[Ed. Note] This is the second part of Ken's inside look at Jim Bollman and the offensive line issues at Ohio State. The first part can be read here.
“It was the best of lines, it was the worst of lines..”
- my sincerest apologies to Charles Dickens.
In this case, the two cities are not London nor Paris, but Columbus and Iowa City. This is a follow up, as suggested by reader TexasBuckeye comparing the development of offensive linemen at Ohio State and the University of Iowa. I’d like to acknowledge data for the “inputs” from Rivals.com and for the “outputs” from The Football Cube. These were the sources for college recruit rankings and NFL draft rounds.
For the college recruiting years of 2002 - 2010, Ohio State recruited 22 linemen while Iowa recruited 24 linemen. Obviously, the schools had additional linemen on their rosters (walk-ons) but these numbers represent the higher profile recruits. You know, where coaches actually identify a need. Above is a table that shows the Rivals ranking and number of recruits for each school during this period. As expected, Ohio State has been bringing in higher quality linemen, according to Rivals.
What did the NFL think of all this? For the NFL portion, I used the drafts of 2007-2011 since they closely aligned with the 2002 - 2010 recruiting classes. OSU had 4 draftees and they averaged being drafted in the “4th and a half round”. Iowa’s five draftees averaged being drafted in the 4th round, so they fared slightly better
I went back to look at OSU players drafted from 2002 - 2004; too early to show on the Rivals database I used, yet still coached by Bollman. These players (Stepanovich, Clarke, Olivia, Walter, Bentley) averaged being drafted in round “5.2”. If we do not include Mangold going as a 1st rounder, the entire 2002-2011 draft seems to value our linemen as 5th rounders.
A look-back on the draft database showed that since the late 1960’s, OSU has had 35 linemen drafted, with the avaerage being round 4.69. Iowa has had 28 draftees who have been taken, on average, in round 3.75. So, although we’ve had more linemen drafted, for almost 45 years, the NFL has placed a slightly higher value on Iowa’s.
In 1974, OSU moved Doug “Bubba” France from tackle to tight end. We had Kurt Schumacher & Chris Ward at the tackles. In the past few years we’ve moved/are moving TE’s (Andy Miller, Reid Fragel) to tackle. In 1974 we needed to find a way to get Bubba onto the field; now we are trying to get anyone on the field.
So, that brings us to talent development. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s short term or long term, linemen enter OSU seemingly a star “better” but leave a draft round “lesser” than their Iowa counterparts. In the more recent period, one of our 4* recruits (Mangold) was drafted in the 1st round. Was it because he’s that good and centers are a valued position in the NFL? Most likely, yes and yes. Our other 4* recruits (Sims and Datish) went in the 4th and 6th rounds. Iowa’s 4* (Beluga) went in the 1st round while their 3* recruits (Yanda, Olsen, Vandervelde) went in the 3rd thru 5th rounds; as good or better than our 4* recruits.
Aside from all this data-drudging, a couple other things really annoyed me about Bollman’s ability to teach, and I look to Brewster and Shugarts. The fact that Brewster (yes, a senior and a talked-up awards candidate) telegraphed the snap count with his body language to the point opponents could pick it up on game film, yet it evidently didn’t get corrected by our own staff, is just mind-blowing. You have to wonder what exactly was reviewed in the game film sessions! Shugarts’ propensity to false start throughout the year, even with a set snap count, is just baffling. Where was the correction feedback loop with the coaching/teaching? At a minimum, Shugarts should have been told to keep his eye on Brewster, and when Mike head-bobbed, here comes the snap. Good grief.
Honestly, I really felt sorry for the linemen this year. They had to work through being predominantly “jack of all trades, master of none” due to Bollman’s insistence upon versatility as opposed to development of specific position skills. And they had to deal with not being properly taught. In addition, they were further handicapped by opponents knowing where the play was going and when it was going. You try blocking effectively under those conditions.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that a new era is coming.