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Ohio State defensive end Jonathon Coope

Ohio State looking NIT bound, Buckeyes will be well represented at NFL combine and more

Jeremy Birmingham

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Today is Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, and this is your Ohio State Wake-Up Call.


8 Buckeyes prepare for Indianapolis and NFL Draft combine

There will be 51 players from the Big Ten heading to Indianapolis for the 2017 NFL Draft combine, held Feb. 28 through March 6. After having 12 players drafted last April, Ohio State will be sending eight participants to the Hoosier State, looking to follow up last year’s incredible NFL success.

Which Buckeyes will be in Indy?

  • Curtis Samuel
  • Noah Brown
  • Pat Elflein
  • Raekwon McMillan
  • Gareon Conley
  • Marshon Lattimore
  • Malik Hooker
  • Cameron Johnston

For a player like Noah Brown, whose decision to enter the draft surprised most, it’s an important opportunity to showcase his skills. Malik Hooker, who will miss the workouts at the combine as he recovers from a pair of minor surgeries, can still use the event to get to know NFL teams and vice versa.

The eight participants for the Buckeyes are the second highest amount in the Big Ten, behind Michigan’s 13. Ohio State had only six seniors on its 2016 roster.

 Why are the Buckeyes No. 1 for 2017?

When you think about all the losses from the Buckeyes roster – for the second straight season – it’s hard to imagine how national pundits and experts can be so bullish on them for 2017.

Then you remember Urban Meyer is the coach and that the Ohio State roster is loaded with talent from top to bottom and one of the Big Ten’s all-time most prolific quarterbacks is returning for a fifth season and it starts to make a little bit more sense.

J.T. Barrett notwithstanding, it’s pretty unbelievable that ESPN – and some sort of analytic shenanigans – sees Ohio State as the country’s best team for 2017.

ESPN released its initial preseason Football Power Index (FPI) rankings Monday, and Ohio State fans are going to be happy with the results. The Buckeyes were No. 1 in the FPI rankings, and the analytic system rated both Ohio State’s offense and defense as the second-best in the country, which put them ahead of Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida State.

I don’t know what FPI is, but ESPN has some sort of definition for it.

Preseason FPI is designed to take the guesswork out of preseason ratings. It is an automated ranking intended to measure team strength going forward. It is not a ranking of who will have the highest win total (which is dependent on schedule) or who is most likely to make the College Football Playoff.

The model comprises four major components: the last four seasons of performance on offense, defense and special teams, with the most recent season counting most; information on offensive and defensive returning starters, with special consideration given to a team returning its starting quarterback or gaining a transfer quarterback with experience; a four-year average recruiting ranking of four systems (ESPN, Scouts, Rivals and Phil Steele); and head coaching tenure. These four components interact and are assigned different weights depending on the team to produce preseason FPI.

Seems legit. No arguments here.

Ohio State as a three seed?

After their bubble-bursting loss at Maryland over the weekend, Ohio State  now seems destined for the NIT, if it will make any postseason tournament at all.

According to NYCBuckets.com, who are known for these kinds of prognostications, the Buckeyes could find themselves as a No. 3 seed in the National Invitation Tourney.

1. Virginia Tech
8. UCF
4. Mississippi
5. Penn St.
3. Ohio St.
6. Memphis
2. Clemson
7. Iowa

So that would pit the Buckeyes against a Memphis team that is (currently) 18-8. Ohio State is ranked at No. 61 presently on the KenPom rankings, which is well-regarded for its accuracy. Of course, there’s always that one glimmer of hope that an NCAA berth could still be a possibility.

From Matt Brown of Land Grant Holy Land:

Ohio State might still have an outside shot at an NCAA Tournament bid without winning the Big Ten Tournament, but it would require them to probably win the rest of their regular season games. At the very least, their game at Michigan State (Tuesday) would be an absolute must-win.

First-round games in the NIT will take place March 14-15 with the higher-ranked seeds in each bracket earning the home-court advantage.

Jim Harbaugh working the angles

If you know anything about Jim Harbaugh, know this: If there’s a rule – or discussion about a rule – he’ll find a way to live in that rule’s gray areas. That’s not a knock on him, and I know that this being written in a scarlet and gray space will make any potential Wolverines fans reading it immediately go on the defensive. But, and I mean this, kudos to Harbaugh for being savvy enough to work angles that keep him ahead of the NCAA and their ever-tightening paws.

On Monday, Harbaugh – with an NCAA proposal pending that would prohibit hiring a coach associated with a recruit within two years of that player’s enrollment – made a hire.

The coach? Michael Johnson, who had spent the last three seasons at The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Prior to that job, Johnson coached in the NFL – he was an offensive coordinator for the 49ers in 2010 (the year before Harbaugh’s arrival there) and spent a season as the OC (and temporary interim head coach) at UCLA. He stopped coaching from 2012-2014 before taking over at The King’s Academy. He’s also a father, and his son is a pretty good football player. In fact, he’s the country’s top-ranked 2019 quarterback: Michael Johnson Jr.

Michigan needed a new assistant coach, and while it’s not yet known what position Johnson will take in Ann Arbor, what’s likely is that he’ll bring his highly-touted son with him and that Harbaugh and the Wolverines will be making some serious inroads with a big-time talent through some good old-fashioned personnel finagling. This of course, isn’t a new practice for Harbaugh.

From Bill Bender of the Sporting News:

Harbaugh is using a subtle recruiting tactic that has worked in the past. Harbaugh hired former Paramus (N.J.) Catholic coach Chris Partridge, which helped reel in 2016 top recruit Rashan Gary. Harbaugh also hired Devin Bush as a defensive analyst in that class, which helped reel in 4-star linebacker Devin Bush Jr.

The NCAA will address this tactic in its next rules meeting, but Harbaugh is staying ahead of the curve:

Michigan also hired high school legend Biff Poggi out of Maryland last year and are using his connection to 5-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent to try to win that recruiting battle.

For a program with the history and tradition that Michigan has, you’d imagine that you could recruit big-time players without the faux-nepotism. Johnson may be a well-qualified staff member, but when you consider he’s been out of college football for three years and out of the NFL for almost seven, it’s clear that other schools weren’t willing to make this move just to up the odds of landing his talented son.

Kudos, Jim.

B1G Happenings

• What are the biggest off-season questions for your favorite Big Ten East team?

• Iowa makes a hire, and it’s not sexy and wasn’t done to lure a recruit

• Lovie Smith hires a former NFL defensive back for his staff

• Penn State lineman needs some retweets to go to prom

• The Cornhuskers are spending a lot of money on assistant coaches

• Jerry Sandusky’s son is arrested

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