After the offseason of infinite pain, football tickets arrive!

Thank goodness that tickets arrived in the mail today! We can get back to playing football and enjoying the games, and quit focusing on all the activity off the field.

Despite all the offseason turmoil, or maybe because of it, I am actually looking forward to this season quite a bit. There is an uncertainty about OSU this season that has been lacking in recent years. Key positions are major question marks. A new coaching philosophy will be in play. That School Up North has a new staff and some new life. The entry of Nebraska into the league is great news, I would love to get to the OSU/Nebraska game this year. The divisional lineup of the Big10 is a new element. It all adds up to an exciting season.

OSU’s home schedule is interesting, tho not great. Nebraska and Michigan are away which is too bad. But Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State at home are great games.

No idea which games we are going to get to. Our schedule is very complex this late summer and fall. But hope to see some of you there…

OSU scholarships for Marion County residents

For about the 10th year now we are providing funding for scholarships for Marion County residents and Marion County high school graduates. We’ve used different mechanisms in the past, but for the last 5-6 years we’ve done this through the OSU financial aid office as need-based scholarships for Marion County residents or Marion Country high school graduates, any high school in the county, attending any OSU campus. If you know someone who is from the Marion area and wants to attend OSU and needs some help, make sure they ask about!

We have a deep and ongoing connection to the Marion area — we had great experiences growing up there. Much of our extended family still live there and we get back for an extended visit once a year. We are blessed with families who encouraged and supported us to get our educations, educations which have meant a lot to us. And we have fond memories of our time at The Ohio State University. So we want to support the community, the university, and the students who need some help.

And the students who have been awarded scholarships so far are just awesome. We met about 10 of the then-current students a couple years ago at an OSU tailgate and they were all so impressive. Big goals, hard working, youthful vigor — it was inspiring to be around them. Just having a lunch with these students was a huge lift for us.

We’ve never been very vocal about our support but in these times of economic challenge, we felt it was important to become a little more vocal. We hope that everyone does what they can to support and encourage the full development of our young students. Some of these young people will go on to create businesses and jobs, lead our communities, enrich our lives through their art, or otherwise make a great contribution to our lives. Having them sidelined because they can’t quite make the economics of college work out, or having them burdened with a mountain of student loan debt — neither of these seem like good outcomes. So we do what we can, and we hope and trust that others do as well.

What I've been up to — Ohio, Europe, Studying…

Some silence in last month. Spent a lot of time enjoying family and central Ohio, fall is the time to be in the state with football, color changes, often good weather, etc.

And when not in Ohio, I was in Helsinki (recommended: Hotel Glo, Fazer Cafe), Stockholm (Lydmar Hotel, Vasa Museum, Sture shopping area, Skogskyrkog√•rden, Sodermalm, Fasching Jazz Club, Opera Bar, oh and much more), and Brussels (Hotel Amigo, St Michael/St Gudula Cathedral, Roue d’Or, Musee Magritte, Comic Museum, Sablon, Wittamer chocolates, and much more).

Mentally I’ve been thinking about Fat Spaniel, a couple new things, and my half time load at UW this term as I continue my education. Lots of differential equations theory and numerical analysis, stuff I touched on 25 years ago, but good to get the base refreshed. Amazing how the tools have changed — MatLab and Mathematica are just incredible pieces of software.

More Great Things about Central Ohio — Part 4

* “Pink Moon Cupcake Bakery”: My sister turned me on to this one, I never would have found the place otherwise. Awesome cupcakes in a quaint old town.
* Lawns. My gosh do people love their lawns here. Even modest houses have gigantic expanses of grass, all lovingly tended. People spend half their weekend mowing. And the mowers! These things are nearly RV-sized. In Seattle, lawns are often an afterthought, and sometimes nonexistent — grass just doesn’t do as well in the climate.
* The Ohio State University Hospital. We had an appointment there this week, the staff were unfailingly polite, honestly a better experience than that at the many other facilities we have visited.

Ohio Hiking Trail resources

Been digging around a bit for more trail resources. Came across some useful sites. A lot of these are primarily bike trails over old rail and canal ROWs but still pretty interesting:

* “The DNR”: summarizes trails across all state properties, including length and difficulty. Helpful because trail length does not correlate with park size at all. The list is organize by county, so here is a “county map”: just in case you’ve forgotten the 88 counties and their county seats (which I had to memorize in 5th? grade)
* “Buckeye Trail”: A walking trail around the state, a lot of it on parkland, some on roads. Interesting and might be a fun way to see some stuff.
* “North Country Trail”: A trail through the state, connecting with neighboring states. Overlaps the Buckeye Trail but has some different elements.
* “Miami Valley Trails Org”: Nice interactive map of all the trails in southwestern Ohio.

Great things about Central Ohio — Part 3

OK Central Ohio doesn’t have a lot of huge national forests or national parks, and so at first I thought hiking opportunities were constrained.

But now I’ve stumbled across all these “state nature preserves”: and some of them are pretty darned big — plenty of ~100 acre preserves, and some huge ones — Blackhand Gorge at 956 acres, Cedar Bog at 427 acres, Lawrence Woods at 1035 acres! I’ve yet to visit any of these but I will get out to at least one in the next week.

Great Things about Central Ohio, Part Two

* Crickets and Cicadas. Man I totally miss these in Seattle. Sitting out in the evening here, you almost need earplugs, the crickets and cicadas kick up such a ruckus. Very cool.
* Lightning Bugs. Wrong time of year for them, but another great bug. Chasing these in the early summer is an experience not to be missed for any kid.
* I have a love/hate relationship with WalMart. Hard not to love their prices. Easy to hate most other aspects.
* “Mohican State Forest”: On an early September weekday morning, the place was empty and I got a great hike in. An odd kind of place — mixed use taken to the extreme. A state park and forest, a resort, a juvenile detention center all co-located. Hunting and horseback and hiking and ATVs and bikes and snowmobiles all permitted. Again thankfully the place was empty this morning and so a good hiking experience. I don’t think I’d want to be there on a busy weekend.

Great things about Central Ohio

* “L&P Cake and Candy Shoppe”: Seriously maybe the best frosted sugar cookie ever.
* “Crum Strawberry Farm”: After eating their strawberries, I resolve to never buy grocery story strawberries again.
* The entire scene Saturday night at the Horseshoe. The tailgating, the friends and family, the stadium, the game. Tough ending but what a night. I thought last year’s Penn State game was the craziest ever but this was over the top. We sat down for maybe 5 minutes the entire game, the south stands were hopping all night long

Demographics and long term competitiveness in college football

Article in today’s WSJ about “Fasting Dying Cities” and Ohio is all too well represented (though Canton is growing, what is the story there??).

So let’s look at the big picture — college football competitiveness. It is not so much that Ohio and neighboring states are losing population — in fact they are staying pretty constant. So on the one hand, there is no reason to think that the talent pool will get any worse for the recruiting grounds that OSU tends to dominate.

However…the population in Texas, Florida, California continues to grow significantly and therein is a problem. Assuming that physical skills and coaching quality is distributed similarly in both sets of states, the top of the bell curve in the southern states will just continue to have even more great candidates while the midwest states will be flat.

Thankfully we are in a scholarship cap regime, so the leading schools in the southern states just can’t sweep all these kids up — OSU has 8-10 kids on the roster from Florida this year, a couple more from Georgia and Texas. And as population countrywide grows, while scholarship limits stay flat, you have to believe that talent will continue to spread out as it has done in basketball, creating greater parity throughout Division I in the long run.

Also, the southern states are not dominated by a single school the way Ohio is — Florida has UF, Miami, FSU, and all the up and comers like FIA, FAU, UCF, etc; Texas has UT, A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, SMU; California has USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, SJSU, Fresno State, etc. And every neighboring state is trying to poach from these states — Oklahoma and OSU and LSU poaching into Texas, Arizonas and Oregons and Washingtons poaching into California, etc. This happens in Ohio too of course, Michigan and ND and PSU poach into Ohio, and increasingly Pitt and MSU and Cincinnati. Thankfully IU and Kentucky are kind of moribund.

So long term — I suspect OSU can hold its own; however, you have to assume that the lead institutions in the fastest growing, high population states will have a builtin advantage due to a greater talent pool around them — UF, UT, and USC. OSU will have to work hard to maintain at this level — continuing to dominate Ohio recruiting, picking up great talent from neighboring states, and having a healthy flow of kids from Florida, Texas, California, etc. The pipeline from Florida seems to be working, and there is some representation from Texas though we could do better there. California is thin, and boy that is a long way culturally and geographically for an 18 year old to travel.

Marion Ohio — the highlights

  • OHS – Places – Harding Home. Contains almost all the original furnishings of Harding.
  • Harding Tomb — tho we always called it the Harding Memorial. When I was very very young I was skinny enough to slip thru the bars.
  • Other Marion Museums — the Stengel-True Museum, Unuion Station, the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. Wyandot historically produced much of the popping corn in the country…
  • Hence the annual Popcorn Festival
  • The Palace Theatre, a shockingly nice theatre for this size town. Built during Marion’s heydays in the 1920s…
  • Unfortunately there is nothing much to see from Marion’s industrial boom days, but from Wikipedia: “Products of the Marion Steam Shovel Company (later Marion Power Shovel) built the Panama Canal and in the 1960s, NASA contracted with Power Shovel to construct the crawler-transporters that moved the assembled Saturn V rockets, used by Project Apollo, to the launch pad. In 1911, 80% of the nation’s steam shovel and heavy duty earth moving equipment was manufactured in Marion, Ohio.” I worked 3 summers for the Shovel.
  • Nearby towns — Waldo (Home of the G&R, famous for fried balogna sandwiches), LaRue (smallest town ever to have an NFL franchise)

The OSU and the bowls

OK now that I am off the high of the Michigan game, what’s next? Let’s assume enough of the BCS top 6 win out, ie there is no way for The OSU to jump to the #2 position. Si.COM says OSU will get left out of the BCS mix, pushed out by Oregon and ND — the claim being that the Fiesta Bowl holds all the cards and that they may be tired of The OSU.

After a careful reading of the BCS selection rules, I don’t get it. The Fiesta loses Texas to the Rose and so they get first pick to replace. They can pick any BCS eligible team. I think the game is all about avoiding WVU as they are the worst TV draw. So the Fiesta can pick Penn State as their first team. Then they have to list 3 choices for their second team, and WVU as a conf champ has to be at least their #2 pick. And the Orange wins tiebreakers, so assuming both the Orange and the Fiesta choose ND as their first choice, the Fiesta gets WVU (or even worse, USF!!).

Alternatively, the Fiesta could pick ND as their first team, and then they have to list Penn State and WVU as their top two choices in their list of three. Again they lose the tiebreaker to the Orange and end up with WVU.

Either way it seems like the Sugar ends up with the last choice and (assuming The OSU falls this far) will get to pick between The OSU or Oregon. And it has been a while since The OSU has been to the Sugar.

Related post: Most recent NCAA stupidity

Going 1-3 over the last four years had made the Michigan fan base testy

The UM fan base is getting rev’ed up for The Game. Westsider Rider has some of the best:

  • A friend of mine on the way to the game gets flipped the bird by a little kid, meaning like 8 years old and his dad pats him on the head and says “Good Job”. We start them young in Ohio.
  • This past year in Vegas during the summer I’m walking into the Mirage as I walk in head to toe in Michigan gear, my good luck gambling gear, an old grandma easily 60+ yells at me “Fuck Michigan!” I don’t know what the fuss is, that is pretty much how we say “good morning” to each other in Ohio.
  • The one that trips people out is the year Ohio State won the National Championship you can see their crowd in Tempe and read lips as they pan the crowd following the game people are yelling “Fuck Michigan!” Like we have any relevance at that point, that’s how much they care about us. You have to understand, “F M” is a good sentiment for any occasion.

Former UM QB Michael Taylor whines about going to Ohio Stadium. Hey, well, don’t come again if it is so bad.

UM people seem to have thin skins — here’s hoping they have another year to stew in their juices.

Related post: The Game