- By Marcus Hartman
Before we get started, let’s get one thing straight: Tonight’s basketball game between Indiana and Ohio State is not a homecoming for Archie Miller.
He’s not a native Ohioan, although he is from the half of Clevelvania that roots for the Steelers and Pirates.
But, of course, he made his name as head coach of the Dayton Flyers for six years and was an assistant at Ohio State for two seasons before that.
Now he’s got a chance to become a villain to Midwest fans if he can restore Indiana to its past glory.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are also under new management, as you may have heard.
When the Hoosiers snatched Miller away from Dayton, I thought that was pretty bad news for Ohio State, too.
He was the “it” candidate and a young up-and-comer with connections in the right places to recruit in the Midwest, much like Thad Matta when Ohio State hired him away from Xavier in 2004.
His ability to coach ‘em up at Dayton was impressive and obviously what made him a coveted coaching name.
Though the early reviews are mixed at IU, betting against him doing great things in Bloomington would be foolish.
As it turned out, new Buckeye boss Chris Holtmann is far more than a consolation prize for Ohio State, which didn’t go looking for a coach until a couple of months after Indiana hired Miller.
He put his program in place quickly at Butler, keeping the Bulldogs competitive in the Big East and upgrading the recruiting there as well.
In fact, Holtmann outperformed Miller on the recruiting trail in the three years both were on the job, at least if you believe the rankings (you should).
Dayton’s classes from 2015-17 ranked 91, 71 and 94 while Butler’s checked in at Nos. 103, 45 and 34,
(For 2017, that’s early spring rankings before changes such as four-star prospect Kyle Young following Holtmann to Ohio State and McKinley Wright leaving Dayton’s class to sign with Colorado instead.)
Holtmann is off to a hot start, overcoming some nonconference bumps to put the Buckeyes in position to contend for the conference crown.
A win over Indiana tonight could help reignite the rivalry between the two schools that burned brightly over the three decades of the Bobby Knight era, it also would strengthen Ohio State’s chances of earning a top four seed in the Big Ten tournament.
As for recruiting at their new schools, Miller got a big win when he signed Pickerington North four-star prospect Jerome Hunter last fall.
Both coaches signed good-looking classes, but Indiana’s got bragging rights so far, ranking No. 19 nationally — three spots ahead of Ohio State…
Then there’s Archie Miller’s old team.
Dayton has struggled to find consistency throughout Anthony Grant’s first season coaching his alma mater.
The Flyers are tied for eighth in the Atlantic 10 with Saint Louis (11-11, 4-5) but only 1½ games out of fourth place. Dayton has head-to-head tiebreakers over three of the top-four teams, though it still has to play one of those teams, Virginia Commonwealth, on the road.
What’s left on the regular season slate?
Meanwhile, there was a very interesting development involving Ohio State football and the local high school scene yesterday.
After we noted in this space standout Dunbar running back Tavion Thomas announced his de-commitment from Oklahoma, our partners at Land of 10 reported Ohio State is suddenly back in the game for Thomas.
The 247sports composite three-star visited Columbus unofficially last weekend and is headed back there this weekend on an official visit.
Rivals also reported Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford was in the Gem City at Dunbar yesterday.
Close observers of recruiting will note these type of moves this late in the game often mean OSU coach Urban Meyer feels good about his chances of landing a player — and it’s safe to assume Thomas didn’t go ahead and announce his change of plans for no reason.
If he ends up signing with Ohio State next week, Thomas will be the first Dayton City League player to do so for football since Colonel White running back Terry Pogue in 2000.
The last Dunbar football player to be a Buckeye?
You may have heard of him: Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson…
The Super Bowl may yet be ruined by one of the NFL’s terrible rules, but there’s hope it will be the last league game marred by the current definition of a catch.
Appearing on ESPN Radio’s now-listenable morning radio show with Trey Wingo and Mike Golic on Tuesday morning, commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the need to make some changes.
They even know where the biggest problem with the catch rules lie, so that’s a positive sign something good will actually get done:
“I think the thing where we’re really focused on is going to the ground, surviving the ground. I think that’s what has caused a lot fo the controversy and that’s what the committee will focus on in the next few weeks.”
When Wingo pointed out one of the biggest complaints is the difference between how a runner at the goal line and a player trying to make a catch at the goal line are officiated, Goodell replied:
“You make a really strong point. It’s what we call consistency. That’s what everybody wants from officiating… and it’s hard when you see there’s a different rule on a catch when you’re crossing the goal line as opposed to a run.”
He also said Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver, Middletown legend and former Ohio State standout Cris Carter is among the strict constructionists when it comes to what should be a catch: “Cris thinks you should catch the ball and hand it to an official and if you don’t it’s not a catch.”
Hopefully Carter is outvoted if he’s part of the discussions for fixing this rule in the offseason…