Colin: What are your thoughts on the CFP final four? Did they get it right?
Baver: I don’t have a huge beef with it. Would Bama have gotten the nod if they weren’t Alabama”? Probably not. Did Ohio State deserve the nod over Bama for the last spot? You can certainly make a decent case for it. But when you lose by 31 pts to unranked Iowa, you made your own bed. The thing I hate the most is the “choosing the BEST team” argument. If you take that argument literally, Bama is in the playoff every year, and is your #1 seed in that playoff every year. Hell, a 9-3 Bama team would still get in, while a 12-1 Wisconsin team with a similar strength of schedule would not. It’s complete hogwash that this is a so-called focus point of the committee.
Colin: Did JT's performance in the Big Ten title game hurt the Buckeyes chances to leap frog Alabama?
Baver: I think OSU winning by less than a TD did indeed hurt them, and JT certainly wasn’t himself against Wisconsin. His ability to move laterally was diminished big time, and I am not sure he throws those picks if he were healthy. The Iowa game aside, JT does not throw many picks. The guy is a warrior and deserves major praise for playing 6 days after surgery. I didn’t think he could pull it off.
Colin: Was this Buckeye team, with JT starting capable of winning a rematch with Clemson and how damaging would another bad loss be to the 2018 Buckeye chances of getting into the CFB?
Baver: I honestly think they could have beaten any of the other three teams, had OSU edged Bama for the last spot. Ohio St could have also lost to any of the three. And a healthy JT woud have been OSU’s best option to beat Clemson, Georgia or Oklahoma. You would have gotten a much better showing out of Ohio St if they had a playoff rematch with Clemson. As for part two of your question….no doubt about it. The committee had Clemson’s 31-0 beat down of the Buckeyes last year in the back of their mind, when they chose Bama over Ohio St.
Colin: There is now an early signing period starting on DEC 20th. How does this affect OSU and what do we need to know about the upcoming class?
Baver: Ohio State currently has 17 verbal commitments. Here is the breakdown: 9 recruits have said they “will” sign early; 3 say they will “likely” sign early; 3 are undecided; and 2 say they will sign in February. There isn’t a lot of shakeout from this new rule with OSU’s class or any other big program’s class…at lease not yet. It will be interesting to see what happens with those who don’t sign early.
As for this OSU class, it’s the top rated class in the nation right now. Urban and his crew have been machines on the recruiting trail the past two years, more so than before when their recruiting was “merely” elite. They may lose 4-star QB prospect Emory Jones. But the verbal commitment the Bucks just got from 3-star QB Matthew Baldwin would ease that loss a bit. Baldwin looks like a major diamond in the rough, and might end up being a better college QB than Emory Jones.
Colin: On a similar note, what Buckeye players should leave early for the draft and/or possibly sit out the Cotton Bowl to avoid one final risk of injury before finally getting paid to put their bodies on the line?
Baver: It appears no one is sitting out the Cotton Bowl. Someone told me that game is meaningless. Tell John Cooper that (most) bowl games are meaningless, and he’ll probably be on the phone to Andy Geiger shortly thereafter. Sitting out bowl games is a double-edged sword, in my opinion. But leaving after your 3rd year is usually an NFL prospect’s best choice. Eight OSU guys might forego their 4th year: Weber, Campbell, Dixon, Prince, Dre’Mont Jones, Hubbard, Baker, and Ward. Hubbard and Ward are almost certainly out the door. Dre’Mont is likely gone too. I’d put the over/under at 5, in terms of the # of Buckeyes leaving with eligibility left on the table. Maybe I stay one more year if I’m Isaiah Prince. If I am any of the other 7 guys, I’d probably be leaning toward leaving.