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Conley has new take on Buckeyes
Former assistant will be watching as radio analyst
Sunday, August 01, 2004
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Jim Tressel will have yet another local expert looking over his shoulder this football season, except this one comes with impeccable — and contemporary — credentials.
"I’ve always been a strong Buckeye supporter," Bill Conley said. "But at the same time, my job is to call it as I see it."
Conley, Ohio State’s longtime and celebrated recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach, resigned his position in late spring to pursue what he saw as a great opportunity in the private sector as vice president of MAX Sports, a Dublin-based athlete development center. He also has signed on to deliver commentary on OSU football for WTVN radio, including a three-hour Sunday morning show during the season.
Talk about your Sunday morning quarterbacks . . .
"Now I don’t have to think so much in relation to being cautious about what I say or being worried about people taking it wrong," Conley said. "That’s going to make it a little more relaxing. And you know, I’ve always had opinions."
Achieving separation from the team mind-set is often the biggest hurdle for coaches-turned-analysts. They know firsthand the long hours and effort coaches and players put into game preparation.
"They’re working to be the best they possibly can be," Conley said. "But it’s the job of the media to analyze performance, not preparation."
At the same time, he sees plenty of potential in the 2004 Buckeyes, who were ranked No. 9 in the USA Today-ESPN preseason poll released Friday. That is, if they can answer four major questions facing them when camp opens Aug. 10.
"They have to show quick maturity in the quarterback spot obviously, because even after spring, the position is still unproven," Conley said, referring to the battle for the starting job between sophomores Justin Zwick and Troy Smith. "And, I’m telling you, don’t forget about (freshman) Todd Boeckman.
"And there is the offensive line. You’ve got some talent and some depth there, but with three new starters, you’ve got to have some kids step up in a hurry."
It’s the same on the defensive line, where the only returning starter is senior defensive end Simon Fraser.
"I don’t know if there was ever a threesome here as good Will Smith, Darrion Scott and Tim Anderson the last couple of years," Conley said. "You think back to the mid-1990s when Mike Vrabel, Matt Finkes and Luke Fickell were in there. That was a pretty good group, too, but those are such huge shoes to fill.
"Also, we’ve had an All-American punter the last three years in first Andy Groom and then B.J. Sander. Somebody has got to come through there, because I believe otherwise we’ve got the best long snapper in the country in Kyle Andrews, and the best field goal kicker in Mike Nugent."
In the quarterback battle, especially, Conley said he did not leave the spring feeling anyone had won the job.
"All of them have certain strengths, but I don’t think any of them showed they have the right to be called the guy yet," he said. "They haven’t been tested in the heat of battle.
"Unless one of them just completely dominates fall camp, I think you’re going to see that battle go into the season a few games. It could get very interesting."
In other words, stay tuned. Conley has to get used to saying that, too.
Whether he’ll wind up back in coaching/ recruiting at some major school in the future remains to be seen.
"At this point, I get the sense I’ve moved on," Conley said. "Once I get into the heat of the season, I’ll know more about that."
The MAX Sports venture has kept him intrigued.
"It’s new and it’s growing; really, things are happening a lot faster than any of us had anticipated," Conley said.
And the radio gig will give him the opportunity to stay in touch with college football. In pursuing the new career path, Conley, 53, has kept in mind a piece of advice offered by Woody Hayes decades ago.
"He said, ‘Whatever you do, if you approach it like it’s what you’ll be doing the rest of your life, good things will happen,’ " Conley said. "I am going to attack this thing like Dick Vermeil did when he was a commentator for a few years before getting back into coaching.
"He found out everything he could about the players and coaches, and was always prepared. That’s what I plan to do."
listed above is the regular dispatch link for the Conley article- if you replace the word "dispatch" in the address with "1460thefan" and "football/football" with the letters "tf" you can view all the articles for free using the 1460 The Fan link.
That is kind of the way that I read into it also. I wonder if he will be critical of Tressel's offense this year if we struggle? The reason that I ask this is because he was a Cooper holdover and coached with Harris and some other offensive masterminds. I'm sure that Conley had a great relationship with John Cooper.
I'm sure he'll take an objective approach to analyzing OSU football, which isn't a bad thing by any stretch.