Concluding The Kohl Center Curse (Finally!)

The Ohio State Buckeyes have finally — finally! — won a game at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center.  They beat the Badgers today today, 58-52, in as tough and hard-fought a game as you would ever expect to see.

Jared Sullinger was a beast on the inside; he scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Wisconsin really had no answer for him.  Deshaun Thomas showed why he is one of the best forwards in the Big Ten, grabbing many rebounds and making some clutch buckets.  Aaron Craft played a standout defensive game against Badgers stud point guard Jordan Taylor, and made some key free throws to help ice the game, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., played a fine floor game, and William Buford — poor, much maligned William Buford, who just could not get a shot to go down — made a three-point dagger in crunch time.

This is the kind of game you expect to see in a balanced conference like the Big Ten, where road wins are like pearls of the highest price.  Wisconsin played its normal deliberate game and its in-your-face defense, but today, the Buckeyes were just a little bit better. Winning at the Kohl Center is a huge step forward for Ohio State, because winning in an intimidating atmosphere says a lot about your team’s mental toughness — and there are a lot of challenging games yet to be played.

Coach Tressel Finds A New Home

Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has accepted a new job.  He will be moving to Akron and taking a position at the University of Akron — not as a football coach, but as the Vice President for Strategic Engagement.

I’m happy for Mr. Tressel (although I will always think of him as Coach Tressel) and I have no doubt that he will do a good job for one of Ohio’s largest universities.  The NCAA “tattoogate” scandal that led to his resignation as Ohio State’s coach involved some unfortunate lapses in judgment on his part, but it shouldn’t mask his accomplishments with the Buckeyes.  Tressel not only took a moribund football program and quickly turned it into a powerhouse, he also made tremendous progress in the academic performance of his student-athletes.

I still respect Tressel’s efforts and achievements, even if I regret his missteps at the end of his tenure at Ohio State.  I suspect I’m not alone in that regard, and that many Ohioans will be interested in meeting with Tressel and hearing his ideas for the future of the University of Akron.  He’s an intelligent, hard working individual who dedicates himself to his job, and I’m sure he will bring those attributes to his new position.

I know one person who is thrilled to have Tressel in Akron:  Buckeye Bebe, who always has been one of his biggest supporters.  Aunt Bebe will be very happy to share the air of the Rubber City with the man who led the Buckeyes for so many years.  Who knows?  Perhaps they can meet and talk about football — or even strategic engagement.

A Glimmer On The Horizon

Yesterday’s unemployment report contained some good news, for a change.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics released data stating that 243,000 new jobs were created, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.  Both results are better than what economists and analysts — who never seem to be right — were expecting.

There are some curious aspects to the report, and some negative news as well.  For example, the BLS made an adjustment that simply eliminated 1.2 million from the workforce, which of course affected the statistics.  In addition, the labor-force participation number fell to the lowest level since 1983.  These statistics may indicate that some people have just given up after looking for work for years — which is a sobering thought.  If true, that may mean that the unemployment rate will jump again if those people decide to once again start hunting for a job.

Despite the cautionary aspects of the report, I’m glad to see that our economy is producing jobs.  I’m sure there are some people who regret the timing of the good news for political reasons — they know that many Americans vote on the basis of their pocketbooks, and they believe that voters will be more likely to favor the Republican candidate over President Obama if the economy stays in the doldrums.  Such people should keep those thoughts to themselves.  We should be happy for every one of those 243,000 news jobs and for the people who were hired to perform them, and we should hope that next month’s report is even better.