Five reasons why you should care about OU Athletics

Most people that go to Ohio University think that the athletics are no good and should not be cared about. Yeah, Ohio University is not going to be like Ohio State or Michigan. Those schools have special athletic programs.

Does that mean that Ohio University Athletics suck? Not one bit. In fact, Ohio University Athletics should be cared about and here are five reasons why.

1) A ton of the programs have had recent success

Wait, schools in smaller conferences can be successful too? You don’t have to be in the BIG Ten or SEC to be successful? That is correct.

I will make it very simple for you: Ohio University Athletics have been very successful recently. Since football is usually the most popular sport on a college campus, I’ll start there.

Ohio University Football has been bowl eligible for seven straight years and has played a bowl game in six out of those seven years. That is some pretty good stability. Only good programs can sustain that.

Ohio University Men’s Basketball has had some major national success recently. The Bobcats made the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2012. They advanced to the Round of 32 in 2010 and to the Sweet 16 in 2012. In 2012, they lost to number one seed University of North Carolina in overtime. Yeah, the school where Michael Jordan went. We almost beat them on the biggest stage. Not bad right?

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Ohio University Men’s Basketball upsetting Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2010

Ohio University Baseball has made the NCAA Tournament 15 times including as recent as 2015. One of the best power hitters in baseball history in Mike Schmidt played baseball at Ohio University, too. He hit 548 home-runs in his career, which is good enough for 16th all-time.

The women have had some recent success as well. Ohio University Women’s Basketball made the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and won the MAC regular season title in 2016.

Last but not least, Ohio University Women’s Volleyball has been terrific. They have made the NCAA Tournament every year since 2003. In 2014, they were undefeated in MAC play.

2) MACtion is not that bad 

ben-roethlisberger
Former Miami of Ohio quarterback and current Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

The average fan thinks that the Mid American Conference, also known as MACtion, is garbage. Th average fan thinks that MACtion consists of bad teams with average players that will never be able to compete against the big schools.

That is completely wrong.

MACtion has produced some tremendous pro talent. Some former MACtion players include Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Julian Edelman, Khalil Mack, Jimmie Ward and Joe Staley. Ohio has two current NFL players in Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell and Oakland Raiders corner back TJ Carrie.

MACtion teams also have shown the ability to compete with the big schools. The University of Toledo beat the University of Arkansas last season. Arkansas plays in the SEC. That conference that MACtion teams “can’t” compete with.

3) A good MACtion team is better to have than a bad BIG Ten team 

Most people think that you have to be in a big conference like the BIG Ten to have a team that you should care about. However, that is not the case.

I have buddies that go to the University of Illinois, and their sports programs stink. Their football team has made it to just three bowl games since 2010. Their basketball team hasn’t made it to the Sweet 16 since 2005.

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An University of Illinois student section during a 2013 football game vs Ohio State.

Do students at the University of Illinois care about these teams? NO because they suck.

Even though they get to play the really good schools like Ohio State and Michigan State, it does not matter. Most of the students do not care because they rarely win.

In fact, a few of my buddies from there have visited Ohio and were impressed by how many students seem to care about the sports teams. They thought it was pretty close and maybe better to what they see on their campus from students.

Also, they were jealous that our teams actually win a decent amount of games each year. Their not to happy with the four wins their football program gives them every year.

4) It can make your college experience better

The whole student body might not care about the sports programs, but there are plenty of students who do. The  student section at the games, called the O-Zone, is a very passionate group of students. 20020404-OZONE

The O-Zone is a great place to meet new people, too. Someone you meet in the O-Zone could end up being one of your closest friends in college.

Supporting the sports teams also gives you something to constantly do. You will quickly find out how much free time there is in college. It is nuts. I did not know what to do with all the free time. I still have trouble filling the time honestly.

You can only play so many hours of video games and watch so many hours of Netflix. Going to sporting events can spice up your day and make it much more fun and interesting .

5) Just give it a chance

Most of the games are free, so you cannot use the excuse that you don’t want to spend the money to get out of going to a game. There are usually tailgates that include free food for students. Yeah, free food. You will learn fast how crucial a free meal is. So, if you don’t like going to the game, you will get a free meal out of it anyhow. Win win situation no matter what.

See you at the first football game in the fall. Who cares, Go Bobcats.

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Q&A: Ohio swimmer qualifies for Olympic Trials

When competitive swimmers have the choice of what goggles to swim with, there are Speedo people and TYR people. Tori Bagan, a senior studying education, said she is most definitely a Speedo person.

“I’ve always swam with Speedo goggles, so it’s the only thing I have ever known,” she said. “For some people, the brands are an emotional attachment.”

Bagan finished up her swim career on the Ohio University swim team last year, so this year she is training with the team until she graduates after the Fall Semester. Bagan qualified for the Olympic Trials for a third time and will swim at Omaha in June of 2016. Her specialty is the 100-meter breaststroke with a personal best of 1:11.27.

Court Street Stories sat down with Bagan on how her experience on the team has affected her, and what her plans are for the Olympic trials in June.

Court Street Stories: How has your training and the team’s season been going so far?

Tori Bagan: I still train with the team, and they’re season has been going pretty well. They started in November. It’s great still being able to train with them.

CS: What is the more challenging part of perfecting breaststroke?

TB: Each stroke has its specific challenges, but for breaststroke I really try and work on my walls and underwaters. That’s where you can get the most power and speed. It’s also really important to make sure you’re on top of the water when you break out from your underwaters as well.

CS: What has your experience been like qualifying for the Olympic Trials going on three times now?

TB: The first time when I went in 2008 when I was a freshman in high school was mostly for experience. The second time when I went in 2011 I wasn’t able to compete because I broke my foot. Now this year it’ll be incredible, because I can train for June, be rested and ready. The feeling is unlike any other being there.

CS: What are some goals you have for yourself this season?

TB: Just be the best that I can be. I’d like to go under a 1:10.00, but just trying my best is all I can work for.

CS: Did anybody in your family swim?

TB: I have an older sister two years ahead of me  and she swam at the University of Toledo. We would sometimes compete against each other, but for the most part, we swam different strokes.

CS: Do you pay for your own fastskins (swimsuits) or gear or does somebody sponsor you?

TB: I do not have a sponsor at this time, so I am paying for my own suits and swim gear.

CS: What’s the most you’ve paid for a fastskin?

TB: Fastskins can range from $200 to $600 a suit. You can only wear them a few times because of the material they are made out of. The technology for these suits is developing so quickly, so the pricing fluctuates.

CS: What kind of dry land workouts do you do to help with your training?

TB: I do a ton of dry land. My events are more sprint-oriented, so I do a lot of power workouts. I workout very hard for short periods of time just like in a sprint.

CS: Because this is your last time training with the Ohio team, what will you miss about being with the team?

TB: I will just miss being on the team in general. It’s very different training by yourself without a team behind you. They definitely push me in ways I cannot do. Though being an alumna, I will always be a part of the team. Nothing will change that.  

Ohio Routes IPFW, 79-52

Kiyanna Black scored 21 points and the Bobcats defeated IPFW, 79-52, Thursday afternoon for their first win in the Convocation Center this season.

It’s no surprise to Ohio coach Bob Boldon that Black put up 21 points. Black went 5-6 from the arc and went 8-10 overall from the field. She impressed Boldon with her improved shot selection.

“I feel like, every time I watch her, her shot selection improves,” Boldon said. “It’s a challenge when you’re as good as she is, when she’s really taking good shots and she makes good shots, she’s really hard to beat.”

It becomes easier to take smarter shots when players like Quiera Lampkins. Lampkins pitched in 14 points, six rebounds and four assists in a well-rounded effort.

Boldon looked for his team to rebound well after losing closely to Vanderbilt in its own tournament final. Now, 4-2, a blowout was a good sign for him, but Boldon knows the team has a lot to improve on, having a total 29 turnovers.

Boldon has history with the Mastodons. He enjoyed success in assisting former head coach Karl Smesko improve the program from 2010-2012.

The Mastodons were 2-24 the year before Smesko and Boldon joined the program. Then, they saw their win totals increase by 11 and 7 games the next two years, culminating in 19-8 record before both coaches moved on from the program.

“As you go from school to school, you meet people, and you want those people to do well: except when you’re playing them,” Boldon said. “So it’s always a little bittersweet, but I don’t wish any ill-will on those people.”

The ‘Cats next play Saint Francis (PA) at the Convo on Sunday. Tip off is set set 2 p.m.

An Ohio Bobcats Football Season Recap

With an 8-4 overall standing after a monumental victory over Northern Illinois University on November 24, the Ohio Bobcats are finishing the season with their best record since the 2013-2014 season. The Bobcats arrived at an NIU that upheld a 22 game winning streak for the month of November and left as the team who would not allow the streak to reach 23.

Now fans and officials alike are left to wonder not if the ‘Cats will be participating in a bowl game, but exactly what game they will be attend. According to ESPN, it is likely that Ohio will be participating in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The 2014-2015 season put an end to a bowl-visiting streak that lasted for five seasons, so this is the team’s chance to reclaim the running number.

Before coming out on top, the Bobcats battled a mid-season struggle. Injured players including the team’s first and second-string quarterbacks Derrius Vick and JD Sprague and a MAC Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Quentin Poling, contributed to a three game losing streak against Western Michigan, Buffalo and Bowling Green. A combined score for the three games totaled at 152-55. Many of those points came from the Nov. 4 Bowling Green game that left the ‘Cats trailing behind the Falcons at 62-24.

Both sides of the team seemed to regain strength for the Nov. 10 game against Kent State. The dominating win against the Golden Flashes at 27-o carried the ‘Cats into two more victories against Ball State and the NIU Huskies. According to a report from Ohio Bobcats, Coach Frank Solich was proud of his team for making a comeback. “You just don’t always bounce back. You can go into a downward spiral and just keep going down. But to their credit, they pulled themselves out of that downward spiral and they started playing the kind of football they were capable of playing,” Solich said.

Some overall season statitstics — A total of 41 touchdowns were scored and an average point value scored per game reached 27.4, compared to that of the opponents at 24.8 points. 270 first downs were made with an average rushing yardage of 187.1 and an average passing yardage of 238.4. 14 out of 20 attempted field goals were scored.

 

How are OU Students Watching Professional Sports?

As an upperclassman living off-campus who can’t afford over-priced cable packages, my boyfriend and I found ourselves at Buffalo Wild Wings on Union St. watching game three of the MLB World Series. Not to mention, beer and wings are always welcome while enjoying America’s favorite pastime. Now as the NFL season is in full-swing and basketball season approaches, students everywhere are getting creative when it comes to finding ways to watch their favorite teams.

Online streaming has become a very popular way for students and people everywhere to access professional sporting events. For students whose ride-or-die teams are out of the homestretch of Athens, OH, streaming services especially come in handy. Depending on the service students choose to use, some even have the option to stream on their smartphones at any location.

I watch (the game) on my phone and scare my roommates,” said passionate Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Kelsie Malloy. 

635748128968195773-NFLSundayTicket.TV-UDirecTV has created a promotion package that makes it easier for college students away from home to watch their home teams play. This promotion is called NFLSundayTicket.TV U and offers a discounted subscription for students to watch a full season of games via any streaming device of their choosing. The subscription requires students to be attending  a four-year university and confirms student enrollment by finding potential subscribers under student record. So, there’s no way anyone can pose for a student discount.

Although streaming is convenient, most quality services cost a fee of some sort. That doesn’t stop some students from finding the game.

“I download live stream links along with multiple computer viruses,” said Allyson Clifton, Ohio University junior and Cincinnati Bengals fan.

So it’s important to be careful when trying to (illegally) stream a game online.

The off-campus residents who actually pay for cable are few and far between. However, those who do have it for the main purpose of watching sports. These passionate fans bite the bullet of pricy cable packages out of love for their teams, although they’re still not happy about the bill that arrives in the mail box.

“I do watch them at home,” said Cleveland Browns fan Ben Rottersman, “the fact that I have to bundle to get what I want is outrageous.”

Some students say that a football game isn’t complete without a bar full of fellow fans surrounding them. Others disagree and think that groups of drunk football fans are too extreme and overwhelming.

Photo Cred: Cleveland.com
Photo Cred: Cleveland.com

Although Rottersman watches most football games in the comfort of his living room sofa, he still joins other Browns fans at Cat’s Eye Saloon on Court St. every Sunday. “It’s an official Browns backer bar, part of the Browns organization,” he said.

Even though she’s also a Browns fan, Allison Danielle said the bars are always too crowded. “I watch ESPN on my computer,” she said.

Most people who do go Uptown to watch football, find a bar and stick to it. Many of the bars are known for being representative of a certain NFL team. So when game day nears, be sure not to stumble into the wrong bar with the wrong name and number on your back.

2015 bowl game options for the Bobcats

Fresh off a 48-31 win against Ball State, Ohio is more than bowl eligible at 7-4. As the ‘Cats have only one game left to play, the question now is which bowl game will they play in? Ohio has many bowl game options as of Week 11. Here are the possiblilities:

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

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Photo Credit/ESPN Events

Potential opponent: Appalachian State 

The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl is the most likely landing spot for Ohio, because it won’t have the highest standards of the MAC bowls. Brett McMurphy and Mark Schlabach of ESPN projected this bowl would either include Ohio or Akron, respectively, and Akron hasn’t done as well as Ohio this season. The essence of mediocrity, Akron could win both of its last games and still only tie Ohio’s overall record at 7-5 if Ohio loses to NIU.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Famous Potato
Photo credit/famousidahopotatobowl.com

Potential Opponent: Utah State

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl remains second to Raycom as a possibility because Central Michigan will probably win its last couple of games against Kent State and Eastern Michigan. They also have a better conference record, making it a more competitive suitor for the Potato Bowl to choose for its game than Ohio.

Keeping those two projections in mind, there are a number of bowl games that will feature MAC teams this year and the possibility remains that Ohio can end up in any of them, making its placement more dependent on how the team plays against Northern Illinois next Tuesday.

The following are more bowl game options that become increasingly available if the ‘Cats win against NIU to finish the regular season:

Boca Raton Bowl

If Western Michigan falters in its final games against Toledo and NIU and Toledo ends up in a higher bowl game, the ‘Cats may be able to place into the Boca Raton Bowl.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

This bowl might happen if NIU loses to Ohio but wins its final game against Western Michigan, bringing both teams down toward Ohio’s record.

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

The ‘Cats have a shot at this bowl if they beat NIU on Tuesday, and Toledo is picked to play in a higher-level bowl.

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Now, should the ‘Cats lose against NIU, there’s always the…

AutoNation CureBowl

As Schlabach projects that Buffalo would represent the MAC in this bowl, it seems like it’s a good fallback bowl if Ohio is passed up by the other bowls searching for MAC teams.

Breakout season for OU’s Sebastian Smith

“It’s just natural instincts. Wherever the ball’s at, I key in on it. Eyes, hands, and I just lock on.”

That natural instinct has helped wide receiver Sebastian Smith tremendously this season. Throughout his three years with the Ohio Bobcats, his impact has grown each season. Smith had 12 catches for 85 yards in his first season in 2013. That number more than doubled in 2014 with 31 catches for 385 yards. This year, he’s already surpassed that with 51 catches for 632 yards with two games left in the season.

Quarterback Derrius Vick has noticed the transition, especially in the latter half of the season.

“You can really see this year that he’s having fun, that he believes that he’s the best player on the field at all times and that he can’t be stopped,” Vick said. “I think that’s really shown in his game the way he’s just carrying himself on and off the field.”

Ohio Bobcats wide receiver Sebastian Smith #6
Photo Credit: Ohio Athletics

“I believe it just comes down to just doing your part as an individual,” Smith said. “You know there’s 11 guys on the field. It comes down to doing my part, and that’s what I go into the game thinking and come out of the game thinking. Next play, I got to convert for a first down or make this play for a touchdown or whatever it is.”

Even ESPN recognized what’s he done on the gridiron, where Smith’s amazing diving catch against Bowling Green on Nov. 4 was featured as one of SportsCenter’s top 10 plays.

“Actually, in the hotel, I was thinking about making [SportsCenter Top 10]. Last year I made it twice. This year you know I haven’t made it yet. I was thinking it’s time. I got to make a play,” Smith said.

But most of his big plays come when the ‘Cats really need it.

“A lot of them are on third down. Anytime it’s third down and long or I need a big catch, most of the time if you look it’s been Sebastian,” Vick said.

Smith has to adapt to just more than Vick behind center. The ‘Cats utilize all three quarterbacks in Vick, J.D. Sprague, and Greg Windham. All three quarterbacks have very different styles of play, and Smith has done well with all three so far this season.

Photo Credit: Ohio Athletics
Photo Credit: Ohio Athletics

“When we’re scrambling, we always have to be on the same page. So far, Sebastian has just been right there in an open spot. He just looks to get the ball no matter if it’s in traffic or not,” Vick said.

“I talk to all the quarterbacks. When a play breaks down, they know what I’m going to do. Whatever route we’re running, they know what I’m going to do. I just communicate well with all three quarterbacks. I’m comfortable with all three of them when they’re in the game,” Smith said.

No matter who’s snapping the ball, Smith wants to keep on shining and growing as an athlete.

“It’s just a blessing. I always think about progression. I look at my stats last year, and I’ve surpassed those. I’m looking just to grow as a player. The sky’s the limit for me and I’m just going to keep working hard.”

A breakdown of OU athletic spending

In a day and age where student loan debt has risen substantially, it’s important to know what your thousands of dollars are going towards in the university.

Dr. Steve Hays, an associate professor in the Classics & World Religions department here at OU, conducted research for a committee in faculty senate during the 2014-2015 school year. With a diverse set of opinions on the subject of athletic spending, they were given a task to bring pros and cons to the table. Hays took it upon himself to publish the findings on his own website, which is a breakdown of OU athletic spending.

In the chart below, the first column shows how much money Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) generates on its own. The second column is OU generated money that goes to ICA.

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A portion of the general fee every student pays (approx. $628 per semester) in their tuition is for ICA Operations, which equaled $9.3 million. The indirect costs and scholarships are not in the general fee, but the university’s General Fund, which is tuition and state support of instruction revenue. To maintain the facilities that the athletics department uses (i.e. custodial services, facilities management, utilities, etc.) it is calculated that it cost the university $3.7 million over the period of a year. ICA does not make enough money to run its program, so $20.3 million of the $25 million in the span of a year comes directly from tuition and state sponsored funding. ICA’s $4.7 million revenue comes from ticket sales, NCAA payments, sponsorships, etc.

So what’s this all about? Why spend so much money with no profit? https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/7909367630/in/photolist-d3Vzrq-f3wdtB-f3LnGN-f3wdCF-f3wdM8-f3Lq27-f3w8ZF-f3LqEs-f3w984-f3LqVj-f3w9zz-f3LkJq-f3wbAe-d3Vzcu-f3w4nB-f3w4fe-JkwBD-f3whLt-f3LuFw-f3whp2-f3w8Uz-f3LuRW-f3wgq4-f3Ljky-f3wi1e-f3w7wp-f3Lkjf-f3LuAN-f3w4zB-f3LkuL-f3LgpA-f3w9vp-f3Lke5-f3wcoZ-f3w8Dx-f3LjJs-oz4jPe-oziJgY-ohR7me-oxiEgQ-ohQgLS-ohQGes-oxikBf-oziHcU-oB5VCR-ohQArr-ozimJQ-oz4J8P-dByeL2-6DS9N7

The overall cost of the athletics program is 3% of the university’s budget. The budget in 2015 was $709.2 million.

OU athletics helps with advertising the university. When an OU football game is shown on ESPN, it is a way for the audience to become more acquainted with the university. Ultimately helping with grabbing potential future students.

Donors and alumni are a key element of fundraising. Athletics is also said to be a key element of fundraising. The discussion on this position is controversial, since the athletic donations from alumni and others are included in the $4.7 million revenue that ICA obtained in the 2014-2015 school year. Read more here for the various pros and cons discussion.

The ICA scholarships give students the chance to attend a university that due to financial reasons, they might not be able to attend without. The chart below breaks down scholarships for the school, athletic and non-athletic. Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 7.00.14 PM

There is a discussion on this topic as well. An average of almost $19,000 for each athletic scholarship is given to 357 students. An average of $3300 is given to 8,908 non-athletic students.

This has been a hot topic since the spending and focus has shifted more towards athletics, a New York Times article  gives a glimpse of what campuses around the country have been doing. The American Institutes for Research did an important study in 2013 comparing academic spending to athletic spending at universities.

Check out the OU Dialogue website to become more educated on the topic of university spending.

What do yOU think? Are OU sports worth the money we are giving them?