Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Ohio State might look at Dayton coach

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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It’s not certain whether Ohio State is looking at Dayton’s Jim Jabir as its next women’s basketball coach, but Flyers athletic director Tim Wabler said this week that he will upgrade Jabir’s contract in anticipation of offers.

The Flyers went 28-3 and beat St. John’s before losing to No. 7 Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was their fourth consecutive tournament appearance.“He’s a hot commodity now, and I know someone will make a run at him,” Walber said. “We want Jim Jabir to be at the university for a long time to come. He’s just a perfect fit."

Whether Jabir is a perfect fit for Ohio State isn’t clear. In firing Jim Foster, officials seemed to indicate they were looking to replace him with a coach who had a track record of success in the NCAA Tournament. In 11 seasons, Foster won 77 percent of his games and four Big Ten championships but made it as far as the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament only three times.

This has made Ohio State’s search somewhat problematic. Most coaches who have enjoyed this kind of success are with established programs and aren’t looking to move.

Toledo coach Tricia Cullop is another successful coach who would seem a likely candidate under normal circumstances. Her team, 29-4 this season, lost last night to Illinois in the WNIT.

Senior safety C.J. Barnett has watched freshmen who enrolled early at Ohio State such as cornerbacks Eli Apple and Cam Burrows get an occasional upbraiding by coach Urban Meyer’s coaching staff in spring practice, and Barnett has been quick to remind them the corrections are nothing personal. It’s just another sign they are not in high school anymore.

“I’ve been in those shoes, I came here early in the spring (as a freshman in 2009), I know how it is — it’s even harder now with coach Meyer being there,” Barnett said. “You’ve got to be out there to help those guys when they get down and get yelled at. You’ve got to be out there to let them know it’s not really personal, it’s to make them better.

“That’s for everybody. Everybody has their down days and stuff like that, and as a teammate you’ve got to be there to pick them up.”

Barnett appreciates Meyer’s no-nonsense, no-coddle, no-gray-area style once practice begins.

“It’s direct teaching,” Barnett said. “Coach Meyer don’t play no games. There’s really nothing in the gray area. Everything is black and white, and you know what you need to work on. That’s a good thing, so guys aren’t misled or have false confidence.”

The naming of Duke assistant Chris Collins as Northwestern’s basketball coach may result in a promotion for Ohio State video coordinator Greg Paulus.

Paulus was point guard at Duke when Collins was an assistant on coach Mike Krzyzewski’s staff, and a source told Scout.com that he would join Collins at Northwestern as an assistant. Paulus played quarterback at Syracuse for a season and was an assistant basketball coach at Navy before joining Thad Matta’s staff as video coordinator, which doesn’t allow on-the-floor coaching duties.

Paulus smiled when asked about the rumors on Wednesday at Ohio State’s practice in Los Angeles but declined to comment.

Crew coach Robert Warzycha likes the way his team is playing, which would seem to explain why midfielder Matias Sanchez has been unable to crack the lineup. When Sanchez was signed in February, the 25-year-old from Argentina was hailed as a dependable, hardworking player who was just what the Crew needed, but he has played only 20 minutes as a reserve and has been unable to unseat Adam O’Rourke or Agustin Viana.

Even though Sanchez appears unhappy, Warzycha is reluctant to make a change with the team opening the season 2-1-1.

Ohio State freshman offensive lineman Joey O’Connor has been accepted as a transfer at Colorado State and will join the team this summer. O’Connor redshirted last fall after suffering a microfracture in his left knee during practice in August .

O’Connor originally committed to Penn State and then signed with Ohio State after the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal broke. The 6-4, 305-pound O’Connor was rated the top prospect in Colorado by ESPNU and No. 2 by Rivals coming out of high school in 2011.

After the Cleveland Browns signed free-agent quarterback Jason Campbell, NFL.com reported that a team source indicated there was no plan to release backup quarterback Colt McCoy “for now.” The signing and the comment would seem to indicate that McCoy’s days are numbered, although the Browns’ preferred method of parting is a trade. With Brandon Weeden expected to be the starter, McCoy would now appear to be no better than No. 3.

Cincinnati Reds backup catcher Devin Mesoraco came to spring training last year as the team’s No. 1 prospect, and the 24-year old made the team. But he struggled during the season, hitting .212 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 165 at-bats, and got sent to Louisville in August. He returned when rosters expanded in September but barely played and was left off the playoff roster. This spring, the Reds brought in veteran Miguel Olivo to provide Mesoraco with competition, and it appears to have worked.

“I wouldn’t call it pressure,” Mesoraco told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “But it definitely wasn’t a bad thing to have that little bit of competition. That might have pushed me a little bit more. That might have made me a little more ready to get the season going. That just got my juices flowing a little bit earlier than in a different spring training.” Mesoraco hit .342 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 38 at-bats. He will back up regular catcher Ryan Hanigan and is primarily expected to catch Homer Bailey and Mike Leake, the team’s Nos. 4 and 5 starters.

Penn State is practicing football with scholarship numbers in the low 70s, according to StateCollege.com. It is a sign that the sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal are starting to kick in: Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin had 85 players on scholarship this spring, and Ohio State had 82.

The website reported that Ohio State’s Meyer and Michigan coach Brady Hoke both had 27 scholarship freshmen, 10 more than Penn State coach Bill O’Brien.

“We think we have a lot of really good players, but based on numbers, there are some depth issues,” O’Brien said. “There’s certainly some numbers issues. But I think we are still dealing with a little bit of the same situation that we dealt with in 2012. I think when it gets really, really difficult is really ’14 to ’15, ’16. In ’13, even though we have depth issues, we don’t have to get down to 65 until 2014.”

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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