Tattoo-Gate, ESPN, Jim Bollman and the Decline of Ohio State Football

jeremy whittContributor IIIOctober 4, 2011

Tattoo-Gate, ESPN, Jim Bollman and the Decline of Ohio State Football

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    Let me start off by saying that this has been a difficult team to defend since 'the call' in the Miami National Championship game.  At least for that game I could hand someone the DVD and say,"Watch it again. Miami held our receivers all night...just not so much on that play".

    Then came the two National Championship losses, and the formation of SECPN:A multi-billion dollar company hellbent on the support of one football conference.  The same company that ignored OSU on College Gameday for the last seven years (unless it was Mark May talking about OSU's inferiority to everything that is SEC football), is the same company on the receiving end of the biggest blogging/article-reading/responding/trolling/hourly-click-count/love-or-hate poster child that is THE Ohio State University.

    Ohio State fans, who are actually about as knowledgeable a bunch of football fans as you will ever find, anticipated a fall-out from Tattoo-Gate, but I don't think any of us thought it was going to get this bad. 

    ESPN has taken their OSU blogosphere cash cow and ridden the beast into the hardpan .  The network rarely talked about x's and o's with Ohio State(can't say I blame them).  Outside the realm of calling football games, ESPN has zero interest in positive Ohio State coverage. Negative Ohio State coverage is positive for ESPN. Palmer and Pollack are not there to discuss The Big Ten.  However, in terms of Internet coverage, Ohio State reigns supreme. ESPN loves Ohio State.

    Every Ohio State article generates more hits and more responses than most SEC articles.  The Ohio State fans are there to defend, and the SEC fans, now fueled even more from a bias supported by the largest college football media outlet, are there to troll and shell out a Steve Bartman-Chicago-like hate onto their scapegoat. 

    Only Ohio State is not nearly as innocent. That's what Ohio State is there for: they are there to reinforce SEC superiority and fuel the already overflowing wave of testosterone that has been pumped into the SEC fans' veins.  The Buckeyes are there to help them forget their own transgressions and short-comings.  Who cares about six-figure payouts and countless felony charges when some Ohio State guys got $200 checks and tattoos, right?

    There is one reason why Ohio State's plethora of small handouts and free tattoos has been shoved in the front window of the showroom, and why Auburn, Boise, Miami, and USC's problems get shoved into the janitor's closet.  That reason is money.  For Auburn and Boise it's the smaller fanbases, and for Miami and USC it's their fair-weather/more willing to ignore situations and wait for the next 'great' team.  For Ohio State it is different. 

    "The Nation," as it is known, is 10 million strong worldwide, and appears to be ready to defend their team 'til the end, or are they?

    Now, I'm not gonna sit here and deflect for the next half-hour.  These players have made some terrible decisions.  It's sort of like robbing the same bank twice in the same week. 

    The University, Gene Smith, and Luke Fickell need to make some big decisions over the next couple of weeks; decisions that will inevitably have a resonating effect on the future of the program.

    I do not think these possible moves could make or break this year's football team.  The fact of the matter is that this season, and the football team, is already broken.  It's time for damage control. 

    Buckeye fans have been on the front lines defending this team for long-time.  If the administration, players, and coaches do not begin to show some accountability and responsibility for their actions, then they could lose the only thing they have left, the support of the fans. 

    The word accountability is derived from the Latin word for 'reckon' (putare).  There may be a reckoning on the horizon.  I have already talked with some of  "The Nation," and it appears as if they are finally starting to grow tired of defending this football team.

    One fan said before the season even started,"I don't think I'm going to even watch college football this year".  He said,"It's all gotten to be too much.  I'm just tired of all the hoopla and defending them (OSU)". 

    This is just one example, and it's not some fair-weather Ohio State fan.  Those are the words of a third generation alumnus, season-ticket holder, and ardent (formerly) supporter of the program.


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Remove Jim Bollman as Offensive Coordinator

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    Jim Bollman has not been found guilty of any NCAA violations. 

    He is a hard-nosed offensive-line coach, and a good man, but he is no play-caller.

    For years, Ohio State fans pointed their finger at Jim Tressel.  Now that Tressel is gone, it has become clear that the play-calling issues lie squarely on the shoulders of Jim Bollman.  It was never "Tressel-Ball".  It has always been "Bollman-Ball".

    Bollman-Ball threw the ball once through three quarters of Saturday's game on first and second down.  Once!  If you are looking for a huge dose of predictability, bull-headedness, and ineptitude; look no further than Jim Bollman.

    The experience, the personnel, and perhaps the blind-eye of OSU football has allowed Jim Bollman's short-comings and job security to hide beneath a blanket of 12 win seasons and BCS success.

    Bollman's playbook is straight out of 1948.  Actually, it reminds me of my three years with The Vikings of Marion Ohio Midget Football.  Eye-32 is the tailback through the 2 hole, and is one of only seven plays we will run all season.  This is no exaggeration, folks.


    Here is a list of words/phrases that Jim Bollman has never heard of:


    Counter (actually, I think we ran these twice for great success this season, but obviously there must have been an error in communication between the press-box and the sidelines)


    Screen (no Jim, not the one in your window)

    Go Route (we are two for two this year - unfortunately, one of those was in the spring game)


    Mid-game Adjustments

    Jamaal Berry (all right, I know the kid is getting in on-campus fights and can't stay healthy, but he is No. 4 for future reference, coach)


    Tear off those useless playbook wristbands and start drawing lines in the dirt.  It would be more effective.

    I understand.  We do not have a quarterback.  I get it, but that doesn't mean you abandoned the passing game. Without balance, a football team is a beached whale, suffocating and paralyzed.

    Film study for opposing coaches last 5 minutes.  Mark Dantonio looked at his staff and said, "they'll run this over and over."  He then proceeded to stack the box on Saturday and watch Jim Bollman bang his head against the wall for 50 minutes of football.

    It wasn't Joe Bauserman coming in the game that almost salvaged a victory against Michigan State.  It was the decision to finally start throwing the ball:  a decision that needed to be made in the first quarter.

    Newsflash, Ohio State Coaching Staff: It does NOT matter if you hold onto the football when you don't score.  I know, this is a tough concept to grasp, but you have to score to win.  They don't have 0-0 ties in college football anymore. 

    Take that boring football that won you games with superior athletes, along with the 1948 playbook, and throw them in the dumpster outside of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center before we dig a hole the size of which we won't be able to climb out.

    You don't have to fire the guy.  He's a good line coach.  He is just a terrible, and I mean awful play-caller.

Look at the Timeline and Remove Posey and Herron If Necessary

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    It's real simple here. 

    Posey and Herron were members of the original tattoo-gate.  If the latest improper benefits came after the disclosure of tattoo-gate last December,  then remove Herron and Posey from the team.

    The details on the latest improper benefits (pay for work not rendered) are sketchy, and I do not have the time-line, but if that is the case, let them go.

    Regardless, come out with a press-conference, give us that time-line, and let us know the punishment instead of keeping the fans on pins and needles. 

    We are tired of one game turning into two, then five, then seven.  Don't say,"they won't be available this week, and we'll have to see moving forward" (paraphrasing). The fans deserve more than that.

Start Looking for a New Coach

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    No offense, Luke.  You are a good motivator.  You are an accomplished defensive/linebacker coach.  The fans appreciate your efforts.

    However, the phrase "deer in the headlights" has been used many times to describe you, and it definitely applies. I want the best for this team.  Some of your coaches and players are not doing the job, and you are not doing anything about it.  He was set-up for failure. Hazell gone, Bollman still there..   Failure.

    The problem with Fickell is that he hasn't put his foot down.  He always seems sketchy on the availability of players, and the solutions to potential or present problems.

    It does not seem as if Fickell is taking charge when it comes to anything.  He stands on the sidelines, and quite honestly, he looks confused.  He looks overwhelmed.  He is like a president without the power of veto.


    Here is a list of words and phrases that are commonly used by the Ohio State head coach:

    I don't know

    not sure

    I can't answer that right now

    we'll see (one of his favorites)

    I think so (another favorite)


    held onto the football

    we'll see

    I would imagine (he imagines a lot)

    good chance

    how do we get better? or how do we do that? (whatever is the answer to this question - he doesn't know it)

    just yet

    just yet




    just yet




    I would imagine


    Past that, the clock management at the end of the Miami game was inexcusable. 

    We've seen a spike in penalties.

    His job is not to just coach up the players during the week.  

    Fickell has the blinders on.  He thinks that practice, hard practice, will solve everything.  This team can practice with the best of 'em, but right now, they can't play with any team in the top 25.

    The problem is during the games when Fickell fails to manage the clock, fails to manage his other coaches, and is now starting to lose the respect of his players.

    When the players start pointing fingers at coaches to the media, you have SERIOUS problems.  I just don't understand how the players and the fans can see it, but Jim Bollman and Luke Fickell cannot.

    I hope he remains on the staff, but it's time to start looking for a coach that has the experience, and the confidence to keep this program where it needs to be.  I will eat my words and support him at every turn if he can make the changes necessary to win five of the last seven games. 

    This team has the talent to do that, but this coaching staff seems destined to run this team into the ground with indecisiveness, and the inability to adapt.

You Are Destroying the Confidence of Braxton Miller: The Shame Game

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    We are not talking about some kid that is not used to winning.  Maybe the concept of 105,000 critics/onlookers is new, but not success.

    Mike Brewster is responsible for four errant snaps to Braxton Miller.  All but one ended-up as huge losses.  Shame on you, Mike Brewster.  As an All-American candidate, we expect about one of those all year.  You are three over your quota for the season.

    And, while I am on the subject of offensive line, let me point the finger (no a different one) at J.B. Shugarts.  J.B. Shugarts hasn't made it through an entire game without a false start. Not one.  There's nothing quite like the combination of Bollman and Shugarts.  Shugarts puts us into a 1st-and-15 hole, and Bollman tries to run his way out of it.

    Luke Fickell basically tells the kid to go out there against a 8-man MSU front, and then pulls the guy for not being effective at handing the ball-off. HUH?!?!?!  How do you know if a guy can (or can't) throw the ball if you do not let him throw the ball?  This is a question I've been pondering all week.  I saw the kid play in high school on multiple occasions.  He CAN throw the ball.

    Ohio State runs one pass play on every five offensive downs and wonders why their quarterback is gun shy.  I just find it amazing that a staff will pull a quarterback out of the game for being ineffective throwing the ball when the kid has only had 10 pass attempts through three quarters!  Shame on you Jim Bollman.  Shame on you Luke Fickell.  This is an instance of the worst player management that I have seen in 30 years.

    Let us hope and pray that this staff has not spoiled this precious egg, or we may see Braxton transfer somewhere that isn't going to give him a football lobotomy.

The Signature Win

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In Summary

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    Next year's recruiting class is currently ranked 26th according to Rivals. 

    The key will be to keep those recruits.  There are rumors that Brionte Dunn and some other recruits are comtemplating de-commitment. 

    Speaking of contemplation, it comes from the Latin word Contemplatio, a church, a place of worship.  I'll get to that in a minute.

    There were two important recruits at Saturday's game.  Both had Michigan State and Ohio State at the top of their lists.  There's only one team at the top now.  Thanks, Jim.

    Personally, I am about 2 games away.  I am two games away from my own de-commitment.  I am two games away from joining my old friend in his college football boycott.  Two games away from canceling my subscription to the BigTen Network. 

    Two games away from becoming an NFL fan (No, not the Browns, thank God).  You wonder why two games?  I don't know.  That's all I can take.  Fickell says it takes 17 hours to recover from a loss.  Why can't I say I'll give them two more games?

    I blame all the players involved in the scandals for their transgressions, but I'm not sure that the outcome of these football games would have been that much different with them.

    It is time for the coach and the players to make the necessary changes.  They can continue on their current path of destruction (their own), or they can make those changes.  The DB's can start tackling.  Jim Bollman could step down.  Luke Fickell could be more confident himself instead of questioning the confidence of the players he and Bollman put in bad situations.

    Fans come to "The Shoe" because they are Buckeye fans, but they also come there because they want to see a good product on the field.  That leads me to another word, desecration. "The Shoe" is a sacred place; which brings me to another word, defecation.  That brings us full circle back to Jim Bollman.

    Thanks for reading.  I've said my peace.  I can take all the criticism anyone can dish out.  Buckeye fans have been absorbing it for years.  I have the skin of Ray Liotta and the heart of Jack Haley, BUT I'm smarter than Jim Bollman.

    Peace out, Jeremy.


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