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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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  • 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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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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