Ken Kohl (12:41pm)

[Ed. Note] We are in the process of adding several writers here at The Silver Bullet, and growing beyond just being a father-son operation. This means more content for you. So we would like to introduce Ken Kohl. Ken's been around the blog for awhile now, and we got smart and finally asked him to write. You can read all about him here.

I’ve wanted to do this for some time, probably going back 6-8 years, but it was brought to a head for me this year. In the last decade or so, I’ve been uncomfortable with Ohio State’s offensive line play.  I just haven’t bought into linemen sporting the "belly-over-belt" look that we’ve seen under Bollman. For background, I’m a Baby Boomer, and my earliest recollections of Ohio State football are Bob Ferguson and Tom Matte. In terms of offensive linemen, the pinnacle was Dave Foley and Rufus Mayes.  So aside from the play calling this year, I was curious about Bollman’s  performance in his stated responsibility: offense line. Unlike Marc Antony, I come not to bury Bollman, nor to praise him.

This must have crossed a few folks minds, because their have recently been two excellent posts related to this as Ramzy at 11W and Scott Dame at The O-Zone have recently written excellent articles related to this.

This post takes a look at Ohio State linemen that have been drafted into the NFL. This is based on the assumption that NFL GM’s have some idea of talent, and regardless of college performance these players were thought highly enough of for a GM to spend a draft pick to acquire. To do this comparison, I looked at some “horizontal” and “longitudinal” numbers to see how Bollman compared against his contemporaries and his predecessors as an offensive line coach. I had two “measures of success”: number of linemen drafted and number of linemen drafted in the 1st round. This may quantify and qualify the end results. Regardless of how “good” a recruit was going into the system, did he emerge “good enough” that an NFL GM would draft him? I want to stress that this is a comparison, not an analysis.

For the comparison of Bollman to his contempories, I’ve included Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and University of Miami. Wisconsin for the perception that they recruit big-ass linemen, Iowa because that bring in okie-dokie linemen and Ferentz "coaches them up", Michigan because they're Michigan and The U for something out of the Big 10.

I, and possibly a lot of other people have the feeling that Bollman can’t coach himself out of a paper bag. Let’s take a look and decide for ourselves.
Offensive Linemen Drafted (2002 - 2011)
The first line totals the number of linemen in total drafted under Bollman’s watch.  The second line is the number of offensive linemen drafted in first round. This is for draft years 2002 - 2011.

So, what do the numbers indicate? Frankly,  I was surprised that we had as many drafted as we did. Peeling back the numbers a bit, the story changes slightly. Although our numbers compare somewhat favorably to the other schools, we have not had a lineman drafted since Kirk Barton in 2008. The last thee years (recent memories) have not been kind to us. Additionally, of the 9 linemen drafted in this period, 4 have been centers. It breaks the mold of tackle-centric line play; which may explain a few things in terms of the quality of actual and perceived line play.

That’s the quantitative. For qualitative, our only 1st round pick in this period was Nick Mangold in 2006.

Now, for Jim vs. History, I broke draft years into two comparable 10 year segments, as well as a trailer of 7 years. The trailer was due to me arbitrarily going back to the 1975 draft year, and that’s that way it fell out.

In draft period 1992-2001 (lookin‘ at you Coop), we had 3 linemen drafted, 2 of which were 1st rounders. From draft years 1982-1991 it was 10/2 and from 1975-1981 it was 8/3.  Whatever we were doing in late 70’s was definitely working.

My Conclusion:

Contrary to my expectations, the number of OSU linemen drafted under Bollman’s was higher than I expected. He didn’t compare as unfavorably as expected  against his peers nor his predecessors.

I think you have to take this in light of the two recent articles that I mentioned earlier by Ramzy and Scott as well as my pre-article bias. Ramzy’s conclusion was that OSU’s offensive performance was pretty dismal with Bollman’s approach. Pretty solid evidence. Scott’s conclusion in assembling his NFL roster is that OSU’s offensive linemen are a weak link when compared as a group to other positions. Again, pretty solid conclusion IMO. Taking these two articles together, it’s pretty easy to conclude that Bollman’s lines have not been world beaters at a college level. Evidently, from the perspective of NFL scouts/GM’s, Bollman’s charges seem to be considered as "OK, but no great shakes". To be honest, particularly how OSU alums have contributed to the NFL at other positions, the "no great shakes" is a bit disappointing.



01/13/2012 09:51

Good stuff Ken. I am thrilled to finally be done with the Walrus. We saw great talent coached down IMO, and often watched linemen who were not motivated. That will change. Great to have you and Michael join our little blog.

01/13/2012 10:36

Dave, thanks. I'm looking forward to this. By the way, nice pic of Bollman; he really didn't have to plead that much. If the guy was in over his head, well, that's in the past.

I, like you, am glad to see the Bollman experience finis. I didn't want to get into his performance as OC, since I felt it was a bit out of scope, but IMO it had a detrimental effect on our O-Line play this year. If the opponent knows where the play is going and the snap count, it's pretty tough to block it effectively.

01/13/2012 10:41

I do want to add one postscript to the article. When I did the longitudinal comparison among the colleges it seemd like there was a pattern. For each of the schools, there were recurring stretches of 2-3 years where a school would have no linemen drafted. Maybe it was a function of a fallow period where underclassmen had to grow into "draftable" status. Just a guess.

01/13/2012 10:51

Great analysis Ken, thanks. =)

I'm excited to see you join the ranks of the OSU blogosphere! Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us.

01/13/2012 12:12

Ken- Echoing what I said to Michael earlier... welcome to (this side) of the blogging community!

Great team at TSB, and it keeps getting better!!

01/13/2012 12:41

Very interesting looking at the numbers. I would love to look back at Iowa's offensive line recruits compared to OSU's just to see how much more coaching up/down is happening. My guess is that it would be rather telling.

01/13/2012 13:17

TexasBuckeye, that would be an interesting comparison. At one point I had thought about doing something like that for this article, but quite honestly I didn't feel like rooting around to get recruit ratings. In terms of Bollman's coaching at Ohio State, I think we've all expunged the expired equine and felt it was time to move on. Having said that, your suggestion may be worth the follow-up. Thanks for the comment.

01/16/2012 07:27

The part that gets me about Bollman is out of the 9 guys drafted, none are recent. Off the top of my head, I can think of 5 that weren't recruited under Bollman's watch: LeCharles Bentley, Tyson Walter, Shane Olivea, Alex Stepanovich, & Adrien Clarke.
Does that mean that in 10 years he only recruited 4 guys that got drafted? Kirk Barton, Nick Mangold, Rob Sims, & Doug Datish? Then again, the number will obviously increase after Brewster, Adams, Mewhort, & Norwell all get drafted, so never mind.

01/16/2012 12:02

That pretty much sums it up,Doug. The disconcerting thing to me is that even though Bollman didn't recruit Bentley, et al, as their position coach he should have been responsible for their development. Upcoming post..

I intentionally left Adams & Brewster out of my analysis. I think that a blind man can see that they will get drafted, that event hasn't happened yet.

Thanks for your comments.

01/16/2012 08:41

So glad Bollman is gone. He was the consistent weak link.


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