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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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  • 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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  • Summer Extras

    Ohio State’s hiring of new assistant coach Dave Dickerson, the Memorial Tournament, the commitment of superstar quarterback Braxton Miller to OSU, Evan Turner being selected No. 2 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA draft, David Lighty breaking the same bone in his left foot and LeBron James’ monumental free agent decision.

    SportsRappUp.com has been there along the way, guiding your hand during the Ohio’s biggest sports stories this summer. However, even with all that thorough coverage a few trinkets got lost and swept under the rug.

    Not anymore.

    We have compiled some of the best leftover quotes from those articles and others in rapid-fire attempt to either catch you up on what you may have missed the last couple months or further enlighten the situation.

    Here then are some of the extra quotes that got away:

    Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta on some publications already hailing the Buckeyes as a top-five team for next season –
    “I think that was when Evan was coming back.”

    Matta on the makeup of his team with four returning starters and six well-rated freshmen to fill in the cracks – “The exciting thing for me is when we get into October (seeing) what it is guys have improved on and what are they going to bring to the table as well as how are the new guys going to fit into the mesh. I think that’s the biggest challenge we have.”

    Newly named Cleveland Cavalier coach Byron Scott on the prospect of the franchise re-signing James – “I think at the end of the day, he’s going to make the right decision, and he’ll be here in Cleveland for the rest of his career. His legacy of winning championships in his hometown will be like nothing he’s seen in his life. There’s nothing like winning at home. I won three titles in my hometown, and there’s not a better feeling.”

    A veteran PGA reporter on the fact that Jack Nicklaus has sent just one e-mail in his entire life – “It said, one word: Test. That was it. It went through, but apparently it didn’t change his mind. He was done with it.”

    Jim Furyk at The Memorial on whether or not Tiger Woods still has an aura and an edge on his competitors – “I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t. He hasn’t played for a while. He might have played poorly for an event or two. You tell me what’s your inclination?” (Reporter: My inclination is that you can’t trust that he’s going to bring it every week. Do you feel he’s still driving the ball good enough to compete week-in, week-out?) “What’s your handicap? I think you’re stirring the pot. I would disagree with your opinion on his game. He hasn’t played. Give it some time. Everybody wants too much too quick.”

    Phenom Rory McIlroy, 21, on Nicklaus’ impact on golf today – “I had lunch with him in West Palm Beach in February during the Honda tournament and he’s a very special man. He gives up a lot of his time. And for him to put on a tournament like this for us and boost us so well and make us feel so welcome, it’s really, really special.”

    Miller of Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne on why he chose Ohio State – “They only offered one quarterback, and that was me. I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a blessed opportunity right there.’ Florida already has offered another quarterback and he already committed. O-State, I feel like they wanted me. I’m from Ohio and the Buckeye fans, I like them. They’re ecstatic, too.”

    Wayne coach Jay Minton on Miller’s choice – “I’m relieved that it’s over for him. It was such a major decision in his life. They say there are two big ones: who you are going to marry and where you’re going to go to school when you’re a great athlete like that. He’s got one of them out of the way and he can focus in on finishing high school strong and progressing for his college.”

    Dickerson on his time served as head coach at Tulane – “At Tulane, it was a rough, very difficult five years. I took the job four months before Katrina, so I felt like I was in transition every year there with the storm and everything and the aftermath. So initially I thought about not doing anything for a year. Really, in all honesty, that was probably my first choice, to sit back and gather myself and try to replenish myself as far as the coaching profession. But when this opportunity came up at Ohio State, this is a job that is one of the best jobs in the country. It’s just a win-win situation.”

    Dickerson on how his recent experience could be a boon to Matta – “The one thing about being a head coach is that it gives you an outlook of the total program as far as the university, the community, the landscape of recruiting, just everything. And I’ll take those experiences that I’ve gathered at Tulane over the last five years to help Coach Matta and the rest of the staff just to further along the program.”

    Matta on why he tabbed Dickerson for the job soon after Alan Major left to become the head coach at Charlotte – “I’ve just always been impressed with him and how he carried himself. When Alan was going through the process, in my mind there was one guy we were going to go after. And that’s the way we’ve always done it: We choose one, we go after him, and if we don’t get him we move on to the next one.”

    Matta on Lighty somehow shrugging off fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his foot for a second time – “Dave’s got a great outlook on life, number one. He was down when it happened. It took him a little over a week to say, ‘OK, this is what it is’ and away we go. But he’s such a high-energy kid that even with one foot he’s coming at you.”

    Lighty, after Turner’s announcement of leaving school early, on how his buddy might fit in the NBA – “I think it just depends on what team drafts him and what they have already. That’s pretty much what it always is to me, I feel. He can play anywhere, I believe, one through three. With his skill set, they can use him a lot of different ways.”

    Turner assessing how he played for the Sixers during the NBA Summer League – “I know I have to be in shape to compete with this type of competition. It’s a lot more competition, and everybody down here is playing so hard. They’re playing to get or keep a job and put food on the table, and I got my butt kicked. It’s the first time in a long time I’ve gotten my butt kicked.”

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