Bruce Hooley
Bruce Hooley

Bruce Hooley was sports editor of the Troy Daily News from 1983-86 and has covered Ohio State athletics for more than 25 years. Bruce was the OSU beat reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland from 1987-2005.  From 2005-2011 he hosted the afternoon show on  ESPN radio 1460 AM,  in Columbus, before taking on a similar ESPN talk position with WKNR, 850 AM, in Cleveland.  Most recently Hooley has served as the beat reporter for Ohio State football and basketball for Sports  The author of "That's Why I'm Here:  The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story, he returns for his second chapter as Buckeye beat reporter and columnist at large with Press Pros.


There’s a lot of what’s-good-for-thee-isn’t-good-for-me going around these days.  It’s almost as if we’re all getting either a lot dumber or a lot less tolerant.

One thing seems almost destined to happen, given the timing, but is actually very unlikely to occur..

Then there’s another thing that seemed like it might happen, but now there’s absolutely no chance it will.

And, finally, there’s that other thing which did happen — because it happens all the time — but with the way things are in this climate it certainly shouldn’t have happened and there’s going to be hell to pay because it did.

The reason for all that — and it’s the reason for everything these days — is one and the same.

Bruce Hooley writes the Buckeyes and shares his insights as columnist at large for Press Pros

C’mon, think about it.

What two little words explain each upside-down, inside-out, maddeningly-nonsensical circumstance?

Because, COVID!!!

In case you haven’t heard, it’s spiking — the virus to end all viruses — or at least the virus that intrudes on each of the three sports-related scenarios atop this story.

In scenario No. 1, Ohio State’s meticulous COVID protocols will likely keep incoming freshman guard Meechie Johnson from playing for the Buckeyes on Dec. 19 in the CBS Sports Classic against North Carolina.

Johnson announced on Sunday that he’ll forgo his senior season at Garfield Heights Trinity and enroll early at OSU on Dec. 12. He wasn’t scheduled to become a Buckeye until next season, but the NCAA’s decision to give every current college basketball player an additional year of eligibility beyond this season — because, COVID!!!! — made Johnson’s head start an easy decision.

Incoming freshman Meechie Johnson will forego his senior season at Garfield Heights to enroll at OSU in December.

He’ll add great depth to the Ohio State backcourt. But he probably won’t add it in time to play a week after he enrolls when the Buckeyes play host to North Carolina in Cleveland on the Cavaliers’ home court in the CBS Sports Classic on Dec. 19.

Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse is right in Johnson’s boyhood backyard, but that’s where the Cinderella story lines will likely end.

Because, COVID!!!!

OSU’s safety protocols are such that Johnson will likely not be allowed to practice immediately with his teammates until he tests negative a sufficient number of times to prove healthy.

As for Scenario No. 2 above, it seemed a week or so ago that OSU and Dayton might be headed for an early-season showdown in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Buckeyes fell into that event when the eight-team Battle for Atlantis got cancelled (because, COVID!!!!) and UD jumped in when Duke pulled out (because, COVID!!!)

The Buckeyes and Flyers weren’t scheduled to meet each other in the Thanksgiving weekend opener, but each was guaranteed three games and so the percentages looked good they might run into each other on either Day 2 or Day 3.

Then on Friday, Ohio State parachuted from the field after governor Mike DeWine put South Dakota on his list of seven states Ohioans are asked to quarantine for 14 days after visiting (because, COVID!!!).

A day later, Dayton also pulled the rip-cord (because, COVID!!!).

Then there’s scenario No. 3, which unfolded Saturday night in South Bend at Notre Dame Stadium.

Because of Covid…both Ohio State and Dayton have pulled out of the South Dakota ‘Bad Boy Mower’ Classic.

The place was rocking, despite limited attendance (because, COVID!!!) when the Fighting Irish pulled off a stunning double-overtime upset of No. 1 Clemson without quarterback Trevor Lawrence (because, COVID!!!).

College football fans tend to celebrate in such circumstances, particularly when students are involved, and particularly in this case because Clemson beat Notre Dame like a rented mule two years ago in the College Football Playoff.

So the student body did what student bodies do — particularly drunk student bodies attending nationally-televised night games — once Notre Dame held on the final play.

Any other time, the field-rushing celebration that ensued would be normal and expected, but nothing is normal or expected now (because COVID!!!).

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Sunday, after the school’s biggest win in about 30 years, Notre Dame president Rev. John I Jenkins fired off a salty letter to each student, threatening them with an inability to enroll for the next semester if they don’t report for and pass mandatory health screenings.

The good father’s missive also said students “may not leave the South Bend area (for Thanksgiving) until you receive the results of your exit test,” and that if they do so without permission “we will place a registration hold on your record.”

Sounds like somebody needs to hit the confessional for a burgeoning god complex.

Students took the padre’s paternalism with every bit of grace you would expect, seeing as how he himself came down with COVID while attending Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination at the White House.

Without wearing a mask.

Of course, there’s a lot of what’s-good-for-thee-isn’t-good-for-me going around these days.

It’s almost as if we’re all getting either a lot dumber or a lot less tolerant.

Because, COVID!!!!

Bruce Hooley is a former sports editor of the Troy Daily News. He hosts The Bruce Hooley Show on 98.9 The Answer ( from 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and the “We Tackle Life” podcast with College Football Hall of Famer and Fox NFL analyst Chris Spielman