With the football season starting to get close, it's time to check in with MSU's upcoming opponents. Over the next few weeks, we'll have a short Q&A with a blogger from each opposing school. Next up: Ohio State. Luke Zimmermann runs the new Ohio State blog Land-Grant Holy Land. He was gracious enough to answer some questions about the upcoming season and Mark Dantonio's legacy in Columbus.
1. After years of BCS appearances, last year was obviously one of the worst seasons for the Buckeyes in a long time. While a new coach is in place, the same set of players are there. What are reasonable expectations for Ohio State this season?
Reasonable isn't typically how Ohio State fans prefer to operate. It's tough to say if Ohio State simply needed a cultural kick in the pants, time away from the distractions of a nightmare 2011, or new players, but if it's the latter, the Buckeyes will probably be somewhere between last year's worst case scenario and the typical high bar set by the Tressel-era.
2. We know about Braxton Miller, but with Jordan Hall possibly sidelined by the time Ohio State visits East Lansing, who are some offense weapons that could break out this year?
Freshman wide receiver Michael Thomas was the star of this past April's Spring Game. Tailback Carlos Hyde, who'll serve as Urban Meyer's first real bruising back since Marty Johnson at Utah (who admittedly was a tad bitter smaller than "El Guapo", to say the least). Corey "Philly" Brown is expected to fill the void at the Pivot position (which Percy Harvin starred in during Meyer's tenure at Florida) during Hall's absence.
3. What is Mark Dantonio's legacy/reputation in Columbus? Do Buckeye fans look at him as one of their own after the 2002 championship? Or he just another coach that has some OSU roots?
I personally was/am a huge fan of Coach D. His 2002 defense will go down as one of the best in Ohio State (and college football for that matter) history. Thinking at the time that Urban Meyer was just using Ohio State's void for vainglory, I was honestly kind of hoping that if push came to shove, Dantonio would be on Ohio State's short list of candidates. But realistically, it seemed likely that the administration would try to distance itself from the previous regime as much as possible. Given Mark Snyder's short, unsuccessful tenure at Marshall and Darrell Hazell's incomplete grade at Kent State, Dantonio has to go down as the most successful from the Tressel coaching tree. Honestly, besides the Buckeyes, if there was a team in the Big Ten I could stomach having success (say, oh I don't know, in a year Ohio State isn't eligible to), it's probably Dantonio and the Spartans.
4. Why don't Ohio State fans seem to sing "We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan" against MSU very much? Isn't that sort of the point of the song?
From a very literal sense you'd think that. I actually find Michigan to be quite charming (and honestly, in many ways reminiscent of Ohio) and hold no ill will towards any parts of the state except those 27 miles in the southeast portion of the state. While I'm well versed with the western portions of the state (and the whale's uterus-esque tunnels of the Detroit airport), I haven't actually made it to Lansing yet. I'm hoping to remedy that this season. Get back to me after September, and we'll see how I feel about some of the other college towns in the state. *laughs*
5. Ohio State and Michigan appear on the track back to superiority, especially in recruiting. Do OSU fans respect what MSU has done in the last few years, or they think it's a blip on the radar, and the Spartans will go back to winning seven games a season?
I think Brady Hoke is the worst thing that ever could've happened to Coach Dantonio and Michigan State (besides an SEC or high profile Big XII school coming after him). If Hoke continues to recruit at the clip that he has, it's going to make Sparty's gateway to entry (in terms of running with the big boys) that much more costly. I think Dantonio is a good enough coach and recruiter to find a way to make it happen, but it's going to be awfully, awfully challenging. What that looks like in the win-loss column remains to be seen, but it certainly makes 10 or 11 less likely than 7 or 8.
Thanks again to Luke for taking the time to answer some questions. We'll check back in with him during game week. Until then, make sure you check out Land-Grant Holy Land for all your Ohio State info.