Ohio State back to work on the hardwood, the original ‘DBU’ re-emerges from the shadows

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Today is Wednesday, March 1,  and it’s time to Wake Up, Sloopy.

Buckeyes and Nittany Lions battle for a potential tournament bye

It’s pretty rare that a matchup for 12th place in the Big Ten is so compelling, but on Tuesday night, Ohio State and Penn State delivered a pretty good basketball game. The prize? Potentially, the chance to take the first round of the Big Ten Tournament off by finishing 10th or better in the league.

That’s what was at stake in Happy Valley, and that’s what Ohio State won when they knocked off the Nittany Lions 71-70. The Buckeyes fought back from a nine-point deficit in the second half and needed a driving, spinning, falling-away layup from Jae’Sean Tate with three seconds left to stave off a very competitive Penn State squad.

The Buckeyes are not likely to make the NCAA Tournament and are, at 17-13 (7-10 Big Ten),  just playing for pride, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the efforts they’ve made throughout the Big Ten season. I know, moral victories are meaningless. But for a team that has seemed to lack leadership among its players, it’s encouraging nonetheless. This season has been a roller coaster of emotions for the Buckeyes, and though the record may have you disappointed, the “what ifs” are substantial.

From Land of 10’s Ben Axelrod:

Of the Buckeyes’ 17 Big Ten games this season, 11 have been decided by six or fewer points. With its victory against Penn State, Ohio State moves to 6-5 in such games.

Ohio State will close its regular-season schedule on Saturday, at home against Indiana. The Hoosiers are 6-11 in the Big Ten and currently find themselves as the league’s No. 12 seed. An Ohio State victory would earn them an important tournament-opening bye. The Big Ten Tournament begins next week, March 8, in Washington, D.C.

DBU? It’s always been Ohio State

I know that in recent years folks like to think that Florida or LSU, or some other SEC school that didn’t win anything substantial until Ohio-born/trained coaches decided to move south, holds the title of “DBU.” But let’s not kid ourselves, it’s Ohio State and has been for a while.

Do you remember the 1990s and early 2000s? If  you don’t for some reason, allow me to serve as your tour guide. Here are the defensive backs drafted during the dark, forgotten, ages of the John Cooper era and the early portion of Jim Tressel’s career.

  • 1995 | Marlon Kerner (3rd Round), Tito Paul (5th Round)
  • 1997 | Shawn Springs (1st Round, No. 3 overall), Ty Howard (3rd Round)
  • 1999 | Antonie Winfield (1st Round), Damon Moore (4th Round)
  • 2000 | Ahmed Plummer (1st Round), Gary Berry (4th Round)
  • 2001 | Nate Clements (1st Round), Derek Combs (7th Round)
  • 2002 | Derek Ross (3rd Round)
  • 2003 | Mike Doss (2nd Round), Donnie Nickey (5th Round)
  • 2004 | Chris Gamble (1st Round), Will Allen (4th Round)
  • 2005 | Dustin Fox (3rd Round)
  • 2006 | Donte Whitner (1st Round), Ashton Youboty (3rd Round), Nate Salley (4th Round)

So, let’s stop all the pretending, OK? Ohio State is “DBU” and has been for a while, long before players like Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell left early for the NFL draft after the 2015 season.

Still, it’s nice that others are taking note and certainly serves as a nice note for the Buckeyes to put on recruiting flyers.

The Buckeyes are set to put at least two – and possibly three – defensive backs in the first round of April’s NFL draft.

D. B. U.

Former Buckeye recalls combine experience

Did you ever wonder what it was like to be invited to the NFL combine?

Let former Ohio State All-American Kirk Barton, with the assistance of Todd Jones from the Columbus Dispatch, help you live that dream.

Or nightmare, depending on what floats your specific boat. Some people like to be poked and prodded by doctors.

Barton and his bent finger went through an assembly line of medical exams by NFL team doctors at the combine.

“I’ll never forget this one doctor, a total (jerk),” Barton recalled. “He squeezed the finger down and it hurt like hell. I was just sitting there like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ You could see the finger wasn’t good, and he just squeezed it all the way down.”

At that time, Barton showed no reaction to the pain.

So for Barton and all the participants in the combine, it’s not really that enjoyable.

“It’s one of those things you wish everybody could go through just because it’s such a ridiculous process,” Barton said. “It’s like a three-day interview and you feel like a piece of meat or cattle.”

Barton said he was fortunate to go through the combine, and not just because it helped him become a seventh-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 2008 and be a member of four other NFL teams.

If anything, the combine itself allowed Barton – now retired and working in the insurance business in Columbus – to live out a fantasy he used to revel in as a child in Canton.

“When I was growing up, I was the biggest NFL draft fan in the world,” Barton said. “I got in trouble in the 8th grade for printing out mock drafts from average websites. I’d sit there and read them at lunch. I loved it. I would watch the entire draft all day. I was a savant.”

It’s got to be a pretty cool feeling to go through all that stuff, but even childhood dreams stink when you’re getting poked and pulled. What the NFL teams are looking for, according to Barton, is truthfulness and honesty.

“A lot of teams like to ask do you smoke weed or do you do a lot of drugs,” Barton said. “Part of it is they want honesty. They also want to see if you flinch when you say it. That was interesting.”

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

If you’re like me, you’re going to spend a lot of time this upcoming season missing recently departed Ohio State punter Cam Johnston. The Buckeyes went all the way to Australia to find Johnston, and now he’s heading to Indianapolis to try to work his way into the NFL.

The Buckeyes social media crew didn’t want the beloved punter to feel left out, and they gave the Aussie punter a fitting goodbye, as they’ve done for each player headed to the NFL combine.

B1G Happenings

• What Big Ten stars have the most to gain – or lose – at the NFL combine

• Eddie George takes the stage, are politics next?

• P.J. Fleck has been allegedly tampering with former players 

• Purdue wins a share of the Big Ten’s regular-season basketball championship

• Michigan State loses a commitment from Ohio’s sixth-ranked prospect in the 2018 class