Mailbox: Columbus Blue Jackets remain a mystery; and would Aaron Craft save Ohio State basketball?

Brian White
The Columbus Dispatch

Have more comments, questions? Reach out to me at

Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen speaks to the media during Media Day at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on September 21, 2021.

On the Columbus Blue Jackets

To the editor: Well, (general manager Jarmo Kekalainen) has finally lost his mind. Trades two decent players for a draft pick and a prima donna that refused to play in the Columbus hockey ghetto. I don’t blame him. Then they trade him (Quick) for an AHL journeyman goalie. No, wait. Then we send Voracek to the Coyotes for a Tucson Roadrunner goalie.

Columbus is the perennial worst franchise every year. I have no idea what Johnny Hockey wa$ thinking nor Laine or how they feel now. I am really surprised Brad Larsen can find the locker room every game. While we are “rebuilding,” let’s start at the top.

Joe Keenan, Grove City

To the editor: Rebuilding. This word gets thrown around a lot when talking about the Blue Jackets. However, don't you have to have been built and be deconstructed before rebuilding? When were we built?

Dave Schwendenman, Columbus

To the Editor: Having recently watched the classic movie "Major League," this thought came to mind: The CBJ are in the midst of yet another terrible season. With an all-time record of 735 wins and 771 losses, they have the worst NHL record this century. Is anyone worried that the Jackets could move to another city? It’s not uncommon for floundering professional sports teams to be picked off to make another city happy. If the Jackets don’t get busy and make a 180-degree turn for the better, Columbus should be prepared to lose one of its few major professional sports teams.

Bill Cotton, Blacklick

Dear Editor: After reading about more player trades by the Blue Jackets, I have come to think of the Blue Jackets as just a farm team for other big-market NHL cities. No different than the Cleveland Monsters, just a level slightly higher. Columbus is a great place for young talent to come and develop into a tradable commodity. However, to go places, like to the playoffs, you have to move on. This is sad but true. Columbus deserves better. At the start of every year, we hear all the hoopla about how last year was a rebuilding year and this year will be different. But it’s not. It’s the same story every year. We’re going to be better next year! Yeah, right. Something needs to change in the organization.  Chet Ridenour, Worthington

Mar 1, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, United States;  Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann points to the video replay during the second half of the NCAA Division I basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Maryland Terrapins at Value City Arena on Wednesday night. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Scheller-The Columbus Dispatch

On Ohio State basketball

To the editor: OSU basketball is on life support, and there is only one person who can save this dying patient: Dr. Aaron Craft. He has the skills, temperament, experience and extraordinary Ohio State ties to become the next coach. He can teach defense and offense and has true grit. His recruiting skills would be off the charts. His will to win would be infectious.

Gene Smith should offer him a doctor-sized salary and bonus to persuade Mr. Craft to make a much-needed OSU house call.

Michael Oser, Columbus

To Michael: Wouldn't a "doctor-sized salary" be far less than a Big Ten basketball coach makes?

Aaron Craft is Ohio State’s all-time leader in assists (694) and steals (337).

To Brian: Sacking coach Chris Holtmann, as urged by some writers, would be premature and unproductive. In each of his five prior seasons, he’s delivered 20 or more wins and an NCAA appearance, except in 2020 when the tournament was canceled. His recruiting has been excellent, Just look at the performance of the four new freshmen.  

Reasons for this year’s stunning collapse are hard to diagnose, but Zed Key’s injury surely was a major cause, as was Sueing’s falloff in long-range shooting, as diagnosed by The Dispatch’s basketball-savvy Adam Jardy. The freshmen weren’t the problem, and neither was the coach.

Next year looks promising with a recruiting class ranked fifth nationally, at least three of the four from this year’s class, Key and Eugene Brown, a hidden gem. Imagine a healthy Key and a bulked-up and improved Okpara on the same team. The challenge will be to keep this talent pool together — not easy in this era of NIL and the transfer portal. Changing coaches would surely lead to a loss of valuable players.

Kevin Duffy, Columbus

Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day talks to Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord (6) on the sideline during Saturday's NCAA Division I football game against the Toledo Rockets at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

On Ohio State football

To Brian: Ohio State fans should rejoice in the upcoming season with an abundance of returning and incoming talent. Although I will miss quarterback C.J. Stroud at the helm, Kyle McCord has patiently waited for his opportunity to start. An added bonus to the QB position is experienced Oregon State transfer, Tristan Gebbia, who will encourage the other QBs-in-waiting.  And how rich is the receiving corps? Returning stat-builders include the versatile Xavier Johnson, who also returns punts and can capably fill in at running back, receptions leader Marvin Harrison Jr., tight end Cade Stover and little-known Jayden Ballard. The offensive backfield will be solid with Dallan Hayden and Evan Pryor behind starters Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson.

The Buckeyes are loaded on offense.  The inconsistent defense, especially in the secondary, remains a little less distinguished.

Larry Cheek, Dublin

Ohio State's Chic Harley is a member of the inaugural College Football Hall of Fame class in 1951.

On Ohio State statues

To Brian: With Urban Meyer suggesting that a statue for Cardale Jones be erected, I am prompted to revisit my list of statues that could surround Ohio Stadium, and it doesn't even include five of the six Heisman Trophy winners:

 Alexander Lilly and anonymous first player: Coach of 1890 team with plaque naming 15 players on first team.

John and Charles Sigrist: Player who died from injuries in game and brother/teammate who spoke out influencing board not to discontinue football.

Fred Cornell: Freshman player who wrote "Carmen Ohio."

Chic Harley: Without Chic, Ohio State could have become Iowa State and no Ohio Stadium.

Thomas French, L.W. St. John, William Thompson: Visionaries of Ohio Stadium with plaque naming board members who personally assumed loan for additional $400,000 needed to build it.

Eugene Weigel: Script Ohio.

Jesse Owens: Renovation of Ohio Stadium might have been much sooner, but that track was where Jesse ran.

Don Scott: Two-time All-American who died in World War II.

Lenny Thom: Former player who was JFK's XO on PT109 and was crucial to the survivors being rescued.

Bill Willis: First prominent African-American player.

John Crawford: Was at every home game for 74 years from 1943-2016.

Jack Gibbs: Ohio State's Rudy and so much more.

Archie Griffin: Two Heisman trophies and dignity ever endearing him to Buckeye Nation.

Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer: Coaches who have won national championships with large pedestal allowing for additions.

Joe Burrow: Oh wait, never mind.

Dennis Singleton, Dayton

To Dennis: There are some good names in there, but I hope they don't take you up on your suggestions. If so, there'll be nowhere to park.

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play this season and if his future remains with the Packers. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

On Aaron Rodgers

To Mr. White: I truly hope, for his sake, that Aaron Rodgers re-signs with the Packers. Wisconsin is known as the dairy state. So he should have lots of cheese to complement all of his whine.

Lauri Turevon, Dublin

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma looks at the clock during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

On college basketball

To the editor: I find that recent comments by UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma are meaningful, but not timely. He says he doesn't know what the rough play of the South Carolina team is, but it is not basketball. He was particularly incensed by the way one of his players was battered.

While coach Geno's remarks are no doubt colored by his team's flagging record of late, he makes a valid point. Basketball at all levels has been evolving into an event of body contact and wrestling rather than technique and finesse. I have questioned for several years whether officials can really determine what constitutes a foul.

In fact, I raised this point at a Rotary club meeting about 15 years ago, when I asked the speaker, a well-known college coach, if he agreed that the game had digressed to that point. He said that it had.

Little wonder that coaches get stressed out (and thrown out), officials are under such pressure and players learn and act out wrestling and contact instead of the original game of graceful skill.

Don Denton, Westerville

More from the Mailbox:

Can Les Wexner fix Ohio State men's basketball?

Ohio State basketball's Chris Holtmann, Kevin McGuff under fire from readers

Readers unhappy about Ohio State lending $48M to athletic department

A vote to keep Chris Holtmann; and why do refs hate everything about Ohio?

Readers don't like letter calling Ohio State Buckeyes lucky in 2003 Fiesta Bowl

'Back off!': Readers come to the defense of Ohio State football coach Ryan Day

Threatening OSU players makes no sense; and did refs want Georgia to win for ESPN?

Praise for Ohio State's CJ Stroud, but jeers for Jim Knowles and Rob Oller

Ohio State DBs need better technique; and Pete Rose ushering in gambling is tacky

Disdain for the NIL era and joy at Ohio State's possible rematch with Michigan

Get more Ohio State football news by listening to our podcasts