Saturday, June 25, 2011

One last (for now) thought on Ohio State

When I restarted my blog about a month ago, the intention was not to alternate between posts about the hilarity at Ohio State and the decimation of North Carolina. But the general slowness of June and the never-ending freshwater mountain stream of violations have made those the two obvious topics du jour (or whatever "of the month" is in French).

Barring any more amazingly hilarious or newsworthy developments, I'm gonna try to lay off the NCAA violations for a while and actually write about, you know, football and stuff now that there's a light just 67 days away at the end of the offseason tunnel.

But I couldn't turn away from the wreckage without making one observation.

Before I get to that, let's establish something: You can't undo the past. Is USC really getting "fair" punishment for whatever shenanigans went on during the Pete Carroll era as he turned a crappy, forgotten, fanless program into by far the best in the country and nearly a three-peat national champion? If a little devil had popped up on Mike Garrett's shoulder back in 2000 and said, "Hey dude (I assume demonic creatures call people "dude"), I'll bring you national championships, a bunch of Heismans, gazillions of dollars and a Pac-10 title every freakin' year if you just sacrifice a couple years of postseason eligibility and some scholarships in about a decade," I'd bet dollars to doughnuts he would've taken that deal without even blinking. A decade of dominance is worth five-ish slightly down years that are still pretty good thanks to the cachet built up over the aforementioned decade.

There is literally nothing the NCAA can do to Ohio State that will make up for whatever was gained through 10 years' worth of throwing around massive hookups, covering it up and playing guys who should have been ineligible. All those painful losses for Michigan, all those BCS bowl games (and accompanying paychecks), the national championship -- those things can't be erased, despite my best efforts involving alcohol and high-velocity projectiles in my living room. If I were Lloyd Carr, I'd be summoning my inner Ray Donovan and asking, "Where do I go to get my wins back?"

When you zoom out and look at the big picture, it's entirely possible that the most devastating thing to come out of the whole OSU situation (pending massive scholarship losses) will be what's happening right now.

Two months ago, Ohio State had two five-star commits -- tackle Kyle Kalis and running back Brionte Dunn -- and a pretty typical start on another strong class as the presumed leader for at least eight four- or five-star in-state guys (must be tough -- for comparison, the state of Michigan has nine four-stars this year while Ohio has three five-stars and 19 four-stars).

At some point in the very near future, both those five-stars will be gone. Kalis has already decommitted and visited Michigan, and while Dunn hasn't officially done so, it's supposedly just a matter of time; Ohio State recruiting haven Bucknuts has been reporting that OSU has "no chance" to get either one given the nuclear fallout radiating outward from Columbus. Scout's Bill Greene has basically been saying the same. Oh, and Michigan is now presumed to be the favorite for both.

In the meantime:
  • Four-star defensive end Tom Strobel committed to Michigan;
  • Kalis said four-star defensive end Chris Wormley "will end up at Michigan" right before they visited together this weekend;
  • Four-star defensive end Se'Von Pittman tried to commit to Michigan but had to be turned away because of the pure volume of defensive ends already committed or about to commit, so he headed to Michigan State;
  • Four-star guard Kyle Dodson committed to Wisconsin;
  • Four-star defensive end Greg McMullen committed to Nebraska;
  • Four star defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo visited and is now rumored to be favoring Northwestern (seriously, Northwestern);
  • Five-star defensive end Adolphus Washington -- who's teammates with four-star receiver Dwayne Stanford -- visited Kentucky, and both he and Stanford will be visiting Michigan within the next couple weeks. They've said they want to play together, and Scout's Ohio editor is reporting that OSU is "really moving down" Washington's list while Michigan appears to be "the team to beat."
If you don't follow recruiting closely, these names mean nothing to you. But here's what I'm getting at: Come February, Ohio State could end up with a whopping TWO four-star recruits out of that ridiculously deep group of 22 big-time in-state guys. And the most likely scenario right now is that all three of the Ohio five-stars end up at Michigan, which already has more committed four-stars than Ohio State has players in its class. Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State have also invaded and swiped elite guys who wouldn't have even considered leaving the state a year ago, and even Northwestern is benefiting. Notice a common theme here? The rest of the Big Ten is getting better while Ohio State picks through the leftovers.

Five years from now, when most of those guys are tearing' it up elsewhere and OSU is fielding a team at maybe 70 percent of its usual talent level -- and again, this is ignoring the inevitable scholarship bomb -- it will be evident on the field. You can't recruit like Michigan State and win like Ohio State -- not in a legitimate BCS conference, anyway (spare me the Boise State argument).

So yeah ... back to the "10 years of dominance, two/three years of punishment" thing: It's a little more meaningful if it's two/three years of punishment followed by five-ish years of roster restocking because everybody else in the conference is in ur base stealin ur recruitz.


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