just so easy to be average. Just think about it, for all of us it’s just so easy to be an average whatever. We have 17 kids taking biology test tomorrow and it’s just so easy to be an average guy. We’re going to try to push it and to maximize who you are. If you’re a 2.0 student and that’s what you are, we’re going to push you to be a 2.0 student. If you’re a 2.0 student but you really should be a 3.0 student, we’re going to grind you. It’s the same thing on the football field.”

    Cooper on the hit to the Joe Paterno legacy as a result of the Penn State scandal – “I had great respect – and still do – for Joe Paterno and his wife, Sue. Nobody mentions Sue. You can imagine what she’s going through right now. But by the same token he made a drastic mistake in not going public and not stopping it, not making sure that it didn’t happen to some other young kids.”

    CBS analyst and ex-Buckeye Clark Kellogg on his first reaction to Penn State being fined $60 million – “I can understand the intent behind that, but when you don’t react real quickly – and it seems as though they tried to give themselves some time – initially looking at that it seems to be a bit heavy-handed.”

    Meyer on trying to get the freshmen up to speed – “We don’t ask them to get a whole lot of deep thinking involved. We have sayings around here like ‘point A to point B as fast as you can go.’ We’ve got a kid named Jamal Marcus. He doesn’t know which way up is right now, but he knows from point A to point B – and he’ll run over anything in his way to get to point B. So we’ll find a way to get him on the field.”

    Meyer on how quarterback Braxton Miller performed during the first full-team practice of August – “Braxton had a really good day and he feels good about it. And he made the comment to me that he knows what he’s doing. Now he doesn’t yet. There’s still a lot more to go. I winked at him and said, ‘Yeah, right, pal.’ ”

    Miller on talk of the Buckeyes going 12-0 this year – “The expectations are always high. When I was in high school looking at Ohio State I was like, ‘Man, they’re never going to lose; they’re always good,’ so that’s why the expectations are from the fans.”

    Cooper on the idea that the Penn State sanctions will severely hurt the Big Ten Conference – “Penn State hadn’t dominated this league like they thought they were going to when they came in. What have they won? One championship? Or something like that in the 20 years or so that they’ve been in the league. The Big Ten will survive. Don’t feel sorry for the Big Ten. This league is going to be better than it has been in past years. Now Penn State hasn’t been a factor anyway when you stop and think about it, and they don’t have a lot of great players right now. But it’s not going to help the Big Ten. I’m not saying that.”

    Former Buckeye defensive back Will Allen on the same topic – “It’s not good for the Big Ten at all. It lowers the competition. It makes our conference look really weak and it just hurts us overall. It’s one less team that we have looking forward to playing. Their talent is going to be down and kids are not going to want to go there. But they made their bed and now they’ve got to sleep in it.”

    Allen again on Penn State – “Whenever you harm young people or there’s something that’s that devastating going on I think any punishment is necessary. It’s even criminal punishment. That’s tough, man. That devastates people’s live, people’s families. For something that heinous to go on out of such a great university like Penn State, which prides itself on character and class and standing upright, it’s tough – and a punishable act.”

    Kellogg on Sullinger becoming a Celtic – “He’s going to do fine and he landed in a great place. I told his dad that. He landed in a great spot for him, for his development, for his future. I couldn’t be happier for him and prouder of him. As long as his back issue is something that he can take care of and manage then he’s going to be a terrific pro. There’s never been any doubt about that.”

    Celtics head coach Doc Rivers after the organization saw Sullinger play in the NBA Summer League and decided to trade former Purdue big man JaJuan Johnson – “Jared is what we thought he was. He’s a terrific rebounder, a great passer, and can shoot the ball better than I think people knew, so he’s been great. I think his scoring on the post will be against same-size or smaller guys. I think he’ll struggle against bigger guys on the post, and that’s fine.”

    OSU corner Bradley Roby on the importance of becoming a leader – “I realize now a few good leaders or great leaders on a team can change the whole mind-set with a team, and that’s what we really needed – to change the mind-set, go from what happened last year to what we’re going to do this year.”

    Running back Carlos Hyde on Hall’s absence from the offense – “It’s kind of bad Jordan is out, but he’ll be back soon. But I’m looking forward to (the opportunity) just like last year. I’m kind of used to it, but I’m really looking forward to being in there all the time this year.”

    Roby on holding up his hand to also play some wideout this fall – “I wasn’t joking. I talked to Coach (Kerry) Coombs, the corners coach, and Coach (Zach) Smith, the receivers coach, and they’re both cool with it, so you never know. I’m dead serious. I played receiver in high school. I thought I was going to come here and play receiver. I can run the routes, I can make plays, so why not?”

    Meyer on the recent trend in recruiting to offer guys sooner and sooner, sometimes even before they reach high school – “We’re being forced to offer guys that I usually don’t offer right away because I like to see them in camp. That is a concern. Kids are being advised to only speak to those who have offered you. We had that happen this spring where I (said to a recruit), ‘Hey, can you come to camp so we can get to know you?’ and (he said) ‘I’m not coming to camp unless I’m offered.’ So it forces us. ‘OK, you’re offered.’ Our staff believes in relationships and getting to know you and you can’t do that anymore.”

    Turner on his 76ers trying to compete against superteams in Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and the like – “I understand what’s going on. Some teams are loaded and it’s going to be tougher. I’ve been working every day to get better, I’m ready for that competition, and I’m hoping my teammates are as well. Athleticism counts, but when it comes to the playoffs it’s all about how you play your game and smartness and playing playoff basketball.”

    Former OSU football coach Jim Tressel, to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, on his forced resignation – “It was going to end one day, in one way or another, and that wasn’t the way we wanted to end it. Wow, a lot happens in a year, a lot that you don’t know is going to happen. But I don’t feel scarred or disappointed or mad. I just don’t feel that way. The people at Ohio State have always been great to me, and things end up the way they do, and you go on to the next play or the next day, and that’s always been the way I look at things.

    “The people I run into want to talk about the fond memories, and I’m sure that’s not unlike when you lose a loved one and you think back on all those wonderful times, and that’s absolutely the way I feel.

    “I suppose it was disappointing to some. They thought we would do that forever, but it took a strange turn. But I think when you step back, at least I do, I think of all the good times and the excellent I people I worked with and got to meet.”

    Shelley Meyer, Urban’s wife, in an address to OSU students – “The games are not that fun, not for me. The games are stressful. I just sit there and don’t move. I don’t do anything. I don’t drink anything, eat anything. I don’t go to the bathroom. I just sit there. Unless we are ahead by about 40 points, then I can relax a little bit.”

    Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien, the former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, on teaching the Nittany Lions offensive plays – “When I was hired at Penn State and we started to get ready for spring practice, we sat down and obviously we were watching a bunch of Patriot film from the last couple of years from New England, and I looked back at the team and I saw a lot of white eyes, because they were watching that film as fans. So I shut the clicker off or the projector off and I said: Look, guys, we’re looking at the schemes here. Don’t worry that that’s Tom Brady and don’t worry that that’s Wes Welker and (Rob) Gronkowski, and that was a pretty fun moment in our team meeting room.”

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  • Matta, Meyer Make Memories

    If you’re familiar with this section of the site, you know we compile the best leftover quotes that didn’t make it into the many SportsRappUp.com articles over the past few months. Think of it as little tidbits of interest all cooked together like a fruitcake grandma sent you – only you want to digest it.

    And since we last checked in, much of note has occurred, especially in terms of Ohio State football and basketball.

    Urban Meyer has put his stamp on the football program even with his actual OSU head coaching debut still months away. And he proved during the recruiting season and spring drills that he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

    Meanwhile, Thad Matta took us on another wild ride in March as the men’s basketball squad managed to earn a share of yet another conference crown, advanced to the finals of the Big Ten Tournament and then set off on an unlikely journey to New Orleans for the Final Four.

    And the women’s team endured another abrupt postseason but still made news with point guard Sammy Prahalis breaking records, earning notice as the Big Ten Player of the Year and selected with the sixth overall pick of the WNBA draft.

    SRU followed those stories and many others but still wasn’t able to use every comment of interest. So we present those to you now. Enjoy.

    Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith on the proposal of expanding the NCAA Tournament field from 65 teams to 96 – “I think it would be a great idea. When I first got in the business in 1978, ’79, there might have been 100 Division I teams. Now there’s 347. Just like football. When they increased, they increased the number of bowl games. So why not increase the opportunities for these student-athletes to participate and enjoy and be a part of March Madness? I think it’s long overdue, to be honest with you.”

    Meyer on his relationship with sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller – “It’s awesome. He’s a really good kid, really a sponge, a guy that wants to do well. He’s a really, really athletic guy. It’s been nothing but positive, what he’s been doing.”

    Meyer on going to work for Earle Bruce as a wide receivers coach at Colorado State in the early 1990s – “That was my first exposure to big-time college football where we were not able to go home on weekends when we were out recruiting. So there were times I’d stay out for a month and a half at a time and my two girls were real young. Sure enough, I remember one time waking up after being out for a month and a half and I get up to take a shower and one of our kids had jumped into bed with us in the middle of the night, and she said, ‘Mommy, is that Daddy?’ That’s damn right that’s Daddy.”

    OSU defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs on the staff recruiting philosophy – “We’re recruiting the United States, and we’re going to recruit the United States incredibly hard – harder than anybody in the country. It’s the head coach’s passion, and we are going to be an aggressive recruiting staff.”

    Center Corey Linsley on a former lineman and staff member working closely with him – “Coach (Jim) Bollman always used to say Kirk Barton was the hardest working lineman he ever had. Kirk brings great intensity to the O-line. We all know him from playing here and we all have a great relationship with him. He brings a ton of tools and familiarity to all of us and really has the ability to get through to us. He knows our weaknesses a little bit better than Coach (Ed) Warinner does because he’s been here for a few years, and I think that brings a lot to the O-line.”

    Matta on the basketball savvy of the Kansas fans at Allen Fieldhouse after the Buckeyes played there on Dec. 10 – “When they deflected a pass and the ball went to half court, we still got it but their fans cheered because it disrupted our offensive flow. You don’t get that very often. Nothing really happened. Deshaun (Thomas) just bobbled the pass and had to run to half court to get it, and people were going crazy. I was like, “I thought I was the only one who did that.’ ”

    Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel on why he’s had early success in recruiting – “I think it’s just being honest. It’s easy to sell Ohio State. It’s not a hard sell job with our players and the people who are here. And it’s easy for me because I experienced it. It’s not like I’m trying to sell ketchup popsicles to a woman in white gloves. It’s pretty easy. This place is special and the guys we have around continue to try to make it important to be at Ohio State. It’s what makes this thing easy to sell.”

    Vrabel on if practices are harder than when he was a player – “When I was out here, that’s 15 years ago, so I really don’t remember. I remember I was hurt one spring so I didn’t practice. They’re intense, and I think the harder it is, the harder it is to walk away from. I think we’ve got guys that don’t want to walk away right now.”

    Jared Sullinger on comparing OSU’s loss to Kansas in the Final Four to last year’s loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 – “It’s still tough, but we got farther. We got to a point where we were one of the last four teams standing. Only the best basketball teams at the time play here, and we just took a loss. It hurts.

    “If you talked about this team a month ago, everybody would have doubted us, said we couldn’t do this, we couldn’t do that. We overcame all that and I couldn’t be prouder of a basketball team than these guys around me.”

    Sullinger on the Buckeyes staying together through adversity during the 2011-12 season – “Even the guys that didn’t play, they had a contribution to us getting here. They were coming into practice every day and competing at the highest level regardless of playing time. Sometimes that can mess with some people’s heads and they can just cruise through practice, but these guys came in every day, played as hard as they can, everybody gave one another a challenge, and we got this far. So I’m very proud of this basketball team.”

    Former center Mike Brewster on returning to his home state of Florida for the Gator Bowl – “I’m very excited. I’m used to going to BCS bowls, but if we couldn’t do that this is definitely a team I want to play. All my friends are Florida fans and I’m from down there. It’s going to be a good time.

    “There’s a lot of anticipation because you’re focusing so much on one opponent and you’re watching so much film on them. By the time you line up against them you feel like you know them. It is different, and it’s usually a team that you never have played before. Bowl games are always fun.”

    Brewster on the players receiving iPod glasses as a bowl gift in the past – “That was a bust. That was no good. It was a good concept, though.”

    John Craft, father of point guard Aaron Craft, on when he saw the Buckeyes coagulate – “The turning point … I don’t know specifically but that second half at Michigan State is what sports is all about. Those guys were down 15 in the first half and everything fell into place. And everyone contributed. Jared was making good decisions. Rav (Evan Ravenel) came in and did well. It was just a perfect storm. That second half at Michigan State, I think, is where it really took hold.”

    Matta on his future becoming clear – “The day I played in college against the Indiana Pacers. When I was at Butler they used to come out and train with us and Reggie Miller, it was his rookie year, and I remember walking back to my dorm and looking back in the mirror and saying, ‘That’s not going to be your career choice. You need to go into coaching.’ So I was well ahead of my time on that.”

    Tailback Boom Herron on being named by his teammates as OSU’s MVP even after missing the first five games of the season because of suspension – “I was a little surprised. I actually didn’t vote for myself. I voted for Zach Boren. That’s my fullback. He kind of makes things happen for me. He just did a great job the whole year.”

    Left tackle Mike Adams on being recruited by Meyer and the University of Florida before opting for Ohio State – “Definitely as a recruiter he was always very confident and very proud of his university, but he always shared that he had those Midwest roots, which I thought was kind of cool. I think he’s a great coach, a great recruiter, and his resume speaks for itself. When you’ve got a guy coming in like that, a high-caliber coach, I think everybody is just excited to play for him.”

    Kansas coach Bill Self, prior to the Final Four, on the threat posed by guard William Buford – “People can say (he’s) erratic. Sometimes that happens when you have guys that score the majority of their points outside the paint. But to me, over the course of his career, he’s been a model of consistency as far as how he scores the ball and performs for Ohio State. He’s the fourth-leading scorer in the history of the school, which is remarkable, because they’ve had some hard-rockin’ guys come through there.”

    Meyer on both sports being elite at Ohio State – “There’s probably only a handful of schools in the country that have the resources and tradition. This is certainly one of them. Florida is one of them. Can you imagine being a student and the magic you could be part of? I joked around down there: Imagine being a student in 2006, four teams you could run out on the street and act like a nut. That’s what they do down there, just go out and run around on the street. And I imagine High Street would do the same thing.”

    J.D. Weatherspoon after the Buckeyes wronged their critics by beating top-seeded Syracuse to reach the Final Four – “It’s like we always say, the haters will be our biggest motivators, and that’s how we took it. We let everything just land and we play as a team.”

    Thomas on the same topic – “When people doubt you, you feel sad. But we came together and we were like, ‘Let’s shut everybody up.’ ”

    Lenzelle Smith on the Buckeyes blowing a big lead against Cincinnati in the Sweet 16 – “We got complacent. We got cool. The whole thing with Cincinnati is they’re big, tough guys who turn you over, and I think guys were thinking about that before the game. And at halftime we came back in here and started to think like, ‘Is this Cincinnati? What happened to the guys who make you turn the ball over 20 times?’ And we started to get cool and they came out to ball.”

    Freshman Trey McDonald on recording the first field goal of his college career in the Big Ten Tournament – “It felt good to get it out of the way, and it felt good to get into the offense and just get out there and get a feel for the game. To do it against Michigan was a bonus.”

    Sullinger on ruining Michigan State’s Senior Day – “Honestly, I’m kind of sad about it, because Draymond Green, he deserves everything he gets. I know it’s hard to celebrate that. It’s kind of tough.”

    Tayler Hill on the postseason outlook for the OSU women – “I think we’re tired of just going to the Sweet 16. Winning the Big Ten is great. It’s a great conference. Winning the Big Ten Tournament is great. You’re playing teams three times and it’s hard to overcome that and keep beating them. I think it’s a great accomplishment but we want to look further than that. We want to be on the rise.”

    Michigan coach Brady Hoke on Meyer being his new foe – “We don’t recruit negatively, I’m not going to mention 30 felonies in five years that happened in his previous program.”

    UM basketball coach John Beilein on Trey Burke calling a timeout vs. Ohio State while he was standing on the free-throw line – “I’ve never had that before. He wanted a timeout when he was shooting a foul shot. I didn’t ice him; he needed to get iced. He came over and he just needed to catch his wind. Because when you’ve got that ball in front and you’re being guarded by a kid like Aaron Craft, he can wear you out and get that heart rate up pretty good.”

    Luke Fickell to the media after he was relieved of his duty as head football coach – “I really do appreciate the way you guys have treated me all season. I know you have a job to do, but I really do. I don’t turn on the TV, I don’t listen, so if you said something bad, hey, that’s one thing. If you said something good, I don’t know that either, but I really do appreciate every week how you guys have treated me and the way you’ve handled things.”


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  • From Luke To Urban To Coach K

    Anyone who thinks college sports are small potatoes wasn’t hanging around Ohio State’s athletic programs recently.

    In the span of just a few days in late November alone, the Buckeyes heard from former coach Jim Tressel, played before the largest crowd in the history of Big Ten football in Ann Arbor, nearly pulled off a stunning upset of the ranked Wolverines, landed none other than Urban Meyer as their new head coach and announced that Luke Fickell would remain on the staff as one of Meyer’s top assistants.

    And that was just the football team. The night after Meyer was introduced, Thad Matta’s second-ranked roundballers took to the hardwood before a sellout crowd at Value City Arena and clobbered No. 3 Duke and legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski to the tune of 85-63.

    All of those developments made national news – major national news – and also produced more quotes than even the rabid media could reproduce.

    Trailing back a few months it has been even more of a whirwind following the two top programs at The Ohio State University. The football team endured a topsy-turvy second half of the regular season and the basketball squad has been in the top-five spotlight practically since breaking camp in mid-October.

    SportsRappUp.com has been there every step of the way and has compiled for you some of the better quotes that got away. Well, almost go away. Enjoy.

    Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith just before introducing Meyer – “Urban and I go back quite a ways and have known each other for a while. Our first conversation about this job was on Sunday, November 20th. There were no previous conversations about this job until Sunday, November 20th.”

    Former Buckeye linebacker Chris Spielman on Meyer, his broadcast partner this season, and rumors of him joining the OSU staff – “If ever I were to coach it would be for him, because I believe in the guy so much and what he stands for. I think I serve the university in a more important capacity and involvement with the fundraiser for the Spielman Fund for breast cancer. And also I made a promise to Stef, I made a promise to my kids and a promise to people at Ohio State that this is what I’m going to do, and I intend to keep my word. I always do, I think. I try to. And I’ve got a 9-year-old and 10-year-old and I’m a single dad. It wouldn’t be fair to them, because I’m afraid what I’d turn into.”

    Matta on speculation of the Meyer hiring and what he had heard about him from his good friend and current Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan – “Billy has always told me dating back to years when we would talk shop about my relationship with Jim and his relationship – I think they were neighbors – he always said he was just a great, great guy. So if that’s who it is that would be a tremendous get for Ohio State.”

    Outgoing senior center Mike Brewster on the football squad’s off-field transgressions and subsequent 6-6 season – “It’s hard. It just kind of shows you that the decisions you make can affect your teammates. That’s how it goes sometimes, but I think I’ve grown a lot this year. I’ve had to deal with a lot more stress and responsibility than in the past three years. But I think I’ve come a long ways and in the long run I think it will be good for me.”

    Krzyzewski on the Blue Devils’ inability to slow down Ohio State – “We couldn’t hit a shot. Their defense was outstanding. And then they got hot. They can score from a number of different positions. They had a great crowd. They had a lot going, and they took advantage of everything. They were just really good.”

    Krzyzewski on OSU’s dynamic duo of Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft – “When you have Sullinger in there, he’s just a man inside and he’s always an option. You can always get the ball to him and run offense through him or have him be the offense. That’s a big thing for their team. And Craft, he busts his butt. He’s a terrific player on a team that’s very talented.”

    Krzyzewski when he was asked to evaluate the play of OSU forward Deshaun Thomas – “I wasn’t focused on each one of their guys. I was trying to figure out how to not lose by 30.”

    Tressel, speaking to WTVN morning host Bob Conners on his final day at the mic, on Meyer – “Urban has done a great job wherever he’s been. He’ll come in and do a good job with a great group of kids. When you go through some suffering like (Ohio State) went through this year and you have the right kind of players in the program, you’re probably going to have some good things happen. So he will come in and do a good job. He knows how to coach the game.”

    Fickell on the key to attracting prospects to Ohio State – “You want to have them get on campus. You want them to see you in a different light. You want them to see you around your players. You want them to see how you react or respond in the general public. Unless you just talk to people over the phone in recruiting and you have some great sales pitch … to me, I tell parents you want to be able to see it, you want to look in that coaches eyes and feel how genuine he really is and see how genuine each coach on that staff really is and see the people that are in the program, because that’s what’s real.

    “That’s what I’ve told them all along since I’ve been here for 10 years. That’s the way I’ve recruited. It hasn’t been, ‘Come here because of me.’ It hasn’t been come here because of a different coach. It’s been come here because it’s The Ohio State University, all the things it has to offer and, most importantly, the young men and the people who are in the program. Those things will never change.”

    Defensive back Tyler Moeller on what he recalled about OSU’s loss at Purdue in 2009 – “I don’t really remember too much from that game just because I had a brain injury. I wasn’t at the game. I don’t really remember too much of that period of my life so it’s hard to comment. Weak excuse, I apologize.”

    Jackson State basketball coach Tevester Anderson’s assessment of Ohio State after his team was blown out at VCA – “We have played Florida, we have played Baylor. Coming here, I didn’t see a weakness at all for this team. They are strong, but they have good perimeter shooting. They also have good guard play, which is huge. I thought they were just as good as North Carolina coming into this season and tonight just reinforced that. They executed well and their chemistry is really, really good.”

    Anderson on Sullinger – “We have a big man at home that’s pretty good. He had to stay back because of an eye surgery, but I don’t think it would have made a difference against Sullinger tonight. He’s strong and he jumps so quickly. He moves like Charles Barkley. I had the chance to coach Barkley at Auburn. Sullinger is something special.”

    Matta on insulating his team from the media and distractions – “Honestly, you’d like to just sort of coach a basketball team in a cave, go out and play games and go back in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.”

    Senior left tackle Mike Adams, who was suspended for the first five games of the season, on being named a game captain against Indiana – “It was great. I’ll never forget it, being out there and being able to lead my teammates. It’s cool just to do the coin toss and all that stuff. It was a good experience.”

    Fickell after being told Boom Herron, who was suspended for the first six games of the season, was seen crying during the national anthem just prior to his 2011 home debut against Wisconsin – “We know what kind of passion Boom has. We would expect nothing different, whether it’s his play or how he reacts to the national anthem.”

    Fickell on why he believed Herron was deserving of being named a game captain – “Because there’s no one it means more to. We’ve all made mistakes in our life and we all continue to learn from the mistakes we’ve made. We’ve all paid the prices at times and we’ve gotten away with things at times. Eventually, you’ve got to forgive and move on. It’s not hard to do when a guy’s got the passion and the work ethic and he handles it the way in which Boom has handled it. There’s nobody that would bat an eye at making Boom Herron anything and that’s a tribute to the way he’s handled the situation, his maturity and what this place really means to him.”

    Matta on his affinity for Donovan – “It goes back … his coaching tree, my coaching tree. There’s some ties there from Herb Sendek. They were assistants together at Kentucky. Billy was coaching at Marshall when I was at Western Carolina. I don’t know. He’s one of the good guys, I think, and I enjoy being around him.”

    Fickell, on Nov. 3, on how he continued to keep the Buckeyes positive despite looming NCAA sanctions – “Once somebody knows something, I would much rather know. But until they do, I don’t want to speculate about it, I don’t want to waste any of our energy or of our time worrying about it. It’s always better to have things out in the open and know what the situation is, but until then we’re going to continue to move forward and go about our business.”

    Fickell on the versatility of fullback Zach Boren, who weighed as much as 280 pounds in high school – “Zach would be a good football player, I don’t care where you put him. You could put him at right guard and he would be one heck of a football player. You could put him at tailback and he’s going to be a heck of a football player. You could put him at linebacker.”

    Herron on smoothing over matters with fellow tailback Carlos Hyde after seizing the starting job at Illinois (Hyde tweeted his displeasure with receiving only a few late carries) – “We definitely talked. And I think he’s doing a lot better now. And like I told him, you know, when I first got here, I had a lot of guys in front of me, Beanie Wells, Brandon (Saine) and Maurice Wells, I told him he has a couple of years left. So his time is definitely going to come. He’s a great running back, and he’s always working hard, always doing a great job. So his time will definitely come.”

    Wide receiver Philly Brown on the game-winning touchdown toss from Braxton Miller to Devin Smith against Wisconsin – “We were scrambling … and they didn’t give us a play or nothing. So we’re out there just running playground routes. I think I ran a deep out or something like that. And Braxton said he pointed at me to get the safety to run over (so he could) throw it to Devin. So on his part, that was like a veteran move.”

    Craft on the temptation for team members to produce another video showing off their singing, ahem, skills after last year’s memorable stab at “Party in the USA” – “As of right now, I don’t think so. We went that route and realized that maybe it wasn’t the best thing to do. But it was exciting, I enjoyed it, and I still like the song. You never know.”

    Fickell on whether wearing black made him feel tougher –Al Davis thought so, I think. For me, it’s just what we wear. People ask why you wear that. We wear black, just to be the signal guy. It’s not anything history-wise. Unless they have something back in the archives, I don’t know that we’ll be changing that uniform much.”

    Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio on why he put a moratorium on player interviews the week of MSU’s visit to Ohio State – “I just wanted Kirk Cousins to have fun, and all of our players. I just didn’t want them stressed about being interviewed. That’s what I decided to do. I know it wasn’t really popular but I thought that it allowed people to step away and deflate a little bit. Sometimes you have to be able to do that. You have to deflate.”

    Sullinger on Will Buford deciding to return for his senior season after the heartbreaking loss and a poor shooting night vs. Kentucky in the Sweet 16 – “He didn’t come back just to waste his time. He doesn’t want to lose. He wants to win just like everybody else. We’ll see how that goes. It’s burning. If someone says, ‘Kentucky,’ he always says, ‘Forget you, man.’ It’s motivation. Will knows everybody is going to look back on that game until he steps back on the floor and shows what he can do.”

    Fickell on former teammate Eddie George being honored at halftime of the Wisconsin game for his recent election into the College Football Hall of Fame – “Eddie George is probably to me one of the best stories that I’ve ever been around here at Ohio State, from a guy that came in, things didn’t go his way to start with. For the next three years, he was the hardest-working guy on the team. I’ve told guys that story several times.

    “People see the Heisman Trophy, figure he was a big thoroughbred guy that was a big running back from the get-go. I don’t know in my time here that there was anybody that out-worked him. That’s why he is where he is today. That’s why he’s going into the Hall of Fame. That’s why he has a Heisman Trophy. It’s not just on the ability. It’s on the person, the character, the work ethic that he had to get better.”

    Meyer on several players having legal troubles on his watch at the University of Florida – “I know there’s been some issues that we’ve had that I’ve had to deal with, not that we’re proud of. We have a set of core values. Honesty, respect. Number one, treat everyone with respect. Number two, no drugs, no stealing, no weapons. Those are core value issues.”

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  • Tressel, Fickell, Matta And More

    With the 2011 college football season well under way – and so many side stories emerging as the Buckeyes faced their preconference schedule – it was near impossible to find room for every interesting utterance related to Ohio State athletics and beyond.

    So, as is SportsRappUp.com tradition, we are now taking the time to present the useful quotes that got away.

    This time we look back mainly on an Ohio State football program that was still dealing with offseason scandal and the loss of 10-year head coach Jim Tressel. His replacement, Luke Fickell, has been busy since the beginning of June running the Buckeyes and answering media queries.

    Also over the summer and into the fall, ex-Buckeye Eddie George talked about his appointment to the College Football Hall of Fame, Terrelle Pryor was trying to position himself for the NFL, Thad Matta was after more topflight basketball recruits and OSU student-athletes past and present weighed in on a variety of topics.

    So the following is our latest rendition of Quote Me, a compilation of the sentences that were just too good to completely disappear:

    Fickell on the Buckeyes’ embarrassing 24-6 loss at Miami (Fla.) Sept. 17 – “Well, I didn’t see a lack of fight. That’s the thing that we’re going to continue to focus on. You say we didn’t respond to adversity. Now, we didn’t make some plays. That doesn’t always mean we didn’t always handle it the right way.”

    Tressel, during an on-air interview with Mike Trivisonno of Cleveland radio station WTAM (1100 AM), on if the punishment of losing his job amid a pending NCAA investigation was too severe – “I’ve had more blessings than things that are unfair.”

    Tressel in the same radio interview on the temptations for student-athletes who are in the spotlight – “Kids don’t go out and search for things. It’s the adults who want to be near them that make things happen.”

    Basketball mega-recruit DaJuan Coleman, a 6-9 center from DeWitt, N.Y., on why he’s giving Ohio State strong consideration even when comparing the program to North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Florida – “The way they produce big men and the way they go inside. They go inside first. Every time they run a play the big always touches the ball first and they run the play through him. So that stands out a lot.”

    Fickell on his new salary of just over $700,000, up from $250,000 – “I’m not focused on that one bit. I’ve never known what I’ve made since I’ve probably started (in coaching). You can talk to my wife if there are any questions there. I’ve never seen a paycheck. If I tried to sign one, they would probably return it to me because this (signature) isn’t who it is. If they aksed me to take this job and they said, ‘We weren’t going to change your pay,’ I’d still do it. Maybe that sounds crazy, and maybe at home sometimes maybe they don’t think that’s the greatest thing in the world, but that’s the way I feel about it.”

    OSU All-American center Mike Brewster on the progress of running back Boom Herron, who is suspended for the first five games of the season – “Boom’s been doing a great job. I felt like a lot of last year he was a real downhill runner. He’s been making great cuts this camp and really moving laterally very well. I’m really excited to see how he does when he gets back.”

    Ohio State basketball star Jared Sullinger on his impressions of Kentucky freshman center Anthony Davis after playing against him at a summer all-star camp – “He’s good. He’s real good. For him to make that change from being 6-4 to now 6-10, sometimes that’s an awkward thing and you’re not used to your body. Anthony didn’t change. Nothing changed about him. He’s still able to play the way that he plays. And it seems like he gained skill.”

    Brewster on Pryor’s outlook at the NFL level – “I think he can do it with some work, and he’s got a great work ethic. So I think the sky’s the limit for him. I don’t think he’s tapped into his full potential yet. I think he has a great chance.”

    Buckeye basketball commitment Marc Loving of Toledo on how Evan Turner has motivated him – “Evan’s a cool kid. He worked on his game a lot at Ohio State and Coach Matta really pushed him and helped him to be the player he is today. That was really good for me to see.”

    Ex-Buckeye David Lighty on the satisfaction of pursuing his professional basketball dream after having already graduated – “Coach (Matta) always would tell us once you get that diploma there’s no greater feeling than having it in your hand.”

    Ex-OSU linebacker Jerry Rudzinski, a team captain in 1998, on his reaction to Tressel’s resignation on Memorial Day – “I think it’s been every bit as emotional as it has been for the fans, maybe more so. You talk about shock. I was in the camp thinking it would be Jim Tressel roaming our sidelines, not only for next year but for many years moving forward. Jim Tressel remains one of my ultimate heroes. I felt disappointment, but mostly that some people may not have appreciated all the good that Jim Tressel did. We witnessed amazing history over the last 10 years.”

    Larry James, Pryor’s attorney, on why his client decided to cut off discussions with NCAA investigators – “They’re not going to give him or any other student-athlete any due process rights to speak of, so he’s moved on.”

    Former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett, speaking on “The Dan Patrick Show,” on his opinions of Tressel’s actions – “Do I consider him a cheater? No, absolutely not. He cares about people. While I have this time and while he’s off I want to spend as much times as I can around him to gain a better understanding on how he came to be where he is. He has good intentions. Coach Tressel is not a cheater at all.”

    George on speculation that he also is in line to some day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton – “That would be incredible, the coup de grace. That’s the last one. I guess that’s the capstone. To dawn the yellow jacket and have the opportunity to have someone special give a speech for you and you give your speech in your final moment of your professional career would be amazing. I hope and pray that one day I’ll have the opportunity to do that, and that the writers and powers-that-be that make those decisions will recognize what I’ve done for the game and how the game has impacted my life. Hopefully they’ll recognize that it was Hall of Fame-worthy.”

    Sullinger on whether he believes Ohio State now has an elite men's basketball program – “That’s for you all to determine. That’s why you all are called the media. You all determine a lot of things: coach of the year, the best players, who’s No. 1 in the poll. So you all determine that. But at the time, I think we are.”

    Matta upon hearing that Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo criticized Ohio State for relying on too many one-and-done players and saying he strives for a mix of youth and veteran leadership – “I think that’s easier said than done, what Coach Izzo is saying, because if Kosta Koufos, B.J. Mullens and Daequan Cook were from Michigan, he would have taken them. That’s the thing. Of the five freshmen we lost, three of them were from the state of Ohio. Greg (Oden) and Michael (Conley) were from Indy, which is kind of home to me.”

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Quote Me

From time to time, we will take a look back at some of the more interesting remarks we came across, funny quips or meaningful statements that may have been bypassed. Here is a sampling:

 
 
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