Paul Keels: Thoughts From the Booth
Paul Keels, “Voice of the Buckeyes” on The Ohio State Radio Network and 97.1 FM The Fan since 1998, will be keeping a weekly blog right here at OhioStateBuckeyes.com to share some of his thoughts throughout the 2010 season.
Nov. 22, 2010
Michigan week is a special week, especially for those of us who still tend to hang on to the old days. How can you not enter this week and not think about the period of time referred to as the “Ten Year War.” Very often back in the day, it was one of the few times if you lived in a part of the state outside of Columbus, that you’d get the see the Buckeyes on TV.
Those games between teams coached by Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler made this rivalry what it is. Two men linked as player and coach, as head coach and assistant, but also tied together by the utmost of mutual respect. They often times battled for the same players. They often times had teams who took the same tactical approach to the game. But make no mistake, what made the Woody and Bo period of time so special was that more often than not, when their teams meet at the end of the year, the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl was on the line. Makes you wonder why the Big Ten even had the other teams play that weekend!
If you ever get the chance, listen to former players talk about this game. Being around Jim Lachey all the time, he is quick to recite that he played in three winning performances and one loss to the Wolverines. Other former players will tell you it’s the most physical game they’ve ever played in. But most seem to agree that while it was one of the toughest encounters they’ve been thru on the field, the mutual respect that tied Woody and Bo filtered down to those who put the uniform on. Despite all the changes that have occurred, the Ohio State-Michigan game still is special, for many reasons.
Sadly this year’s game occurs following news of the passing last weekend of Rob Lytle. A native of Fremont, Ohio, Rob played running back at Michigan in the 1970’s. Some years ago, I had a chance to meet Rob once at the yearly Charity “Debate” that occurs with former players of both schools. After college, Rob played in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and there is a story told that after a few years it appeared Lytle might be on the verge of being cut at the end of training camp. New Broncos coach Dan Reeves is said to have called Rob in to his office, a summons that had the player wonder if the grim reaper might be about to deliver bad news. Again, as the story goes, Reeves informed Rob Lytle that he had just finished a 40-minute phone call from a college coach telling him it would be foolish to not have this former Michigan player on his team.
That Coach was Woody Hayes.
Nov. 17, 2010
At the beginning of the season, many thought that Ohio State’s game at Iowa this week would be the one to decide the Big Ten title. Iowa’s loss at Northwestern last week maybe dulls a little of the sizzle that would have been attached to this game, but it’s still just as important for the Buckeyes.
With the way things have fallen in place, at stake for Ohio State is the chance to be in position for, at worst, a share of the conference title for a sixth consecutive season. While next week’s season finale might match the Buckeye’s up against an improved Michigan team, this week was the one that many pointing to, (along with the game at Wisconsin) as potential tough hurdles.
Think about how Iowa may approach this game: a team disgusted with their loss to Northwestern and ready to upset Ohio State’s apple cart. There are those pessimists who may think all Iowa is playing for now is to determine weather they’re going to the Outback or Capital One Bowl. But unfortunately, we’ve seen how opposing fans like to storm the field when they beat the Buckeyes. So it’s hard to think Iowa won’t be on point.
Ohio State is 2-1 in road games this year, but a win at Iowa will carry much more weight than wins at Illinois and Minnesota will. Defeating the Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium won’t erase the bad taste of losing at Wisconsin, but it will certainly help!
A couple of other things for the weekend …
How many Buckeye fans do you know that will swallow their pride and pull for Michigan to beat Wisconsin this week, in hopes of clearing the way for an outright conference title and possible Rose Bowl Berth for Ohio State?
Best Wishes to Ohio State assistant coach Joe Daniels. Both before and after the Penn State game, Joe has had to spend time in the hospital, including on his birthday! Despite having to battle health issues for a few years now, Joe has been a model of how we would all hope to deal with such things. A class guy and dedicated family man and football coach, here’s wishing him all the best!
Nov. 8, 2010
As Ohio State prepares to host Penn State this weekend, there will be a lot of headlines about Joe Paterno. Penn State’s wild win over Northwestern last week gave the longtime coach his 400th career win, the latest of the many accomplished in his long tenure. It’s been a season that hasn’t quite been what we expect from the Nittany Lions in most years, but after rallying from a three-touchdown deficit, there’s a little more buzz about them this week.
The question about how much longer Joe Paterno will or should be coaching has been good cannon fodder for a few years now. It seems like not too long ago when critics were at their loudest about how maybe the game has passed him by, Penn State racks up a season that quiets all. As his team comes to Columbus this weekend, who knows if this will be the last chance Buckeye fans get to watch a Hall of Famer on the sidelines?
As you spot Joe Paterno on the east sidelines try for a moment not to think about him as the opposing head coach. Along with the wins, he’s done what we may never see in any sport – stay at one place as long as he has. There have been countless father-son-uncle-nephew combinations that have played for him at State College. His contributions, financial and otherwise, to his school are also Hall of Fame worthy. And let’s not forget his efforts addressing academic reform before lawmakers in Washington D.C. And also keep in mind Paterno does all of this, deflecting attention away from himself and wanting for any praise to land on others.
It’s understandable why questions about how long and should he keep coaching run rampant. But get a good glimpse of Joe Paterno, because who knows if it might be the last you see him in at Ohio Stadium in that capacity. It’s also a pretty good wager that you’ll never see anyone else have a run like his.
Nov. 3, 2010
For the first time in a while, Ohio State has an open week in the football season. It would seem this year it comes at a good time from a health standpoint for the Buckeyes. Case in point: it looks like it will allow more time for a guy like Ross Homan to heal up and be ready to play next week against Penn State.
There are probably a wide range of opinions on having a bye week, from players to coaches to fans. This open weekend comes with the Big Ten conference having made the decision to push the end of the football season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as opposed to the Saturday before the holiday as it has been in most cases. It would seem that the league may have made a knee jerk reaction to some national championship game losses by Big Ten teams against schools from conferences that traditionally play later, and have conference championship games.
For a number of years, when it appeared this change might occur, many of the Big Ten football coaches were asked at the summer media day gatherings in Chicago how they felt on having a bye week. Each year they were asked, and a majority of the coaches stated if it was a choice between an open weekend and players being able to go home for the Thanksgiving holiday, they'd prefer to not have the bye. Much of the reasoning involved letting players who had been on campus since mid-summer have the chance to get a holiday break before finals - and possibly bowl practices.
I guess we all have to get used to the fact that traditions are changing and we have to change along with them. But shouldn't we be listening and putting considerable weight into how it affects those most involved, like players and coaches? Nevertheless, enjoy your bye weekend!
Oct. 28, 2010
Hey there … it’s been a while! All kidding aside, it’s great to have things back to normal. Thanks to all who expressed concern and get well wishes over the past couple of weeks, following surgery and recovery. A big thank you goes out to the folks at the Ohio State Hospital! Doctors, Nurses, and staff at OSU were world class!
The time away during the last two games also gave me a greater appreciation for the guys I work with. Had the radio cranked up in the hospital room during the Wisconsin game, and the same at home for the Purdue game. Hats off to Marty Bannister and his stellar performance keeping things going.
Now that the Buckeyes have re-gained that winning feeling following the win over Purdue, once again this team continues to face the challenge of overcoming injuries. Not only has become an oddity to see this many injuries, but to see one position group hit so hard. Christian Bryant and Corey Brown are the latest to go down from the secondary, but somehow this defense continues to rank highly in many conference and national stats. With injury comes opportunity and as the Buckeyes head down the home stretch of the season, it will be interesting to see who may emerge that hadn’t been figured on in such a matter.
As Ohio State heads to Minneapolis this weekend to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers, there will be a small amount of regret about not seeing a game played in the Metrodome. Minnesota is playing their second season in their new on-campus outdoor (TCF Bank) stadium, and by all accounts, it’s a beautiful facility. Despite their struggles on the field, this was an essential move for Minnesota’s program. For most of their time, the atmosphere at the Dome was stale and didn’t provide a real college feel. While this new stadium will be a welcome sight, the regret comes from the fact that Ohio State never lost in the Metrodome! Hopefully, new stadium, same result.
Oct. 7, 2010
You can’t help but feel bad for Tyler Moeller. Here’s a guy that’s been through so much, and now after an injury last week at Illinois, his 2010 season is finished. A pectoral injury that dates back more than a year will require surgery and sideline a guy who was making an impact on the field this season.
Certainly most people who follow Ohio State are aware of the unfortunate incident that cost this young man the 2009 season. A head injury derailed Moeller, who looked impressive at the tail end of 2008. Maybe we all take on-the-field injuries a little more in stride. But what happened to Tyler away from the field got people’s attention and made all of us realize how quickly something very important can be taken away. Sadly, because of the limitations due to his head injury, Moeller was unable to rehab the original pectoral injury that cropped up again last weekend.
Even before this latest setback, it was believed there was an intention to appeal the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility on behalf of Tyler, with last year having qualified as a redshirt season. This injury now becomes an added ingredient in that process. It’s been very easy for those of us who are sports fans to find fault with the NCAA for lots of reasons, but let’s hope that all the factors involved in the Tyler Moeller story become compelling enough to consider giving this young man a chance to play another season.
We hear the NCAA talk often about concern for the welfare of the student-athlete. Here’s a great opportunity to stand behind that!
Sept. 29, 2010
Don’t know if it could be called a brush with greatness, but Saturday’s game with Ohio State and Eastern Michigan provided a chance encounter with someone held in high regard – and not just for what he did in the sport of football.
During halftime of the game, while just hanging out in the press box area, I had the chance to shoot the breeze with former Ohio State lineman and College Hall of Famer John Hicks. Those who followed the sport in the 1970’s couldn’t help but know about John, who in 1973 won the Lombardi and Outland trophies. He was, without question, a key cog in Coach Woody Hayes’ teams that won three Big ten titles and appeared in three Rose Bowls. As a matter of fact, John became the first player ever to start in three Rose Bowl games. But that 1973 season saw John do something that we may never see again. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, behind Penn State’s John Cappelletti. John was able to get that consideration while teammates Archie Griffin and Randy Gradishar were fifth and sixth respectively in the voting.
But what prompted the thought to write about John this week, was recalling how he, as well as others, stepped up when another former Buckeye needed help. It was some years ago that Jack Tatum, who passed away recently, was experiencing health issues related to his battle with diabetes. Hicks was someone who became very visible in the effort to get Jack from the West Coast, to Columbus, where Tatum could get medical treatment at Ohio State’s outstanding facilities. As time went on, it was very easy to see how the support of the Ohio State community meant so much to Tatum – a man feared as one of the most ferocious hitters in the sport, but became such a grateful figure for how many like John Hicks rallied behind him.
So while it was a thrill to listen to Hicks this past weekend talk about Hayes, former teammates and so on, one couldn’t help but think about how this was someone who in his college football career came close to achieving something that no other player may ever come to close to flirting with. But also top of mind was that Hicks is someone who probably would make his old coach more proud than any block he ever made. He, along with others, stepped up to help another Buckeye in need.
Sept. 20, 2010
Just some idle thoughts to toss out after Ohio State’s win over Ohio University ...
Can’t stop thinking about Terrelle Pryor setting a school record with 16 straight pass completions. It breaks the previous of record of 12 held by Jim Karsatos from 1985. One of the things that many have felt would be key for Pryor’s improvement is consistency. It’s just one game, and it occurred against a defense that certainly won’t be the strongest they’ll face, but was this a large step in that direction for the junior quarterback? If so, that helps generate more optimism for where people think this Ohio State team could go.
Once again, defensive lineman Cameron Heyward was out there making plays like his hair was on fire. While there was mild surprise to look up and see number 97 scooping up a fumble and returning it to set up another score, I guess none of us should be surprised anymore. Think back to his early big plays at Penn State last year, falling on a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown at Michigan last November and what’s he’s done this season so far. Early on it would seem his decision to hold off on the pros for a senior year of college ball has been a good one for Cameron and his team. Something maybe others who face the same decision before their eligibility expires might consider.
While there are people who question why games against Ohio and Eastern Michigan are played, here’s something to consider: many have the great opportunity to experience what it’s like to attend a game at Ohio Stadium, witness the great band performances and soak up a fantastic game atmosphere. This past Saturday provided the chance for a young man I know, who is a student at Ohio University, to attend the game. His appreciation of having the chance to be in attendance at one of the hallowed halls of college football was sincere and enthusiastic. It meant a lot knowing that many of us maybe don’t fully appreciate what we get to see every home game.
How about Mike Nugent!? After what has to have been a wild couple of years, Mike catches on with the Cincinnati Bengals this season and not only kicked a 50-plus yard field goal in week one, he accounted for all of the Bengal offense this past weekend with five field goals. Not only was it easy to become a fan of “Nooge” when he was playing for Buckeyes because of his talent, but in his time at OSU, he was one of the most enjoyable young men those of us in the media would get a chance to interview.
Sept. 14, 2010
Specials teams play has been, and will be, a much talked about topic after what has happened in the first two weeks of the season. During the time that Jim Tressel has been head coach, the importance of special teams has been pointed out strongly. It brings to mind how the Buckeyes have been blessed to have some outstanding special team’s players in recent years.
When you think about kickers and punters, many of us who are old enough recall the exploits of Mike Sensibaugh, Tom Skladany, Tom Klaban, and Vlade Janikievski. Certainly names like Rich Spangler, Tom Tupa, Dan Stultz and Brent Bartholomew should be familiar ones. But how about the newer vintage whose feet made them highly revered specialists?
Andy Groom was a local guy from Hartley High School, who in 2002, showed that a walk-on can truly live the dream. While waiting for his chance, Andy delivered numerous punts in the national title season of 2002 to change field position in close games.
Josh Huston was a guy who after suffering injury, then having to wait in line behind an All-American, made the most of his final season to uphold the Ohio State kicking legacy.
A.J. Trapasso, from nearby Pickerington, spoiled everyone with his punting consistency. Some of us even remember when Trapasso, a former high school running back, finally got the chance to run the ball on a fake punt at Minnesota. He was so excited that his number was finally called, that he dribbled the football on the turf before advancing with it.
During his time at Ohio State, it became easy to become a fan of Punter B.J. Sander. A record-setting placekicker in high school, he had to wait his chance, also, and delivered in such a big way that the left footer from Cincinnati Roger Bacon won the 2003 Ray Guy Award.
Then there’s Mike Nugent! The current Bengals kicker became almost automatic and his 55-yard winner against Marshall was one of many big plays for Mike. Coach Tressel some years ago told the story about how after getting the Ohio State job, realized they had to scramble to recruit a kicker. It’s a good thing that scramble took them to Centerville to find Nugent. It’s also amazing that Mike won the Lou Groza award only once!
Let’s also not forget a run of outstanding long snappers like Kevin Houser, Mike Jacobs, Kyle Andrews, Drew Norman and now Jake McQuaide. As well as the numerous players who block and cover kicks that we don’t know as well as some of those already mentioned. They are the under-the-radar guys sacrificing their bodies to block and tackle for others who get more notoriety.
Sept. 8, 2010
At his weekly press conference this week, Jim Tressel was asked more than once about the 2002 National Championship victory over Miami. Understandable since this week’s game is the first meeting between the Buckeyes and Hurricanes since that long night in January of 2003 in Tempe. While Coach Tressel is focused on the here and now, most of us can’t help reflecting back on that night and an incredibly memorable season.
The 2002 season was one of tense nail-biters. I can remember someone calling one of our radio shows saying this team’s close calls were worse on his health than cigarettes! But it was that kind of year that had many wondering if this was a “team of destiny.”
As the season advanced to November, people outside of the Buckeye state started to notice the 2002 team, but even the most optimistic had to wonder if this team could continue to live on the edge. But the miracle finish at Purdue, an overtime scare at Illinois and a final second interception to put down Michigan earned Ohio State a national championship opportunity that Buckeye fans long desired.
As double digit underdogs, (for entertainment purposes only) to the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes, even the most optimistic Scarlet and Gray supporters had to worry about what Ohio State was facing. Early on, Ohio State’s defensive line put pressure on Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey. And from way up in our radio booth, it appeared it was the kind of pressure he was unaccustomed to getting.
Thinking back on that game, the rosters were stuffed with great athletes, NFL top drawer talent and numerous plays that still are re-lived as though it were last week. Such as Maurice Clarett’s theft of the ball from Sean Taylor after his interception. Interceptions by Michael Doss and Dustin Fox. Rushing touchdowns by Clarett and Craig Krenzel. The knee injury to Miami running back Willis MaGahee. Then there was “The Flag!”
When Krenzel’s pass for Chris Gamble appeared to have been broken up by Glenn Sharpe, it looked like the dream had ended. But the dream found new life with a late penalty flag to signal pass interference. My partner, Jim Lachey, continues to get ribbed about his machine-gun outburst, “THERE’S A FLAG! THERE’S A FLAG! THERE’S A FLAG!” His own family may be the biggest culprits. But for Buckeye fans, it was a welcome chord.
Linebacker Cie Grant’s harassment of Dorsey on the final play to force an incompletion ended the marathon for good. Certainly,
Buckeye fans have no problem remembering where they were when Ohio State could be called national champions. High above the field in a radio booth in Sun Devil Stadium, there were half a dozen of us who looked at one another in astonishment over the game, and the season that had just concluded.