The humiliation of Bret Bielema

That was hilarious! Pretty much everyone agreed that Bret Bielema came across as a bumbling fool when he tried to rip Ohio State’s schedule and then proceeded to have his over-hyped Razorbacks crap the bed against Toledo.

Bielema is a blowhard and also an overrated coach. He hopped aboard the Wisconsin train and basically just kept the same formula. He had some success while Michigan was down and Ohio State had to go through the Luke Fickell transition season until Urban Meyer restored order to the Big Ten.

Bielema parlayed that record to a monster contract at Arkansas, where suddenly he had to do real coaching in order to turn around a program and compete in the tough SEC.

Arkansas was the favorite sleeper pick of many experts, but now big mouth Bielema has become a laughingstock instead.

Let’s see if he can redeem himself with some wins in the SEC.

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Michigan gets the monkey off its back, beats Ohio State

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson (C) celebrates with teammates after his diving touchdown into the end zone against Ohio State during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Michigan November 26, 2011. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES) – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The streak is over. It had been 2,926 days since Michigan had last beat Ohio State, but today, the Wolverines ended that, picking up a 40-34 win against the Buckeyes in a thrilling game at the Big House.

Courtney Avery picked off a Braxton Miller pass in the final minute of the game to seal the win for Michigan, which is now 10-2 with a legitimate chance to be selected to a BCS bowl. In fact, at this point, I’d be surprised if the Wolverines were passed up by the Sugar Bowl, which is very likely going to have two at-large choices thanks to the SEC likely putting two teams in the national title game.

It was an improved defense that had Michigan in that position heading into today, but it was Denard Robinson that finished the job. The junior quarterback had the best game of his career in what was really a must-win situation for the Wolverines (more on that in a second). He was 14-of-17 for 166 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 170 yards and two scores. He’s had statistically better games, but this is the one that Denard will be remembered for in Michigan.

As to the must-win declaration: With Ohio State in the state it was in this season, and with Urban Meyer coming on board, if Michigan didn’t win this year, it might have been a while before the Wolverines found a way to win against the Buckeyes. Brady Hoke has done a great job in Year 1, but he’s led a bit of a charmed existence thanks to a very weak Big Ten, an 8-game home schedule, and his chief rival — both on the field and in recruiting — being hampered by a rough season on and off the field. He’s taken advantage and deserves credit for doing so — he should make no apologies for dragging a fading program back to 10-2 — but had he lost this game, a lot of the goodwill he has built up might have been gone.

It nearly was, had it not been for the erratic arm of Braxton Miller. The Ohio State freshman looked brilliant in spots, especially running the football, but he missed a lot of open receivers and cost the Buckeyes at least two sure touchdowns with overthrows. The second came on the final drive, as DeVier Posey had double-moved J.T. Floyd into oblivion and was running free down the sidelines.

The thought of Miller with some more seasoning and in Urban Meyer’s offense should scare not only Michigan fans and the rest of the Big Ten, but the rest of the country. Those two will win a lot of games together.

But not today. No, today belonged to Michigan, which isn’t thinking about all of that other stuff while celebrating the only thing that matters in Ann Arbor, beating Ohio State.

Urban Meyer denies SbB report on Ohio State job


Not surprisingly, former University of Florida Gators football head coach and ESPN analyst Urban Meyer just denied a report from SPORTSbyBROOKS that he had accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State.

Rumors had been rampant that Meyer was in line to take the job, but Brooks reported that Meyer had indeed accepted even though it had not been formalized in a contract. Brooks reported that Meyer was in the process of putting together a staff and the Luke Fickell would stay on with the Buckeyes. He also reported that Meyer also aims to add Chris Spielman and Kirk Herbstreit to the staff among others. Spielman makes some sense as he once lobbied to coach at Ohio State, but the Herbstreit part seems to be far-fetched as Herbie has one of the best gigs in broadcasting.

On the air during the ESPN broadcast of the Michigan-Nebraska game, Meyer just said that he had not been offered the position and that he had not agreed to coach at Ohio State. He did not, however, issue a blanket statement that he was not going to coach at Ohio State next season, so he can easily hide behind the fact that he hasn’t signed a contract. But Brooks made that clear in his story, so this looks more like the standard denial that doesn’t mean a thing.

Luke Fickell is the interim coach at Ohio State, and it is generally understood that Ohio State was going to look for a big name at the end of the season. Fickell understood that, so any discussions between Ohio State and Meyer are more understandable and are not a slap in the face to Fickell given his interim status. Fickell has made some progress through the season, but it has been clear many times that he is in over his head. Staying at Ohio State under Meyer would make a ton of sense for him. He can continue to learn at his alma mater and someday be considered either for the Ohio State job or another big job.

This makes even more sense given Urban Meyer’s health issues. He left the Florida job twice, and you have to wonder if he’ll give up on Ohio State as well if problems resurface.

As for Spielman, he did not make any comment during the broadcast when Meyer issued his “denial.” This could be an intriguing opportunity if he decides to join Meyer’s staff, though it also sets him up as a rival to Luke Fickell. Can these guys work together if both of them are angling for the top job at Ohio State in the future?

That said, the main story is Meyer’s status. His statement today tells me that these rumors are real, and that the Buckeyes will soon have a new head coach.

Ohio State redefines offensive ineptitude in loss to Michigan State

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell (C) runs onto the field prior to their NCAA football game against the University of Akron in Columbus, Ohio September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

So, about that Ohio State offense. Woof.

The Buckeyes put on a performance for the ages, today against Michigan State. That is, if their ages were 8 or 9. They gained 178 yards in a 10-7 loss to the Spartans, 95 of it coming on their last two drives. The final drive covered 62 yards and ended in a touchdown pass by Joe Bauserman with 10 seconds remaining. Something to build on, I suppose.

But for the majority of the game, the Buckeyes were something worse than atrocious on offense, as true freshman Braxton Miller showed us all what it looks like when a true freshman with limited offensive weaponry around him plays against a legit Big Ten defense. That sight, but the way, is not pretty.

A week ago I wrote that Miller was the Buckeyes answer at quarterback, even though he struggled passing the football. Today he may have proven me wrong. I’m sure Miller, who is supremely talented (or so I hear), will one day be the man for the Buckeyes, and not out of necessity. But with DeVier Posey and Dan Herron coming back next week, it might be a better idea to just go with Bauserman and play boring, classic Big Ten offense. This is not to be confused with the so boring it’s kind of exciting offense that was on display today.

And before you get into the “Michigan State is top-ranked defense” argument, stop. The Spartans numbers are inflated by playing cupcakes and a Notre Dame team that was less interested in moving the ball and more interested in not letting Tommy Rees do Tommy Rees-type things in the second half. Even then, the Irish moved the ball up and down the field without a lot of interference at times.

The point is, this is not the best defense Ohio State is going to see this year, and yes things are going to get better when players return from suspension, but with who the Buckeyes have under center, it’s tough to even see it getting to “watchable.”

The defense is still solid, but it’s not as good as it has been, so I don’t see it being able to pull out games against better foes. It’s going to be a long season in Columbus.

Looking forward to new coaches in the upcoming NCAA football season

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This has been a very controversial offseason in college football, with the scandal at Ohio State and potential scandals at Oregon, Auburn and many other schools. At Ohio State, Jim Tressel is gone, so a new era is beginning. There are also new coaches at other big schools, so there will be some interesting storylines in the upcoming season.

1. Luke Fickell – Ohio State

Everyone is predicting that Fickell will be at Ohio State for only one year. Right now they’ve only named him as the “Interim” head coach. But Fickell has deep roots at Ohio State, and despite the Terrelle Pryor fiasco and the early suspensions for some key players, Ohio State is still loaded. Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller is a real talent, with mobility and a very accurate arm. If he takes the job and grows as a quarterback, Ohio State might be at the top of the Big Ten again, and Fickell might be able to lock down this job.

2. Brady Hoke – Michigan

The Wolverines have been taking a beating for years from Ohio State during the Jim Tressel era. It was so bad that they got desperate and hired Rich Rodriguez, who made things even worse. RichRod changed up everything at Michigan, going to lighter lines on both sides of the ball along with him gimmicky offense. The results were disastrous, as Michigan got pushed around by teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin. Brady Hoke was hired to bring back Michigan-style football, and he has started to recruit real lineman. It remains to be seen, however, how quickly he can turn things around, as he’ll have to deal with RichRod’s recruits for a while.

3. Will Muschamp – Florida

This guy has huge shoes to fill with the departure of Urban Meyer. Florida became a football powerhouse under Meyer, though last year everything fell apart, as the new players couldn’t excel with Meyer’s offensive schemes. Muschamp will surely make changes on offense, so we’ll see if he adapts to his players, or tries to install his own system.

4. Al Golden – Miami

Miami used to be a powerhouse, but now they get slapped around by the elite schools. Can Golden change things? He’s supposed to be a great recruiter, so over time he can make a huge impact in South Florida. But, he doesn’t have much experience at elite programs. He’ll need some time to build things, and in the meantime he’ll need to show he can handle the pressure.

I think both Fickell and Hoke will do fine, and we might enter a new phase of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry where it’s more evenly matched after Ohio State dominated for 10 years after Michigan had it’s own run. As for Florida and Miami, they usually get the players down in Florida, so we’ll see if these guys can actually coach.

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