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Decade in Review: Ohio State Football

Mitch Hooper

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Have the 2010s been the best in Ohio State football history?

When you’re in the midst of an athletic dynasty, sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses. The Ohio State football team has been on a tirade over the last 10 years, winning multiple Big Ten Championships, sending top-tier talent to the NFL, and of course bringing home a National Championship. Each season somehow exceeds last season’s expectations and now it seems every year is championship or bust. As we enter into another decade of Buckeye football it’s worth asking: has this been the best decade to date? In this case, hindsight is 2020, literally.

The first year of the new decade certainly didn’t predict the future. Following then-head coach Jim Tressel’s resignation amid the Tattoogate controversy, Luke Fickell was brought in as head coach in 2011 where the Buckeyes would finish the season 6-7, dropping a game to Michigan at the end of the season as well as losing to Florida in the Gator Bowl. Shortly after one down year, Urban Meyer was hired as head coach in 2012 where he quickly got the team back on track. Twelve wins, no losses, and a handful of “what if’s” due to the lingering controversy causing a one-year bowl ban.

The years preceding 2012 have been something akin to a collective chip on the shoulder to all of Buckeye nation. The 2013 campaign started hot, but fizzled out with losses coming from Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship, followed by dropping the Orange Bowl against Clemson. And just when it seemed like the Buckeyes were in the prime position to run the college football tables in 2014, senior quarterback Braxton Miller went down with an injury that would cost him a season.

How did the Buckeyes respond? Resoundingly.

Though the 2014 season holds a blemish with a home loss to Virginia Tech in week two, this squad went on to do the unthinkable. They dominated the Big Ten and found themselves in November just one game against Michigan away from a second year in the Big Ten Championship, and maybe even a shot in the first ever College Football Playoff system. Just like the beginning of the season, the team faced a test of overcoming an injury. JT Barrett, who would go on to become one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Ohio State history, was injured, and the Buckeyes were down to their third-string quarterback as they prepared for the biggest games of the season. The Bucks would go on to win the battle against the Wolverines, but the season-long war was back up in the air.

And again, the team responded. Cardale Jones, a redshirt sophomore quarterback, stepped into his role tremendously as the Buckeyes would go on to rout Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, upset Alabama in the first round of the playoffs, and defeat Oregon to secure the first ever title of Undisputed National Champions.

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Since then, the times have been good to Buckeye nation, aside from a few dropped games here and there. Sure, fans would like to forget those anomaly games like Purdue’s major upset against then-ranked No. 2 Ohio State. But the numbers don’t lie when you look back. Though Meyer’s stint as head coach was only seven seasons, he was able to secure three Big Ten Championships. And he never lost to Michigan, a badge no other Buckeye coach can wear. He also holds one of the highest win percentages of any Ohio State coach; second to current coach Ryan Day, whose sample size is still growing with only one year under his belt. In the past 25 years of Buckeye football, they have been able to achieve 16 seasons with 11 wins or more—seven of those seasons occurred during the 2010 decade. Additionally, the Buckeyes have been in the playoffs twice; a feat that no other Big Ten team can claim.

This doesn’t even begin to include the talent being drafted into the NFL each season. Let’s compare the 1970s to now. The ‘70s are widely accepted as one of the best decades in Buckeye football, with the ship being guided by legendary head coach Woody Hayes. Through that decade, the Buckeyes put 16 first-round draft picks in the league. In this last decade, the Buckeyes have put 15 first- round draft picks in the league and the 2020 NFL Draft hasn’t even happened yet. With names like Chase Young at the top of many expert’s boards, barring any unfortunate injuries, it’s safe to assume they’ll exceed that number.

Through all of these good times comes the cost of winning, and Ohio State seems to find itself at the center of many controversies over the last decade. The aforementioned Tattoogate in 2010 led to the third-winningest coach in OSU history’s resignation and a two-year probation. It also led to all the wins from the 2010 season being vacated. Former university president E. Gordon Gee stepped down in 2013 after insensitive comments relating to the University of Notre Dame and Catholicism. JT Barrett found himself the center of attention after being arrested for trying to avoid a DUI checkpoint in 2015. And while Meyer’s feats as head coach were impressive, the controversy that came with the Zach Smith domestic violence debacle created a cycle of events that eventually led to Meyer stepping down as head coach following the 2018 season. Toss in Chase Young’s recent run in with a loan and the NCAA handing out a suspension and it seems each season has two storylines: what happened on the field, and what happened off the field.

Truly, the cost of winning for the Buckeyes has been high. It seems each controversy could have led to the end of the dynasty, but instead, it seems the Buckeyes are able to reload much like the football team does on the field each year. Tressel was the third-most winningest coach in history; how do you replace him? Well, you do so with the second-highest win percentage coach in history. And if Day’s instant success as coach is any sign of the future, the next 10 years have all the potential to be even better.

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Another professional Columbus sports team might see action this year

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While the Columbus Crew were sent down to Orlando to compete in a tournament to restart the season, the NHL is close to following in similar fashion, according to a report from ESPN.

According to ESPN, the NHL and NHLPA have finalized protocols that would allow for the season to start Aug. 1, with training camps resuming July 13. Play will occur in two hub locations, including Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, as told to ESPN.

That means Columbus could see its beloved Blue Jackets back in action in a few short weeks. 

There’s more at stake in teams returning to NHL play than there are for the MLS teams competing down in Florida. If an agreement is reached, the NHL will skate right into a 24-team playoff.

That’s not before starting training camp, which has a target date of July 13. If all goes well, the Blue Jackets will travel to Toronto on July 25 or 26 to compete in exhibition games.

The playoffs would begin the following week with a qualifying round in which the Blue Jackets would face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a best-of-five series. 

Players have the opportunity to opt-out of playing without being penalized. 

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No fans on the course, but The Bogey party will carry on for Memorial Tournament watch parties

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It’s a little more than a month later than expected, but Jack Nicklaus will once again host the world's finest golfers—minus their fans— at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin next week.

The 45th Annual Memorial Tournament will be held July 13-19. While originally it would have been the first PGA Tour event with fans, due to surging COVID cases, the Tour announced this week they will no longer allow fans on the course. "The safety of our public and our employees is our highest priority,” said city of Dublin Director of Communications and Public Relations Sue Burness. 

Outside of the course, with bars and restaurants still navigating operations under health guidelines from Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health and local health agencies, Memorial Tournament-week festivities are limited.

No large events are planned at Dublin's Bridge Park, which has hosted Fore!Fest concurrently with the Memorial each of the last two years, according to Burness.

But one long-standing tradition will remain intact in 2020—The Bogey in Shawnee Hills will host a watch party throughout the week.

Photo By Julian Foglietti | Shown here is The Bogey's General Manager Mark Dombek

"The Memorial Tournament and The Bogey is a special tradition," General Manager Mark Dombek told 614. "People are going to be ready to enjoy live sports, and The Bogey has always been a place people come for the tournament."

The Bogey will have two giant video walls and stream as much of the tournament as is allowed by the tournament's broadcast partner, Dombek said. 

Health guidelines are ever-changing, Dombek said, but at press time his plan was to have more than 145 new tables added outside the venue (in addition to the 46 new outdoor tables The Bogey added when it re-opened in May), including in the parking lot, which will be barricaded to accommodate the additional tables. A tent will also be set up, so some tables will be covered.

"We're going to fully utilize all of our available space," Dombek said.

Current guidelines still prohibit standing in common areas in bars and restaurants, Dombek said, so patrons will be asked to rent the tables, available for groups of 4-10.

While capacity is impacted by health guidelines, Dombek said he expects to be able to welcome about 1,000 customers at a given time, including the current capacity of 178 inside The Bogey.

Dombek said his staff will enforce social distancing as much as possible, and will place hand sanitizer stations in the temporary outdoor area as well.

The Bogey will host live bands in the evenings, Dombek said, in an effort to make this week "as close to what we'd normally do."

"We've had a ton of people reaching out, asking what we were going to do. This has always been a big week for us. We're listening to our customers and letting them know we're here for as much as we can be," he said.

Visit bogeyinn.com or call 614-766-1900 for information.

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The Basketball Tournament 2020: Aaron Craft’s goodbye and lifelong bonds

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Editors' Note: The original publication of this article referred to the Columbus TBT team as the Carmen Crew. The correct name for the team is Carmen's Crew.

Carmen's Crew, the all-Ohio State basketball alumni team, will be taking to Nationwide Arena this Wednesday to defend its title as champions of The Basketball Tournament.

The Tournament is an annual 5-on-5 single-elimination competition consisting of players who lit it up in college and even the NBA. This year, 24 teams were selected to compete for a $1 million prize. You can read more about the tournament on (614) here.

Some of the teams will be structured with players who participated in the same basketball program or even played together. Carmen's Crew is one of those teams, consisting of Ohio State basketball alumni, from coaches to players. 

On Monday, six members of Carmen's Crew held a virtual press conference from a Columbus hotel room two days before they take the court for the 2020 TBT. Leading things off was former Carmen's Crew player and current GM and coach Jared Sullinger. Evan Turner will be joining Sullinger on the sideline as a coach as well.

Sullinger, who has taken time off from professional basketball to focus on raising a family that includes two twins, knows that his team has a big target on its back this year.

“We became the hunters to the prey,” Sullinger said. “Now everyone wants a piece of Carmen’s Crew just because we won it.”

Even though Sullinger isn’t playing professionally in any capacity, he still has an ultimate goal of making it back to the NBA. We won’t see him taking the floor for the tournament at Nationwide, though.

However, we will still be seeing a court full of familiar faces. On the player side, Carmen's Crew roster consists of point guard Aaron Craft, shooting guard William Buford, shooting guard David Lighty, power forward Deshaun Thomas, shooting guard Jon Diebler, power forward Jeff Gibbs, power forward Pape Malik Dime, small forward Lenzelle Smith, power forward Dallas Lauderdale, and point guard Demetri McCamey.

Thomas was a last-second addition to the roster.

Buford, the MVP of last year’s tournament, sees no reason as to why Carmen's Crew shouldn’t walk away with back-to-back ‘ships.

“We got better this year as a team and I think we’ll do just fine if we stick together and play how we play,” Buford said.

A handful of the questions centered around the bittersweet reality that Craft would most likely be suiting up for his final few days as a basketball player, also citing family as one of the reasons why it seemed like a “perfect storm” to walk away from basketball. 

“This is one of the toughest things for me because I’ve been playing with him since we were 15-years old,” Sullinger said. “It’s going to be real tough knowing that this is going to be his last go-around.”

Sullinger mentioned that Craft’s ability, effort, and mindset is very contagious and will be incredibly missed on the court.

Craft isn’t trying to focus on himself for the upcoming tournament, however. Even without fans cheering him on in Columbus for his final minutes on the court, the cherished Buckeye point guard is looking forward to hearing his teammates on the court without having it being drowned out by those raucous Buckeye crowds.

“As we continue to get older we continue to appreciate it a little more,” Craft said.

Being in Columbus and not having a crowd does carry some positives, though. Players like Lighty mentioned that having the tournament in Columbus in the midst of a global pandemic made the decision to play a little easier.

Craft has an even more unique perspective, as he was quarantined in Italy in the middle of international basketball play. Being in Italy, one of the first major hot spots of COVID-19 has shown him that only pockets of our country have been taking the virus seriously while things were different.

“I think the biggest difference I’ve seen...is the seriousness with how all the public took the virus, whether it was on their own or by (government regulations),” Craft said.

But most of all, Carmen's Crew is looking forward to being together once again. That’s why we see players like Turner, who are still taking a stab at an NBA career, come back year after year to suit up with their old college teammates once again.

“One thing for sure is that these are my best friends, these are my brothers,” Turner said when asked why he continues to be a member of Carmen's Crew.

Carmen's Crew will put their cohesiveness and togetherness to the test on Wednesday with its first match of 2020 TBT. It will be suiting up against House of Paign, a team made up of Illinois basketball alum. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

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