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Buckeye Bits: Gene Smith clarifies attendance limits, Larry Johnson has built a dynasty, remembering the Thad Five

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All of the latest Ohio State news from around the beat and beyond.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 FAU at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You can say that journalism is in decline — The Atlantic laid off 20 percent of its staff today, many of the best and brightest here at SB Nation are currently being furloughed — but have no fear, our robot overlords at The Google will provide us with all of the information that we need.

Also, this is terrifying.


From Land-Grant Holy Land...

Ohio State commitments improve in newest 2021 recruiting rankings

Tia Johnston, LGHL

There’s this weird thing that happens in the world of college football recruiting that is likely being exaggerated this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Once players are offered by blue-blood programs, many times they see a bump in their recruiting stock. Now, this might seem like it is the recruiting services just kowtowing to the highest-profile programs (and that might be part of it), but it really is a sign of respect to how good these programs’ scouting and evaluating departments are.

With no camps or visits happening this spring, services have to rely solely on tape to make judgements on players, which can be difficult when factoring for all of the differences in resources, exposure, and experience that players have. So, to me, it makes sense that 247Sports, Rivals, ESPN, etc. would give a little extra credence to the offers and commitments from the big boys, this year especially.

Underdog Week: Ohio State shocks Miami in the Fiesta Bowl

Brett Ludwiczak LGHL

I was there. This game is the reason that I have no hair. It was clearly pass interference. We broke The U. That is all.


From around the gridiron...

Ohio State’s AD Clarifies Previous Statements

In yesterday’s Buckeye Bits, Tia reported on statements that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith made in regards to the potential number of fans allowed in Ohio Stadium for football games this fall. On Thursday, he clarified that what he said in his Wednesday teleconference was what would be allowed under current guidelines. However, the permitted capacity could more than double, depending on if restrictions are eventually eased.

While many are celebrating that this seems to indicate that the cancelation or postponement of the college football season is no longer on the table, my concern is more that the season will start with some sort of social distancing protocols in place, but that during the course of the fall, the anticipated second spike in the coronavirus spread will cause the season to be stopped all together.

We all remember how quickly things went from zero to shutdown in March, and I’m worried that even if college football gets underway in September as scheduled, we will have it ripped away from us in October or November. So, for me — assuming that the season is not postponed — I would prefer that they play games without fans in an effort to minimize the chances of college football games being the catalyst for additional outbreaks.

Now, I know that the loss of football attendance revenue will devastate the bottom lines of many schools, but short of postponing the season to the spring, I don’t know how it is possible to mitigate both the financial and public health concerns at play in this situation.

Larry Johnson’s Ability to Recruit and Develop Defensive Linemen has Anchored Ohio State’s Defense

David Regimbal, Eleven Warriors

I’ve said it before, and, I will gladly say it again: I hate Penn State more than I hate Michigan. But one thing that I will forever be grateful to the Nits for is how they so royally screwed up the handling of Larry Johnson as their coach-in-waiting. It really is amazing that after 17 years as an assistant in Happy Valley — including the decline and dismissal of Joe Paterno — potentially the greatest defensive line coach ever just left PSU and established one of the most dominant legacies in college football history in Columbus.

Thank you for your inexcusable mishandling of one of the best to ever do it.

Don Brown defends Michigan defense, promises better prep for Ohio State

Aaron McMann, mlive.com

The Michigan coaching staff has really been trying to rebrand their recent failures against Ohio State lately. Yesterday, Jimmy Harbaugh said that “nothing makes us angrier” than losing to the Buckeyes, and says that they will do better (Sure, Jan).

Now today, the man behind the Yellow and Blue’s “vaunted” defense, Don Brown, promises that his unit will work harder to get ready to face the Buckeyes this season. Well isn’t that cute?

See, the problem here is that Harbaugh has so bungled his first five seasons of leading TTUN into the rivalry, that simply caring about the game more isn’t enough to even begin to turn things around. The edge that Ohio State has over M*ch*g*n obviously involves better coaching, better preparation, etc., but it really comes down to the monumental chasm between them in terms of talent.

The reason that Jim Tressel was able to turn the tide against OSU’s rivals so quickly after a decade of embarrassment is that talent wasn’t the issue for Ohio State. John Cooper could always recruit; it was getting the most out of his players once they got to campus that was the problem. The Vest continued The Coop’s recruiting success, while also making incredible changes in terms of his players’ development and preparation.

Now, even if Michigan did all of a sudden know what the heck they were doing to get ready for The Game, it likely wouldn’t matter in most seasons, because the Buckeyes’ roster is just packed with so much more talent than their rival’s.

If you need a daily reminder about how dominant Ohio State has been against Michigan in the past decade, this account is a good follow.

NCAA Intends to Adopt New Legislation in January Creating “Uniform, Modernized” Transfer Rules

Kevin Harrish, Eleven Warriors

I trust the NCAA to do this equitably and intelligently even less than I do TTUN to turn things around against Ohio State.


From around the hardwood...

Kentucky and Duke basketball lead our ranking of the 25 best recruiting classes of the one-and-done era (paywall)

Jeff Borzello and John Gasaway, ESPN.com

Thad Matta’s 2006 class of Greg Oden, Daequan Cook, Mike Conley, David Lighty, and Othello Hunter — affectionately known as the Thad Five — comes in at No. 18 on this list that is otherwise dominated by Kentucky and Duke.

That class was special, and watching them still ranks as one of the highlights of my OSU basketball fandom; and what Oden could have been were it not for injuries, remains a devastating “What If?”

This is an amazing bracket filled with amazing memories.

Look, Matt Sylvester is the No. 1 seed for a reason, ending a perfect season for then-No. 1 Illinois in the regular season finale. So, I think that is going to be a tough one to beat, but Ron Lewis in the NCAA Tournament against Xavier to carry the Thad Five team to a National Championship Game appearance is also great. Evan Turner hitting a half-courter against TTUN in the 2010 Big Ten Tournament is special in its own right. Keita Bates-Diop with the put-back against Purdue in 2018 to cement the Buckeyes as a contender in Chris Holtmann’s first season was a ton of fun as well.

I don’t know, man. I love them all. What’s your favorite to win?

What brought Seth Towns back home to Ohio State (paywall)

Bill Landis, The Athletic

This guy just gets it. I am very excited to see what Seth Towns brings to the Buckeyes this coming season.


From everywhere else...

Well, damn. Where am I going to get my annual fill of butter sculptures now?


And now for something completely different...

This is a very big deal in my world.

I have worked in the world of New York theatre for more than six years, and in that time, I have seen a lot of major things happen, from the rise of “Hamilton” to a resurgence of movie musicals, and much more. But, the fact that the theatre community effectively willed an actual Broadway musical into existence is still unbelievable to me.

Most of the theatre intelligencia hate-watched “SMASH” when it was on NBC — if they even acknowledged its existence at all. However, the theatre-loving plebs never gave up on this show, even though it last aired an episode almost exactly seven years ago. Now it is being adapted into a full-fledged Broadway musical, and we collectively couldn’t be happier.

So, when people tell you that dreams don’t come true, point to this to prove that they are wrong.

At least we know that Loughlin will be comfortable if the jail is crowded, after all, she has experience living in a “Full House.” Get it? You see what I did there?