Datish: History will be judge
The team that wins the battle of the lines Monday night will have a big edge.
By ROB TODOR
VINDICATOR SPORTS EDITOR
PHOENIX -- As a history buff, Doug Datish can appreciate the respect that the Ohio State football team is receiving for playing in its second national championship in five seasons.
He'll leave the debate over the legacy of the Buckeyes' seniors, though, for others.
Ohio State (12-0), ranked No. 1, plays No. 2 Florida in the BCS national championship game Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in suburban Glendale.
Datish, of Howland, is in his third year as a starter on the Buckeyes' offensive line, and his third position.
He started all 12 games in 2005 at tackle after playing the 2004 season as the right guard.
Mangold left void
This year, Datish (6-foot-5, 295 pounds) took over at center for Nick Mangold, who was a first-round NFL Draft pick (Jets).
He responded by being named All-Big Ten and leading a line that helped quarterback Troy Smith win the Heisman Trophy.
"It's just what I've been asked to do," said Datish about being a starter at guard, tackle and now center.
"I've never looked at it as being a burden. It's a credit to Coach [Jim] Bollman, the way he teaches us to play. He simplifies it and breaks it down; that allows us to play multiple positions."
Bollman is Ohio State's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. He says the group's collective experience and work ethic have resulted in its success.
"They're some pretty experienced guys," Bollman said. "Doug is a fifth-year senior. So is T.J. [Downing, the right guard].
"They've been in the system for a while now. At that position, there's really no substitute for experience. It's difficult to play up front early because there's no reaction time. If you're a great receiver or a running back you can recover. If you take a wrong step it's over before you can do anything about it.
"The degree of precision and perfection that's demanded is high and fortunately those guys have been around for a little bit," Bollman said. "They work at it pretty hard, they take pride in their knowledge, being able to adjust and being able to see things, and they take a lot of pride in their technique."
Datish said the team that wins the battle of the lines Monday night will have a big edge in winning the national championship.
"Any time we go into a football game we preach several things," he said, "and one of those things is to win the rushing battle. Any time we can do that generally we will be successful. That's a huge emphasis for us going into any game, especially this one."
Since Datish joined the Ohio State program in 2002, the Buckeyes have won 55 of 63 games and won three Big Ten championships. More importantly, Datish was on the winning side in four of five games against Michigan and has never lost a bowl game.
Sizing them up
So, how does this senior group stack up in Buckeyes' history?
"I think that's up for debate. Being a history major, I can also say that the people living now aren't going to be the ones to decide that, ultimately," Datish said.
"We'll all be long gone, and by then there will be somebody else that comes along.
"We've had a pretty good run but we've got one more to go and it'll probably give some credence to be considered, at least."