Some thoughts on Ohio State and being No. 1

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The last time Ohio State opened a season as the top-ranked team in college football was in 2006. That should change this September when the defending national champions from Columbus start the new season in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech, the only team to hand the Buckeyes a loss last fall. With all of the talent coming back to the squad this season, Urban Meyer should see Ohio State receive its first No. 1 ranking since his arrival that did not come at the end of the postseason.

Ohio State won the national championship last season despite never being the top team in the AP Top 25 at any point during the season. That may sound odd, but it is not quite as rare as you might think.

In 2010, Auburn was close to pulling off the same feat. The Tigers, with Cam Newton at quarterback, worked its way up the polls all season long. The Tigers were given the No. 1 ranking by the Associated Press only after defeating Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn carried that number one ranking to the BCS Championship game against Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks. Oregon had previously been ranked No. 1 by the AP voters, yet lost the top spot to Auburn despite not losing. Florida pulled off a similar feat in 2007, with Meyer’s Gators (and Tim Tebow) grabbing the top spot in the poll after knocking off the previous No. 1, Alabama, in the SEC Championship Game.

But when was the last time a national champion earned the top AP ranking only after winning it all? You only need to look back to the 2011 season.

Alabama entered the 2011 season ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, and it seemed the Crimson Tide were destined to be in that position. Preseason No. 1 Oklahoma had not lost a game but slipped to No. 2 in the polls behind Alabama’s division rival, LSU. LSU took over the top spot in the poll after defeating three top 25 teams in its first four games (including No. 3 Oregon on a neutral field and road games against Mississippi State and West Virginia). Alabama moved down to No. 3 but moved back up to No. 2 to set-up that season’s edition of the Game of the Century against the Tigers, which turned out to be a field goal kicking contest (we know Alabama does not fare well in those). Alabama stayed in the hunt though and managed to sneak into the BCS Championship game to face the SEC champion LSU Tigers, and the rematch went the way of Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Alabama was given its first No. 1 ranking in the AP poll at the conclusion of the season, the first time they held the top spot in the poll all year.

Ironically enough, this also happened a few years prior and it did so with an Ohio State and Urban Meyer connection.

In 2006, Ohio State entered the year as the preseason No. 1 in the AP poll. Jim Tressel and his Buckeyes proved worthy of the top billing all season long, knocking off two No. 2 teams in the process (Texas and Michigan) and a pair of other top 25 programs (Penn State and Iowa) while Troy Smith went on to win a Heisman Trophy. Meanwhile, Meyer had something special brewing in Gainesville, with Florida floating around inside the top 10 all season long, just waiting to strike. After putting away Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game (and No. 2 USC was upset by UCLA), the Gators chomped on Ohio State’s championship dreams in the BCS Championship Game. The victory earned Florida a postseason No. 1 ranking from the AP, the only time all season Ohio State had not held down the top spot.

So what did Florida do the next season? The Gators started the next season ranked No. 9 by the AP voters and finished the season 9-4. But that Florida team was not quite as loaded as Meyer’s Buckeyes should be entering this upcoming season. If Ohio State finishes this upcoming season with just nine wins, it would be a complete shock.

Other Recent Close Calls

Florida State’s 2013 national championship season did not see the Seminoles ranked atop the AP poll until the ACC Championship Game, where newly crowned No. 1 Florida State took over the throne from snake bitten Alabama (Kick-Six!) just before facing Duke in the ACC Championship Game.

In 2012, Alabama held the top spot in the polls for the majority of the season until Johnny Manziel and SEC newcomer Texas A&M stunned the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Alabama reclaimed the top spot in the polls after demolishing Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game.

Suspended Mizzou starting S Kaleb Prewett has been dismissed

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Thanks to an off-field incident, Missouri’s defensive secondary will have a sizable on-field hole to fill.

In January, it was confirmed that Kaleb Prewett had been indefinitely suspended by Barry Odom for violating unspecified team rules. Six months later, the head coach confirmed at the SEC Media Days this week that the starting safety has been dismissed from his football program.

Just when the dismissal took place is unclear.

In February of 2016, and not long after he was arrested on an alcohol-related offense, it was confirmed that Prewett would be transferring from Kansas State; three months later, the starting defensive back for the Wildcats transferred to the Tigers. After sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Prewett began 2017 as Mizzou’s starting strongside linebacker before starting the last seven games at safety.

Prewett was fourth on the Tigers in tackles this past season with 60. He was also credited with four tackles for loss and two pass breakups.

Alabama LB Keith Holcombe giving up football for baseball

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After months of speculation, Alabama has officially lost a veteran linebacking and special teams presence. Probably.

Early last month, Nick Saban indicated it was unlikely that Keith Holcombe would return to the Alabama football team for a fourth season after playing three seasons for the Crimson Tide baseball team. In providing the latest update to the linebacker’s status moving forward, the head coach confirmed Wednesday that Holcombe had decided to forego playing football in order to focus solely on a career in baseball, although he did seem to leave the door at least slightly ajar for a future return to the gridiron.

“I think he would add a tremendous amount of experience, knowledge and diversity to our defense because he’s very smart if he decided to come back,” Saban said by way of al.com. “But that doesn’t seem to be the case right now.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014, Holcombe played in 44 football games for the Tide the past three seasons. In addition to a team-high 11 special teams tackles during their run to the national championship, he was also credited with three pass breakups and two tackles for loss on defense in 2017.

On the baseball side, Holcombe started 87 of the 97 games he played, including 45 of 47 this past season as an outfielder. He was third on the team in hits with 51.

While he wasn’t drafted this past June, he was taken in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Instead of signing with that baseball organization, he headed to Tuscaloosa on a football scholarship.

Jay Norvell stays in-house to fill hole on Nevada staff

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As it turns out, Jay Norvell didn’t have to look far to find an assistant to replace one who recently and abruptly bolted.

The Nevada football program announced Wednesday that Norvell has promoted Mike Chamoures to the position of safeties coach for the Wolf Pack. Chamoures spent the 2017 season, his first with the Mountain West Conference school, as a defensive quality control coach.

This will mark Chamoures’ first on-field job at the FBS level.

“Mike is an intelligent young coach who has earned the respect of many of our players with his experience and understanding of our defensive system,” Norvell said in a statement

“I’m very grateful to Coach Norvell and [defensive coordinator Jeff] Casteel for the opportunity and look forward to playing a bigger role in building the program,” Chamoures stated in his.

Chamoures will replace Courtney Viney, who left earlier this week for an off-field job at Oklahoma.

Ex-Baylor DC Phil Bennett calls legal firm interview a fraud, says Art Briles deserves to coach again

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Former Baylor head coach Phil Bennett says an interview he did for a law firm reviewing Baylor’s response to sexual assault scandal was a fraud because he was unable to go through the interview without an attorney by his side. In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bennett took issue with the review conducted by the Pepper Hamilton law firm.

“It was somewhere in January or February after our bowl game,” Bennett said of the interview he had with representatives from the law firm. “I told (staffers) it was a fraud set up from the get-go. I wanted to bring a lawyer in and to record it. I wanted protection. They would not talk to us if we did. They didn’t have a recording of it, either. That’s what bothered me. I was in there for 4 1/2 hours. They wrote notes. I wrote notes. They looked at mine. I looked at theirs. (The two investigators) were so out of touch with the structure of college football, it was comical.”

Bennett went on to explain when he realized there was no progress he was going to make in the interview.

“I said, ‘We are bringing these kids in and we take great pride in keeping them within the lines of university procedures. That’s our jobs. We are not getting the normal student.’ I wanted to be as real as I could with them. We are trying to teach these kids how to be in college and how to react in situations. She says, ‘Judicial Affairs should have known.’ As soon as she said that, I knew this was over.”

Despite the scale of the scandal at Baylor and the fallout that ensued, Bennett remains confident Baylor was really no different from any other college football program in the country.

“We had the same issues that everybody had,” Bennett claimed at one point in the video interview. “We tried to stay on top of things. Now, were we just a hammer? Probably not.”

Previous reports have detailed how members of the Baylor coaching staff worked around the typical Title IX procedures, which is what really brought the entire situation at Baylor to a boil.

Bennett also came to the defense of former Baylor head coach Art Briles, suggesting Briles was targetted because Baylor could not successfully fire Ken Starr as university president.

“Yes. I remember when this all started, my wife told me, ‘This is the sort of thing that gets you fired.’ I don’t know if this was true, but I was told by a member of the board that Art was never the objective. They were looking to fire Ken Starr. But Starr lawyered up. And the next on the pole was Briles.”

During the course of the interview, Bennett suggested Baylor was no different from other college football programs around the country

“Every night I say a prayer for him, that he will [coach again],” Bennett said of Briles. “I think without question he deserves to.”

Briles, of course, has struggled to land a coaching job since being fired by Baylor. A job in the CFL never took off after public outcry about his hiring, and he remains a bit of a pariah around college football as the dust still settles from the impact of the scandal in Waco.