Matta, Meyer Make Memories
April 27, 2012
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.”