Ranking Ohio State’s All-Time Best Offensive Guards

For roughly the past century or so, the Ohio State football program has built its championship-laden tradition on running the football. The names of star halfbacks, tailbacks and fullbacks roll off the tongue of Buckeye fans as easily as the words to “Carmen Ohio” or “Hang On Sloopy.”

Of course, as good as they were, guys like Hopalong Cassady and Archie Griffin couldn’t have won the Heisman Trophy all by themselves. There had to be offensive linemen in front of them to lead the way, and that led to my latest position ranking of all-time Buckeyes.

I started out trying to lump all of the linemen into one category, but there have been so many outstanding players who have excelled in the trenches at Ohio State that it was impossible to narrow them down to a list of 10. For example, how do you choose who’s better between Orlando Pace and Jim Parker? Pace is the best college lineman I have ever seen in person, but I have watched tape of Parker and he was an absolute beast – and he played both ways.

Therefore, I decided to split the categories into the way they’re split on the field. I’ve already got a working list of my top 10 tackles (guess who’s No. 1?) and centers but I’ll leave those for another day. Today, we’ll take a look at my Ohio State top 10 all-time guards. See how this list stacks up to yours.

1. Jim Parker – Ohio State has churned out a variety of outstanding linemen over the years but the prototype was Parker. Playing at a listed 6-2 and 248 pounds during an era when most linemen were in the 5-11, 185-pound range, Parker was a tremendous athlete, one of the first interior players who combined power and quickness. He excelled as an offensive lineman, especially at the guard position, and he was one of the best pulling and run blocking offensive linemen the Buckeyes have ever produced. Parker was a two-time All-American at OSU and went on to become an eight-time All-Pro with the Baltimore Colts. He is a member of both the College and Pro Football halls of fame.

2. Warren Amling – A two-time All-America lineman who finished seventh in the 1944 Heisman Trophy balloting, Amling was inducted into the OSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984. He also played basketball for the Buckeyes and is the only member of the College Football Hall of Fame to start in a Final Four contest.

3. Iolas Huffman – One of the program’s first players to win four varsity letters, Huffman was also versatile. He earned All-America honors as a guard in 1920 and as a tackle in 1921. Huffman was the captain of the undefeated OSU team that made the school’s first Rose Bowl appearance, and in his senior year, he won the Big Ten Medal of Honor as Ohio State’s top scholar-athlete.

4. Lindell Houston – Houston played only two years at Ohio State in a career cut short by World War II, but he packed a lot of excellence into that short time. He was an All-America guard in 1942, the same year the Buckeyes won their first-ever national championship. In Houston’s two seasons, OSU posted a record of 15-2-1. After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Houston played pro football for the Cleveland Browns from 1946-53 and won five world championships. He is the older brother of former OSU tight end Jim Houston.

5. Edwin Hess – One of the Buckeyes’ early stars, Hess earned All-Western Conference and All-America honors at guard during his junior and senior years in 1925 and ’26. A standout both offensively and defensively, he won the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy in 1925, then the nation’s top individual award. Hess was inducted into the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985.

6. Jim Lachey – Most Buckeye fans believe Lachey was a dominant offensive lineman during his OSU career. The truth is that he was a starter for only one season – but that season was tremendous. He anchored the line in 1984, paving the way for Keith Byars to rush for 1,764 yards and 22 TDs. Lachey earned All-America honors that year and went on to an all-pro career in the NFL.

7. William Hackett – As a starting guard in 1943 and ’44, Hackett gained the reputation as a superior blocker and strong defender. In 1944, he earned All-America honors while helping lead the undefeated Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship. He later helped Paul Brown organize the Cincinnati Bengals and became a board member for the team. Hackett was inducted into the OSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986.

8. Aurealius Thomas – Thomas was better known as a defensive player but he was also a devastating blocker who blew open holes for such star halfbacks as Don Clark and Dick LeBeau. Thomas played an amazing 463 minutes at guard during the Buckeyes’ national championship season of 1957, averaging 52 minutes per game. He earned All-America honors that season as OSU won nine straight games to capture the title. Thomas was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

9. William Bell – Bell was the Jackie Robinson of Ohio State football. When he joined the Buckeyes in 1929, he became the first African-American to play football for the team. Bell was a three-time letterman and earned honorable mention All-America honors while playing guard and usually opening holes for Fesler. Bell went on to serve as a professor and had a distinguished career in the U.S. Air Force, retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

10. Gust Zarnas – A three-sport star at Ohio State, Zarnas earned All-America honors as a guard in 1937 and was voted to play in the 1938 East-West All-Star Game. He also lettered two years in baseball for the Buckeyes and one year in track. Zarnas was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975.

If you would to see my all-time top 10 Buckeyes at other positions, here are the links:

Top 10 OSU Quarterbacks

Top 10 OSU Running Backs

Top 10 OSU Fullbacks

Top 10 OSU Wide Receivers

Top 10 OSU Tight Ends

HAPPY! HAPPY!

Among those celebrating birthdays today include U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D, N.Y.) is 79; actor Gene Wilder is 76; Seventies TV actor Chad Everett (Dr. Joe Gannon in “Medical Center”) is 73; three-time Formula One champion Sir Jackie Stewart is 70; Seventies TV actress Adrienne Barbeau (Carol Trainer on “Maude”) is 64; politician and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros is 62; King Crimson lyricist and Supertramp founding member Richard Palmer-James is 62; former MLB infielder Dave Cash is 61; ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard is 60; 38 Special lead singer Donnie Van Zant is 57; soap actor Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott on “The Young and the Restless”) is 56; Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana is 53; actor Hugh Laurie (Dr. Gregory House on “House”) is 50; 2006 U.S. Open champion golfer Geoff Ogilvy is 32; former Connecticut and current WNBA star Diana Taurasi is 27; New York Mets shortstop José Reyes is 26; and movie heartthrob Shia LeBeouf is 23.

Several well-known people also share this date as the day they passed into history. Among those who died on the 11th of June: conqueror Alexander the Great; Boy Scouts of America founder Daniel Carter Beard; movie icon John Wayne; actor DeForest Kelley (Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the original “Star Trek”); Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; and legendary TV newsman David Brinkley.

AND FINALLY

** In case you missed it, Phil Steele released his preseason All-Big Ten team last week and named four Ohio State players to the first team – safety Kurt Coleman, cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, offensive lineman Justin Boren and return specialist Ray Small. Steele also named quarterback Terrelle Pryor, safety Anderson Russell, linebacker Ross Homan and defensive end Thaddeus Gibson to his second team while kicker Aaron Pettrey, running back Brandon Saine, center Michael Brewster and receiver DeVier Posey earned third-team selections. Kick returner Lamaar “Flash” Thomas was on the fourth team.

** Last week, the NCAA announced it would suspend membership dues for the next school year, a move the body figures will save a collective $1.3 million. Before you get too excited, however, the plan will save individual schools only between $900 and $1,800. That’s how much annual dues are depending upon which of the NCAA’s three divisions the school participates.

** If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Father’s Day gift for that Notre Dame dad on your list, I may have something for you. The Fighting Irish are going to upgrade their stadium scoreboards this season and will be auctioning off one of their old scoreboards with Steiner Sports Memorabilia. The scoreboard is 40 feet long and 16¼ feet high, and was installed at Notre Dame Stadium in 1997. So far, the only bid of $1,988 had not met the reserve. In case you’re interested, click here.

** A couple of weeks ago, I jokingly suggested to Cleveland Indians management that it might want to inquire about the services of Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. Some joke. The 90-year-old will be the starting pitcher for the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic, set for Father’s Day in Cooperstown, N.Y. Feller, who went 266-162 with a lifetime 3.25 ERA, said, “I’ll be throwing just as hard as ever, but the ball probably won’t be going quite as fast.”

** Tiger Woods seems serious about defending his U.S. Open championship this week at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. On his way home to Florida after winning the Memorial Tournament last weekend, Woods took a side trip to Long Island on Monday morning and played 18 holes on the Black Course with swing coach Hank Haney. After that round, Woods hopped into his private jet and played 18 more holes Monday afternoon on his home course.

** Congratulations to former Ohio State golfer Vaughn Snyder, who advanced to the U.S. Open championship after firing rounds of 67-69 on the South Course at NCR Country Club in Dayton in sectional qualifying Monday. The Massillon, Ohio, native is among the final field of 156 for the Open, which begins June 18.

** For those of you lamenting Nick Montana’s choice to attend Washington instead of Ohio State, remember that the chip off the old block is rarely as good as the original. There are exceptions, of course – Ken Griffey Jr. and Hank Williams Jr. readily come to mind – but there are many more who couldn’t live up to the family name. Let’s just wish Montana well in the Pacific Northwest and move on.

Counting Down OSU’s Toughest ’09 Opponents

Exactly 13 weeks from tomorrow – 91 days to be even more exact – Ohio State will kick off the 2009 football season with a couple of goals in mind.

The Buckeyes will be shooting for their fifth consecutive Big Ten championship, only one off the conference record of six in a row set by OSU between 1972 and ’77. The team will also be shooting for an unprecedented sixth straight victory over archrival Michigan while attempting to extend their string of Bowl Championship Series berths to five in a row.

Those goals are certainly within the Buckeyes’ grasp. So, too, could be other loftier goals such as Terrelle Pryor becoming the third sophomore quarterback in a row to win the Heisman Trophy. There is also the ultimate goal of every team – earning a trip to the BCS National Championship Game. If Ohio State accomplishes that one, it becomes only the second team in BCS history to play in four title games. (Oklahoma is the other one.)

Before any of the aforementioned can occur, however, the Buckeyes have to navigate their way through a 2009 season that features a handful of tough games and more than a couple of gimmes. Here is a breakdown of that schedule in reverse order of difficulty.

12. NEW MEXICO STATE – OCT. 31

The Aggies will be breaking in a new offensive system as well as a new head coach this season. Gone is pass-happy Hal Mumme (Tim Couch’s mentor in the late 1990s at Kentucky) and his successor, DeWayne Walker, has decided to install a run-oriented offense.

That’s not exactly music to the ears of fans because New Mexico State finished 10th in Division I-A last year in passing yards. Even so, the Aggies won only three games last season and were 3-9 overall because of an abysmal running attack that averaged a measly 54.2 yards per game. The defense wasn’t much better – NMSU surrendered an average of 34.1 points per game and that ranked 105th out of 119 I-A schools.

Walker, who was a two-year letterman at Minnesota in 1981-82, will likely begin to get things turned around in Las Cruces but not quickly enough to pull an upset over Ohio State. It is likely to be a scary Halloween night in the Horseshoe for the Aggies.

11. AT INDIANA – OCT. 3

Terry Hoeppner’s death two years ago derailed the Indiana program which seemed to be enjoying a renaissance. Now the Hoosiers appear ready to extend a streak that has produced losing records in 12 of the past 13 seasons.

Head coach Bill Lynch enters the 2009 season with a depleted roster after kicking quarterback Kellen Lewis off the team for multiple team infractions. Lewis was easily the Hoosiers’ best player, but even with him the team was likely to struggle. The schedule-makers didn’t do IU any favors either with road games at Virginia, Iowa and Penn State.

One of the Hoosiers’ marquee games will be a prime-time contest when the Buckeyes travel to Bloomington for the first time since 2005. However, Ohio State is working on a 15-game winning streak in the series, including 6-0 under Jim Tressel. The average score in just those six games is 37-10.

10. NAVY – SEPT. 5

There could be more here than meets the eye, especially since Navy has had the No. 1 rushing offense in the country for two years running. It’s difficult for most teams to defend the triple option since they don’t see it much anymore and certainly don’t practice against it very often.

That will be a little different for the Buckeyes, who have all summer to gear up to stop such an attack. When the Midshipmen cannot run the ball, they simply do not win. In their eight victories last season, they averaged 331.9 yards rushing. In their five defeats, that average dropped to 229.2.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Heacock has more than his share of critics, and many of them point to last year’s ranking of 18th in the nation against the run. That was the Buckeyes’ worst showing in run defense since ranking 35th in 2004. Still, one would think OSU will be ready to go. After all, the team hasn’t lost a season opener at home since 1978, outscoring the opposition by about three touchdowns over that 26-game span.

9. TOLEDO AT CLEVELAND – SEPT. 19

Don’t be fooled by the fact the Rockets were 3-9 last year and finished tied for last place in the MAC West. Toledo has a returning starter at nearly every position, including quarterback Aaron Opelt and exciting tailback Morgan Williams. Opelt has thrown for 4,807 yards and 30 TDs during his career while Williams burst on the scene last year to rush for 1,010 yards while averaging 6.0 yards per carry.

Former OSU cornerbacks coach Tim Beckman takes over the head coaching position in Toledo this season, his first shot at running a program after serving as an assistant since 1988. If history proves anything, he’s not going to have an easy time of it in this contest. Former Tressel assistants such as Mark Snyder and Mark Dantonio are winless against their old boss since he got to Ohio State.

In addition to Beckman, there are a couple of other intriguing storylines that go along with this game. The Rockets, of course, beat Michigan in Ann Arbor last season, leading the players to believe they can pull a similar upset this year. And the game will be played in Cleveland Browns Stadium, and Toledo needs only to look back to 2002 when Cincinnati nearly upset the Buckeyes in Paul Brown Stadium. Will all of that be enough to become the first Ohio team to beat Ohio State since 1921? Probably not.

8. AT PURDUE (OCT. 17)

Purdue could be the poster child for why it is a bad idea to name a coach-in-waiting. During Joe Tiller’s final season in West Lafayette, the Boilermakers threw up all over themselves (polite way of saying they quit on ol’ Uncle Joe) and finished 4-8 overall. That was only the second losing season for Tiller in a dozen years at Purdue.

Now that bunch of underachievers is new head coach Danny Hope’s problem and he has to find a way to jump-start an offense that tanked in 2008. The bad news is that he has to begin by finding eight new starters on offense. The good news? The guys he had to replace were seemingly going through the motions at times last year, so a fresh start may be good for everyone.

Lost amid Purdue’s season of a year ago was the fact it played Ohio State about as tough as it played anyone in a 16-3 loss in Columbus. But the Boilermakers never seem to have the same fire at home – they have lost seven of their last nine to the Buckeyes in West Lafayette.

7. WISCONSIN – OCT. 10

The Badgers have taken a mighty tumble since Bret Bielema took over as head coach. After Bielema went 12-1 in 2006 as Barry Alvarez’s hand-picked successor, the Badgers slipped to 9-4 in ’07 and just 7-6 last season. That drop-off, along with a rumored penchant for the nightlife in Madison, may make the coach’s seat extremely hot this season if he doesn’t get the ship headed back in the right direction.

Unfortunately for Bielema, the Badgers are not much more than a question mark as they embark on the 2009 season. Job one will be to figure out who the starting quarterback is going to be – fifth-year senior Dustin Scherer or redshirt freshman Curt Phillips. Next, Bielema has to find replacements for five members of the defensive front seven.

Ohio State and Wisconsin have had a spirited rivalry for past decade or so with the teams splitting eight games since 1999. During that span, the Badgers have won three of four in Ohio Stadium, including two of three against Tressel.

6. AT MICHIGAN – NOV. 21

I flip-flopped back and forth with the rankings of the Michigan and Wisconsin games. While how good the Badgers are going to be remains anyone’s guess, it doesn’t seem likely the Wolverines will be much better in Rich Rodriguez’s second year than they were in his first.

There is, however, that little thing about a rivalry that goes back to 1897 – a series during which the perceived weaker team has won more than its fair share of games. Therefore, on sheer sentimentality alone, I put this game at No. 6 although even ranking it that low is testament to how much the Wolverines are expected to struggle again.

By the time the traditional season finale rolls around, the Buckeyes could have an awful lot to play for while their rivals may face the same problems they did last year – keeping enough healthy bodies in the lineup to put up a representative fight.

No one expects Ohio State’s winning streak against Michigan to last forever. There is a reason why the Buckeyes have never before won six straight in the series. That’s because it isn’t easy. Likewise, there is a reason why the Wolverines have a 30-19-4 record in Ann Arbor against OSU. An upset isn’t out of the question, of course. It just isn’t very likely.

5. MINNESOTA – OCT. 24

Call me crazy but I think Minnesota is one of the dark horse teams in the Big Ten this season. Many believe last year’s six-game improvement from 1-11 to 7-5 in the regular season was a fluke. But head coach Tim Brewster has his team believing in his rah-rah style, and the Gophers are about as talented as they have been in quite some time.

For starters, nearly everyone is back for Brewster, including quarterback Adam Weber, wide receiver Eric Decker and eight others on offense. The Gophers are so loaded that talented youngster MarQueis Gray may steal some snaps from Weber. The only problem is finding any kind of consistent running attack, and Brewster said he addressed that with the hiring of new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. Not sure how Fisch helps the running game, though. He has spent most of his 11-year career as a receivers coach, including last year with the NFL’s Denver Broncos.

If Fisch can get any kind of running game started to take the heat off Weber and/or Gray, that will leave the defense as the only thing standing between the Gophers and championship contention. For all of its improvement in 2008, Minnesota still ranked only 10th in the conference in total defense. That must improve if the Gophers are to successfully navigate the two-week stretch that takes them to Happy Valley the Saturday before they come to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ homecoming.

4. ILLINOIS – SEPT. 26

The Illini are about as close to Jekyll and Hyde as you’re going to get in the Big Ten. Are they the team that shocked everyone and went to the Rose Bowl in 2007? Or are they the team that stumbled its way to a losing season last year?

Critics are going to say the latter, of course, and use as ammunition the fact that Illinois has posted losing records in six of the last seven seasons. Still, head coach Ron Zook has amassed a lot of talent in Champaign and his team has as many good players at key positions as any other in the conference. That is especially true on offense where Juice Williams returns at quarterback and receiver Rejus Benn is one of the top young playmakers in college football. Williams has to cut down on his mistakes, though. During his career, he has thrown 44 TDs but pitched 37 interceptions.

Defensively, the Illini are a bit of a mystery. With studs like Martez Wilson, who moves to middle linebacker in 2009, the team ought to be one of the Big Ten’s best. Yet last year, it ranked only in the middle of the pack.

There is no doubt Zook – an Ohio native who spent three seasons on John Cooper’s OSU staff from 1988-90 – wants this game desperately. But although his team knocked off the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes in Columbus two years ago, history is not on his side. Tressel is 4-2 against the Illini, and the Buckeyes have won nine of the last 12 in the series. This game is the Big Ten opener for both teams, and Illinois will be coming off an open week.

3. IOWA – NOV. 14

In my humble opinion, the Hawkeyes are going to have a boatload of trouble finding a suitable replacement for tailback Shonn Greene. Not only that, the offensive line that blew open so many holes for Greene last season loses both guard Seth Olsen and center Rob Bruggeman.

Secondly, when was the last time a Kirk Ferentz team threw an actual scare into the Buckeyes? Since 2003, the Hawkeyes have been ranked three times entering their game against Ohio State and lost all three times. Not only that, the games were never really close, including 2006 when No. 13 Iowa was gunning for an upset in Iowa City and took a 38-17 trip to the woodshed.

Since sharing the 2004 Big Ten championship with Michigan, the Hawkeyes have perhaps been as disappointing as any other team in the conference. The past four seasons have produced a middling 28-22 record along with a litany of off-the-field problems for Ferentz and his program.

Having noted all of that, the Hawkeyes couldn’t be in a better spot schedule-wise despite not having tasted victory at Ohio Stadium since 1991. They come to Columbus after a two-week home stand with Indiana and Northwestern while the Buckeyes will be coming off a trip to Penn State.

2. AT PENN STATE – NOV. 7

In each of the past two years, Ohio State has lost a Big Ten home game it should have won. Two years ago, Williams led Illinois to a 28-21 victory. Last year, it was Darryl Clark, who came through for Penn State while leading his team to a 13-6 win. Williams couldn’t capture lightning in a bottle two years in a row, and now Clark gets to try. It won’t be easy since the Nittany Lions lost several offensive linemen and receivers to graduation and the NFL.

But the old master still has a thing or two up his sleeve. Joe Paterno would rather play defense anyway, and with a linebacking crew that features Josh Hull, Navarro Bowman and Sean Lee, the Lions should be nasty on D. Also, Clark has enough holdovers from last year – including 1,000-yard rusher Evan Royster and steady backup Stephfon Green – that Penn State should score enough.

A trip to Happy Valley is never a picnic although Tressel’s record is 2-2 there. A couple of other factors may tilt in Ohio State’s favor. First, the game will not be a nighttime affair, making the Beaver Stadium crazies just a little less so. Secondly, if Terrelle Pryor has any game circled on his calendar, it’s this one. His late fumble did the Buckeyes in last year and he knows it. I would guess the OSU quarterback has a little payback in mind.

1. USC – SEPT. 12

No surprise here. The Traveling Trojan Show starring Pistol Pete Carroll rolls into town in week two for another prime-time game that nearly no one gives Ohio State a chance to win. That stands to reason since every remaining member of the Buckeyes still has 35-3 tread marks on their backsides.

This will be a different USC team, of course. Gone are quarterback Mark Sanchez as well as linebacker Rey Maualuga and seven other defensive starters. But if the old saying “We’re don’t rebuild; we reload” is true of any college team, it is true of the Trojans. Carroll signs more five-star prospects than almost anyone and has plenty of them left over for 2009.

For the Buckeyes to entertain any thought of winning this game, they will have to figure out a way to move the ball consistently against USC. Last year, in case you have forgotten, Ohio State totaled 207 yards of offense against the Trojans – 69 of it on a 17-play drive early in the first quarter. In the second half, the Buckeyes were absolutely pathetic – 21 plays from scrimmage, 25 total yards.

Pryor could make the difference, of course. He played in last year’s game, rushing for 40 yards and throwing for 52 on 7-for-9 passing. But he can’t be the only Buckeye who’s on his game Sept. 12. It doesn’t matter who USC has on defense – if the offensive line can’t at least neutralize the line of scrimmage, Ohio State will be in for another long night.

DID YOU KNOW?

Did you know that NCAA Bylaw 13.10.5 prevents universities from “publicizing an athlete’s visit or allowing the visitor to “participate in team activities that would make the public or media aware of the prospective student-athlete’s visit to the institution (e.g., running out of the tunnel with team, celebratory walks to or around the stadium/arena, on-field pregame celebrations).”

Did you know that Auburn had its “Big Cat Weekend” last week during which the Tigers hosted a bunch of blue-chip prospects on unofficial visits, and that the event was advertised on all three major websites that cover Auburn with push-pinned message board posts urging fans to attend? (The posts did not attribute the information to coaches or other Auburn staff members, but many fans showed up for what was clearly a planned event with Auburn police providing crowd and traffic control and school mascot Aubie helping lead cheers.

And did you know that when ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman contacted a college administrator about the incident, he got a strange reaction?

“That is one of the biggest problems I have with the NCAA,” the administrator told Feldman. “All of the prospects enjoyed it, and they leave the campus having a great time. Auburn will report a secondary violation, which is nothing. In the end they will probably get some of those players.”

And then he added, “(The NCAA) should put in a rule that if you have multiple reported violations with a prospect you are not allowed to recruit him.”

The NCAA rule book is 412 pages thick and that’s not in there?

HAPPY! HAPPY!

On that happy note, we mark today’s Buckeye birthday which belongs to former OSU defensive end Vernon Gholston. He turns 23 today.

Gholston was born June 5, 1986, in Detroit, and was recruited as a linebacker out of Cass Technical. It didn’t take long for Ohio State to move the chiseled 6-4, 260-pounder to a defensive end spot and Gholston flourished there, setting a single-season school record with 14 sacks and earning Big Ten defensive lineman of the year honors. He opted to skip his final year of college eligibility and the New York Jets took him with the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Gholston experienced a tough rookie season with the Jets, playing mostly on special teams and registering only nine tackles in 15 games (eight of them assists). Gholston is expecting bigger and better things in 2009 under the schemes of new head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Also, Gholston has been working during the offseason with Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Evidently, so far so good.

Other luminaries celebrating birthdays this 5th day of June: Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Art Donovan is 84; journalist Bill Moyers is 75; Sixties television actress Connie Hines (Wilbur Post’s wife, Carol, on “Mister Ed”) is 73; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is 68; novelist Ken Follett is 60; financial advisor Suze Orman is 58; Grammy winning musician Kenneth Gorelick (better known as Kenny G) is 53; singer/songwriter Brian McKnight is 40; actor/singer Mark Wahlberg is 38; Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Torry Holt is 33; Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz is 30; Ottawa Senators center Mike Fisher is 29; Cincinnati Reds lefthander Bill Bray is 26; and New Orleans Saints receiver Marques Colston is 26.

Also sharing birthdays today are Olympic gold medal sprinter Tommie Smith, who is 65, and bronze medalist John Carlos, who is 64. Smith and Carlos created a stir during the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City after placing first and third in the 200-meter finals. On the medal stand, Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists during the playing of the national anthem. The “Power to the People” salute created a great deal of controversy in 1968 and led to the sprinters being suspended by the International Olympic Committee and ostracized for several years by the U.S. sports establishment.

The runners landed on their feet, however. Smith played three years in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals and later became track coach at Oberlin. More recently, he has been a faculty member at Santa Monica College, a two-year community college in Santa Monica, Calif. Carlos also played pro football – one year in the NFL and two in the Canadian league – and is currently a high school track coach in Palm Springs, Calif. Ironically, Carlos worked for a time for the U.S. Olympic Committee and was a member of the organizing committee for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

AND FINALLY

** Here’s an interesting little nugget that could conspire to keep Ohio State and any other deserving Big Ten school out of the Rose Bowl for the foreseeable future. There is reportedly a clause in the new BCS contract with ESPN – which will begin after the 2010 regular season – that says if the Rose Bowl loses one of its champions to the BCS National Championship Game that opening will be automatically filled by a “coalition” (non-BCS conference) team if one has qualified. For example, let’s say some year that an 11-1 Ohio State team ties for the Big Ten championship but doesn’t get the conference’s automatic berth in the Rose Bowl. Let’s say that same year that a team like Boise State or Hawaii goes undefeated. If that team doesn’t get into the national title game (and what are the chances of that?) it would automatically go to the Rose. The new clause is the Bowl Championship Series’ sneaky little way of increasing access of the five coalition conferences to its games. That way, should the BCS get sued and hauled back before Congress, it is another way it can counter the claim that the coalition schools don’t have enough access.

** Minnesota plans to dedicate its new TCF Stadium in style by honoring some of its greats from the past during the Sept. 12 opener against Air Force. The Gophers will honor former head coach Murray Warmath as well as former players Bobby Bell, Billy Bye, Bob McNamara, Sandy Stephens and Bud Grant (yes, that Bud Grant). Warmath, who is 96 and directed the school’s national championship team in 1960, will be the honorary coach for the game. The five ex-players have been named honorary captains.

** It seems that everyone’s favorite sideline reporter, sugary-sweet Erin Andrews, has a burning desire to compete on “Dancing With The Stars.” That revelation came during a recent Q&A with Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg.

** One of the other nuggets in the story reveals that Andrews’ stylists is Paige Geran, who has also dressed Britney Spears, Wayne Brady, the Spice Girls and American Idols on-tour among many others. Andrews said her work clothes arrive at the hotels where she’s staying and that she trusts they’ll be appropriate to the sporting event she’s covering. She’s wrong. They’re not. A short skirt during a windy Home Run Derby? Skin-tight pants and knee-high boots at the Big Ten basketball tournament? I like a pretty girl as much as the next red-blooded American guy, and there is no questioning Andrews’ attractiveness. But I’ve seen her at some venues where she looks like she’s dressed to go clubbing. That may be easy on the eyes of the spectators and players, but trust me when I tell you it is not appropriate work attire. Erin is fairly good at what she does, but she’s never going to be taken seriously if she continues to show up for work looking like she’s on her way to a night on the town.

** The Washington Nationals on Tuesday fired pitching coach Randy St. Claire. Not that St. Claire was the sole problem, but he was a convenient scapegoat. At the time of his firing, the Natties had an MLB-worst 13-36 record with a bloated 5.69 team ERA. They had also allowed the most runs (308) and recorded the fewest saves (eight) of any team in baseball. Washington’s 12 blown saves were also a league high.

** Also, Nationals outfielder Adam Dunn had 16 home runs through Wednesday while the Nationals had only 14 victories. In case you’re wondering, no player has ever finished the season with more home runs than his team had victories.

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