The Mailbox | Huskers fan decries bad form by Buckeyes on late touchdown

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State freshman quarterback Jack Miller (9) celebrates his touchdown run with 18 seconds remaining in the Buckeyes' 52-17 win over Nebraska last Saturday.

Editor: On the final play of last Saturday’s one-sided win over Nebraska, the Buckeyes chose to run the ball from the 1-yard line instead of just kneeling down, the sporting thing to do. 

OSU scored on a running play, making the winning margin 35 points. Coach Ryan Day apologized, but gave this excuse: “I feel bad about that. I had a younger quarterback in the game and I didn’t feel like we had the personnel to take the knee.” 

Let’s see if I’ve got this right: You’ve got the ball on the opponent’s 1-yard line, 99 yards away from your goal line. There are 18 seconds left, and you trust your backup quarterback for a 1-yard run but not for a kneel down? 

When Nebraska defeated Florida in the 1995 national championship game, we had a first down on the Florida 1-yard line with about 30 seconds to go. The QB knelt down.

Keith Heim, Lincoln, Neb. 

Keith: I’m sure the fans of Missouri (62-0), Colorado (59-0), Minnesota (84-13), Kansas (70-0), Iowa State (73-14) and all the other teams humiliated by Nebraska over the years appreciated that magnanimous gesture in a 62-24 game. 

Ray: So the Big Ten did not allow Nebraska to schedule a game Saturday after Wisconsin canceled. Who, specifically, made that decision? That person (or persons) needs to go. 

Nebraska may not have a successful season by record, but I vote Scott Frost coach of the year for being out front in getting this season played. 

Dennis Singleton, Dayton 

Dennis: Yes, what could go wrong by playing football during a pandemic? Here’s my analogy: If members of your immediate family, whom you know to be undergoing the same testing you are, decide to cancel plans to come to your house for Thanksgiving, are you going to invite distant relatives from Tennessee to make the trip? 

Editor: I played high school football back in the “dark ages,” and we were expected to hit the ball carrier with our helmets. This was later penalized as spearing. CTE was unheard of in those days. A few years ago, I had four vertebrae in my neck fused. I am pretty sure that there was a correlation to the surgery and my football experience. 

During the OSU-Nebraska game the commentators continuously decried the targeting calls. Two Nebraska defensive players were ejected for targeting and Nebraska players repeatedly contacted OSU players above the shoulder with helmet and/or shoulder contact. If anything, it should have been called more than it was. 

The technique used by Nebraska was either taught or tolerated. Targeting was added to the rules to protect the hitter as well as the person on the receiving end of the contact. Brain damage is a definite threat to player safety and should be strictly enforced. 

The announcers were off base. If you do not want to be called for targeting, don’t do it. 

Jim Schwarz, Canal Winchester 

Jim: I don’t disagree, but part of the announcer complaints regarded the second targeting penalty, on Jaxon Smith-Njigba, in which the offending player was ejected and suspended for the first half of his next game for largely incidental, helmet-to-helmet contact, if there is such a thing. The punishment did not fit the crime. 

Mr. Stein: I was somewhat surprised when I saw the news that golfer Jack Nicklaus supported President Donald Trump for re-election. Nicklaus, one of the best golfers ever, likes the way the president runs the country. This surprises me because the president is a well-known golf cheat. 

Some may say, “so what.” Golfer Ben Crenshaw once said, “How you do one thing is how you do everything.” And sports writer Rick Reilly once said, “Golf is like bicycle shorts. It reveals a lot about a man.” He also said, “The guy who cheats on the course is going to cheat in business, or on his taxes or, say, in politics.” 

With this known history of presidential golf cheating, Jack’s endorsement of the president either means that Nicklaus is naive (which is unlikely) or that he values or at least tolerates cheating. 

For me, Jack Nicklaus is no longer on the pedestal that I at one time had put him. 

Bill Cotton, Blacklick 

Editor: Add Michael Oser (Mailbox, last Sunday) to the list of idiots whose comments you have to listen to from time to time. Great response; of course idiots like him often possess a remarkable capacity to ignore the evidence of their senses. 

It seems he, like a lot of Fauci deniers, come to conclusions without examining evidence, then find reasons to justify shoddy conclusions -- like inventing a square wheel the claiming you like your wagon ride a little rougher. 

Jimmy Ryan, Canal Winchester 

Ray: Great article (last Saturday) about “OSU’s forgotten teams.” You featured the 1964 team, which was a great one. I would suggest an article on the 1961 team. 

Undefeated, victorious over Michigan, 50-20, in Ann Arbor. That game closed out our season and OSU was consensus No. 1 in both wire services (AP and UPI) and The Sporting News. The following week Alabama beat a weak Tulane team, 50-0. The wire services then selected Alabama but the Sporting News declared OSU No. 1, stating that Ohio State was the best team playing the more difficult schedule. 

To add insult to injury, the OSU faculty council voted to reject the Rose Bowl invitation. Talk about “forgotten.” That team is immortal but still has not been given full recognition that it deserves. 

Daniel D. Connor, Columbus 

Ray: Watching the twin engines of capitalism, the NFL and big-time college football, bully their way through a season, it becomes clear what it’s really all about: money. Never mind the health and safety of the players, there’s a buck to be made. 

All of these coaches who just “love” their players, only to willing to toss them into the fray when their multimillion-dollar contracts are in jeopardy. What’s it going to take? One of these pawns, i.e. players, to catch the virus and not recover? God forbid that should happen, but it could. 

Yes, some of these college youngsters beat the drum for a season, because after all, they’re 18 and invincible. And greener than grass in Kansas in May. Where were the adults in the room? Where was the voice of reason? Who knows, who cares? 

Millions of advertising dollars are at stake! And if a player or two loses their life, well it’s regrettable, but a cost of doing business. Let’s hope the season plays out without tragedy. I’m sure all the powers that be are hoping that as well. Wouldn’t be good for the brand if it turns out otherwise. 

Thad Woodman, Westerville 

Mr. Stein: The article, “Universal DH likely here to stay,” in the (Wednesday) Dispatch, was timely. Rather than a universal DH, I thought about an alternative if it is decided that pitchers will not bat in the coming years. 

When baseball rules were first codified, there was a certain symmetry in that there were nine players, nine innings, four bases, and the number of balls that constituted a walk was nine, and strikeouts consisted of four strikes. 

Eons ago, the rules settled on four balls and three strikes as standards. 2020 curtailed double-header games to be seven-inning affairs. The commencement of each extra inning in games that lasted past regulation length began with a runner on second base. Intentional walks are zero balls. 

Well, pandemic considerations ran roughshod over very basic foundational rules, so why not consider the nine-players/nine batting positions as fair game? Instead of a DH, allow just the eight position players to bat. In nine innings, this would mean that the top three batters in a lineup would be guaranteed a minimum of four trips to the plate. 

As a child, I learned in pickup games that a latecomer could join the fray if teams didn’t yet have enough players to “make sides,” with the stipulation that a tardy participant was not allowed to bat until he/she played the field first. You had to “earn your ups” before you could bat, because that was fair. Other people played the field before you arrived, so you shouldn’t bat unless you earned that right. 

It was common that guys would get up a game when it was agreed that there were enough players to start a game. If the total number of players was odd, then someone could step up and be the “all-day pitcher” until another person showed up to accommodate two teams with the same number of players. There were other makeshift rules like "pitcher's mound is out," "pitcher's hand is out," "right field is out," "imaginary runners," etc. that were pretty cool, because all of us bought in. We were in charge of the rules, and we cooperated to be able to play games and, dare I say, "have fun?" 

Batting eight players would boost offense, and the anticipation of turning the lineup over sooner could pacify our impatient society. With today's pitchers going fewer innings than ever before, the eight-player lineup could allow for an extra pitcher on a roster, or it could encourage teams to carry another position player to take platooning to a higher level with the intention of creating more offense. 

I wouldn't expect the players' union to have any interest in this suggestion, because DHs often tend to be veteran players who command large sums of money. The DH began in 1973, because, "Desperate times call for desperate measures," as the saying goes. 

It's widely agreed that 1968 was the Year of the Pitcher. Well, in 1972, there were more shutouts pitched than there were in 1968, even with the lower mound, smaller strike zone, pitchers restricted from going to their mouths, etc. Decrepit versions of Tony Oliva, Tommy Davis, Orlando Cepeda, et al., were supposed to boost attendance while putting more points on the board. 

Richard Zaborsky, Dublin