Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller answered your questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during our weekly chat. Here's the transcript.
Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller answered your questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during our weekly chat. Here's the transcript:
12:54:56 Rob_(moderator): Hi, Robo. Thanks for joining us. We'll get started at 1 p.m. (Not sure we've ever had the chat guest be here 7 minutes early, so you're off to a great start.)
12:55:29 Rob_Oller: Just trying to get my game-fingers on.
12:55:45 Rob_(moderator): Deep breaths and stay loose.
12:56:11 Rob_Oller: Sweaty palms. Butterflies. But wouldn't want it any other way. Makes you feel you're alive.
12:59:07 Rob_Oller: Since I'm filling in for Tim May, might as well tell a Timbo-type joke. If I am Rob and moderator is Rob, does that make this chat a robbery? I hear your groan, folks. Same one I give when Tim tells his "jokes."
12:59:35 Rob_(moderator): And look at the rush for the exits ...
13:00:36 Rob_(moderator): Any big plans for the no-OSU-football Saturday?
13:01:30 Rob_Oller: Rare Saturday family day. Not sure what that means, exactly, other than no Scarlet & Gray Matter.
13:01:48 Rob_(moderator): OK, let's get to the "real" questions ...
13:01:51 bUCK-i-gUY: from what you can tell, has meyer's schedule for the team during the bye week been different than what tressel did? sure hope so.
13:03:54 Rob_Oller: Meyer is all about conditioning, which is to say he is more of a grinder whereas Tres was more of a "thinker." JT thought everything out to the last detail, including bye-week workouts. And yes, they were not as exhaustive as what Meyer is putting his troops through. That's not to say one is better than the other, only that Meyer's DNA is different than Tressel's. To be fair, these Buckeyes need the work.
13:04:04 ally bubba: Do yyou think Braxton could finish in the top 3 for the Heisman?
13:06:48 Rob_Oller: Absolutely. Will he win it? Doubtful. It depends whether Collin Klein of K-State loses a game and looks bad doing it. Ditto Te'o of Notre Dame. Miller is hamstrung by a couple of things: 1. the Buckeyes are NCAA "bad guys," which means some voters will hold that against Miller. They shouldn't, but they will. Also, Miller being a sophomore hurts him, even though other sophomores have won through the years. Finally, Miller's throwing mechanics continue to be too inconsistent to make him a Heisman winner. To me, the Heisman goes to the best player, but also the most complete player. Miller is not yet there.
13:06:54 Rob_(moderator): We need questions, folks. This one via email: Has the Urban Meyer experience been pretty much what you expected?
13:10:12 Rob_Oller: Yes and no. I thought the offense would be more textured than it is. More passes to running backs. More throws to the tight ends. More of everything. That said, Urban said from the beginning that his version of the spread offense is not what you see from Oregon. Ohio State will continue to rely on some sort of power running game. It's in the blood. As for Meyer himself, he is more blunt than I expected, especially in regard to calling out players. So far, the media has not had to go toe-to-toe with him. I'm sure it will come, and I'm sure it will be fun to watch. Back to the offense a second. While not as varied as I thought it would be, it still is the only OSU team to put up 50 points four times in a season. Not too shabby.
13:10:20 osbuck: In all fairness to Sabino being off three four weeks, will he be in best condition to play
13:12:22 Rob_Oller: He was limping on Wednesday, so I would say he won't be at his best. Sometimes -- actually quite often -- coaches like to play guys who are only slightly injured as a way to motivate the rest of the team. Sabino is a team leader, so watching him go out there on one leg and at least give it a try is better than not. As long as he does not reinjure the leg. It's a bit of a roll of the dice, but that's why the team relies on doctors to make the decisions. With input from Urban, of course.
13:12:31 Buckeye in VA: What will happen to the current rotation of linebackers once Sabino is back?
13:14:07 Rob_Oller: Good question. It may not become a real issue since Storm Klein is still injured, but you can bet that Boren will remain in the mix. Urban loves the guy. He's is 100 percent Urbanator. Tough. Smart. Dedicated. Unselfish. What's not to like (other than his pass coverage ability, perhaps; maybe a step slow).
13:14:17 newguy: What happens if the Bucks win out and the top 4 don't?
13:17:03 Rob_Oller: Ah, the $64 million question. I've said all along that finishing No. 1 in the final AP poll is possible, but not probable. Just like with the Heisman, some voters may punish the Buckeyes for being in the NCAA doghouse. Yes, there are purists among the media. Really. My gut feeling is the only way OSU finishes No. 1 is if the two BCS title contenders each have one loss, and the No. 2 ranked team beats No. 1 in an ugly game. Maybe, MAYBE then the Buckeyes get the award. That is, if Georgia loses and no one from behind (like Fla. State or Florida) comes up to pass them.
13:17:14 Buckeye in VA: How do you feel the next two games will go?
13:19:48 Rob_Oller: Confession: I picked the Buckeyes to finish 9-3 this season. (ducking). So to stay true to self I would need to predict OSU to lose its next two games. I also then would need to change my home address and phone number. So the heck with staying true to myself. OSU should be favored in both games, although I think UM will be more difficult than Wisc. even if playing in Madison is no picnic. I just think Michigan matches up better. That said, I would -- at the moment -- pick OSU to win both games. Whew. Am I safe, now?
13:20:04 byeweekblues: Off-topic a bit, but what about OU? Do they still have a shot at a championship?
13:21:36 Rob_Oller: Love the Bobcats (isn't that what I'm supposed to say?) Losing to BG hurt and I have to admit is shocked me. Tells me Ohio -- how dare you call them OU :) -- is trending downward. Not sure what's happening there, but it's not the way you want to enter November. Is that vague enough for you?
13:21:49 ncflash: Do you expect any new wrinkles in the Wisconsin game or do you think all "tricks" will be saved for Michigan?
13:24:24 Rob_Oller: First I have to say I did NOT place that smiley face in the previous response. So please don't send me to Txtmessage prison. Now, about the tricks and treats. Urban can't help himself. He'll pull something out for both games, as opposed to Tressel who only could be counted on to trick it up vs. Michigan. Usually with good success, I might add. Not sure what they'll be, but I can see Meyer using more of the two-back (Hyde and Smith) system going forward. Not sure that's a trick, but sure is a treat.
13:24:36 osbuck: The Media has been asking if the Buckeyes were able, would they compete with the likes of Alabama, LSU, KS. I applaud they way Coach has challanged the players, but I still think they are a couple years away from that elite company. Do you agree?
13:25:08 Rob_Oller: Yes, but mostly because OSU
13:27:09 Rob_Oller: Oops. hit the send button. Rookie mistake. Back to it. Yes, but mostly because the defense is not on par with Alabama or LSU. Not sure about KSU. Maybe a bit overrated. And Oregon showed against USC that its defense can be torched. It's all about defense, which is what Meyer said on his radio show today. He wants to move toward looking more like Oregon without becoming Oregon. Urban's not super comfortable with the no-huddle offense because it puts extra pressure on the defense ie. keeps them on the field longer.
13:27:20 ncflash: Probably won't happen but I think using Dunn in the 3 back look might be as good an option if not better than having Smith back there - your thoughts?
13:29:53 Rob_Oller: Well, Dunn is hurt at the moment. Meyer said it just happened. Like most freshmen, Dunn has been slow to adapt to the finer points of the offense. His blocking was suspect early and since first impressions matter in life, Meyer was hesitant to play him. I think Rod Smith has pretty amazing tools, but he needs to find the handle on the football or you may get your wish and Dunn will step in. I expect Smith will put his fumbleitis to bed sooner than later. People might forget that Eddie George couldn't hold onto the football his first season. We all know where it went from there.
13:30:04 newguy: Which QB should we hope for in the michigan game - denard or his replacement?
13:32:13 Rob_Oller: You mean the replacement who was the quarterback who became a receiver and then moved back to quarterback? That sounds like a guy I would want to face if I were OSU. Robinson, meanwhile, is exactly the kind of player who gashes the Buckeyes. He's not a great passer, but his speed alone could give OSU some problems, considering the Buckeyes' defense has struggled against spread teams with high skill players this season. Bubble screen, anyone. So yes, take the replacement if you're Luke Fickell.
13:32:22 withholding judgment: Do you think Meyer will stick it out at OSU long enough to recruit enough talent to win a national title? The cupboard has gotten bare the past few years, and I think it will take at least another couple of years to get back to the very top.
13:35:38 Rob_Oller: I felt from the beginning that Meyer would not be a long-timer in Columbus. Now, what's the definition of long time? That's the question. I would be mildly surprised if he is still coaching the Buckeyes in 2020. But even if it's only a five-year run, that is plenty of time to get the recruits you want -- and need -- into the program. As for winning a national title, that is such a crapshoot (unless you are an SEC team, it would seem). Look at the 2002 team. The Luckeyes. Did they deserve to be national championss. Of course, but they needed some luck -- or breaks, if you prefer that word -- to get there. Winning a national title is HARD work. Do I think OSU will win one by the time Meyer leaves. Probably. But I would not bet my kids on it. Then again, my kids are teen-agers, so ...
13:35:45 jim: Which Ohio State coach (any sport) during your time at the dispatch has been the best interview? and if you say tressel, i'll cancel my subscription.
13:39:27 Rob_Oller: OK, since I want to keep putting food on my table, I will pass on Tressel. Just an aside, however. Tress was MUCH better in small interview clusters of 1 or 2 writers than he was in the large group. I actually had some pretty quality talks with him in the smaller setting. Urban has been really good at speaking the truth, but like most football coaches he sometimes falls into cliche and repetition. Women's basketball coach Jim Foster is thought-provoking, but can be very dry. How about Jim O'Brien? I didn't deal with the former men's basketball coach all that much, but he had some beauties during his tenure. Oh, and he loved columnists. Nuff said.
13:39:35 Rob_(moderator): Another via email: You seem to be in touch with Cleveland sports. Which team do you see becoming a contender again first: the Indians or Browns? Or (gulp) neither?
13:42:57 Rob_Oller: Maybe the Cavs? Seriously, finding five guys is easier than finding 50+ (football) and 20+ (baseball). But if I had to choose between the Browns and Indians, I would say the Browns. Two reasons. 1. It seems easier to win in the NFL than in MLB. Parity almost begs you to become a contender in football Yes, I know the Browns have disproved that theory, but I really like the new ownership. I'm a big believer in top-down leadership, and it's no secret I was no fan of Randy Lerner. The new owner -- Haslem -- appears to be a big step up. As for the Indians, oy. Dolan, the owner, does not have deep enough pockets to build a champion. Bottom line, however, if how much do free agents want to play in Cleveland. If the answer is "not much," that's a big problem.
13:43:06 withholding judgment: Not sure you have a Heisman vote, but if you did, how would your ballot look right now?
13:45:14 Rob_Oller: I like the kid from Oregon, Kenjon Barner. He's moving up fast and if you watch him he's on par with Braxton Miller in terms of incredible moves and burst. I don't have a vote, but if I did. 1. Barner. 2. Klein; 3. T'eo. 4. Miller. If you ask me who is the MVP of college football, I'd pick either Miller or Klein. Probably Miller.
13:45:32 ncflash: Would you agree with me that over the last 5+ years OSU has been the best D-1 school when it comes to the combined football & basketball program performance?
13:48:02 Rob_Oller: Hard to argue with that, except I'd have to move Florida to No. 1. Two football and two basketball titles? That's crazy. But the Buckeyes are a very solid No. 2. Funny, how Florida and OSU are similar in that hoops will never be bigger than football, but both schools have done a great job with both. Kudos to Thad Matta and Billy Donovan.
13:48:12 bUCK-i-gUY: Do you think the national media considers Thad Matta to be among the coaaching elite?
13:51:15 Rob_Oller: Why wouldn't they? Look at his body of work. What hurts Matta is what hurts all coaches to who work at football schools. He'll probably never get the credit he deserves. Talking to other writers at last year's Final Four, the only other thing hurting Matta is a reputation more as a recruiting guru than an amazing game coach. That reputation -- mostly undeserved -- chafes his rear like nothing else. I think he has improved as a game strategist, but he is what he is -- a coach who lets his players play. Not to say the Buckeyes are unstructured or undisciplines, but they don't play Bobby Knight ball, either. And recruits love it.
13:51:22 ncflash: I thought BM looked better passing the ball last week than he has all year - you think he's has turned a corner and will continue to improve or do you think we will still see a more inconsistent BM these last 2 games?
13:54:15 Rob_Oller: I will defer to offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who told me a month ago that Miller is pretty much what he's going to be for the rest of this season. It is so hard to work on fundamentals during the season, and Braxton has some fundamental glitches, namely, his footwork gets too quick on certain throws. He'll need another off-season to fix it. Even then, there are no guarantees. It is the one "uh-oh" worry of Buckeye Nation: "Will Braxton's passing improve to where it needs to be?" I say yes, it will improve. But can't guarantee it will ever be Tom Brady-esque. And OSU doesn't need it to be. With those feet, all Miller needs to do is not lose games with his arm.
13:54:26 jim: Tell the truth: Have you lost one second of sleep over the NHL lockout?
13:55:22 Rob_Oller: Well, I had to write a column about it for today's paper, which kept me up last night thinking about what I would write. So, yes. I have.
13:55:34 ncflash: Do you see any upsets out there this week on the national scene?
13:58:30 Rob_Oller: Maybe Penn State over No. 16 Nebraska and Syracuse over No. 9 Louisville. Could be Ariz State over USC, too. Trojans are in shambles.
13:58:38 Rob_(moderator): Good questions, everyone. Robo, it'll be interesting to see whether the sophomore jinx hits you the next time you're in the hot seat. Nice job today, and thanks again for taking the time. Hope you can do it again soon. Folks, we'll do it again next week, same day and time, with Tim May. That's a wrap.
13:58:58 Rob_Oller: Enjoyed it. Thanks.