Football The Rivalry

Buckeye Football Mailbag: The State Up North Edition

Ohio State Buckeye Football Mailbag

It has been several weeks or maybe just two weeks or maybe even a month since I last completed a mailbag. I don’t know how long it’s been, I just know that it’s been long enough that I don’t feel guilty at all about asking for submissions. Generally, sportswriters request submissions because they have nothing to write about. I do it because I’m trying to put off everything else I have to write about.

Also I do it for you, or something.

This time around, the topic isn’t just Ohio State football. There is also basketball, as well as Michigan and Michigan State football. If you have anything you want me to address in future editions of the Mailbag, go ahead and respond somehow and hope that I remember to include it in something that I probably won’t do again for at least a week or five.

I believe Michigan lost 3 of their last 4 games, 30+plus players, and they have a tough schedule. Why are they rated so high? — SylvaniaBuck

I guess my first answer is a question: who is rating them highly? They aren’t likely to be a Top 10 preseason team. Phil Steele has them No. 18 in his power poll. Now, if you mean why are they rated that high, I’d say it’s because of Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown, and rightfully so. As I’ve said from the day Harbaugh broke loose as the likely head coach, the one thing he will bring to Michigan that has been missing is player development. The Wolverines can go ahead and replace 17 starters, but Harbaugh grows his players, and he’s also recruiting pretty well. This is the kind of combination that can withstand a bunch of turnover.


What is the projected W – L for Michigan this football season? Thanks — AZBUCK

I am fully expecting Michigan to head into Madison, Wisconsin in mid-November with a 9-1 record, meaning that at worst I see them going 9-3 in the regular season. I have them beating Florida in the season opener, and then after that, where do you see the losses?

2-Sep vs Florida (Jerryworld)
9-Sep Cincinnati
16-Sep Air Force
23-Sep at Purdue
30-Sep BYE
7-Oct Michigan State
14-Oct at Indiana
21-Oct at Penn State
28-Oct Rutgers
4-Nov Minnesota
11-Nov at Maryland
18-Nov at Wisconsin
25-Nov Ohio State

Now, don’t get me wrong, with that much turnover, they are vulnerable. An upstart program could catch them off-guard, and that’s pretty much all they have on the schedule. There’s a bunch of landmines, but they’re all clearly marked, so if Michigan steps on one, then it was their own damn fault. In terms of a record, I think 9-3 is a good mark, with a ceiling of 12-0 and basement of 6-6. Pretty bold, huh?


I haven’t been paying attention in a little while, is B1G still talking about further expansion? — @MikeLiljeBCSN

There’s nothing out there right now about the B1G looking, but I won’t ever be surprised to see it pop up again. The Big XII is always going to be in a flux until Texas finally leaves for the Big Ten or the Pac 12. Now with Notre Dame a little bit pregnant with the ACC’s baby, you have to wonder if the idea of moving in with the Big Ten becomes a more appealing scenario. After all, Notre Dame loves money and they’re watching in-state panhandlers Purdue and Indiana make tons without really doing much.


Is Penn State going to completely lose their highly-ranked recruiting class with decommits before Feb? — @zidaya 

No, of course not. Don’t be silly. They’ll lose it before December.


Will Michigan State bounce back? Or are they down for a few more years? — @EddieEScott1

Mark Dantonio has recruited pretty well by Michigan State standards, so despite losing some of their most-talented football signees to the criminal justice system, there is still a method to Sparty’s success. In other words, they’re used to winning with lesser talent. I can see them starting the season 6-1 before heading to Northwestern, then hosting Penn State, and then heading to Ohio State. Of course, I can also seem them at 4-3 before heading to Northwestern. I do wonder how much this last calendar year has taken out of Mark Dantonio. Does he still have the energy to fix a program that he had as high as any Spartan coach ever? That was a darn big boulder that he pushed up that hill. Can he do it again? Does he want to? Michigan State could end up .500 this season and be very fortunate to get there.


Will this next recruiting cycle be better than 17? — @THEGary309 

On paper — which is the only way this question can be answered right now — the 2018 class is gonna be pretty close to being better than the 2017 class. The 2017 class average player ranking was 94.47 per 247Sports. The average in the 2018 class right now is 95.21, and that’s only going to go up in the coming days. There are still 5-star prospects like Micah Parsons and Anthony Cook out there as well. The other thing the 2018 class has going for it is that it will likely be larger than the 2017 class by a few. I have no idea if it will match the 2017 class on the field. I think it will be difficult to do that based on what I have seen from the early enrollees.


After JT who do you see at the helm? — @THEGary309 

My answer to this question has been Joe Burrow for a couple of years now, but I’m much slower to answer this question now than I was a few months ago. Burrow is going to have a heck of a time holding off Dwayne Haskins, but then Haskins is going to have to play extremely well to overtake Burrow. Right now, I’ll stick with Burrow, but Haskins made up a ton of ground in the spring. In fact, he may have made up all of the ground. There are some out there who will tell you that Haskins is the most talented quarterback on the roster. He’s not ready for the speed of the pass rush yet, but he’ll get there.


Is it wrong that I like to compare Hoke’s 1st 2 years with Harbaugh’s 1st 2 years? — @jackstraw1972 

Yes, it is wrong. Brady Hoke only lost two games his first year and Jim Harbaugh has yet to be that good.


With last year’s schedule and issue with the player being told not to come, is anyone more on the hot seat than Dantonio? — @AllmontheIrish 

I don’t think Mark Dantonio is on the hot seat at all. Do you remember where Michigan State football was before Dantonio arrived? So does Michigan State.


Is Kevin Wilson going to be down on the field or up in the box during games? — @GETRIDDATHAT 

They hadn’t yet figured that out completely in the spring, but he’ll be up in the box.


If Urban leaves for the NFL after this year, who will be the next head coach? Jon Gruden, Bill Parcells, or Bill Cowher? Or a dark horse? — @BrianCromulent 

Greg McDermott.


Now a more serious question: Who do you think the starting safeties will be? Do you think Webb is going to become a strong spot back there? — @BrianCromulent 

Based on what the coaches have said, I’m going to buy in on Damon Webb. I hope the fans give him an opportunity to make a few mistakes before making him the team scapegoat this year. Playing free safety in this defense is no easy task. Who will be alongside him? I’ll go with Jordan Fuller at strong safety. I think they’d love to have three who can play, but I wanted to see more from Fuller and Erick Smith this spring. Keep an eye on Isaiah Pryor during the season. He could be a guy who gets some sneaky minutes and just gets better and better.


Where’s the trashiest place for a woman to get a tattoo?— @GSearight 

Ann Arbor.


What was the rationale for the timing of the Matta firing? Will Michigan be competitive on the B1G East Division in FB? — @CountDownDave

The rationale is that Gene Smith and Thad Matta were talking and Matta just said too much. When you convince your boss that you can no longer do the job, how much longer should he allow you to do it? Imagine Sully’s boss is talking to Sully and Sully says, “I’m not sure how well I can land planes anymore.” How many more flights should Sully be allowed? In terms of Michigan being competitive in the East, Michigan is always going to be competitive under Jim Harbaugh because teams adopt the personality of their head coach. Under Harbaugh, they will always be a little more prepared for adversity than most teams. Now, if Sully was their head coach, they would be even more prepared to handle a bad situation. Yes, I just got done watching ‘Sully’.