Some holiday and vacation notebook leftovers as I await the area's earthquake:
HAPPY NEW YEAR: At least, that's what the Ohio State Buckeyes are hoping. Really, could 2012 be any worse? Perhaps the worst overall year in OSU football history ends Monday night when the Buckeyes meet Florida in the Gator Bowl.
In 2011, the Buckeyes lost their 2010 season, their coach, their quarterback, six regular-season games and the chance to play in a bowl game after the 2012 season.
URBAN WARFARE: Urban Meyer, hired a month ago, hit the ground running in recruiting and reportedly convinced some five-star high school players to flip on their verbal commitments. That doesn't seem to be sitting well with his new colleagues in the Big Ten Conference, where an unwritten "gentleman's agreement" seems to have been in place for a while.
The old guard seemed to agree that once a player gave a verbal commitment to a school, the other Big Ten coaches would back off. But Meyer's attitude seems to be that until those players tell him they plan to go to, say, Michigan, Michigan State or Penn State, they're fair game.
But Meyer isn't the first guy to come into the Big Ten and do that. Rich Rodriguez drew the ire of former Purdue coach Joe Tiller when he swooped in and grabbed one-time Boilermakers recruit Roy Roundtree.
Spartans coach Mark Dantonio was asked about the Big Ten's recruiting landscape with Meyer now at Ohio State.
"It's changing. We'll leave it at that," Dantonio, the Buckeyes' former defensive coordinator under Jim Tressel, told the Detroit Free Press.
LAST CHANCE: The Buckeyes aren't the only Ohio football team finishing off a long and often unpleasant season.
The Cleveland Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 4:15 p.m. today. If the Browns (4-11) lose and finish 4-12, they'd be one game worse than they did a year ago under Eric Mangini, who was fired for, among other things, not winning enough.
Pat Shurmur, hand-picked by Browns president Mike Holmgren as Mangini's replacement, is safe going into 2012. But next year's Browns need to be better prepared and free of the majority of silly mistakes that plagued them this season.
Today would be a good time for a crisp performance. They almost had one against the Steelers in Pittsburgh last month.
The Steelers (11-4) can clinch the AFC North with a victory and a Baltimore loss to Cincinnati. The Ravens and Bengals also play at 4:15.
BIG WIN: Last season, the Youngstown State men's basketball team beat Horizon League rival Butler, which eventually played in the national championship. It was perhaps Jerry Slocum's biggest win as the Penguins' coach.
That signature win now has a rival after YSU's 73-67 road victory at Cleveland State on Saturday. Former Warren G. Harding standout Damian Eargle led the Penguins with 20 points and 10 rebounds, DuShawn Brooks had 17 points and Villa Angela-St. Joseph product Ashen Ward had 15 points, including nine late in the game.
YSU is now 7-6 overall and 2-1 in the Horizon League.
WWR REUNION: Former Warren Western Reserve football coach Joe Novak reports that the response to a planned reunion of the Raiders' 1972 state championship team was so good that the event has been set for Saturday, Sept. 8.
Harding hosts Cardinal Mooney that night. A pregame tailgate also is planned at Mollenkopf Stadium and a postgame gathering is expected to take place at an area restaurant.
Those interested in further details can contact Novak, who now lives in North Carolina, at 910-880-1670.