The past four-plus weeks have been at once wonderful and difficult.

Wonderful because those of us who work hard covering the team from August through Thanksgiving appreciate a return to normalcy -- eating dinners with our families and not working weekends, those are two biggies.

It's a great time to recharge and refresh.

But it's also difficult, because we get only a few quick opportunities to interview coaches and players, and for us at the Dispatch, we are expected to have daily stories on the team. So it's tough to make interviews from Tressel and 9 players stretch from Dec. 14 until Dec. 26, when we can catch up with the team in California.

So that explains some of the "down" time here on the blog. It will pick back up this weekend, with regular updates from L.A.

In the meantime, the only news being generated is negative -- Duron Carter/Ray Small/Rob Rose.

Football-wise, Small is the greatest loss, as he is a potential game-changer on special teams. He and Carter being out hurts the receiver depth, but in reality, the two of them basically caught one pass a game, and OSU probably isn't going to complete more than about 15 passes, so their absence isn't a big blow to the offense.

Rose is a solid player, but he played maybe 15 plays a game, I'm guessing, and that's the deepest position on the team....if the other 7 defensive linemen can all play two more plays than usual, there you go.

Life-wise, I'm sorry, but how stupid can those two seniors be (Rose and Small?)

I'm cutting Carter some slack, even though with all the tutoring and support OSU provides its players, it's tough to be ineligible. But he's a freshman, and I certainly struggled to adjust to college, socially and academically, so I'll give him a pass for now.

But Rose and Small? These guys barely made the team in camp, both having summer-school issues. Even thinking purely selfishly, their NFL futures could have been enhanced significantly with good performances on a national stage in the Rose Bowl....all they had to do was be good boys for a few more weeks. How hard is that?

I haven't talked to Rose much in his career, but I've always enjoyed interviewing Small. A positive, smiling guy. Seems like he has a good heart.

I did a big story on him for our Gameday Plus cover during Iowa week, about what a triumph it was for him to make it to Senior Day. It was interesting, OSU officials weren't thrilled that we chose to profile Small for Senior Day, they weren't convinced he had truly made a turnaround and deserved to be lauded.

Guess they were right. Too bad.

And now, enough about who won't be playing. Let's look forward to a week of football news. Next time I sign on, it will be from sunny southern Cal!

Merry Christmas!