Bruce blasts ex-Buckeyes attitude on AFL

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 2, 2004

COLUMBUS - The newest football team in Columbus is Buckeye-less.

When the Arena Football League's Destroyers relocated from Buffalo this fall, former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce was hired to coach the team and said he wanted to sign as many former Buckeyes as possible.

The strategy has flopped.

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''We wanted an Ohio State flavor,'' said Bruce, whose 1-6 team plays again Sunday at home against Orlando. ''The flavor struck out.''

Bruce does receive help from three former Ohio State players in Chris Spielman (director of football operations), Jim Lachey (line coach) and Bobby Olive (receivers coach).

On the field, there isn't a Buckeye in sight. And Bruce doesn't expect to see one anytime soon.

''No, because Ohio State guys think they're too good for arena football,'' Bruce said. ''They think they're all NFL players, which they're not. But they think that and they're not going to give up on that thought.''

Several former Buckeyes have attempted to hook up with the Destroyers this season, but it hasn't worked out.

Reggie Germany left during training camp because of bad knees while Damon Moore left because of personal problems. Tony Locke began the season with the Destroyers, then was cut. Chris Vance is on the Destroyers' exempt list while he tries to earn a spot with the NFL's New Orleans Saints.

Spielman said the team still is interested in signing former Buckeyes, but ''we haven't had a lot of guys show interest.''

Former Buckeyes who haven't made an NFL roster haven't abandoned those hopes.

Cornerback Richard McNutt, whose Ohio State career ended prematurely in 2002 because of an ankle injury, said the ailment has healed enough for him to consider pursuing an NFL job.

He said he would consider the Destroyers if that doesn't pan out.

''I could use them as a platform to get (to the NFL) in the long run, if needed,'' McNutt said.

He said some of his teammates have discussed playing for the Destroyers.

''Especially the guys who weren't starters or weren't big time, they look at them as an opportunity to continue playing ball and hopefully get seen and get tapes so they can make it to the next level,'' McNutt said.

Only four Ohio State products - Arizona's Joe Germaine, Georgia's Juan Porter and Philadelphia's Winfield Garnett and Eric Gohlstin - play in the AFL.

''A lot of guys may think going to the AFL is a letdown or it takes away from who they think they are,'' said Germaine, the quarterback who led Ohio State's 1997 Rose Bowl win over Arizona State.

Lachey said some players don't cut it in the AFL because they can't adjust to playing offense and defense, a big change from the outdoor game.

''A lot of guys we did bring in, that learning curve is too much. At Ohio State, you're a second-team guard and that's all you do. When you have to go both ways, it can kind of blow your mind,'' he said.