Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Competition heats up for Buckeyes’ kicking job

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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A battle is brewing in Ohio State’s spring football drills for the kicking job. With the Drew Basil era over, the assumption was that early-enrollee freshman Sean Nuernberger would be handed the job.

Not so fast, say several insiders. Kyle Clinton, a fifth-year senior and the backup to Basil the past couple of seasons, is said to be making a strong bid.

From Dublin Coffman by way of Ohio University, where he handled kickoffs for the Bobcats as a freshman in 2010, Clinton transferred to OSU in 2011. He was 3 of 3 on extra points last season.

In other words, he has college game experience, speckled as it is, and insiders say he has exhibited a fifth-year senior’s maturity through the offseason and spring. Nuernberger, from Buckner, Ky., is getting his feet wet in college life and the college game.

Time Warner Cable officials are obviously aware of how angry many Crew fans are about the team’s new TV deal, in which games are available only on TWC SportsChannel.

Sources with Time Warner said that, before the Crew’s home opener, cable employees received an email from the company encouraging them not to wear anything bearing the company logo, presumably to cut down on heckling — or worse.

Ohio State will play North Carolina in Chicago’s United Center the weekend before Christmas as part of a basketball doubleheader that will send Kentucky against UCLA in the other game. The same four teams will participate in the round-robin event again in Brooklyn in 2015 and Las Vegas in 2016.

OSU coach Thad Matta announced the North Carolina game on his final call-in show of the season this week but was unsure of the location. The Buckeyes also have a nonconference game against Marquette, which played host to OSU last season. They are likely to go on the road for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, but their opponent for that game has yet to be announced.

Former Blue Jacket Marian Gaborik has three goals and two assists in 10 games with the Los Angeles Kings, but a nasty one he scored on Tuesday to tie a game that L.A. eventually won in a shootout with Washington got his teammates excited.

Gaborik scored from the left circle, set up by Jake Muzzin and a nice feed from Tyler Toffoli.

“I’ve certainly seen that before, happen against us,” Anze Kopitar said of Gaborik’s sharpshooting. “But it’s nice to have him with us now.”

Jarret Stoll echoed the thought.

“That’s exactly why we got him,” Stoll said.

Gaborik had six goals and eight assists in 22 games with the Jackets this season, so his production in L.A. since the March 5 trade has been about the same.

Both Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager Ray Farmer made it clear at the NFL owners meetings this week that the team isn’t compelled to take a quarterback with the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft. Farmer even spoke of possible trades before the draft and noted that he already has put out feelers to potential trade partners.

“Those conversations have already begun,” he said.

Meanwhile, Browns coach Mike Pettine was talking about the possibility of the team’s drafting not one, but two quarterbacks.

“If you know you’re getting great value, I don’t think we’d hesitate to add that player, whether it’s a second quarterback if we’ve already taken one. I don’t think (Farmer) would be against that at all,” Pettine said.

The Browns have two picks in the first round (Nos. 4 and 26 overall) and another early in the second round (No. 35). With 10 picks, there are a lot of ways they could go.

The Fred Taylor Golf Classic, a shotgun golf tournament that provides support to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, now has a website thanks to Molly Roewer, the niece of one of Taylor’s daughters. Registration, sponsorship and other information about the May 5 event, to be held at the OSU Scarlet course, can be found at http://fredtaylorgolfclas.wix.com/fredtaylorclassic.

Taylor, the former Ohio State basketball coach, suffered a brain aneurysm in 1996. After surgery, rehab and disabilities, he died in 2002.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said at the NFL owners meetings this week that the team signed former Saints receiver and Westerville South grad Lance Moore in part because of his similarity to the departed Jerricho Cotchery.

“Similar to Jerricho, he’s a savvy veteran that is capable of winning above the neck,” Tomlin told ESPN.com. “He can create space at break points. He’s done that. He developed a significant rapport with a guy like Drew Brees over the years. Hopefully, he will do the same with Ben Roethlisberger.”

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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