After rushing just 12 times for 33 yards in Ohio State’s 17-14 loss to Michigan State on Saturday, Ezekiel Elliott essentially called out Urban Meyer for what many perceived as a flawed, if not baffling, offensive game plan.
Many Ohio State fans probably agreed with Elliott’s assessment but were nonetheless surprised that he actually voiced it.
“He’s making Buckeye Nation look really bad right now,” former NFL and Michigan State receiver Derrick Mason said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I don’t know the young man, but first impressions are lasting ones – and the impression made this weekend is that he’s a crybaby, that he’s a sore loser, that he’s a spoiled brat. He’s a guy that, when everything is going well – regardless of whether he gets five carries or 25 carries – he’s good. But the minute things get tough and he’s not getting the carries that he thinks he needs to get, then he whines. It’s not a good look.”
It’s also, Mason said, something that every player goes through yet something every player needs to control. Feeling frustration about your lack of involvement in the game plan is one thing; voicing that frustration is another thing altogether.
“I’m not saying it doesn’t happen in the world of sports,” Mason said, “but those that are mature, they keep their comments inside the locker room and (don’t) give the media sound bytes. They got another week to play, another two or three weeks to play. If I’m Urban Meyer, I’m seriously thinking about sitting him (against Michigan) because he’s already thought about the draft. He becomes a cancer in the locker room. If one of your leaders comes out and he starts spewing this, he’s already been saying this throughout the locker room to the players. I’ve been through it. I’ve heard it. Now it’s boiled over to a point where now he’s saying it in the media, it becomes cancerous throughout the locker room. Now everybody’s questioning what Urban Meyer and the offensive unit is doing.”
Elliott, it is worth noting, was the only Buckeye to call out the coaching staff in the media.
“J.T. Barrett could say, ‘Well, he didn’t let me throw the ball enough.’ Cardale Jones could have said, ‘I was benched two weeks ago for no reason,’” Mason explained. “But those guys are mature past their years. They understand that it’s a bigger picture with all of this. Ezekiel Elliott just doesn’t understand it. What he doesn’t understand is this: This will come up later on. When he’s going through his pre-draft interviews, this’ll be one of the first questions that will be asked of him. Because the NFL is hard and if you’re going to pop off to the media each and every week because you didn’t get enough touches, then we can’t have you on our team.”
Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber seriously doubt that Elliott’s emotional postgame comments will haunt him on draft day, but Mason believes this incident could rub more than a few teams the wrong way.
“Every stone needs to be unturned,” he said. “I got to find out if this guy is a me-guy or a team-guy. I need to find that out before I waste a first-round draft pick. Because if not, then there are enough good backs out there that I can get instead of him.”