John Hicks

‘Tunnel of pride’ to greet Buckeyes at opener


For the better part of seven months, there has been almost nothing but negative headlines when it comes to the Ohio State football program.

Some former Buckeye football players, however, are looking to make a very public display to the current ones that they still have their backs.

Speaking to the Columbus Dispatch and regarding a tradition normally reserved for the game against Michigan, former OSU All-American John Hicks (pictured) said that the negativity swirling around the program has prompted him and others to organize a “tunnel of pride” before the season opener against Akron.  Hicks said it’s expected they’re “going to have 1,500 to 2,000 out there” as a show of support to the current players and coaches.

While acknowledging that “embarrassment is the right term” for what’s transpired over the past several months, former OSU running back Jeff Logan hammered home the show-of-support angle to the gesture.

“Former players feel we still have a tremendous amount of pride and tradition that makes us still feel good about the program,” Logan said. “And we want not so much the stadium or the nation to know, but for the players and coaches who are standing on that sideline getting ready to start another season to understand that regardless of what has happened in the last 12 months or so, that we support them wholeheartedly.

“I mean, this program is much bigger than what has happened in the last 12 months.”

One of the things that’s happened was Jim Tressel being forced to step down/retire earlier this year.  That fact doesn’t sit well with some of the former Buckeyes, but, again, that won’t stop them from supporting the current members of the program.

“I feel very badly that we treated Tressel in the manner that we’ve treated him,”  said Pandel Savic, quarterback of the 1949 Rose Bowl-winning team who added that Tressel called him on his 86th birthday earlier this year. “There’s no doubt the program has suffered indirectly, though I hope not too much with our recruiting. But everybody who has played there is always 100 percent behind the program, and that’s what we’re going to show. …

“[W]e all love (former coach Jim) Tressel, and as far as I’m concerned, he got shafted because of the actions of (former quarterback Terrelle) Pryor, for one, and a few others.  I just don’t like the idea of him being let go. I think the world of the man, and he did a hell of a job for us.

“As far as the group, though, we’re definitely going to back (new coach) Luke Fickell and the current coaching staff 100 percent. I think they’re qualified.”

While we respectfully disagree with Savic on one of his points — Tressel was the one that shafted Tressel — there’s little doubt that the octogenarian is one of a majority of former players who will continue to stand behind their former school, regardless of what happens off the field.

Wisconsin announces 10-year agreement with Under Armour

Joel Stave
Associated Press

What has long been rumored became fact Friday, as Wisconsin announced a 10-year agreement with Under Armour.

“I am absolutely thrilled about our new partnership with Under Armour,” AD Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “Kevin Plank and his team have established a brand that fits perfectly with the Wisconsin athletics story and culture. Our primary focus at Wisconsin is, of course, our student-athletes, and Under Armour’s passion and commitment to high quality and innovation will benefit our student-athletes for years to come. Our entire department is looking forward to a long and mutually productive relationship with the Under Armour team.”

The new deal will pay the Badgers a total of $7 million in cash and product in 2015-16 and is valued at $96 million over the life of the contract, good for second in the Big Ten, trailing only Nike’s new contract with Michigan.

Hidden within the contract are two nuggets that UA offered to sway the Badgers away from Adidas, from the Portland Business Journal:

Wisconsin will get as much as $500,000 from Under Armour to “rebrand” athletic facilities. It’ll get $150,000 to build out an Under Armour retail space in a campus gift shop called Bucky’s Locker Room. It also gets two summer internships for students at Under Armour’s Baltimore headquarters.

“The University of Wisconsin is an institution built on the highest values of academic excellence, and we are extremely proud to be teaming up with one of the most vibrant, distinctive and successful athletic programs in the country to help elevate the performance of all Badgers with innovative footwear and apparel,” added Plank.

Wisconsin’s departure continues to weaken the stronghold Adidas had built in the Midwest after losing Michigan to Nike and Notre Dame to Under Armour in recent years (the company still owns apparel rights for Indiana and Nebraska). The Badgers are now the 41st Division I athletics department and 17th FBS program to join UA.

Video: There’s nothing wrong with Cardale Jones

Getty Images

In the minds of some in the media and even more in the fan base, Ohio State in general and Cardale Jones specifically have been underwhelming through the first five games of the 2015 season.

Jones, in particular, has been a rather large target of much of the angst.  Coming off a Cinderella-like three-game postseason run that helped OSU to a national championship, the perception is that Jones has been underwhelming and underperforming; even head coach Urban Meyer appeared to be leaning in that direction as he considered making the switch to J.T. Barrett prior to the Western Michigan win before reaffirming his commitment to the redshirt junior.

Is that perception valid?  Statistically, he’s not that far off from where he was in the 2014 postseason, at least in a couple of categories.

He’s completing 61.3 percent of his passes this season compared to 59.4 percent in the games against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon.  It was 9.9 yards per attempt in that three-game stretch last season, 8.2 in five games this season.  When it comes to scoring and turning the ball over, however, that’s another matter entirely.

He threw a touchdown pass every 15 pass attempts in the 2014 postseason; this season, it’s one every 21 attempts.  Even more glaring, he’s currently throwing an interception every 21 attempts as well.  During the run that made him a household name, it was one pick every 37.5 throws.

So, fewer touchdowns plus more turnovers equals validation of the angst, right?  Not so fast, at least as far as the college arm of Pro Football Focus goes.