Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ohio State Football All 1970's Squad

It is quite probable that in no other decade has Ohio State produced more talent than during the 1970's. The combined record of these ten teams reflects this, as they compiled an incredible 91-20-3 mark. But at the same time that Buckeye fans were enjoying nearly uninterrupted success, they were dealing with the frustration that comes with coming close to, yet never achieving, championships.

On new fewer than three occasions, Ohio State went to the Rose Bowl undefeated and untied and, with a win, would have won a national championship. Each time they lost, to Stanford, UCLA and USC. On one other occasion they made it to the Rose Bowl undefeated and pummeled USC, but an earlier tie with undefeated Michigan, in Ann Arbor, left them in the #2 spot.

The decade started with the senior season of the Super Sophs. After avenging a los to Michigan the previous year, they lost to thrice defeated Stanford in the Rose Bowl and lost a national title. Four years of Archie Griffin followed soon after, but in three of those years, despite defeating Michigan, they lost the Rose Bowl. The one year they did defeat the (then) Pac 8 team, they tied Michigan. A promising 1977 squad came up just short against the Sooners and Wolverines and then, inexplicably got pounded by Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The 1979 squad, the first coached by Earle Bruce, started slowly but, by the end of the season, was rolling over opponents and found themselves ranked #1 in the nation in the AP poll before falling by a single point to Charles White and the USC Trojans.

The decade was a study in contrasts. For the first time since the 1930's, a decade would pass without an Ohio State national title. Perhaps the greatest decade of talent ever assembled, led by two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin, failed to bring home a national title, despite being so close for so long. Finally, an aging Woody Hayes, whose teams were beginning to underperform - especially the immensely talented 1977 squad - lost his cool one last time and got himself fired for an embarrassing punch to the face of an opposing player. The resurgence of Buckeye football in the late sixties had yet been tinged with the tragic loss to Michigan in 1969, the last game of the decade. Perhaps that fateful game hung over the team in the coming decade.

Nevertheless, the All 70's Squad might be the best that Ohio State, or indeed any college, has ever offered.


QB Cornelius Greene - Probably the best scrambler in Ohio State history, he developed into a decent passer with more experience. Won the Big Ten Silver Football award the year Archie won his second Heisman.

FB Pete Johnson - Combined power with speed, his legs never seemed to stop chugging. Led the nation in scoring and, the year Archie won his second Heisman, ran for over 1,000 yards!

TB Archie Griffin - Any questions?


WR/WB Brian Baschnagel - A utility man, he ran the ball and caught the ball and, in the pro's, even played some DB. An underpraised but integral part of the middle 70's juggernauts.

WR Doug Donley - Woody's teams did not pass much, but when Schlichter arrived receivers started getting some attention. The best of them was Doug Donley.

TE Doug France - A first round draft pick, he went on to be a tackle in the NFL, in case there is any doubt as to what sort of TE Woody looked for. Not often used to catch passes.


OT John Hicks - Woody went so far as to say that John Hicks was the best lineman he ever had... better even than Jim Parker. In 1973, despite teammates Griffin and GRadishar finishing 5th and 6th in the Heisman voting, and despite playing offensive tackle, Hicks finished 2nd in the Heisman balloting! Case closed.

OT Chris Ward - Some would argue for Schumacher in the second spot. Both were imposing tackles; we'll give the edge to Mr. Ward.

OG Ted Smith - An All American and member of Woody's most beloved class, 1975.

OG Ken Fritz - Another All American offensive lineman from the 1970's. When multiple All American lineman don't make the All Decade team, you know it was a good decade for talent.

C Tom DeLeone - Another toss up with Steve Myers, from what we have seen, DeLeone might have had a small edge.


DE Bob Brudzinski - Some of Woody's assistants insisted that Robert was as good as Jim Houston. This All American sure lasted a long time in the pro's.

DE Van DeCree - All American and member of that 1973 defense. Was there ever a better one?

DT Pete Cusick - Injuries cut his pro career short, this All American was part of the immovable 1973 defense.

DT Aaron Brown - Another All American and sack specialist from the 1977 team.


LB Randy Gradishar - They just don't come any better. Finished 6th in the Heisman balloting in 1973, considered by many to be Ohio State's all time greatest linebacker. 7 time All Pro.

LB Tom Cousineau - #1 pick in the draft, he preferred to play in Canada at the start of his career. One of the best conditioned athletes ever and a tackling machine.

LB Rick Middleton - Patrolled on defense with Randy Gradishar, a first round draft pick and possible oversight for All American honors.

DB Tim Fox - A long career in the pro's awaited this All American Ohio State safety. Prominent member of the 1973 and 1975 teams.

DB Ray Griffin - Archie's brother and another All American. Some said he had more talent than #45.

DB Neal Colzie - Also a wonder on special teams, this CB intercepted passes when QB's dared throw in his direction.

DB Mike Guess - Overlooked for All American honors, he started four years and was named All Big Ten three times. Helped the 1979 squad to an undefeated regular season.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ohio State Football All-1960's Squad

Ohio State football in the 1960’s was marked by two episodes which make the decade stand out from the rest. Both figure prominently in Buckeye lore, one for the worse and the other, which served as a sort of corrective to the first, for the better. The former episode was the vote by the university to prevent the football team from playing in the Rose Bowl. Undefeated with one tie, the 1961 Buckeyes, featuring what was possibly the greatest backfield in Ohio State history, were ranked at #1 and #2 in the two polls and, with a Rose Bowl win over UCLA – something that Minnesota, the replacement team, easily accomplished – would likely have claimed a share of the national title. Instead they finished second in both polls. This blow reverberated for years to come and cost Ohio State in its recruiting battles, the consequences of which were felt by the dearth of Big Ten titles for the next six seasons.

Having arrived as head coach in 1951, Woody Hayes soon established a pattern of excellence, winning a national title every three or four years, and each title team was coupled with another only slightly less powerful team either the preceding or following year. In his fourth season, in 1954, Hayes’ Buckeyes went 10-0 through a brutal schedule and followed it with a very solid 1955 campaign which also brought home a Big Ten title. The 1957 team posted a 9-1 record, won the national title and was followed by a 6-1-2 team the following year. The 1961 team, which should have played for yet another national title, was preceded by a 7-2 squad that shut out three of nine opponents and held three others to a single touchdown.

But after the denial of the Rose Bowl, the Buckeye fortunes soured. The next assembly of talent to make a run for a championship were the 1964 and 1965 squads. This time, however, after posting records of 7-2, neither one was able to win the national title nor even a Big Ten title. There certainly was talent there – the 1964 Buckeyes had three All-Americans and two others who would be so named in the coming years – but it fell shy of the champions of previous years. The 1964 team, the better of the two, started 6-0 and in mid-season spent two weeks ranked #1. But a lackluster sixth win followed by an inexplicable 27-0 home loss to a Penn State team that would finish 5-4 dashed their title hopes. When Michigan shut them out two weeks later, they lost the Rose Bowl as well. The companion team of 1965, though posting the same record, struggled mightily to eek out desperate wins that better Hayes-coached teams would have rolled through. The years ’66-’67 were, by Buckeye standards, truly terrible. The former lost more than it won, and the latter, one of the weakest three-loss teams in Buckeye history, started 2-3 before putting together some victories over middling competition.

With his career on the line, Wayne Woodrow Hayes went on to engineer the second episode, the resurgence. He put together a class of talent that would come to be known as the Super Sophomores, four of whom would be first round draft picks, eight of whom would make at least one All-America list. A Lombardi and Outland award winner played on the defensive line and the nation’s defensive MVP in 1970, a converted fullback, played in the backfield. The Buckeyes would win the national championship in 1968 and in the following years put some of the greatest football teams ever assembled onto the gridiron. In the decade when football modernized, Ohio State’s fortunes swung like a pendulum, but by the end of the decade Hayes had secured his place in history. Never again, not even during down periods, would Buckeye football be seriously questioned.

The common memory of the 1960’s, as established through Buckeye lore, is the modestly accurate but nevertheless slightly distorted view one gets from looking through the rosy haze of fond memories, and a few things could bear some clearing up. The 1968 team, for instance, is commonly held to be the greatest Buckeye team in history. ‘Tis no such matter. The 1968 team was very young, with sophomores, then the youngest eligible players, starting up and down the unit, including at quarterback. They posted an impressive shutout win over #1 Purdue early on, but through the middle of the season they struggled. Inconsistency plagued them, as it will young teams, and they recorded three one-score victories over unimpressive competition, including a 31-24 win over an Illinois team that would finish 1-8. It was not until the end of the season that they turned into the great team that their talent promised. In defeating #4 Michigan 50-14 and then rolling over #2 USC 27-16 in a game that was not as close as the final score would seem to indicate, the Buckeyes gave us a glimpse of what they would become the following season. They finished very strong indeed, but taken as a whole the 1968 team was not as powerful as a score of other Buckeye teams who, had they met on the field with all differences in size and era accounted for, would probably have beaten or even thumped the Super Sophomores in that first year. Even if one uses a different yardstick, giving more weight to the final record rather than the impressiveness of the performance, the 1954 team, with the same 10-0 record, was surely stronger if the entire season is considered.

It was the 1969 team that proved itself the most formidable force of the decade. Now experienced veterans, the Super Sophomores, well supplemented by talent from the other two classes, steamrolled their competition and soon established themselves as the most powerful team at that point in Buckeye history. But maybe the wins came too easy, and when Bo Schembechler, Woody’s protégé, led a Michigan team that finally stood up to Ohio State and punched them right in the mouth, the Buckeyes, hampered by an injured quarterback who, in light of the talent on the bench behind him, never should have started, fell to the Wolverines in what is probably the bitterest defeat Buckeye fans have ever tasted. As if the decade had not provided entertainment enough, it also saw the beginning of the Ten Year War between Woody and Bo.

The 1961 group is often called The Forgotten Buckeyes, but it must be admitted that, when every Buckeye fan with a modicum of knowledge of Ohio State history knows them as such and can tell you why they are so called, they have ceased to be forgotten. The Cheated Buckeyes, The Might-Have-Beens-Through-No-Fault-Of-Their-Own Buckeyes, but surely not The Forgotten Buckeyes. The true forgotten team of the 1960’s was the 1964 squad. They raced to #1 behind a line that must rank as one of Woody’s greatest and two future pro running backs. Two All-Americans anchored the defense along side three others who would claim All Big Ten honors before their careers were finished. Powerful teams fell before them, including #2 Illinois, which failed to score. Just when they seemed perched to claim Woody’s third or fourth national title, depending on how one is keeping score, they stumbled and fell in the most spectacular and mystifying fashion. Over the last thirteen quarters of their season they scored only one touchdown, and twice in their last two games they lost and failed to score, both times at home. They are not celebrated; they are not talked about; they are not even agonized over anymore. If ever there was a forgotten team, but not forgotten because it was mediocre, it was they.

Such was the 1960’s for Buckeye football, a drama with all the fascinating facets of a fine story: abysmal lows, sudden heartbreaks, backstabbing and controversy, and shining triumphs. With its fine start derailed by treachery, its sojourn through the wilderness and ultimate victory, the good reader could be forgiven for mistaking it for an epic concocted by ancient Greeks, of confusing Woody with Odysseus. And of all the fine warriors that the hero commanded, which were the greatest? There are many to choose from and good arguments for multiple candidates. Alas, only twenty two positions do we have to fill, and these are the humble blogger’s choices:


QB Tom Matte – A controversial choice, Matte, a Vince Young prototype, completed a very high percentage of his passes at a time when most passes fell incomplete. He would go on to play many years in the pros… as a running back. Started in 1959 and 1960, we’ll put him in the 1960’s list as the 1959 team was forgettable.

FB Bob Ferguson – As good as Jim Otis was, Woody was quite clear on who was his best fullback. Mr. Ferguson labored for the 1961 group.

TB Thomas Barrington – There were no iconic tailbacks/halfbacks from the 1960’s but there were several good ones. We prefer the one with the best kick return stats in Buckeye history. From the 1964 team.


WR Paul Warfield – More of a halfback/wingback and underutilized, he still was twice named All Big Ten. His pro career, as a true wide receiver, is legend. Along with Matt Snell and Bob Ferguson, formed what was probably the best backfield in Buckeye history.

SE/TE Bruce Jankowski – Call him a fast tight end or a strong receiver, Jankowski was a frequent target of Mr. Rex Kern in the late sixties.

TE Jan White – An All-American as a senior, along with Jankowski one of the Super Sophs.


OL Jim Davidson – Possibly Woody’s greatest lineman from this decade, a first round draft pick and All-American who cleared the way for Barrington.

OL Doug Van Horn – All-American guard who played with Davidson, his pro career was long and successful.

OL Ray Pryor – All-American center from the mid-sixties.

OL Dave Foley – All-American tackle was a senior on the ’68 champions, a first round draft pick and All-Pro.

OL Bob Vogel – Hard to argue against a first round draft pick and six-time All-Pro.


DT Jim Stillwagon – Indisputable, possibly the greatest DT in Buckeye history. All-American, Lombardi and Outland award winner and one of the most super of the Super Sophs.

DT Dick Himes – OT his senior year, two time All Big Ten honoree whose career left him between the 1964 and 1968 teams. A true forgotten Buckeye

DE Matt Snell – Better known as a running back, Mr. Snell spent his junior year of 1962 on the defensive line and went on to a stellar pro career.

DE Mark Debevc – Lesser known Super Soph was twice named All Big Ten.


LB Dwight Kelley – Two-time All-American, anchored a stingy 1964 defense.

LB Tom Bugel – All Big Ten selection, played alongside Kelley.

LB Mike Ingram – One of the best defenders on a 1961 defense without many big names. All Big Ten selection.


DB Jack Tatum – Indisputable, perhaps the greatest player in Ohio State history. Two-time All-American, 1970 defensive MVP, first round draft pick, Super Sophomore… called The Assassin for his debilitating hits.

DB Mike Sensibaugh – Free safety still holds the all time Buckeye interception record. Another Super Soph.

DB Tim Anderson – All American cornerback. First round draft pick. Super Soph.

DB Arnold Chonko – All-American on the 1964 team, played what would today be called free safety.

Movie Review: Vantage Point

Perhaps more so than other hobbyists and enthusiasts, the cinephile must brace himself for disillusionment, which comes to him more frequently than parallel disappointments do to fans and dabblers in other fields. It is not that a football fan does not frequently suffer, but he does not see his expectations so recurrently shattered. A football fan, or fan of any sport, if he is moderately knowledgeable, does not often see his predictions proved grossly inaccurate. If he believes his team a championship contender, and they instead finish 10-2, he has suffered only two true disappointments in twelve games, a pace which any lover of movies envies, for the lover of movies is plagued by the preview.

Even an experienced and circumspect moviegoer cannot completely inoculate himself from heartbreak and letdown, for the artful editor, in selecting certain shots and moments that run no more than a couple minutes out of a movie that may last hours, has fashioned a deceptive trailer. In all but the most lopsided of football games, a losing team is yet able to cobble together intermittent moments of competence and even artistry. The losing team nearly always scores, and only rarely does the winning team never punt the ball, or at least fumble or suffer a sack. The difference is that the football fan of the losing team has not been shown these bright moments beforehand to the exclusion of everything else, whereas the wretched cinephile, no matter his cynicism, must yield at least a little to the enticements of a trailer. These repeated disappointments are exacerbated by the fact that when a movie disappoints, the entire theater suffers, whereas when a football team underachieves the other contingent of fans is happy. There is a guarantee of balance in football, but in cinema, when a movie is a disaster, only the director’s ex-wife rejoices.

Which brings us to Vantage Point. Advertisements for this particular flick have been around for a very long time by the standards of the industry. We have seen a solid cast assembled and the premise is alluring. The shots we have glimpsed were competently taken. No big name director was at the helm but the project, having passed through the filter of a trailer, had come out looking as if it had originated from a good movie. It is your humble blogger’s duty, as critic, to slice away the mendacity of advertising and expose what could not pass through the filter.

Set in the current political climate but linked to no specific year or administration, the story takes place in Salamanca, Spain, on the occasion of a visit by the president of the United States. As Secret Servicemen take the scene and news crews record it, the president arrives at the Plaza Mayor to give a speech, but an assassination attempt followed by bomb explosions derail the proceedings. From the vantage point of several different characters, we view and review the event nearly to the limits of human endurance.

If a single flaw in the movie were to be cited which no amount of excellence in other aspects of filmmaking could overcome, it would be the very structure of the story. No fewer than seven times that I can recall, a storyline progressed to the threshold of the climax only to freeze, rewind, and finally start again at the beginning from a different vantage point. This very soon grows tedious and quickly passes from tediousness to a point where the viewer simply stares in tumescent disbelief that the filmmakers are going to make us sit through the same scene yet again.

Sadly, the structure of the film is not its only impediment to pleasure. It suffers from such an earnest proclivity for the dramatic that it sweeps aside realism in its pursuit, crossing characters with improbable coincidence, or giving them absurd behavior in order to place them in more precarious circumstances. Sometimes realism is eschewed for no better excuse than what I take to be rank laziness, and sometimes for no discernible reason at all. The procedures and protocols of the Secret Service, for instance, do not strike one as thoroughly fleshed out and genuine. In the Line of Fire, whether or not it was well researched, at least convinced one ignorant of such matters that it had been. Vantage Point does no such convincing. The crowd in the Plaza Mayor is full of faces that seem suspiciously New World, lacking the classic Castilian features, and the bits of Spanish that are tossed about often have a decidedly Latin American accent, excepting, of course, actor Eduardo Noriega. One character is magically teleported to a distant part of the city so that a scene of poignant reuniting may take place. The worst of it is to be witnessed in the president’s hotel suite, where the commander in chief and his advisers carry on in such a juvenile manner that one marvels at the puerility of the mind that conceived it.

When the seemingly interminable rewinds and replays are finally finished, ninety percent of the climactic scene is taken up by a car chase. It is the same car chase that the good reader saw last week, which was the same car chase he saw the week before and the week before that. But for the quicker cuts and more mobile camera it was the same car chase he saw in 1985. I have reached a point where, no matter its incongruity with the established character of the villain, rather than lead the hero on another dull, high velocity/multiple impact car chase, if no fresh and interesting perspective on vehicular pursuit can be found, I would prefer that he simply hand over the keys, turn himself in and end the movie a few minutes sooner. If the hero is the one being pursued, then he should allow himself to be shot and his offspring can catch the villain in the sequel.

One last flaw I will expound and then leave off, with the understanding that the enumeration of certain defects in the movie shall not be construed as denying or disparaging other defects contained in it. This last shortcoming is the entire terrorist enterprise, which is so grand in scale, so intricate in execution and so dependent upon a variety of players from a myriad of backgrounds that a credible explanation for how such an endeavor could be undertaken is quite simply an obligation on the part of the storytellers. There is nothing wrong with a fantastic conspiracy, even if it breaks through the bounds of what could reasonably occur in real life, so long as the filmmakers demonstrate how it might plausibly be put together. Such a demonstration would not only alleviate incredulity but could prove quite interesting in and of itself. Failing that, leave it in mystery. Don’t show us who carried it out, or at least not all of them. Don’t fill in all the details; leave the audience with the chill of unfulfilled suspicion. Make the investigation only a partial victory or, better yet, no victory at all. I merely offer some suggestions for when the movie is remade in 2032.

Final Grade: D+

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ohio State Football All-1950's Squad

With all apologies to Kansanians, some of whom have some rudimentary knowledge of reading and might stumble across this page, it must be acknowledged that the game of football has evolved, much like a language or a species. If you go back far enough, you could find young men playing an almost unrecognizable sport that would eventually become football, soccer and rugby. Any interested Kansanian could go follow the progress of the sport through time and notice the accumulation of small changes that turned it into the sport we recognize today. Notice, if you take the journey, that the leather wearing brutes of 1918 did not suddenly show up to a game one day in 1919 wearing face masks, modern helmets and pads, playing a nickle defense on third and long and sending the wingback in motion to put him in a better position to block the outside linebacker, which seems to be your understanding of how the evolution of species works.

At any rate, because of the gradual nature of the evolution, it is difficult to locate a single moment in time when football became the modern sport played today and left behind its roots. My opinion is that the 1950's represent this bridge between modern football and its paleo predecessor. If the good reader were to watch a football game from the 1960's, he would see a very recognizable sport whose differences from the game played today are principally stylistic and hardly worth mentioning. On the other hand, the 1940's seem very different indeed.

The 1950's had a fairly well developed specialization at each position. It is true that players generally played on offense and defense, but each particular position, regardless of who played it, had well defined duties and required skills. Tailbacks no longer led their teams in passing, for instance, and a definite difference in the body types and skill sets of halfbacks and fullbacks had arisen. Passing was coming into greater popularity, partly because the shape of the ball had finally been settled on and was more aerodynamic. Also, facemasks came to be used sometime around 1955, if photographs are to be believed. This is an important development because it affects how a defender is willing to defend, what he is willing to do to his body and therefore what an attacker must endure. If the good reader does not believe us, we invite him to view rugby, which does not give its players much in the way of armor, and contrast it with a good football game today.

If the 1950's was the beginning of modern football, or at least on the threshold of it, and if Ohio State is the greatest program in football history - a proposition against which no serious argument can be raised - then it is worth asking what greatness looked like when the modern game was just developing. What, it may well be asked, is the best of the best of the decade? In considering all Ohio State teams, which players would form the All-1950's squad?

The humble blogger must confess to having only a little experience in watching the players of this era. If there were a remedy for this he would certainly avail himself of it, but alas he must make do with reputation and contemporary reports. Also, a decision must be made as to whether a given player should be on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. For better or worse, this is his vote for best of the best of the 1950's:


QB John Borton - Probably Woody's most prolific passer, he set a record that would not be broken at Ohio State for a quarter century.

HB Hopalong Cassady - Heisman Trophy winning HB was Woody's best until a certain number 45 came around. Led Ohio State to the 1954 national championship.

HB Don Clark - Forgotten two-time All Big Ten Halfback, a mainstay on the other national championship squad of 1957.

FB Bob White - A bruising fullback (aren't all fullbacks so described?) and All-American who teamed up with Clark in the Buckeye backfield.

Offensive Line/Ends

OL Jim Parker - The greatest offensive lineman in history. Eight time All-Pro and college All-American, Mr. Parker opened up large holes for Hop Cassady.

OL Aurealius Thomas - Cassady had his Parker, and Clark had his Thomas. An All-American.

OL Ernie Wright - After laboring in undeserved obscurity at Ohio State, he anchored NFL lines for many years. Also on the 1957 team.

OL Dick Schafrath - Yet another standout from the 1957 team. Longtime NFL lineman and the first man to canoo across Lake Erie. At least, the first with white skin...

OL Jim Tyrer - Played two years in the 1950's, one year in the 1960's and then fourteen in the NFL. First round draft pick.

TE Dick Brubaker - Ohio State's main receiver on the 1954 squad.

TE Leo Brown - The main receiver for the 1957 squad and two-time All Big Ten.

Defensive Line

DE Jim Houston - Two-time All-American and mainstay for the Browns in the 1960's. Led the Buckeye defense on the 1957 title team.

DE Dean Dugger - All-American, the Houston of the 1954 squad.

DT Jim Marshall - A second All-American DL for the 1957 team, he played in the NFL for about 67 years.

DT Francis Machinsky - All Big Ten DL/OL from the 1954 squad.

LB Jerry Reichenbach - All-American Guard/LB from the 1954 squad.

LB Bill Jobko - After helping OSU to the 1957 title, he had a good career in the pros.

LB Hubert Bobo - LB/FB from the 1954 team.

Defensive Backs

DB Vic Janowicz - Won the Heisman as a HB, but may have been even better on Defense.

DB Fred Bruney - Went on to multiple All-Pro seasons in the NFL.

DB Dick LeBeau - Another underappreciated 1957-man who went on to multiple All-Pro seasons in the NFL.

DB Don Sutherin - Several qualified candidates for this fourth spot, we'll go with yet another 1957 man with a short NFL career.