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By Matt McCoy
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller joined some elite company Thursday when he was awarded the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football as Big Ten MVP for a second consecutive year.
In the 90 year history of the award, Miller is just the fourth player to win it twice, joining Minnesota's Paul Giel, Indiana's Anthony Thompson and Buckeye great Archie Griffin.
The junior quarterback easily outdistanced Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland in the voting, with teammate Carlos Hyde finishing third.
“It's tough; I just don't know,” Miller told the Tribune of his pending decision. “I really have to sit down and go through the pros and cons. I'll talk to my parents, take it slow. Hopefully ball out on January 3rd and see what the scouts are looking at.”
Always a dynamic runner, Miller did make tremendous progress as a passer this year. His completion percentage jumped from 58 to 63 percent. After throwing 15 touchdowns with 6 interceptions in 2012, Miller tossed 22 TD's with only 5 picks this year and his overall passer rating was 140.5 last year and is now 157.9.
But a closer look at the numbers shows that Miller still has significant work to do. After Ohio State's second bye week, Miller flourished as a runner, with four consecutive 100 yard rushing games and 623 yards rushing overall. His passing numbers on the other hand tailed off considerably. Miller completed only 46 percent over those final four games, for 544 yards (136/game) with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
Part of it had to do with the weather; it was windy at Illinois and snowy when the Buckeyes hosted Indiana. The conditions at Michigan, however were favorable and the Big Ten title game was in climate controlled Lucas Oil Stadium. He was a combined 14 for 36 (39 percent) in those two games.
"He definitely came a long way, reading progressions, understanding what the defense was giving him and aligning himself mechanically," 610 WTVN and Big Ten Network football analyst Stan Jackson said. "But the next step for him is knowing how to throw the football. At times he maybe throws it too hard and doesn't put enough touch on it and the last thing for Braxton is knowing when a guy is open. In college, there's a lot of daylight between a receiver and the defensive back but in the NFL there is no daylight. You have to throw guys open, there are tighter windows and your timing has to be better. He's going to have to improve there."
As a dual threat quarterback Miller may also be concerned about the line protecting him. Ohio State loses four starters on an offensive line that has been a Buckeye strength the last two years. Miller told the Tribune that he is 'getting tired' of the pounding he takes.
"I think it's smart that he is considering it," Jackson said. "But the number one thing I would say to Braxton is if you're going to leave early, you ought to be a first round draft pick. I'm not sure you want to leave for the second or third round knowing that you have another year to improve your stock and move up the ladder."
Miller is currently projected as a middle round draft pick and is rated behind a strong crop of quarterbacks expected in the draft. The group includes Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Fresno State's Derek Carr and Alabama's AJ McCarron.
To listen to all my interview with Stan Jackson, click here:
By Matt McCoy
Ohio State big man Amir Williams continues to produce for the No. 2 basketball Buckeyes. Williams was 6-of-7 from the floor, scored 12 points with nine rebounds and six blocked shots Wednesday in the Buckeyes 86-48 blowout of Bryant. But it was what Williams did...or nearly did...after the game that had him trending on social media.
Williams was interviewed on the Big Ten Network by analyst and Buckeye great Jim Jackson who asked the big guy what he attributed his progression over the last four or five games.
"Coach Matta. He's been on my di....on my back every day in practice," Williams said, catching himself before saying what would have been a television no-no. "I think today when I came out early I was very aggressive, very energetic and I think we just took off from there."
Williams is a wonderful kid for the media to cover. He's a gentle giant with a terrific personality. Truthfully, I'm not sure he even meant to say the word it sounds like he was going to say. As a guy who speaks for a living, I can tell you that every now and then, you just get tongue tied and something blurts out that doesn't sound too good.
Whatever the case was for Williams, it didn't take long for it to start making the rounds on social media. Deadspin got the ball rolling with the video (posted below) of Williams near slip up, saying "almost saying it was way funnier." Shortly thereafter, Gary Parrish, a well known college basketball writer for CBS sports tweeted it out with the headline "Coach Matta has been on your what Amir Williams?"
It spread so quickly that Evan Ravenell, who is playing overseas after graduating from Ohio State last year, simply tweeted, "LOL Amir."
If you missed it, and enjoy the value of sophomoric humor, check it out here.
By Matt McCoy
Mack Brown hasn't even officially resigned at Texas but the list of reported potential candidates to replace him includes Urban Meyer.
According to Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com Meyer is one of the top three on the Longhorns wish list along with Alabama's Nick Saban and the Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Tomlin. Appearing on Fox Sports One Tuesday night, Brown also said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would be considered. Talk about aiming big.
Brown has been on the money with his reports on the Texas situation so I would imagine that someone associated with the Longhorn administration floated Coach Meyer's name out there at some point but I would be stunned if he even considered leaving Ohio State. Not only has he been here only two years, but it also is a destination he's dreamed about since starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Earle Bruce 27 years ago.
Having said that, I suspect Meyer and other top coaches nationally will soon be getting raises. Meyer makes $4.6 million...a huge amount but it ranks only sixth nationally among college coaches. Saban headed into this year with the nation's top salary at more than $5.5 million. With the Texas rumors swirling, Alabama is working on a new, more lucrative deal to try to fend off the Longhorns.
Brown is currently the second highest paid coach at $5.4 million and Arkansas' Bret Bielema is third at $5.1 million. Arkansas went 3-9 this year so Bielema made $1.7 million per victory.
Texas has the deepest pockets in college football, and there are reports that they're willing to pay Saban $10 million a year. Whether the salary actually gets that high, it's clear the market value for a top coach is about to go up, which means Ohio State Director of Athletics Gene Smith will have to pony up to keep Meyer's salary competitive with the best coaches in the nation. Bottom line: The big money business of college football just keeps getting bigger.
By Matt McCoy
When Urban Meyer was hired in 2011 and put together his coaching staff he asked his assistants to give him a two year commitment. Now that those two years are up, don't be surprised if Meyer loses some of his coaches.
WTVN has learned that running backs coach Stan Drayton has met with Florida Atlantic about its head coaching position. The Director of Athletics at FAU is Pat Chun, who spent 15 years as an administrator at Ohio State.
Meanwhile, after leading Bowling Green to a 10-3 season and a win over previously unbeaten Northern Illinois in the MAC title game, Dave Clawson is leaving the Falcons to become head coach at Wake Forest.
With Clawson leaving, it would not be surprising to see Bowling Green look towards the Ohio State staff, especially since Urban Meyer is a former Falcon head coach. Offensive coordintor Tom Herman, co-defensive coordinators Luke Fickell and Everett Withers and offensive line coach Ed Warinner are names frequently mentioned as potential head coaches in the near future.
WTVN's Dave Maetzold and Jeff Rapp of Sportsrappup.com were live from Hollywood Casino Monday night with the final Buckeye rewind. The postmortem on the Michigan State game and the upcoming Orange Bowl match-up with Clemson were among the topics. You can listen to Monday's rewind show click here:
Since they were both at Ohio State together former Buckeye basketball star David Lighty and Taylor Hill who finished her career on the OSU women's team last year, have been an item. Clearly, they continue to be. Lighty, playing professionally in France and Hill, a guard with the WNBA's Washington Mystics are expecting their first child in May. Hill even took to Twitter and Instagram to announce her pregnancy.
Daddy (@the_lighty) & I (our little one) agree mommy (me) is the BOSS! Favorite bib already! Yes yes yes Dave & I are having a little one!
The tweet included an ultrasound photo of the child and a bib that read "Daddy and I agree. Mommy is the Boss."
That will make a big Buckeye family, as Hill's older brother P.J., a soon-to-be uncle, was a teammate of Lighty's at Ohio State. Congrats to the happy couple.