The Wiz Of Odds: Speed kills. It also lies

Jay Christensen covered college football, among other sports, for the Los Angeles Times and produces the popular college football blog TheWizofOdds.com.

This much we know. Usain Bolt is a fast runner and the Ohio State Buckeyes are fast talkers.

Anybody who watched Bolt blaze 100 meters in a world-record 9.58 seconds in Berlin this past weekend has to wonder how fast the Jamaican sprinter can go. His performance was mind-boggling.

Bolt may be the stuff of legends, but his success may be perpetuating the stuff of myths.

Consider this: In Columbus, Ohio, Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor reportedly ran a 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds. Pryor’s stunning time wasn’t the result of some eager Ohio State staffer with a quick stopwatch thumb. His dash was apparently timed electronically, which produces a more reliable number.

Buckeyes players didn’t hesitate when asked to confirm the time, and even coach Jim Tressel contributed to the hype that followed the report.

“Let’s say it’s only 4.38 instead of 4.33,” Tressel told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s fast. . . . I assumed he’d be better than 4.5, but I’m not sure I was sitting there thinking he’d be 4.33.”

But come on, Tressel’s nose is growing faster than Pinocchio’s.

His comments only feed the myth that speed is better than power, and that often impacts the betting line. Consider that even with Pryor, Ohio State was a pedestrian 6-6 against the spread in 2008.

Bettors should put Pryor’s “time” in perspective.

In 1988, Ben Johnson set the world record in the 100 meters at the Seoul Olympics, clocking 9.79. According to a 2005 story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, timing officials broke the race into increments and determined that Johnson cruised through 40 yards in 4.38 seconds.

Johnson not only had the benefit of a slight tailwind that day, he was using the anabolic steroid Stanozolol.

If Pryor is really as fast as people in Columbus claim, perhaps he should quit football and challenge Bolt for the title of World’s Fastest Man.

The point is that college football players and teams are never as fast as advertised. Each team has some fast players. They also have big ones who can push you around. And it’s often just as easy to run over an opponent as it is around them.

There is no truer test of speed vs. power than the Southeastern Conference vs. the Big Ten. Teams from each league meet annually in the Capital One and Outback bowl games.

In the last seven Capital One Bowls, the Big Ten has a 4-3 ATS edge. It’s even more pronounced in the Outback, where the Big Ten is 5-2 ATS. That’s Big Ten Power 9, SEC Speed 5.

Still, coaches, players, broadcasters and fans can’t stop talking about the so-called need for speed. It’s a difference-maker, they say, and the reason teams from the South have ruled college football in recent years.

Jonathan Chait, who wrote about the Southern speed myth in 2002 for Slate, looked at the 10 fastest 100-meter times posted by high school runners for two years in Michigan and Florida.

The Florida kids averaged 10.77 seconds, the Michigan kids 10.78. Two of the Michigan kids went on to play in the Big Ten.

Chait looked at data comparing times at the NFL scouting combine of wide receivers from Northern teams against their Southern counterparts. The Northerners, on average, ran the 40 in 4.502, and the Southerners in 4.548.

But speed somehow always gets credit. In 1992, Nebraska made a concerted effort to recruit faster players after a series of embarrassing bowl losses.

Chait writes: “Fans and reporters breathlessly reported the 40-yard dash times of the Nebraska defense, and when Nebraska rolled off convincing bowl victories over Miami, Florida and Tennessee, held up the program as an example of how a Northern team learned to emulate the Southern style.

“In other words, if a Southern team beats Nebraska, it’s because Nebraska couldn’t match its Southern speed. If Nebraska beats a Florida team, it’s because it imitated the Southern methodology. Either way, the Southern-speed view of college football is vindicated.”

The speed myth often starts early in a player’s career. In 2004, Glen Coffee was preparing for his senior season at Ft. Walton Beach High in Florida. He attended a Nike camp and was timed in 4.44 in the 40, which helped him secure a scholarship from Alabama.

At the 2009 NFL scouting combine, Coffee had apparently lost a step. He ran a 4.58. So what happened? Coffee’s effort at the Nike camp was, of course, hand timed by some recruiting hack. His combine run was electronically timed.

As Chris Hutson, who operates the site Heisman Pundit, stated earlier this year, players don’t necessarily get faster in college, but they do get bigger.

“Strength coaches are always going to claim that guys will get faster as they go through their programs. That’s how they justify their employment,” Huston wrote.

“But in the end, it’s just basic physics. Players grow naturally to a point before their size and speed hit a plateau, then growth must be manufactured. In college, they put on extra muscle or bad weight and tend to get slower, not faster.”

So size does matter?

Of course it didn’t matter in Jack and the Beanstalk, but we all recognize that was a myth.

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Posted by nymumich
4 years ago

haha, my head is spinning after this whole discussion. I honestly think it's a fascinating topic that needs to be parsed out, though. There's so much going on and so many factors that it's really hard to make conclusions. I guess I'll even step back and re-evaluate the whole thing myself. One thing I believe we can both agree on is that the ESPN media machine is really an embarrassment and does the game major injustices by these uneducated generalizations, i.e. SPEED. The Colin Cowherds and the other knuckleheads on that channel are a disgrace. And a lot of fans take this to mean that the Big 10 has always had the lumbering, slow players all over the field. Charles Woodson anyone? Braylon Edwards? Or how about Bob Sanders? Maybe I'll gather some info one day and write a book on it? Lol. Sound like a good idea?
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

You are a sharp young dude. College football is a passion of mine (and I’m a passionate guy) and I do have a lot of what I call useless knowledge floating about in my head………………LOL Obviously I am an Iowa fan so that info is easy and maybe a little biased, but I do try to be very honest with myself. I’m actually a huge sports fan in general. But 10 years ago I accepted Christ as my savior. Plus I have 4 kids and I also work as a manger in the car industry so I have slowly reeled in my sports interest to mostly college football (I can still play a mean sports trivia game though) I don’t have a ton of extra free time and I try to focus on more important things that enhance my life, my wife’s and my Children’s alike. They are all soccer players (I actually have quite a bit of passion for world class soccer now as well) and home schooled so there is lots to do. I try to reinvent myself daily in their eyes and the Lord’s as well, so some things have to take a back seat. Now with that said, on Saturdays in the fall. After work I’ll watch every football game on, sometimes 5 at once. Until the wee hours of the morning and the late WAC & MWC games. I will also agree “timed” speed aside; the Big 12 and SEC have put a better product on the field. They do indeed “play” faster and looser and look the part of a well oiled machine. I have a lot of thoughts as to why, but honestly I’ve got things to do so maybe later. Shortly though, forty times are a crapshoot to me. If a guy plays fast, he plays fast and vice versa. Sometimes I and so it seems scouts alike get alarmed when a supposedly “fast” guy shows up at the combine and runs a very pedestrian time. Often falling down the board as a result. Then all he does is go on to the NFL and rip it up. USC comes immediately to mind. I think everyone in the world thought they had a fast dominate D last year. And for all intents and purposes they did. At the combine however they didn’t really “time” that well. They did OK, but they weren’t super human and in fact in recent years they have had a number of DB’s run low 4.5’s even in to the 4.6’s (another hot button for me is the misunderstanding of what is or isn’t fast) which again there are plenty of NFL Dbs who run in that range. But everyone assumes they all run 4.3’s. But in reality they are good, smart, well-schooled “football” players. There is so much there it is hard to even quantify what is or isn’t going on. I also think the Big 10 will have a minor resurgence this fall, but I agree with your thoughts on PSU. I’ll be watching for sure as I’m a SEC, Big 12, WAC and MWC fan as well. Heck who am I kidding I don’t care who is playing, I’ll watch….LOL Chad PS…………..Yes I used to post a lot on the rivals sites, but I don’t like the person I sometimes become wile posting so I don’t do much any more rather than fact finding.
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Posted by nymumich
4 years ago

Wow man, your knowledge is quite impressive. I've actually only been a fan for 7 years (since I enrolled at Michigan in '02) due to the fact that CFB is a non-entity out here in the northeast. Don't even get me started on the Rutgers garbage. I'd say you blow me out of the water as far as knowledge, but I'm trying to learn as much as possible about the game and read as much as I can. I can't deny all you've said about the combine speeds, but I guess it's just something I've paid particular attention to on the field as far as how Big 10 teams (not all) fare against dynamics offensives. I absolutely despise ESPN and think the whole speed thing was blown WAY OUT OF PROPORTION. Like I said, though, from everything I've heard about certain Big 10 programs and from what I've seen in hundreds of games, something seems to be lacking at certain positions. Unfortunately, though, certain coaches are stuck in the stone age. Iowa's D scheme really sounds fascinating. Especially since as you noted they really develop their players better than most programs in the country. Have you had the same D coordinator for years? I'll never forget that Brad Banks game where we scored I believe 8 points -- it was my first season as a Michigan fan and opened my eyes to the fact that yes, Michigan could get its behind whooped. Your defense was swarming that day. It was scary. Michigan's D is actually taking quite a dynamic step this year as far as scheme (after last year's absolute debacle). They've gone to a hybrid scheme of sorts, with 2 new positions: a "quick" and a "spinner." The Quick is basically a LB/DE hybrid who will sometimes gives the D-line a 4-man appearance (some have suggested that we're taking it off of USC, where Cushing somtimes lined up in a 3-point stance and other times played the LB spot, since Greg Robinson (our new DC) and Carroll are close) and other times a 3-man-front appearance. Unfortunately our guy Brandon Herron isn't quite built for the position (been cited as "not strong enough") so there's been talk of us suffering against the power run teams of Iowa and Wisconsin. The spinner is LB/safety hybrid, with a converted safety (Stevie Brown) playing the spot. This goes to the mantra of a speedier, sideline-to-sideline type of D. I don't think we have the guys for either of the spots as far as pursuit/tackling and strength, but they're certainly both very, very quick and agile. Hopefully down the line we're getting the right combo of size and speed, not just speed. I honestly think you'll see a very, very different Michigan defense than in years past. Oh, and far as converting players, I can't say w/ certainty how often Carr did this (I only really, really started following recruiting in 08 -- thanks Rivals) but RR does it A LOT already. Carson Butler moved from TE to DE, Isiah Bell (safety recruit moved to LB), Mike Jones moved from safety to LB, and several others. Funnily enough we just took a player from the basketball team (Kelvin Grady) who is apparently playing very, very well at the slot (he's a fast one). RR will take any speed he can get, and if you're not fast enough for him, you will end up that way. I'll be keeping my eye out for Iowa. Like I said, I love what I see, but that schedule is absolutely brutal. I honestly don't like anyone else in the conference though this year. How people expect PSU to replicate what they did last year w/ a new OL is beyond me. OSU has a lot of questions. MSU replaces its far and away best players. Going to be interesting. Are you on Rivals? I'm not sure how the Iowa site is, but the Michigan one is amazing for great insight, level-headed opinions on the team, and great player evaluation. Might be worth your while to check it out.
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

Another thing that has been an Iowa staple is converting players to new positions. TE’s or DLs to O-line. Sftys to Lbers and Lbers to D-Line. If memory serves UM used to do that a ton under Schembechler and Moeller themselves. Part out of necessity, as they aren’t signing that 4 star 230 lb Lber out of High School but also because that’s their thing. Though I will say they have signed a couple stud Lber recruits this year. One out of Michigan in Austin Gray that is 215 and will get looks next year as we graduate 2 guys. You also mentioned training and discipline. I would concur that when Iowa was rocking they were in tune, and hungry. They signed some Blue Chippers, got fat and I personally think their effort and attitude went south. Maybe from the top down. They had some guys that thought they should play because of their high school rankings. They also had kids getting in trouble with the law and their chemistry, focus and effort was terrible. If, a big “if” of course they are focused and ready this year they will be a load to handle. They have as much or more talent on D than they have ever had in my opinion. They have 3-2nd string Lbers who would be starters most everywhere but tOSU & PSU. One (3rd string last year) stripped an Iowa St TE of a TD in the end zone last year while the game was tied (man do they cause us problems). Another ran Noel Devine down from behind (saw with my own eyes) in the Army All-American game in high school. The other was a starter coming into fall camp last year (maybe the fastest overall) until an injury derailed him. We also have 8, O-linemen who have stated games and several others who have played. It will be all about attitude for us. Focused and ready and we win 10 plus. Wishy-washy and fat and we go 7-5 or who knows. Maybe that is true of the conference as a whole. Hopefully they’ll be out to prove the detractors wrong. Chad
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

Yes, Iowa has always been a little undersized on the D-line. In fact Mitch King graduated at 278, but he started at 250 as a RS Frosh. Kroul was similar though never less than 260 really. Iowa is unique though in that they stunt a lot and their DE’s are typically as big as or bigger than their D-tackles. For example last year their DE’s where both 280 plus. One may drop down this year to get the best pass rusher on the field at DE and he is 255. The other D-tackle however will be a very disruptive 6-4 260. At Lber though they have always been 230 to 245. But very quick. Pat Angerer played MLB last year at 235 and had 5 INTS. He is also reputedly on Iowa’s hall of records for Lbers at 4.57 and electric pro-agility and short shuttle times. The best cover Lber however is A J Edds @ 6-4-245 and he has played since his true Frosh year. I’ve seen him covering Dorien Bryant 50 yards down field and into the End Zone. He actually isn’t as fast but very quick with great hip swivel. I’d be shocked if UM ever fielded faster quicker Lbers than Iowa does. As I’ve said all these supposedly “fast” teams ….I watch their Combine and Pro day times and they aren’t faster even in agility or the shuttle. Better yes…………….smarter on the field, likely but they aren’t noticeably faster per “timing” Also truly Iowa typically does have a fairly dominant D. The always play the run to the nines with a 7 man front and rarely blitz. They also only really started playing much nickel in recent years. Choosing rather to play Lbers in coverage. Even in 2006 when Iowa had horrific chemistry and offensive inconsistencies they held that vaunted UM offense to 20 points. I’ll bet we didn’t have 12-1st downs all game and still only gave up 20 Pts. I can’t stress enuff that Iowa’s issues have all been on offense. They typically have NFL caliber Sftys, Lbers and solid quick D-linemen, many of which have also gone on to the “League” ! NFL caliber TE’s and O-linemen as well. But QB play & WR play is the one area where recruiting has lacked. Iowa can find all the 2 star D-players and linemen they can sign. And they typically become studs with15 plus 2 stars currently on NFL rosters. At Wide out however, where the star rankings are probably a little truer they have especially failed in recent years. Though I do think they are better this year. Sorry for the rant, you hit a hot button for me. Chad PS..................I have always like UM
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Posted by nymumich
4 years ago

Fair enough. Great points all around. I actually don't have the energy to to discuss this any further, but I will say that as far as WVU goes, I agree: they obviously don't have many D players in the NFL, but they consistently had a top-end D in college under RR (not sure of exact #'s but I'm almost sure it was top 35 most years). This goes more to my point of getting the most out of the players while they're in college and developing them. I'm of the mind that it's a combo of the type of players recruited and even more so, the training/discipline/system. WVU didn't have the greatest talent, and this probably shows more when the NFL draft comes around since they have lower #'s; but they shed those pounds and strengthened speed where as programs like Michigan and OSU have players where potential was not nearly realized due to laziness and Pizza Hut binges. The D-line at Michigan this year (which I'm not "guaranteeing" great things for) will blow your mind as far as combo of speed/strength. The difference in weight is monumental, but the strength is still there. Yes, our LB's are smaller as well and we probably won't be as good against downhill rushing attacks, but I think they'll more than make up for it by playing a lot of games against spread variations and I'm just fine w/ keeping big plays in front of us. Oh, and just a question on Iowa's D. I'm not completely familiar with the Iowa type of guy, but did you guys have more undersized LB's and D-linemen? The more I think about it I actually think that Iowa has seemed more fleet of foot and never had a dominant D, but always a very good one as they have a good sideline-to-sideline range. Once again, I could be completely wrong, but I just have this vision of that being the paradigmatic Iowa player. Good luck to your Hawks this year.
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

Something else I thought about while I was at the dentist (yeah I’m sick but I love college football) West Va did all their damage with recruiting classes ranked similarly to, if not worse than Iowa’s. Not that that means anything because obviously based on NFL talent alone Iowa’s ranking are always misleading as their talent is much great than it’s rankings. Besides RR at UM will recruit better just because……………. Point being RR succeeded with “his” recruits, Iowa didn’t do as well, when they brought in the prima donna’s hence back to the old formula. More importantly West Va had stellar athletes on O, but not necessarily on D (Iowa has 18 defenders in the NFL-West Va has 4). So your belief that West Va had all these speedy studs all over the field is inconclusive at best and erroneous at worst. In fact most, not ALL, but most of the “spread” teams don’t play that good of Defense. Part of that is the speed of the game, and increased touches raise scoring opportunities, but the cold hard reality is they aren’t defensive juggernauts. Honestly I’m not a huge spread fan (it’s alright) and I hope my favorite team never plays it. I do enjoy dialoguing with you however. Sharp debaters keep me sharp. Chad
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

1st off, that was a highly respectful rebuttal and I get where you are coming from. I don’t agree the Big 10 hasn’t fared well vs the spread, including tOSU, but I do agree we have not shown well in the Big “games” of late. A point of interest here, tOSU didn’t lose to Texas last year because of speed. They lost because their Sfty couldn’t tackle and wasn’t physical enuff at the point of the play. At the risk of sounding proud that wouldn’t have happened to Iowa. They have physical, quick safeties that come down hard on the ball carrier. Their Lbers have been covering the Slot and even the SE for years. I also don’t agree Iowa has sucked for 5 years (keep in mine I’m an optimist but also a realist and NOT a homer) they were a very average 7-5 in 2005, with losses to Michigan and NW that 2, that’s right 2-1st down would have fixed. They then played a “speedy” UF in a bowl game and you remember that game (I refuse to blame officiating, but it was poor) we also played very poorly for much of the game. In 2006 we imploded, but we have since changed recruiting strategies back to the tried and true that was effective. We did however play a Speedy Texas to the wire. In 2007 a lot went wrong, but you are “generalizing” a ton when you say the Big 10 has not played good D. Iowa is ALL about D. Iowa’s problem has been Offense, Offense, and more Offense. Honestly people don’t realize how talented Iowa has been, even thru their failings. Out of 35-SEC, Big 10 and Big 12 teams Iowa has the 13th most NFL alumni in Camps. (34) UM (50), tOSU (50), PSU (45), and Wiscy (38) have more in the Big 10. Iowa has played nothing but SEC and Big 12 teams in Bowl games and looked stout Defensively while doing it. Year after year Iowa has one of the best D’s in the country. Furthermore and I’ll have to pull my records to verify it, but the last time I ran it down, the Big 10 had more Lbers on camp rosters than the SEC. The Big 10 may indeed suck in BCS games but it is a conglomerate of things, not so much a speed thing. Honestly I think you can start with shoddy QB play, starting in Iowa City. I also think you can point to a little complacency in the Big 10 as well. Truth be told, it isn’t a talent thing because the Big 10 with 11 teams still has more NFL alumni that everyone BUT the SEC. Chad
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Posted by nymumich
4 years ago

And no, this has nothing to do w/ the RR kool-aid. I was an avid supporter for years of the Big 10, discounting the speed myth, which I STILL think is mostly a faulty assumption. I'm just limiting it to -- based on what I've seen over countless games -- a few isolated positions. I realize ESPN is the biggest pile of merde that there is, with knuckleheads like May and Cowherd (how this guy has a job is beyond me: he's the same guy who proclaimed Michigan would run roughshod in the Big 10 because of speed and now says it's dead. He's a moron.). But at a certain point the stubborn Big 10 fans have to realize that at this point in time, there is a certain difference, and it seems to me that it's at those positions. Keep believing that the Big 10 doesn't have any deficiencies where it matters; that seems to be the mantra of the big-time coaches. Tressel had the luckiest season in CFB history (and no this isn't bias - I picked them to beat Miami in 02) and he continues to believe that constant domination of the Big 10 validates his coaching for the next 20 years. I can assure you it won't be that way for long. Because they'll keep losing big games (even though they have top 5 recruiting classes every year) due to painful deficiencies and stubbornness. Change hurts, but it's necessary. You mentioned dissertations, so I had to give you one ;-)
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Posted by nymumich
4 years ago

Well clearly you didn't read my post in full, because I NEVER said that all those teams ran spread offenses. You cite teams like BC, LSU, Tenn, etc. when my essential argument was against only certain positions, i.e. O-line, D-line, LB's, and not against the offenses that they run. When I cite Michigan's future of speed, my point lies in the fact that their spread -- an offense that has found its teeth in the Big 10, as most poeple do forget -- will be more dominant not only because it is Michigan recruiting top 10 classes that fit its system, but because they are going against programs that are stuck in the stone age as far as defensive player development. The last great defense in the Big 10 was OSU in 2002, and that is saying something. The alleged dominant D of Michigan in 2006 was exposed against none other than a spread variation run by OSU, which absolutely DECIMATED us in the big game. Our LB's couldn't cover a slot if itslife depended on it. Thank you, Stevie Brown. Like I said, I don't doubt that many of these players perform well in Indianapolis, but I think the most deterring factor is the lack of development at these schools. You mention Iowa, great. Iowa, a team that has been an absolute JOKE for a 5-year span until 2008. A team that produces NFL talent equivalent to my sock. I'll confess I actually like them this year, but still -- come on. Mitch King I liked, he actually showed some friggin speed on the field, something that is quite different from a dome in Indy. Maybin is another one of recent memory from PSU. And to be honest, I'm sure there are others. I never said we didn't send some studs from those positions to the big show. I just think you forget the systems they're in and the #'s compared to other SEC teams. And as far as NFL players from conferences, let me get a breakdown based on position. I know damn well the Big 10 shows up in the following categories: O-linemen (and let me reiterate that I believe that's not necessarily an indicator of success as a unit in college, especially with agilitiy and speed concerns); secondary for SURE; QB's; and WR's. If you wanna tell me we're the equivalent in other spots, fair enough. But I will still be skeptical because the teams do not show it on the FIELD. Next, Michigan against the SEC. 23-5, I didn't blink (nor did I google it :-)). But guess what: most of those wins came prior to the propagation of a different game -- a game that the Big 10 has yet to fully grasp on both sides of the ball. Florida? Dude, we won because we scored a garbage ton of points. Alabama with Brady? That wasn't a spread team, so it didn't apply. And it didn't matter anyway because they scored at will. I'm talking the here and now, where the combine means person and the results on the field mean everything. Last, Iowa conditioning program? Ya know what, I can't deny that. If an FSU guy, from the south, is proclaiming it as legit, I can't disparage it. Hell, I know Iowa's recruiting ain't all that good -- nor has it been in the last decade save a year or two -- but they had a great run in the early 2000's and last year. I'll give you that. And I actually think they might churn out some good players this year, who can go pro. Spivey is one (although he is a CB, which has nothing to do w/ my argument :-)) You want a conditioning program? Well, I don't even need to mention the name. Because I'm sure that as knowledgeable as you are, his name is a staple. P.S. I'm not againt Iowa in any way shape or form. I'd pick them to win the Big 10 except for their monster road schedule. My pick? Hold your breath . . . The Zookers. OSU will field their weakest team in years, PSU has no O-line, secondary, or WR's, and well -- there's nothing else to say. Oh, and watch the darn out for our offense. Because no one in this stone age conference is gonna know what him em'.
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

Here is an indication of what people nationally think of Iowa’s speed & strength program......... “””””””””The underlying theme is that through hard work and sacrifice, a Hawkeye student-athlete can chip away at any obstacle and accomplish goals. How fitting, because Iowa's strength and conditioning program is built solid as a rock. So much so that Florida State University offensive line coach Rick Trickett traveled to Iowa City recently to study Iowa's recipe for success.””””” Now I realize you aren’t necessarily against Iowa, or even saying Iowa is slow. Plus it doesn’t really bother me anyway. I’m a football fan and one that investigates the truth myself. But the Big 10 has plenty of speedy football players. FYI……………Purdue (who in my opinion has never been a defensive juggernaut) has so many speedy Lbers that they currently have NINE in NFL camps. Chad
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

I’m so glad you reengaged. 1st off pretty much only tOSU has trouble vs the SEC (Big 10 is 13-15 since 2000) and if you watched closely it was at the point of attack. It is lazy journalism (why not, most fans buy into it) to suggest it is a speed thing. Iowa plays the SEC great. So has Michigan in years past. PSU, Wiscy etc, etc…….it is a gross over simplification to buy into the speed thing. Quite frankly I am giddy about Iowa playing vs the West Va spread. They rock that offense. I watch 120 plus football games a year. I have investigated & wrote countless dissertations on this speed silliness. I have charted and watched the Pro Days and combines for 5 years. Quite frankly I’m shocked a “knowledgeable” Michigan fan has bought into. After all Michigan has owned the SEC over the years, but I suppose you are trying to “buy into” the RR Kool-Aid. I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but clearly you have not investigated this or you wouldn’t be saying what you are. tOSU has 50 plus NFLers (a speed league) and it ain’t because they are slow. They have a mental block vs the SEC. PSU has countless D-linemen and Lbers in the NFL. Guess what it ain’t because they are slow. The Big 10 has 32 NFLers per team (2nd most) and the SEC has 34. Guess what it ain’t because they are slow. USC, LSU, Georgia, Tenn, Iowa, Bama, Boston College etc these teams are still predominantly Pro-O teams and they are studs. Few teams nationally have speedier D’s than Iowa or PSU or tOSU etc. You continue to think what you want, but the facts don’t bear it out. Just as the article says. Chad
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Posted by nymumich
4 years ago

One other thing: for all the talk of Big 10 LB's performing just as well at combines in speed drills, does it ever cross your mind that the lack of development in the college program (due in large part to a different philosophy) negatively affects their productivity on the field. I.e. certain coaches still stuck in the world of three yards and a cloud of dust want bulk, bulk, bulk -- and not enough speed. A shame really, considering approximately half of the Big 10 runs a variation of the spread. To the point, though, Joe Pa and Lloyd's conditioning programs have been cited as being absolute JOKES. We're talking antiquated equipment and a severe lack of agility and speed discipline. Right there, to me, is another factor that goes into the lack of performance on gameday.
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Posted by nymumich
4 years ago

CM, a few things. First, the offensive lines of Big 10 teams have been exceptional, and many individuals have led great careers in the NFL. Michigan arguably leads the way in that category. But one thing I will say: this paradigm O-lineman is not near as athletic the O-lineman that RR expects to see in Ann Arbor, and the kind I believe is more prevalent on teams running the spread (and as we know, the spread is essentially a part of most title-contending teams these days). Take for instance Justin Boren, who was used to the country club atmosphere created by Carr and was a fat SOB (with tons of talent); he quit the team, as everyone knows, because he couldn't handle the athleticism. I can assure you that Michigan's O-line will be turning heads as far as speed and agility as a unit for the years to come. And I can assure you the slow, overweight (for the most part) D-lines of the Big 10 will be huffing and puffing while our guys are sprinting to the line. And I don't disagree that the Big 10 has produced some very good, agile LB's. But why is it that any time OSU or Michigan faces a spread team, they get TORCHED. It's an absolute joke watching them run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to pursue an Illinois or a Florida (in OSU's case). If you wanna tell me they have the speed, then their agility must be a joke, because they get exposed by fast teams time and time again. Which is exactly why I love RR's mantra of speed not just on O, but on D, where they have made it an EXPLICIT goal of recruiting faster, more hybrid-like defenders for DE and LB. No more big lumbering goons. I can't help but see the same mantra for the top SEC teams and teams like Miami and FSU (always great D's). This isn't to say that we don't have certain players who break the mold, but overall, after watching the Big 10 for years, I just don't see the same speed at those positions. But hey, when Michigan IS embarrassing teams with speed, you'll understand what I was talking about as far as change in culture and recruiting. Next . . .
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Posted by garbotalks
4 years ago

You hit it out of the park. Good points. I know you're not calling Tressel a liar. He, like many others, has obviously bought into the runaway (pun intended) myth. Thanks Wiz!
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

Honestly if he runs a 9.9-100 meter without ANY training he should indeed quit football. That’s kind of the point he doesn’t run that fast. In any given 100-meter race it’s not unusual for a couple of the stragglers to still run a 10.08! Incidentally that is still smokin’ fast, plus at his height (much like Bolt) he would NOT be fast out of the blocks. Hence no WAY he runs a 4.33! Chad
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Posted by ChAoSoRb
4 years ago

If Pryor is really as fast as people in Columbus claim, perhaps he should quit football and challenge Bolt for the title of World’s Fastest Man. id guess pryor may run a 9.9 100m he should not quit football
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

Honestly I sure don’t mean to come off poorly here, but this is a huge hot button for me because it is a HUGE myth just as the article says. An example is tOSU and LSU. I would almost guarantee you the Buckeyes were faster than LSU per track times. LSU just happened to be better and more physical at the point of attack. Case in point LSU had 3 DB’s run 4.56-4.56 & 4.58 forties at subsequent Pro Days. Super Stud Lber Ali Highsmith ran a 4.96 at the combine. Iowa & tOSU (two teams I follow combine times for) continually put fast Lbers, Sfty’s & CB’s in the NFL so you can’t tell me LSU was faster. Just better. Now where the SEC does excel is HUGE, quick defensive Linemen. Where Iowa has very quick 280 LB D-linemen, the SEC has very quick 320 lb D-linemen. Chad
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Posted by cmhawks99
4 years ago

Holy snikes is there a lot of ignorance & hostility on these message boards. The comments on here just prove no matter what the facts are people believe what they want. I have run this speed thing down so far it isn’t funny and it is a ruse. To the Michigan man. The Big 10 has the most starting outside Lbers in the NFL. They also have more Offensive Tackles than anyone (an athletic position). Honestly if you watch the NFL combines and PRO Days, you’ll note the Big 10 has loads of speedy defenders. So keep thinking UM is starting a monopoly on speed it isn’t true. In fact they need to get faster to compete in the Big 10, as tOSU, PSU, & Iowa have all had way faster teams than them of late. Did you know Purdue put TWO 240 plus Lbers in the NFL two years ago running 4.51 and 4.57 forties?! The Big 10 has some of the most athletic Lbers in college football. Next……… To the Ohio St fan, quite frankly there has LONG been huge ambiguity in reported forty times even at the NFL combines. I will guarantee you once Pryor runs there in 2 years his time will drop drastically. Furthermore it has long been said it is almost impossible for a “football” player to run a sub 4.3 and very, very rare for one to run sub 4.4. That is what the article was trying to say. Sure MANY have been reported, but they are mostly unbelievable hence the mention of Ben Johnson’s 4.38 split. Pretty much NO ONE in football is running a 4.38 forty. Even at the combine it starts on movement electronically and is stopped 3 different ways. Still can get inaccurate reads. Good article and it’s nice to SOME people gets it. Chad
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Posted by nymumich
4 years ago

First, the 40 time is pure bs. VY ran in the mid 4.5's. Pryor, who's very similar in stature to VY, is siimply not running a 4.38--it's a product of height and lankiness. Second, as a fan of a team in the Big 10, I'll be the first to admit that YES, there is a difference in speed; but it's not at the skill positions or secondary. The speed differential between a lot of Big 10 (or northern teams) is going to be at Offensive Line, Defensive Line, and linebacker. It's just the way the northern teams tend to recruit and the way it's been for years and years due to style of play. The Big 10 needs to catch up with the times or it'll never see itself as a national power again. This, of course, is why Michigan is going to be running circles around the conference in a couple of years. Speed kills, and we're recruiting it everywhere.
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Posted by nuggins
4 years ago

he sure can throw the ball...i watched him in H.S. many times and he is one of the most well rounded QB's in college...just wait for him to mature a bit more and people will be repeating "wow" over and over
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Posted by BiggJohn
4 years ago

Remember also that Quadry Ismail, brother of Rocket Ismail was supposedly clocked running the 40 at 4.1. Now that is literally blinding speed. If OSU is that confident, have a charity event pitting Bolt vs Pryor at the Horseshoe and call it a day. Speed does kill, but robertofox said it best, 'He can't throw a football'. I would say being one-dimensional really kills.
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Posted by J_Logan
4 years ago

spiff582, I see you're not familiar with the new fad sweeping the nation - it's called sarcasm! C'mon man, you can't take a joke. Did you even read the entire article? And professorkopak, don't get your Jim Tressel panties all in a bunch. He's only using Pryor as an example and I'm sure Tressel isn't the saint you think he is.
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Posted by spiff582
4 years ago

LOL challenge bolt? mothafucka just ran the 100-metre dash in 9.58, and there have been times clocked faster than 4.33 so what about those guys, maybe chris johnson should go to the olympics too...covers ahah you clowns
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Posted by professorkopak
4 years ago

Hey pal, Jim Tressel is not a liar. You would be hard pressed finding him lying. i know about the the event Pryor did indeed run that fast. also I guess you did not know that pryor did not start at the beginning of the season and of course he was only an inexperienced freshman. Accusing people of not having intergrity without knowing facts means you do not have intergrity. Bad deal to accuse others who may or may not be innicent. I got no respect for you pal. This was a stupid column and an uninformed one.
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Top Response

Posted by professorkopak
4 years ago

"Hey pal, Jim Tressel is not a liar. You would be hard pressed finding him lying. i know about the the event Pryor did indeed run that fast. also I guess you did not know that pryor did not start at the beginning of the season and of course he was on..."