Jeremy Birmingham/Landof10
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta

Talking Thad, Ezekiel Elliott doing more Ohio State stuff, Buckeyes continue to ignore Terrelle Pryor and more

Jeremy Birmingham

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know — Monday through Friday — around the world of Ohio State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, and this is your Ohio State Wake-Up Call.


More rumblings on Thad Matta?

It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the drumbeats around the security of Thad Matta’s employment at Ohio State. There is rumor upon rumor, from coast-to-stinking-coast, about the inevitability of Matta being fired after another inconsistency-plagued season of Buckeyes basketball.

From Pat Forde of Yahoo.com:

The Buckeyes appear destined to miss the Big Dance for the second straight year after nine berths and two Final Fours in Matta’s first 11 seasons. Matta’s back and foot issues make him look older than his 49 years, and this team – currently 13th in the 14-team Big Ten – hasn’t made him feel any younger. Athletic director Gene Smith is supportive of his coaches and probably wouldn’t urge Matta to go elsewhere, but you wonder if it’s time for a reboot.

That’s a well-measured and respectable take, in my opinion. Matta’s earned some leeway thanks to an overwhelmingly positive résumé during his time at Ohio State, but there’s no doubt that something needs to change. The Buckeyes saw some staff changes a year ago — losing Jeff Boals and re-adding former Buckeyes guard Chris Jent — but there’s been little growth from the players themselves. Outside of center Trevor Thompson — who has been really good — these Ohio State hoopsters are the same players they were when they entered the program, and that lack of development is tough to swallow. Bringing in players who weren’t getting better was fine when you were signing NBA lottery picks, but when you see Marc Loving’s less-than-fired-up style of leadership combined with a game that hasn’t changed since his junior year of high school, you have to wonder who is ultimately to blame.

If I am doing any housecleaning in Columbus with respect to the basketball program, I am starting in one area: strength and conditioning. It’s a travesty of justice that former Buckeyes forward Jon Sanderson is leading the Michigan strength program (and doing a great job).

I digress. End of the day, I just think Matta has earned a little more time. If we’re having this conversation again next February, I’ll steadfastly agree that it may be time for him to go.

 It’s TP time once more in Columbus

I don’t personally care what your memory of Tat-Gate was, or is, or will be. The memorabilia-for-price-reduced-tattoo scandal (it sounds even dumber now than ever to write that) that rocked the Ohio State football program in the winter of 2010 led to a few months’ worth of embarrassment (and I’m not talking about Joe Bauserman at quarterback) and a forgettable 2011 season.

It also led to Urban Meyer taking over at Ohio State for Jim Tressel. Meyer has taken the program that Tressel turned into an unrelenting win machine to even greater heights than anyone ever dreamed possible. Meyer has won a national championship and made the Buckeyes a national power (again), a recruiting juggernaut and an NFL feeder program — and he’s done so without a hint of impropriety. Heck, the school even welcomed back Tressel and honored him at halftime of a football game more than a year ago.

So, why are we still acting like Terrelle Pryor is some never-to-be-forgiven monster? It’s time to put the bitterness away, Ohio State. Pryor was one of your great players and deserves to be recognized as such. When you produce your awesome videos like this one, he should be included, period.

I get that Pryor’s legacy is polarizing, but his contribution on the field was — and is — undeniable. Ben Axelrod and myself have discussed this before. Meyer doesn’t think that Pryor is some criminal mastermind; he has said as much.

“If you really knew what happened, there was nothing evil,” Meyer said in 2015 of the memorabilia-for-tattoos-and-cash scandal. “A couple mistakes, terrible mistakes were made, but it was not with intent.”

Pryor is on the verge of becoming an NFL superstar. He was the top overall prospect in the country in the 2008 recruiting class. He’s paid his dues, and his disassociation period with the program drew to a close seven months ago.

Let it go, Buckeyes. Bring TP back to The ‘Shoe.

Hardly home but always reppin’

If you came here expecting to see more Ezekiel Elliott, you won’t be disappointed.

It seems like every day we’re talking about the former Ohio State star in some capacity, and today is no different. The NFL’s most recognizable rookie was back in Columbus on Tuesday, and he spent some time with the Buckeyes at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

After spending some time talking to the guys on the team and the coaches in the building, Zeke took a moment to do a PSA for the program.

It was great to see what I learned at Ohio State translate to the next level,” Elliott says. “The Woody is home. It will always be home. This Ohio State fraternity is a never-ending brotherhood. It’s a special place, and you want to come back. You want to come back and see the guys you played with. You want to come see the guys who are coming up behind you and trying to follow in your footsteps.”

B1G Happenings

• The best games left to watch in the Big Ten basketball season

• The ‘Next James White‘ is eager to fill some big shoes in Madison

• Michigan loses a former top recruit at tight end to transfer

• Wolverines add a 2018 commitment from a Michigan legacy

• It’s a good job if you’re coaching anywhere in the Big Ten, to be honest

• Ohio State, Michigan litter NFL mock draft selections