Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: New Ohio State coordinator quickly amends job title

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Newly hired Ohio State assistant coach Chris Ash had to make a quick change to his Twitter page bio yesterday. Initially, it listed his title as “Defensive coordinator/Defensive backs coach for The Ohio State University.” A little later it was amended to “Co-Defensive coordinator.”

The latter seems to indicate that when Ash’s hiring is officially announced by Ohio State, perhaps as soon as today, it will come with the explanation that he will share the title with Luke Fickell.

But there might be more to the way Ash first put it in his bio than a mere mistake. Urban Meyer wasn’t pleased with the way OSU’s pass defense sunk into mediocrity late in the 2013 season. With co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Everett Withers moving to James Madison as coach, Meyer had a chance to fix things with one major hire. He did that with Ash, who has several instructional videos on the market, one of which is Aggressive 4-3 Defense: Shutting Down the Passing Game.

So Meyer didn’t stop at buying the video; he hired the producer/writer/director/star. (Let the buyer beware: Arkansas was 104th nationally this season in pass efficiency defense; Ohio State was 83rd.)

No matter what title Ash officially gets, it’s believed he has been brought in to tighten leaks all over the ship, which sounds more like coordinator than co-coordinator.

Toronto FC reportedly is on the hook for close to $50 million, including transfer fees, to bring American midfielder Michael Bradley to Major League Soccer, a figure that suggests the club might have seriously overpaid. But as Goal.com reported, Sporting Kansas City put in a $40 million bid for Bradley, so maybe Toronto’s bid wasn’t too far out there.

Several reports indicate that the Crew also made a pitch for the 26-year-old Bradley. Crew coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter played it coy when a Dispatch reporter noted that Columbus supposedly offered Bradley $15 million, saying the reports are “not accurate.” If that report is accurate, it would mark the largest attempted expenditure in franchise history. It’s also understandable why club officials might not want to acknowledge that amount given how far below the winning bid it is.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier graded as a first-round pick, but didn’t list the linebacker among the first-round selections in his first attempt at a mock draft. Kiper has Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan as the first Big Ten player going off the board, at No. 11 overall by Tennessee.

First overall? Kiper has Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel going to the Houston Texans.

The $157 million lawsuit Maryland filed against the Atlantic Coast Conference this week — a counterclaim to the ACC’s suit asking the school to pay a $52.2 million exit fee for leaving for the Big Ten — included a twist: a charge that Pittsburgh and Wake Forest tried to persuade two Big Ten schools to move to the ACC.

The countersuit alleges that a representative from Wake Forest and Pitt “each contacted a Big Ten university” but does not identify the schools, saying only that they are located east of the Mississippi River. Maryland believes “these actions were part of the ACC’s competitive reaction to Maryland’s announcement that it planned to leave the ACC,” and said the ACC was hoping to extract “ more lucrative terms from potential broadcast partners” such as ESPN.

As the eastern-most school in the league, Penn State seems like a logical target by the ACC. The other is harder to identify.

Luol Deng told Yahoo.com that he is open to discussing a contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers when the NBA season ends, yet he understands why he wouldn’t be his new team’s first focus. There has been talk of the Cavs trying to bring back LeBron James when he has a chance to opt out of his contract with Miami.

“If he wants to come back home, that’s great for him and great for this organization,” Deng said. “He’s a great player. Why not? I’m all right with that. I’m here to do what I can do and be Luol Deng.”

If Deng, 28, isn’t signed to a contract extension by June 30, he will become an unrestricted free agent.

“If we sit down and something comes up in time, I’m more than open to it,” Deng said. “I’m not the type of guy who wants to be chased. I’m going to play hard and work hard and look for what the best situation is for me.”

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg went to Penn State because of Bill O’Brien, so a lot of Nittany Lions fans have been nervous since O’Brien bolted to the Texans. But the Big Ten freshman of the year said all of the right things this week after meeting with new Penn State coach James Franklin.

“Nothing’s changed in my mindset,” Hackenberg said. “Coach Franklin is going to work with our strengths, and a lot of our strengths were what Coach O’Brien was running last year. So I don’t feel there’s going to be too much change.”

When asked if he considered transferring, Hackenberg quickly said, “I didn’t.”

Rookie Anthony Bennett of the Cavaliers, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, toldThe Plain Dealer that he would consider going to the team’s NBA Development League franchise in Canton. Bennett is averaging 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10 minutes a game as he returns from offseason shoulder surgery.

“It’s not a bad thing ... going down there, hopefully playing a lot (and) building my confidence,” Bennett said.

A No. 1 overall pick has never been sent to the D-League, and so far the Cavs have deemed it better to monitor his progress in Cleveland. As recently as three weeks ago, though, Bennett referred to himself as “clueless.”

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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