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Ohio State’s Thad Matta has a new spark in coaching this season’s team

After some down years, Coach Matta is excited for the new season.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan State vs Ohio State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

“I hope when the time comes that people look and say, ‘You know what, he did a hell of a job for this university. He did it the right way, he was true to his players, and he was true to himself.’ And if that’s said, then I’m good.”

- Thad Matta via Mark Titus, The Ringer

Mark Titus did a wonderful piece on Thad Matta’s rise and his slight downfall at Ohio State for The Ringer that I strongly recommend you take a look at. Titus covers Matta’s early years in which Matta was viewed as a great young coach going over his big win against Illinois and eventually going into the teams he was a part of - the 2006-07 team that made a run to the national championship, the Evan Turner years, etc. But he also covers the last couple of years in which the Buckeyes have struggled on the hardwood. Ohio State in the Big Ten has finished fifth, sixth, and seventh in consecutive years, and with a somewhat embarrassing second-round exit in the NIT, Matta is coming off a year in which he had one of his worst teams.

But still, Matta seems ecstatic about the upcoming season. Despite the questions about whether he’s peaked in Columbus, the veteran head coach still can do the job well and this season might have the roster and depth to make a solid run to the NCAA tournament yet again. With a senior in Marc Loving and plenty of talent around him such as Jae’Sean Tate, Trevor Thompson, and Kam Williams, the Buckeyes have a strong unit that can improve as the season progresses and may surprise some people.

“However, through seven games, the rookie has shown the fluid footwork necessary to break the press in the pros, even against elite talent on the other side of the football.”

- Mark Schofield, Inside The Pylon

There are plenty of former Ohio State players that you could point to as having a great season in their rookie years in the NFL. Ezekiel Elliott immediately comes to mind, as the young running back is on his way to shattering records left and right. But another standout is New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas. Taken in the second round by the Saints, Thomas has blossomed into one of the top rookie wide receivers in the NFL. His production with Drew Brees slinging passes to him has been top notch, and his game has transitioned extremely well on the professional level.

Through seven games, Thomas has caught 42 passes for 500 yards and three touchdowns with the Saints and has more than lived up to expectations thus far. Despite a limited route tree at Ohio State and not going against the press coverage much in college hasn’t affected Thomas’ game whatsoever, and he’s actually excelling in those areas specifically. If you haven’t already taken a look at the link, Mark Scofield breaks down in depth with video how Thomas is accomplishing this in his first season in the NFL.

“According to ESPN's strength of record metric, it is about as hard to go 9-0 against Washington's schedule as it is to go 8-1 against Ohio State's.”

- Heather Dinich, ESPN

Alabama, Clemson, and Michigan are the top three teams in the country and there isn’t much debate about that at all. But for the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff? There are several different routes and teams you could argue for. For one, you’ve got a one-loss Louisville team led by Heisman front runner Lamar Jackson. Another one-loss team is Ohio State who has bounced back strong after a recent loss to Penn State, demolishing a Nebraska team ranked in the top 10. Then there’s Washington, who still stands undefeated but with a schedule that has been lackluster.

Louisville right now is probably the team looking on the outside in between the three, as the Cardinals have only one marquee game on its schedule (a game they narrowly lost on the road) with Washington and Ohio State trying to earn their way into the top four teams. Washington has generally dismantled teams on both offense and defense, but the Buckeyes have arguably played a more impressive schedule with big wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. Still, the Huskies are undefeated and as the quote says above, it mostly evens out. The College Football Playoff poll will come out Tuesday night to decide who gets slotted into the fourth spot for now.