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Buckeye Bits: Big Ten mulls a late fall season, Ohio State makes the short list for a top linebacker, more

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

Four-star OLB Jalon Walker
via @JalonWlaker on Twitter

What a crazy week it has been in the sports world. I feel like I say this every week now, but these past few days have been an especially fascinating time.

Pretty much every major sports league in the United States — the NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLS, the majority of the MLB and a handful of the NFL — sat out of their games (or practices, in the NFL’s case) this week in protest of the racial injustices going on throughout the country. Athletes are a role model for so many people, and they have an enormous platform that they are using to try and change things for the better.

I’m very biased, as I'm a New York Mets fan, but I thought their statement last night was incredibly powerful, and is really a microcosm the general sentiment of the week:

At the end of the day, sports are here as entertainment. They are a fun way to escape our everyday lives. However, as these remarkable athletes are realizing, sometimes you have to take a step back and realize that life is so much bigger than sports. Sometimes you have to take away that escape in order for people to focus on the real problems going on in our society, and I applaud these athletes across every sport for trying to spark the conversation towards positive change.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the more Ohio State-centric news of the day.

From around Land-Grant Holy Land...

Bucks still seeing BOOMs, get decision date for another prospect
(Caleb Houser, LGHL)

Ohio State’s plans for when they will actually play football next remain up in the air, but that doesn’t mean Ryan Day isn’t putting together a concrete plan for the future. Winning on the field begins with recruiting, and with the latest commitment from four-star defensive tackle Tyleik Williams, the Buckeyes have regained command of the No. 1 class in 2021. Another one of their big targets is set to commit this weekend, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up for another BOOM just yet.

Friday Fun: Ohio State hoops’ best dunks from last season
(Connor Lemons, LGHL)

Life in 2020 hasn’t exactly been the most fun year on human record, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still look back to better times. Connor has put together a highlight reel of Ohio State’s best dunks from last season — a team that was somehow both an exciting juggernaut that bullied ranked opponents as well as a unit that would find itself struggling to score for large swaths of time. Regardless, the 2019-20 Buckeyes were a fun squad to watch, and these dunks are a reminder of that.

Chris Holtmann working with other Big Ten coaches on a plan to play
(Brett Ludwiczak, LGHL)

Speaking of college basketball, we still don't exactly know for sure when it is going to come back. There are a number of logistical items that need to be worked out ahead of its return, such as a potentially postponed starting date, the idea of playing in a bubble, and obviously the hope that the country has at least improved its handling of the pandemic by then. However, unlike what happened with football, Chris Holtmann and the rest of the Big Ten coaches are trying to plan ahead to give themselves the best chance to play.

Play Like a Girl podcast: WNBA, NBA appreciation post
(Tia Johnston and Meredith Hein, LGHL)

In this week’s edition of the Play Like a Girl podcast, Tia and Meredith discuss this unprecedented week of protest in sports and unpack some of the events that transpired throughout the course of the week. They end things off on a much less serious note, shouting out National Dog Day (see post for cute pups).

From around the gridiron...

The big news of the day is obviously the Big Ten discussing a potential plan to return to action around Thanksgiving weekend — an idea that appeared entirely out of the question even earlier this week. Multiple reports have said the Big Ten coaches are meeting to try and put together a football season for sometime later this fall.

HOWEVER... I don't want to be a downer here, but this is just one of multiple options the Big Ten is discussing. While it seems like a step in the right direction, as we know they are at least working on SOME plan to play football again sometime soon, it by no means guarantees that Ohio State will be taking the field Thanksgiving weekend.

It is also worth noting that it is not up to the Big Ten coaches to make this decision, as the initial postponement was voted upon by the university presidents. At this time, it does not appear like those presidents have any desire to reverse that decision or to play football before the winter. They will most definitely not be starting the season in September, at any rate.

Obviously there are a TON of hurdles to getting a season going at the end of November, and the biggest question on everyone’s minds would be how would this impact a chance at competing for a national title. The Big Ten is obviously not going to tell the other P5 conferences to delay their seasons and get everyone on the same page, nor do I think those conferences are interested in listening. If there is no national title on the line, then is playing in the late fall really any different than playing in the winter?

Hopefully they get some form of plan together sooner rather than later. Regardless of what ends up happening everywhere else, the Big Ten being able to play football later this fall would be the best chance for the Buckeyes to see one more season from guys like Justin Fields, Wyatt Davis and the rest of their NFL-bound superstars.

On the recruiting side of things, Ohio State got some good news on Friday as four-star OLB Jalon Walker included OSU in his top-10 schools list. The nation’s No. 2 OLB and the No. 41 player overall in the 2022 class would be a truly massive addition for Ryan Day and position coach Al Washington, who have already put together a crazy-talented linebacker core in the cycle comprised of a trio of top-75 players in Gabe Powers, Dasan McCullough and CJ Hicks. Expect “Captain Buckeye” Hicks to be in Walker’s ear early and often.

As the Big Ten Conference continues to try and figure out its next step towards football, let’s check in and see how the SEC is doing...

As someone who was a freshman during Malik Hooker’s absolutely electric breakout season at Ohio State, he remains to this day my favorite Buckeye I've ever gotten the pleasure of watching play in person. Injuries have gotten the ball-hawking safety’s NFL career off to a slow start, but it appears he is finally read to show out at the next level just like he did in Columbus.

From everywhere else...

The NBA has really led the charge this week in terms of athletes and activism, and the league is taking their next step in trying to help create change. This is a very cool move by the association, and hopefully can help lead to greater voter turnout this fall. Vote!

Philly is about three hours from my house, and I think I may need to take a road trip...

Pretty cool idea on the Oval. Ohio State is always trying to stay creative.