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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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  • 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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  • Spring Football Leftovers, Etc.

    The whole intention of this section is to be able to present to the reader the few quotes that are still worthwhile but didn’t make their way into various articles for whatever reason.

    With April winding down, it seemed appropriate to devote much of this version to the aftermath of spring football. The Buckeyes concluded their 15-practice spring format on April 24 in Ohio Stadium with the Scarlet and Gray Game, which had to be termed a qualified success.

    The Gray won an exciting contest, 17-14, with a last-minute touchdown pass from Kenny Guiton to Taurian Washington as about half of the announced crowd of more than 65,000 stuck around long enough to witness the heroics.

    However, there were other developments in recent weeks including the departure of superstar swingman Evan Turner from the Ohio State basketball team and the able bats that the OSU baseball team put on display in moving to the top of the Big Ten standings.

    Here then is the latest edition of Quote Me:

    OSU wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, captain of the Scarlet team for the spring game, on his squad bypassing Jaamal Berry to draft Jermil Martin – “There was a little bit of a divide with the players in one ear and the coaches in the other ear. Jaamal’s a great running back, but he’s had a little bit of an injury issue this spring. I’m sure he’ll play and I’m sure he’ll run hard. But just looking at the practices, I really liked how Martin is running the ball.”

    Linebacker Ross Homan on what the defense accomplished in the spring practices – “We had some faces to replace, guys like Thad (Gibson) and Kurt (Coleman), who are great playmakers. I think that we’ve done that. We’re not where we want to be right now, though. We’re constantly trying to get better – front seven and secondary. There are things we need to get better at and hopefully we’ll correct those before we get to fall camp.”

    Defensive end Cameron Heyward on the importance of spring – “I think it’s very important. Going out here now, it’s only going to prepare us for the fall. Everything is not guaranteed and you want to take advantage of the time you have. The more practice you get, the better you’re going to get.”

    Backup lineman Jack Mewhort on shifting from center to guard – “Playing in the system and being a center is like being a scientist. It takes a couple years to get everything down. It was hard.”

    Sanzenbacher on the development on young wideout Chris Fields – “He’s another guy like Kenny that made a lot of huge steps this spring. He worked hard in the film room part of it. Chris has always been a guy that had the athletic part of it. Obviously, you don’t get a scholarship here unless you’re athletic enough to play. He just needed to get the mental part down. When you’re prepared for something, you can play a lot faster, so I think we’ll see more of that.”

    Fourth-year junior David Lighty on whether he flirted with leaving school early for a shot at the NBA like his teammate Turner – “His decision is probably a lot harder than mine. I looked into it a little bit. I’ll probably think about entering the draft next year.”

    Jon Diebler, a 6-6 shooting guard, on the possibility of playing some point guard next season in the absence of Turner – “I wouldn’t mind it. I did a little of it in high school. I just want to do whatever is going to help us win. It’s going to be my last year and Dave’s last year and we’re all going to work on our ball handling skills and do what we need to do to get better.”

    Diebler on incoming freshman Aaron Craft, who also could get some time at PG – “He’s a tough kid, and what Aaron does really well is he can defend. He’s a guy whose dad coached him in middle school and he knows a lot about the game. His IQ is really high.”

    OSU football coach Jim Tressel on the idea of Big Ten expansion – “I think when it comes down to it, those decisions will be made at the presidential level and the commissioner’s level and perhaps the athletic directors will have part and parcel to it. But major decisions like that happen well above where I sit.”

    Outgoing OSU men’s basketball assistant Alan Major on how he’ll approach recruiting as the new head coach at Charlotte – “The No. 1 thing I need to clarify is our motto at Ohio State was ‘We got ’em.’ There was no ‘This is my guy’ or ‘That is my his guy.’ We recruited them together and we coached them together. We don’t want guys to be territorial. I think Charlotte and the state of North Carolina is loaded. We have to earn the right to get kids to look at Charlotte. We’re not an ACC school. And that’s fine. But we’re going to operate like a first-class program.”

    OSU outfielder Zach Hurley on hitting a home run that cleared the right-field wall of Bill Davis Stadium and bounced all the way to the Jack Nicklaus Museum – “I’m going to have to let some of the guys know about that because they give me a hard time because I’m old. They give me a hard time about being 23 and being around here for five years.”

    Basketbal head coach Thad Matta on his team’s victory over Florida State way back in early December – “I remember after that game driving home saying to myself, ‘We’ve got a shot.’ ”

    Top basketball signee Jared Sullinger on his Ronald McDonald-like yellow tinted shoes he wore during the McDonald’s All-American Game – “I kind of like them. I scored 22 points in them so I might as well keep them.”

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OSU ended the season with two straight losses, allowing 34 points in the B1G title game with Michigan State and 40 more vs. Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The D needs work, but what should Urban Meyer fix first?

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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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