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September 1, 2011

Dienhart: Don't overlook Ohio State

Here is this week's "Three and Out," a weekly feature that will provide a quick but opinionated take from Tom Dienhart on three hot topics. This will be the last "Three and Out" until January.

1. Don't sleep on the Buckeyes. The closer the season gets, more and more talk has centered on either Wisconsin or Nebraska winning the Big Ten. But I think everyone is overlooking Ohio State. Yes, the Buckeyes have potential personnel issues, but this still is a talented team that could be dangerous with an "us-against-the-world" mentality. I also think interim coach Luke Fickell made the smart call by opting for senior Joe Bauserman as the starting quarterback. This will be a Buckeyes team built around the run and one that won't require many big plays from the quarterback. Yes, Bauserman is a pedestrian talent, but he is the safe choice. He is less likely to make a big mistake than uber-talented true freshman Braxton Miller.

2. There could be gold for Golden. Reports say new coach Al Golden wasn't aware of the NCAA investigation at Miami when he took the job, which has led some to opine that he should be allowed to leave with compensation whenever he wants. I think Golden should stay and ride out the storm. Yes, Miami figures to get hammered by the NCAA, but Golden would add to his already impressive resume by getting the Hurricanes back on their feet. In the 1990s, Butch Davis showed that Miami is a program with many built-in advantages, meaning it doesn't have to be down for long. That's why Golden should stick it out. He can get the Hurricanes back on their feet in short order. Then, basically any job he wants will be his. If you recall, Davis took over at Miami in 1995. The Hurricanes then were hit with NCAA sanctions from Dennis Erickson's regime. (Sound familiar?) Miami was banned from postseason play in Davis' first season and lost 31 scholarships over several years. But Davis went on to build one of the most talented rosters of the past 25 years before leaving to coach the Cleveland Browns after the 2000 season.

3. Delayed gratification. I was talking to a former FBS coach, and the issue of players selling their bowl merchandise for cash came up. The misdeed has landed some schools in NCAA trouble in the past and always will be tempting for some student-athletes who have little means. The coach I spoke with, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he likes the idea of not giving the players their bowl "goodies" until after they graduate. In addition to avoiding the chance of a player getting himself and the school into trouble, the coach said the tactic also would serve as motivation for the player to graduate.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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