Poll: who should be Ohio State’s next head coach?

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Even as it’s already been announced that Luke Fickell (pictured) will coach the Ohio State Buckeyes throughout the whole of the 2011 season, with a national search commencing shortly thereafter, that still hasn’t stopped the speculation as to just who will be the permanent successor to Jim Tressel at the school.

Obviously, Urban Meyer‘s name has been dropped squarely into the mix, and there’s little doubt that OSU officials will at least place a call gauging his interest this December, if not earlier.  Meyer wrote in one of his books that Ohio State is one of three jobs — with Notre Dame and Michigan being the others — that his wife holds no veto power over, so it may just be a matter of whether the former Florida head coach wants to jump back into the coaching game just a year after temporarily stepping away.

Additionally, and as noted by PFT full-timer/CFT part-timer Mike Florio, Jon Gruden has already surfaced as a rumored possibility.  The current ESPN NFL analyst is from the state of Ohio, and was rumored to be of interest to the Cleveland Browns after their firing of Eric Mangini, so the rumor mill spitting out his name at this very early stage makes sense.  What wouldn’t actually make much sense, however, would be for tOSU to pull the trigger and actually hire a man whose most recent collegiate coaching experience was way back in 1989.

Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com has compiled a very early list of potential permanent replacements for Tressel, and six of the seven he names — Meyer, Gruden, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Florida State’s Mark Stoops and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel — have extensive ties to either the state or the university.  Feldman also throws in TCU’s Gary Patterson for good measure.

Also as expected, Bob Stoops‘ name has already been mentioned as well, although it would be surprising — hell, shocking — if the Ohio native would even consider leaving his plush Oklahoma position to inherit what could be an NCAA mess in Columbus let alone being a realistic candidate.  That said, his Youngstown, Oh., roots combined with a successful — and clean — Sooners program will have his name in the midst of the speculation until the position’s officially filled.

One intriguing name we had forgotten about and with a connection to the school was mentioned by Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com: Lovie Smith.  The current head coach of the Chicago Bears was the defensive backs coach at Ohio State in 1995, although his name being realistically in the mix would be just as stunning as Gruden’s or Stoops’.

And then there’s Fickell.  The former Ohio State player will be in charge of the football team from now until the end of the season and will certainly be given the opportunity to state his case that the “interim” tag should be stripped from his current title.  Some have already begun to dismiss the possibility that Fickell could be a long-term, permanent fix on the sidelines; I haven’t, and I won’t.  Fickell is a helluva football coach and will be leading a major Div. 1-A football program at some point in the next five years.  Hopefully, he’ll be given serious consideration by those who will ultimately make the decision.

We would also be remiss in not mentioning Darrell Hazell.  Currently the first-year head coach at Kent State, Hazell spent the past seven seasons as a valued member of Tressel’s and had been rumored to be a potential, eventual successor before moving on to the Golden Flashes.

So what say ye?  Who should be the next head football coach of the the Ohio State Buckeyes?  If it helps any before casting your vote, Bodog has released its initial odds on the next coach at Ohio State:

Urban Meyer 3/2
Mark Stoops 5/2
Jon Gruden 3/1
Bo Pelini 10/1
Mark Dantonio 12/1

With all of that said, fire away, both in the poll and in the comments section below…

 

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.

Ohio State claims 2017 national championship… for spring game attendance

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For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.

Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.

Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)

  1. Ohio State – 80,134
  2. Nebraska – 78,312
  3. Alabama – 74,326
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Georgia – 66,133
  6. Clemson – 60,000
  7. Michigan – 57,418
  8. Florida – 48,000
  9. Auburn – 46,331
  10. Oklahoma – 43,723

How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.

You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.

Edgerrin James’ nephew to transfer from Miami

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Last season, Jeff James was one of seven players  suspended for Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl game against West Virginia.  Nearly four months later, he’s gone.

In a press release, Miami announced that the defensive back “is no longer a member of the football program.” No reason was given for the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James deciding to leave The U.

“I talked to Jeff and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

James was a three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class.  247Sports.com had the Orlando high school product rated as the No. 112 safety in the country and the No. 1,678 player in its composite rankings.

The defensive back played in one game as a true freshman, the season-opening win over FCS Florida A&M.