"Quite possible the easiest question to answer as it pertains to the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes: Who will replace Curtis Grant? The answer is Raekwon McMillan."
-Bill Landis, Cleveland.com
This summer, Columbus will be home to the hottest quarterback competition in recent memory, as Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, and Cardale Jones all fight for the starting spot. A position with a little less mystery involved is linebacker, where the starters are all but set.
Incumbent starters Joshua Perry and Darron Lee will return at the outside spots, giving the Buckeyes some veteran leadership on the edge and making the OSU linebacking corps one of the best in the conference. That doesn't even account for the man who will fill the MLB spot for the Buckeyes: rising sophomore Raekwon McMillan. McMillan, who the Buckeyes began using to spell senior Curtis Grant during the season, is poised to become one of the next great Ohio State linebackers. McMillan took on a larger and larger workload as the season progressed, playing meaningful snaps in most of the second half of the season. He finished the year with 54 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
The only CFB player named after a member of the Wu-Tang Clan will be looked at to provide some leadership for a defense that's losing some of its most vocal, inspiring players in recent memory in Michael Bennett and Grant. The Buckeyes have six other linebackers who could be challenging the starters for playing time in the fall, including three incoming freshmen who are all four-or-five-star recruits. It will be up to McMillan to help mold the defense into another powerhouse unit.
"The world's eyes were on us for an incredible run to the championship, but we stay on their minds for a much longer time."
-Rick van Brimmer, Ohio State Trademark and Licensing Operations AVP
With Ohio State's improbable run to a national championship earlier this month, the Buckeye brand has never been stronger. The university is expecting a $3 million bump in royalties this year associated with licensed merchandise, thanks to the run on Ohio State merchandise following the title game.
Van Brimmer says that the fact that Ohio State hadn't won a championship in a dozen years plays a big factor in the exorbitant amount that people are spending on Buckeye merchandise. Having one of the country's largest and strongest networks of alumni certainly doesn't hurt, either.
Fans may be somewhat surprised to hear that more than 50% of the revenue from licensed Ohio State merchandise is poured right back into academic affairs, not athletics. Athletics receives 15% of the profits, as do the alumni association and student life.
"No more money for fencing championships."
-Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com
Speaking of national championships, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith saw his bonus structure change this week. Previously, Smith received payouts for titles won by individuals, like wrestler Logan Stieber's last year. In light of all the recent debate over the NCAA's refusal to pay athletes, an athletic director earning a bonus for an individual athlete's success caused some consternation.
That won't be the case anymore. Going forward, Smith will only receive pay bonuses if an Ohio State team wins a national title, not an individual. That's a hit of about $18,000 per championship, if someone from, say, the fencing team were to bring home the sport's highest honor.
Smith can only receive $130,000 in bonuses per year. He earned six weeks' pay for the football team's title, or roughly $108,000. He is under contract as Ohio State's AD through 2020 after an extension he signed last year, and makes about $1.14 million per year in base pay.
"OSU isn't a national title contender (yet), but it's certainly capable of a solid seed and a deep March run."
-Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com
Ohio State, a team that looked to be directionless and floundering barely a week ago, has reeled off two consecutive quality wins over conference opponents. The X-factor, to no one's surprise, has been freshman phenom D'Angelo Russell, who has flirted with a triple-double in both contests -- a hard-fought win against Indiana, and last night's dismantling of No. 16 Maryland.
Norlander believes that Russell is beginning to pose a legitimate challenge to Duke's Jahlil Okafor as the Freshman of the Year. It's certainly not out of the question, halfway through this season, as Russell has acquitted himself as an outstanding asset for several weeks now. The Buckeye offense, anemic for years, has found new life under Russell's high-scoring play, and if Ohio State does indeed make a deep run, it will be on the freshman guard's shoulders.