Cus Words

Random thoughts: Ohio State’s mentality, the Bengals future, Reds optimism, Warriors troubles and more


These would have been up sooner but Tuesday was spent putting out fires elsewhere

  • It took 10 games, but Ohio State finally got a win it could purely feel good about. Remains to be seen if Michigan State ends up being a true quality win, but that’s secondary if you ask me. A shot of confidence is something the Buckeyes needed more than a resume-builder, but you can’t have one without the other I guess.
  • Big week for Dwayne Haskins. The Ohio State quarterback is heading home to Maryland with a chance to break some school records against the team to which he was once committed. He also happens to be coming off a couple of so-so games and surely wants to both impress the hometown folks and get some positive momentum ahead of his first start against Michigan. 
  • As the season has gone on, we are seeing more and more why there was never really any serious consideration of swapping Haskins for J.T. Barrett last season. Despite Barrett’s streakiness as a passer, his leadership was invaluable — and Haskins even a year later is still developing intangibles Barrett seems to have brought with him from Texas. That is not a knock on Haskins but rather an appreciation of Barrett’s uniqueness. I think Haskins is probably going through a normal cycle of growth. He looked awesome when everything was going his way the first two weeks of the season and overcame adversity against TCU and Penn State but it’s a long season and maintaining a certain level all year is tough. 
  • Apparently Ohio State is planning to (as usual) wear alternate uniforms for the Michigan game. In an ironic twist, this time around it means the Buckeyes will look more like the Buckeyes as the uniforms of the late ‘60s ended up being the dominant look until 2006 when they switch the home jerseys to Indiana knockoffs. 
  • It’s not that I don’t like alternate uniforms, I just happen to think most of Ohio State’s have been ugly or unimaginative and believe they should not wear them during the Michigan game, which they almost always do. The reported plans for this year are as close to an acceptable compromise as we’re going to get, I reckon. 
  • Also of note: Michigan State followed a surprisingly bad season with a surprisingly good season with a surprisingly weird season. 
  • Are Cheez-Its underrated?
  • Lots of football left to be played, but if Georgia upsets Alabama in the SEC championship game, we could end up having one-loss champions from the Big Ten, Big 12 and maybe even the Pac 12 all left out of the College Football Playoff. That would be a PR crisis for the CFP even worse than the LSU-Alabama rematch was for the BCS. Obviously that means we should all be rooting for Georgia to upset Alabama in the SEC championship game.
  • This Kevin Durant-Draymond Green kerfuffle is cool because it involves the guy who ruined the NBA (short term) by turning a raucously fun dynasty into the Death Star and the most overrated player in the league. Durant is probably the most talented player in the league even though he doesn’t do as much to stuff the stat sheet as LeBron James (he could if he wanted to but is more shot-oriented just like LeBron could score more if he were so inclined). Durant also frequently gives indication he’s not nearly as tough-minded as LeBron, which was never more evident than when he gave up trying to challenge the Warriors and joined them instead. Meanwhile, Green is a great role player who would be a nobody on just about any other team in the league. He’s managed to pull off the feat of being the ultimate glue guy and almost single-handedly ruining a championship series for his team when he got himself suspended in the 2016 Finals. Durant and Green deserve each other as much as their breakup was probably always inevitable. 
  • Meanwhile, is there any doubt we are living in a golden age of fast food
  • I get where Le’Veon Bell is coming from in terms of feeling he is undervalued, but I am pretty sure he’s played his hand very badly by sitting out this season. His motivation is apparently increasing his long-term earnings, but he’s more likely done the opposite. He’s forfeiting millions this season, and there is no guarantee he will make that money back even if he signs the same long-term contract he would have signed without holding out like this — which is no guarantee at this point, either.
  • Generating optimism about baseball has been hard in Cincinnati lately, but I am pretty tempted to think the Reds’ new pitching coach could make a huge impact right away. There’s no lack of talent on the staff, but for whatever reason execution has been extremely lacking for those guys at the major league level. Of course bringing in an established starter or two who knows what he’s doing and can set an example might help, too. 
  • I’m a believer in Hue Jackson as an assistant coach but his return to Cincinnati sounds like a strange arrangement. Obviously Marvin Lewis could use some help managing games, but wasn’t Jackson generally regarded as a poor game manager in Cleveland? Regardless, he’s obviously a guy who knows how to coach football even if he’s not head coach material. 
  • Then again is it fair to conclude Hue Jackson can’t hack it as a head coach based on his inability to win in a place no one else (even Bill Belichick) has done so consistently in 30 years?
  • I guess I’m intrigued to see what the Bengals do with Lewis running the defense. They really can’t get worse, so it could end up being a stroke of genius. The team certainly indicated when Lewis was re-signed in January they were making a two-year commitment, and I believe the roster needs another year to potentially round back into being a true contender. The offense is trending in the right direction (though the offensive line still needs work and no-shows against Kansas City and New Orleans are troublesome) but the defense was obviously going in the wrong one. Everything that happens from here on out is more about 2019 than 2018 as far as I’m concerned. 
  • Going back to the fires that had to be put out Tuesday, one of my favorite things these days is how much harder the national media makes our job on the local level. Whether it is with shoddy reporting or more often fly-by-night analysis that misses the mark badly because of a lack of perspective, knowledge or both, they really have a knack creating more work for local reporters while also turning readers and sources against us all. It’s a great formula for the future of the business! 
  • Related: At least once a week I find myself thinking, “Well people on the internet are already arguing about this, so I guess I need to write something up for them, but do I subject print readers to it, too, or are they better off not knowing this ever happened?”
  • Brining is one of the things people on the internet are not wrong about, though. 
  • Finally: More than a decade later, all those Nickelback songs everyone says they hated are still being played on the radio, so I guess they got the last laugh. 

“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook. 


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About the Author

Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox Media Group Ohio since 2016.