Jeremy Birmingham/Landof10
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown jumped to the NFL in part because of an injury.

Ohio State’s stance on scheduling the SEC, why Noah Brown left after three years, and more

Ryan Ginn

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Today is Wednesday, May 3, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.

Ohio State vs. the SEC

Ohio State has played an SEC opponent exactly once in Urban Meyer’s five years leading the Buckeyes.

Luckily for Ohio State, that game went pretty well. Ohio State rode the magical combo of Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott to a Sugar Bowl win against No. 1 Alabama in the 2014 season’s College Football Playoff semifinals. As far as SEC teams go, that’s a good one to beat.

The Buckeyes aren’t shy about playing top talent in the nonconference portion of their slate. Take, for instance, some recent, current and upcoming opponents: Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, TCU, Oregon, Notre Dame, Texas and Washington. What you might notice is that none of those schools are from the SEC. In fact, the last time Ohio State played an SEC team in the regular season was in 1987, at LSU.

What’s up with that? My co-worker Ben Axelrod tackled that thorny subject on Tuesday after speaking to Martin Jarmond. Before recently being named athletic director at Boston College, Jarmond was the architect of Ohio State’s football schedules.

He said that during his time at Ohio State, the Buckeyes and Alabama never spoke about arranging a regular-season matchup.

“You’re going to go to Alabama and you don’t have any kind of (fan) base there. You’re not recruiting Alabama,” said Jarmond. “So two of the factors that we look at: alumni or fan support and then student-athletes, are we recruiting them?

“Alabama doesn’t fit that description. It’s not even about how strong they are. It’s literally about those factors.”

That’s a fair point, given that the state of Alabama is a recruiting wasteland compared to its talent-rich neighbors. But what about the rest of the SEC? Georgia, Florida and Texas are all prime recruiting grounds for the Buckeyes.

It takes two teams to schedule a home-and-home, so keep that in mind. A game with Florida will never happen, as the Gators are notorious for never leaving the state in nonconference play. It doesn’t even make sense to begin with given Gainesville’s distance from the South Florida area the Buckeyes favor. There are, in my opinion, three SEC options worth exploring:

Georgia: This might change under Will Muschamp, but Georgia hasn’t been afraid to take on big names. Under Mark Richt they played home-and-homes against Arizona State, Colorado and Clemson, to name a few. They also took a beating against a top-5 Boise State team in a neutral-site matchup.

Athens is the best college town in the SEC (Nashville doesn’t count) and would be a great trip for Ohio State fans. On the other hand, Ohio State actually had more Georgia high school players drafted this year than Georgia did, so the Bulldogs might not want the Buckeyes paying them a visit.

Texas A&M: Want to keep the pipeline open in Texas? Going down to College Station and beating Texas A&M would be a good plan. Obviously recruiting doesn’t come down to wins and losses, but positive exposure never hurts, and this trip would be a great reward for any Texans on the team.

Missouri: Ohio State has recruited St. Louis selectively, but the Gateway to the West produced a pretty good running back a couple years ago. Missouri seems like a school that would be more likely to say yes than many of its SEC peers. Whether the Tigers’ status as a not-so-great program makes this more or less appealing is a matter of perspective, I suppose.

Is there an SEC team you’d like to see the Buckeyes play? Let us know in the comments below.

Why Noah Brown left Ohio State

There’s at least one move that turns heads every year when draft declarations are made, and this year was no exception. While it was surprising to see 2016 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Tyquan Lewis come back for his senior season, it was even more unexpected that redshirt sophomore Noah Brown opted to go to the NFL.

After all, Brown essentially had only one year of experience at Ohio State (and didn’t have the stats or measurables of first-rounders Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore, who were just as inexperienced). He played sparingly as a true freshman in 2014. Just when he looked poised for a breakout campaign, he broke his leg in fall camp in 2015.

It turns out that the experience helped him decide on heading to the pros, as Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News noted.

“Multiple things went into that decision,” Brown said. “One of the biggest things was my injury my sophomore year. I saw how quickly football can be taken away. With this year, although my stats didn’t have the volume that some people would like to see, I made big-time plays in big-time situations. That’s something I think I can bring to an NFL team right away, when my body is still fresh, while I still have the opportunity, so I decided to go ahead and jump at it.”

The consensus seems to be that Brown would have benefited from another year at Ohio State, but I can’t blame anyone who went through that for getting spooked. There’s reasons to believe the Ohio State offense will improve this season, and that Brown would have gotten more passes thrown his way, but nothing is guaranteed.

Men’s volleyball looking to go back-to-back

Ohio State men’s volleyball won the 2016 national championship, and the Buckeyes will have a chance on their home court to repeat.

With St. John Arena hosting the championships, the No. 1 Buckeyes are two matches from taking home another crown. They’ll face Hawaii on Thursday, and if they win they’ll meet the winner of No. 2 Long Beach State vs. BYU in the finals.

Before Tuesday’s first-round matches — Ohio State had a bye — the Buckeyes got a pep talk from another person who knows what it’s like to win championships.

B1G happenings

• C.J. Beathard getting drafted gave hope to Iowa’s class of 2017 quarterback.

• Nebraska landed a pretty good kicker Monday night.

• Penn State RB Saquon Barkley wouldn’t rule out missing a bowl game.

• Michigan State is suing ESPN.

• Michigan canned its men’s and women’s lacrosse coaches on the same day.