Sports Extra with Dave Ross: One big change since John Cooper era

Sports Extra - With Dave Ross

It often appears there’s an unlimited budget when it comes to football assistant coaches at Ohio State, as the Buckeyes show willingness to do whatever it takes to secure or retain a coach they really like.

Recently hired defensive coordinator Jim Knowles is the best example. It took a big package to get him away from a similar position at Oklahoma State, so Ohio State paid $1.9 million per year (plus bonuses) on a three-year deal. The Cowboys had countered with a substantial offer that was still well short of the Buckeyes, so Knowles headed to Columbus.

This scenario wouldn’t have transpired during the John Cooper era of Ohio State football (1988-2000). I visited with Cooper at Cincinnati Bengals training camp around 2008 and asked if then current Coach Jim Tressel was given more tools for success than he was. The reply was frank and swift.

“One area only. He has (flexible budgets) that allow him to retain assistant coaches to keep them from making lateral career moves for money only. I lost Ron Zook, Larry Coker, and Lovie Smith to similar jobs that paid better. That wouldn’t happen now,” Cooper concluded. That trio ultimately became significant head coaches.

Such financial flexibility has obviously continued after Tressel through the regimes of both Urban Meyer and Ryan Day.

Promise kept

Late May means it’s time for American Legion baseball which has a long history at Sidney’s Post 217 and the big diamond at Custenborder Field. Part of that history was not fielding a team in 2009 and 2010 which prompted a committee to put it all back together. A dozen years later, 217 has three teams (including the most visible senior squad) and ongoing financial stability.

For play to resume immediately in 2011, cash was needed quickly with the eventual goal of ongoing income to fully sustain the operation. Front money was raised annually while permanent funding (charitable gambling pull tabs at multiple locations) built a nest egg. This spring many donors anticipated the regular annual solicitation request but got a pleasant surprise instead.

When the letter arrived it said that front money is no longer needed. Indeed, the 501c3 route has more than delivered the required monies for ongoing Legion baseball prosperity. The message to annual donors was simple. “Our committee thought it was only right that we no longer ask for your generous donations….., but instead invite you to come out to the ballpark and enjoy some exciting baseball.”

Well done. See you at Custenborder. You can find more info at

40 years later

Shelby Oaks Golf Club was less than a decade old when Bob Eilert was hired as pro-manager in 1974. He capably guided the ship for six seasons. His successors in both 1980 and 1981 stayed for only a single season. The Oaks then faced another hire for the top spot to halt the revolving door.

Rob Fridley came home after graduating college to take the reins in 1982 and has now completed an impressive 40 years in the post. Including part-time employment while growing up, he has logged 49 years at the local course. Congratulations Rob.

His assistant, Craig Seving, has been there almost as long. Quite a one-two punch for continuity.

Sports Extra

With Dave Ross

Sports Extra appears each Friday. The first Dave Ross SDN byline appeared in 1975, the same year he became a local radio broadcaster.

Sports Extra appears each Friday. The first Dave Ross SDN byline appeared in 1975, the same year he became a local radio broadcaster.