Elliott matter looked worse than it was

Matt BuckeyeInsider

As a member of the media, I have no problem admitting that athletes and coaches often face a no-win situation when dealing with us.

They are criticized for using cliches and “coach speak,” but when they give honest answers, they are labeled arrogant and selfish.

Thus was the case when Ezekiel Elliott was critical of the play calling and his coaches during a postgame interview after the loss to Michigan State last week.

I credit Elliott for answering the questions honestly. He was coming off an emotional loss in what will likely be his last game in Ohio Stadium. He gave his thoughts, and some of them were considered overly harsh by some.

While they didn’t get much, or in many cases any coverage, Elliott made several other positive comments during his interview. But it was a few sentences that got all of the attention.

OSU head coach Urban Meyer had the right to be disappointed in some of what Elliott said. Coaches don’t like when their players air their issues in a public setting, instead preferring that to be done within the confines of the locker room or coach’s office. 

Criticizing coaches, the same ones who had just won 23 straight games, was something that Elliott should have left out of his statements to the media. But again, he was giving an honest answer to a question. When microphones are thrust in front of an athlete or coach minutes after a loss, fans are not always going to like what is said.

I thought Meyer handled the situation perfectly Monday. He admitted he wished Elliott would have voiced his frustrations privately, but he also recognized that what Elliott said was accurate. Elliott had complained that he only had 11 carries, and his coach agreed Monday that Elliott had a reason to be upset. 

“This is a very isolated incident,” said Meyer. “We have a three-year bank on Zeke. Zeke is a very honest guy. Frustration, anger, all of that, probably mounted. I couldn’t disagree with him, his comments, that he should have got the ball a little bit more. But that’s not the place to do it. He knows that.”

Meyer was also quick to counter the notion Elliott is a selfish player.

“Zeke has always been an extremely loyal person, a great competitor,” said Meyer. “I just want to make it clear ... Zeke has been a good student, very loyal, and incredible football player. He is one of the most selfless players I’ve ever coached and been around.”

Following Elliott’s comments Saturday night, there were some national media members calling for him to be benched for Saturday’s game against Michigan. But Meyer said there will be no punishment moving forward, and that is the correct call. Had he punished Elliott, he would send a message that his players are not allowed to have a voice. 

“He said what a lot of guys were probably scared to say,” said OSU star defensive end Joey Bosa. “He said what was in his heart ... he felt like it was what he needed to say.”



With Harbaugh at UM, The Game feels like a rivalry again

Over the last decade plus, The Game has turned into just a game.

The Buckeyes have won 11 out of the 13 matchups against their rival, taking some steam out of the rivalry.

Granted, Ohio State fans still hate Michigan and vice versa. But from a national perspective, the rivalry does not seem to hold as much weight as it once did. 

A lot of that can be traced to the fact that Ohio State has dominated the series recently. When one team is winning most of the time, a rivalry can become a bit stale.

But this year feels different. Jim Harbaugh, the once golden boy quarterback who played for legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, has re-ignited some of the passion that was lost because of the Wolverines’ struggles.

BUCKEYE INSIDER, exclusively in Friday's Examiner
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