Colin: Might as well get this out of the way, do you feel the Urban suspension was too long, too short or just right?
Baver: My first thought after reading the report was that Urban was lucky to have a job. Knowing that Gene Smith provided Urban with an easy plan to address questions at Big Ten Media Days, and that Urban did the opposite of what Gene suggested, is pretty hard to swallow. Add to it the findings that indicate Meyer likely deleted text messages, knowing his phone would likely be looked at, and there was almost no way Urban could have gotten by without a suspension. Were it not for all that things Urban has done for Ohio State on and off the football field, he almost certainly would have been out of a job.
Trying to reconcile his failure to drop the hammer on Zach Smith with all the things Urban has done for this program, aside from winning at a ridiculously high level, is tough to do. Meyer has completely raised the bar at Ohio State in every possible manner.
Urban took a lot of heat when he was at Florida because of player arrests and other off-the-field players issues. He made this area of responsibility a personal project when he arrived at Ohio State, and the results are a night and day difference. These kind of player incidents are way, way down at OSU since Urban arrived in Columbus. Football graduation rates and Academic All-Big Ten selections? Meyer has knocked the ball out of the park here as well. And Urban and Shelley do more for women’s causes than just about any other current head coach/wife combo in college football. And the things they do are absolutely NOT “just for show”. If you missed OSU commit Harry Miller's mother's heartbreaking story, and her unequivocal support of Urban, you absolutely need to check it out HERE. Kristina Miller is a domestic abuse survivor.
It’s hard for me to have a beef with the 3-game suspension, but I think Ohio State definitely made the right move in keeping Meyer. Still, with perception and reality becoming so easily blurred in today’s society, Urban may not ultimately make it through this. If he doesn’t, I will be crushed.
Colin: Along those lines, Urban is notoriously wired pretty tight, how do you think this whole affair is impacting his ability to stay healthy and continue coaching?
Baver: A definite big concern. Many questioned whether Urban would coach into his 60s before this ordeal got underway. This is a head coach that turned his back to the field, not being able to watch his kicker attempt a 4thquarter field goal in the Big Ten Title game last December. Tightly wired indeed. But Ohio St’s recruiting over that following 6-mth period was off-the-charts, and I had renewed hope for Urban’s longevity prior to things blowing up with Zach Smith.
I think back at first hearing him say “…coach like your hairs on fire.” That’s Urban - spot on. I really hope his health holds up and that Urban is here 5 years from now, but I have my doubts.
Colin: On to football... It all starts up front, the line is reshuffling and replacing a Center and Left Tackle. What should we expect from this unit?
Baver: A big question mark. And as you know….and it’s not just “a” center that has to be replaced; it’s the Remington Award winner. So we now know Mike Jordan will slide from LG to center, while Malcolm Pridgeon will fill Jordan’s vacated LG spot. Word on the street is that Pridgeon has made huge strides. Sophomore Thayer Munford will be at left tackle when healthy, but is dinged up right now, and would be replaced by Joshua Alibi if he can’t go in the opener. LT is a major concern, but I think Munford will eventually be a good one. In the short run, Munfort is going to have major problems dealing with TCU’s Ben Banogu in Wk 3. Banogu is the B12 pre-season Defensive Player of the Year selection.
Colin: It's no secret the offense became predictable and stagnant at times last year with JT under center. Will we see a different offense with the change to Dwayne Haskins?
Baver: You know me, I am almost always going to defend JT. So I have to start by saying, in ’17, JT led the Big Ten in passing efficiency, threw for 3,053 yds, 35 TDs, ran for 798 yds with another 12 TDs on the ground, and played the entire B10 title game 6 days after a knee operation. And JTs ability that was taken for granted, to pick up the needed 1st down on third or fourth and short, was unlike any college QB I can remember.
But I love Dwayne Haskins’ upside. He certainly has a bigger, more accurate arm than JT. There will be fewer read options with DH, and fewer designed runs, but still probably too many called keepers if/when Urban returns. If I were the head coach (and I thank God I am not), I would want to limit the hits Haskins takes. I don’t think OSU can win the rugged Big Ten East with Tate Martell at QB as the #1 guy behind center.