Saturday, September 30, 2006

Game of the Week

Because our gridiron guru, Mark Mathis, is MIA this week, the Wiz has volunteered for the daunting task of picking a winner in our game of the week. Do not be concerned, ladies and gentlemen. The Wiz has exceptional credentials, having spent considerable time at various betting parlors, race tracks, sportsbooks and other dens of inequity. When it comes to putting the money down, the man knows how to do it. So let's get to it!

Iowa City is the place to be Saturday. The Hawkeyes take on No. 1 Ohio State in the biggest game in these parts since 1985, when No. 1 Iowa beat No. 2 Michigan, 12-10. But there will be no such party this time around. We're looking for the Buckeyes to take it to the Hawkeyes. Now before Hawkeye fans jump all over the Wiz, the health of quarterback Drew Tate remains a concern in this corner of cyberspace. He sat out the Syracuse game three weeks ago and when he has played, Tate has not looked sharp against so-so competition. Tate's backup, Jason Manson, threw four interceptions against Syracuse. Putting it all together gives us no reason to believe Iowa can spring the upset. Too many offensive weapons, just too many athletes on the Ohio State side of the ball. The Buckeyes win this and win it easily, 27-7.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Ted Ginn Jr. a Hawkeye? "If it wasn't Ohio State, he'd probably be at Iowa," Ted Ginn Sr. said (subscription, story is in comments).

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: Button down or business casual? Jim Tressel and Kirk Ferentz walk the coaching catwalk.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: To be considered among college football big boys, Iowa has to win.

Doug Lesmerises, Plain Dealer: Talent-rich Northeast Ohio has always been a recruiting target of Ohio State. Now Iowa is trying to get into the mix.

1 comment:

Dawizofodds said...

By Mike Hlas
Cedar Rapids Gazette

It won’t give Iowa fans any comfort, but Ted Ginn Jr. might have become a Hawkeye had he not signed with Ohio State in 2004.

Ginn, the junior wide receiver/ kick returner extraordinaire, visited Iowa a few years ago with his Glenville High School football coach. Who happened to be has dad. ‘‘If it wasn’t Ohio State, he’d probably be at Iowa,’’ Ted Ginn Sr. said Monday morning. ‘‘ That might be hard for you to believe, but that’s the way it was.’’

Ted Sr. drove his wife and son, the National Defensive Player of the Year as a prep, the 560 miles from Cleveland to Iowa City a few years ago. The Ginns spent 40 minutes chatting with Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz in his office after Ferentz fulfilled his postgame obligations.

‘‘It was more because Ted (Sr.) has a great friendship with (Iowa defensive backs coach) Phil Parker,’’ Ferentz said. Parker was an assistant coach at Toledo for 11 years. ‘‘Coach Ferentz and his staff have been good friends of mine over the years,’’ Ginn said. ‘‘As far as driving out there with my son, it was because of the people. I know there are good people there. I’ve known (Iowa offensive coordinator) Ken O’Keefe and Phil Parker for a long time.’’

That trip may have benefited Ferentz and his staff as a relationship-builder. Two of the 21 players from Ginn’s 2005 Glenville Tarblooders who were granted college athletic scholarships — 15 from I-A schools — signed with Iowa.

Quarterback Arvell Nelson and defensive back Derrick Smith are Ferentz’s first recruits from Glenville.

Iowa is recruiting three of this year’s Glenville players. Ginn exposed Iowa’s staff to 50 top Ohio preps this summer.

His ‘‘Road to Opportunity Division I Combine Tour’’ took the kids to Ball State, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Iowa, Notre Dame, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Marshall. The 12-day trip was arranged to coincide with when those schools held their summer football camps.

The bus was provided by an anonymous donor. Ginn said the players pay a nominal fee for the trip.

But most of the money for food, lodging and camp fees is donated to the Ted Ginn Sr. Foundation. Ginn’s goal is to attract enough sponsorship for four buses next year.

‘‘Back in 2001, I had one kid that I drove around to schools,’’ he said. ‘‘It turned into a van with four or five kids. Now it’s a bus, because I want to be able to help all the children.’’

It isn’t as if Glenville is the monster of all high school football programs and Ginn is lining his pockets because of it. He gets paid $3,000 a year to be the football coach. He took out a second mortgage on his house to help pay for one of the early ‘‘Combine Tour’’ trips.

He has been Glenville’s head football coach since 1997, and has worked at the school for 30 years. He’s coached players like his son, OSU quarterback Troy Smith and 2006 first-round NFL draft pick Donte Whitner, a former Ohio State safety. While Glenville has won no football state championships, there has been lots of winning and lots of player development.

Glenville is in the heart of Cleveland. A posh campus in a moneyed area, it isn’t.

‘‘We’re the typical innercity school,’’ Ginn said. ‘‘Things happen here. You deal with it.

‘‘But Glenville is different from a whole lot of other schools. We’re communitybased. We believe in the community, in giving back, things like that.’’

‘‘You’ve got to have a love, passion and understanding for kids, just knowing what they need and giving them what they need for an individual plan for life. They need so much, man. I think it’s like that across the country, but I’m not sure everybody in this business understands that.’’

Smith has known the Ginns since he was 7. Smith grew up in a single-parent home. Ted Sr. was the man in his life.

Smith was suspended for the the Buckeyes’ 2004 Alamo Bowl appearance and their 2005 season-opener because he took $500 from an Ohio State booster.

Ginn met with him after learning of the violation, telling him to change his attitude in a hurry.

‘‘He’s meant pretty much everything to me,’’ Smith told the New York Times.

Ginn interrupted a telephone interview Monday to round up some kids to set up chairs in the school’s cafeteria.

That was the same coach who attended the Cincinnati-Ohio State football game a few weeks ago and saw 10 scholarship players from Glenville, seven of them Buckeyes.

Ginn is the parent of a future NFL player and the mentor of a current one, Whitner. But it’s not as if he is full of self-satisfaction. Not in a school with 1,600 students.

‘‘We’ve got to do more,’’ Ginn said. ‘‘ It’s never enough.’”

Mike.Hlas@gazettecommunications.com