August 27, 2014

Elyria
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Dan Coughlin: Ohio bloodlines run thick among BCS competitors

The college bowl season brings out the best in us. December is Buckeye Pride month.
You are permitted to thrust out your chest and bust your buttons because every time television shows a sideline shot of a bowl game, chances are you`ll be looking at an old neighbor. Yep, the kid next door grew up to be famous.
Here is the supporting evidence. Six of the top 13 teams in the final BCS standings are coached by Ohio born and breds. Furthermore, they`re from northeastern Ohio, all within 90 minutes of us right now.
The current darlings of the BCS, of course, are Ohio State and LSU, who will play for the national championship in New Orleans on Jan. 7. For the one person reading this who doesn`t know, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is from Berea and LSU coach Les Miles is from Elyria.
Oklahoma is fourth in the BCS and the Sooners are coached by Bob Stoops from Youngstown, where he played at Cardinal Mooney.
Ohio State fans can thank Stoops for propelling the Buckeyes into the national championship game. When Oklahoma beat Missouri in the Big 12 Championship Game, Missouri tumbled from No. 1 to No. 6 in the BCS, which was tough luck for Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who is from Akron and went to Kenmore High School.
This is almost incestuous. The BCS is becoming a private club and you must have Ohio bloodlines to get in. (More about Pinkel in a moment.)
Let`s drop down to No. 12 in the BCS. That would be last year`s national champion Florida, which beat Ohio State in the national championship game. Florida is coached by Urban Meyer, an Ashtabula native who played high school ball at tiny Ashtabula St. John`s, which is now merged with St. Paul and goes by Sts. John and Paul.
Meyer may have slipped to 12th in the BCS but nobody leads him in saints.
Right behind Florida is Illinois, 13th in the BCS. Illinois is coached by another Ohioan, Ron Zook, from Loudonville in Ashland County. The reason Tressel needed Bob Stoops to knock off Gary Pinkel is that Zook handed Tressel his only loss of the season. You can spend half the day connecting the dots.
See what I mean by the incestuous manner of this whole thing? It`s embarrassing. It`s as though the rest of college football is reduced to voyeurism. Everybody else can only peek through the window.
Missouri, Florida and Illinois are playing in New Year`s Day bowls. Oklahoma plays the next day in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State and LSU meet on Jan. 7.
But there are more Ohio coaches in holiday bowls. Mark Dantonio coaches Michigan State in something called the Champ Sports Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 28. Dantonio was born in El Paso, Texas, but he grew up in Zanesville. He spent five years as an assistant to Jim Tressel at Youngstown State.
Then there`s Nick Saban at Alabama, which plays in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 30. Saban is not from Ohio per se, being born across the river in Fairmont, West Va., but he played at Kent State, where he was Pinkel`s teammate under the legendary coach Don James, who is from Massillon.
Tell me, what`s more Ohio than Massillon?
I wouldn`t be surprised if North Carolina State returns to bowl prominence in the near future. The Wolfpack`s new coach is Tom O`Brien. He`s from Cincinnati St. Xavier.
While we`re waiting for all this bowl action to start, we`ll occupy ourselves with the Division III playoffs, otherwise known as the Mount Union Invitational.
Dan Coughlin is a columnist for The Chronicle-Telegram and a sportscaster for Channel 8. Contact him at ctsports@chroniclet.com.