In this week’s edition of “Conversations with Clayton,” I chat with Bret Favachio, who covers football recruiting for Land-Grant Holy Land, SB Nation’s Ohio State Buckeyes site. In our lengthy discussion, we covered Luke Fickell’s legacy at Ohio State, the future of Buckeyes basketball and the best incoming freshman on the Buckeyes’ football roster.
Clayton Trutor (CT): How did you get involved with sports writing?
Bret Favachio (BF): I got involved in sports writing by actually just becoming interested in Ohio State recruiting. I followed closely from a fans perspective and would share any thoughts I had on Twitter. During that time, I linked up with two other guys who were equally interested in recruiting. We made our own website and maybe put together a handful of posts every so often. Sure enough, I had Matt Brown and Luke Zimmermann, who I owe everything to for giving me a chance, reach out to me seeing if I wanted to come over to Land-Grant Holy Land to cover Ohio State recruiting on a daily basis. I gladly accepted and now, a handful of years later, here we are.
CT: Tell me about Luke Fickell.
BF: I would describe Luke Fickell as a passionate, loyal guy that for a lot of his time in Columbus was under appreciated. Someone that is able to connect with the kids he coaches everyday. I've talked to kids who have spoke highly of Fickell in the past while he was running the defense for Ohio State. I genuinely believe he was the perfect man for Cincinnati and I expect him to get things where they need to be for the Bearcats. I do expect it to take a little bit of time, of course.
CT: What does 2017 have in store for Buckeyes football?
BF: I believe that Ohio State has an opportunity to compete for a national title again this year. They are a very deep team. They have an insane rotation on the defensive line and I think that will take them a long way. They will need a lot more contributions from the wide receiver spot and they have guys that are certainly talented enough to do just that. I definitely expect them to make the CFB Playoff. Anything after that, we will have to wait and see.
CT: Assess the hiring of Chris Holtmann to replace Thad Matta as OSU basketball coach.
BF: I love the hiring of Chris Holtmann for the Buckeyes. I feel that for as late as it was when they moved on from Thad Matta, being able to get someone like Holtmann was a home run. He's done good things already. Getting guys like Musa Jallow and Kyle Young on board for 2017. He also saw in-state guys like Dane Goodwin and Jerome Hunter head out of state. As far as recruiting, I expect him to be great for the Buckeyes. This year on the hardwood, with such a depleted roster at his disposal, it may look ugly and unconventional at times. But it will get better and overall, I think it was a great hire.
CT: Which incoming OSU football freshman will be a household name by the end of the season?
BF: I would bank on someone like Jeffrey Okudah or Shaun Wade, two five-star guys in the secondary. Ohio State lost Gareon Conely, Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore to the NFL and so they will obviously have some new blood at the position.
CT: Rank Ohio's area codes using whatever criteria makes sense to you at this moment.
BF: 513 definitely stands at the top. The 614 gives the Queen City a run for it's money but I can't go against the hometown. Those are the best of the best in Ohio. I can't say I have a major opinion on the others.
CT: When you think of Cincinnati, you think of __________
BF: I think of the greatest city in the world with the most unfortunate and aggravating sports teams in the world. Will something ever go right for one of our teams?
CT: Describe your greatest sports video game victory.
BF: Hmm. That's a tough one. I would say my greatest sports video game victory was back on Ninetendo 64 when I threw a perfect game against my big brother with Greg Maddux on All-Star Baseball 2001. Of course, I did nothing but throw pitches outside of the strike zone so he couldn't hit anything but also didn't want to spend the entire game taking pitches.
CT: Three things people don't know about Columbus.
BF: I actually haven't spent too much time in Columbus to give much of an educated response. I've been down there a handful of times for some Ohio State games including the dreadful loss to Virginia Tech the year of the eventual National Championship victory over Oregon. All that I can say is that it's about as good as it gets. I love it. It's my home away from home.
Follow Bret Favachio on Twitter: @BretFavachio
While you’re at it, follow Land-Grant Holy Land as well: @LandGrant33
For more of the same, follow me too: @ClaytonTrutor