For most of my naïve existence I have wondered what life would be like if Ohio State were able to run the table and beat Michigan to clinch a shot at a national championship. It went a little something like this – Buckeyes beat Michigan in dramatic fashion, crowd releases deafening, tension-bursting screams and storms the field, carries Buckeye heroes around, tears down a goalpost or two, giant campus party ensues, a couple dozen people get arrested for being conspicuous idiots, then frenzy consumes Buckeye fans worldwide for the month-plus hiatus until the Rose Bowl. Oh, and it is snowing like crazy the entire time.
Now that I've stared the dream right in the face, it is clear that the fantasy turned out to be a lot like what happened in reality. Maybe there wasn't any snow, and granted the Buckeyes are deprived once again of going to the Rose Bowl (dumping more water on the ‘how many Rose Bowls has Ohio State been to lately' trash talk flames that come from, usually, the Little Eight) but it is hard to say that what happened after Ohio State beat Michigan – again – was surprising. Maybe the pepper spray was unexpected. And Will Allen saving the game probably wasn't part of anyone's proposed game-ending scenarios. Basically, thus far it is all that I expected it to be and I'm having a hard time accepting that Ohio State, my beloved football Buckeyes, beat everyone who stepped on the field with them this season. Some convincingly, some barely, but all of them left the field unhappy. Now they're playing for the national championship. A Big Ten team – the Big Ten team – this is an honor usually reserved for a Florida school with a storied history of probation that never fills their allotment of tickets for bowl games. Who would have ever thought this would happen?
Anyway, here are some quick thoughts on the victory, the season, and the aftermath:
The people who were caught tipping cars, once they're caught and convicted, should be forced to buy a car – down payment and finance terms, lump sum payment, whatever – then be forced to watch a dozen people dressed up to look like the imbeciles they were destroy their car as they watch. I will never understand people with destructive personalities, nor will I ever want to meet their pathetic parents.
All of the style points of the 1990s aren't worth a fraction of what an ugly 13-0 season feels like, especially now that 2-10-1 is 2-0.
John Cooper has said that it's tough to beat Michigan, that the Michigan team that OSU beat last year gave "the worst performance he'd ever seen in his life" and that it's tough to win bowl games when you're playing against good teams. Now he wants to be acknowledged for part of the success of this team because of his recruiting efforts. So if you're keeping track, Coop wants no credit for practically destroying the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry or for losing bowl games, but he wants some kind of a medal for this year's team. What we're to understand here is that John Cooper was simply a victim of bad timing, not poor big game coaching. As a Buckeye fan, I'll always be grateful for Coop's success in bringing Ohio State back into the national limelight, but that's about it. The difference in character (and success) between the 2002 Buckeyes and well over half of his teams is astonishing.
Does Craig Krenzel get nervous before a molecular biology lab final?
Does Jim Tressel pass slow-moving cars in traffic, or would that be impatient?
Do Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall now realize that it is unusual, amazingly gifted talent and not favoritism that puts an injured Maurice Clarett on the field before them, and that the biggest difference between them is not size or speed, but vision? Maurice Hall plus vision plus lower body strength minus fumbling equals Marshall Faulk. It can still happen.
Offensive Line Dream for next season: a guard that can pull and get to the hole faster than Maurice Clarett can.
Do the mouthy Southerners who say that Ohio State vs. Michigan looked like "football in slow motion" realize that all football played in freezing temperature looks like that, pro or college? Especially when teams from the South are playing? If you want to see what big, slow Big Ten football looks like in Tempe weather, plus choking humidity, find a tape of the Washington State game from September 14. Uh oh, those guys aren't so slow when it isn't below freezing.
Florida State is going to win the ACC, then go to a BCS bowl, then lose, then go on probation.
The entire defensive line made the coaches' first or second team. Then there's David Thompson and Simon Fraser coming off the bench. This may have been OSU's best defensive line ever, and four of them will be coming back next year.
Imagine what Ohio State football will be like once Jim Tressel has four full years of recruiting under his belt. This is only the beginning. And if you think he may be set up for unrealistic expectations, guess what – chances are he really doesn't care and won't change a thing.
Remember when Tressel took a pay cut to help the university afford the assistants that he wanted on his staff?
As the Buckeyes kept winning games, there was a large contingent of fans I talked to who refused to get excited about the prospect of Ohio State going all the way. With every week, the next loss had to be right around the corner. Rather than be devastated, as has been the case since the late seventies and especially the nineties, many people chose to prepare for the worst, relying on the constant pattern in history as their protective guide to being too disappointed. By trying to not get so emotionally involved with the notion that the Buckeyes may be on their way to the championship, those fragile fans probably were not as able to enjoy the run as much as they could have – granted, they would have been better prepared for the collapse that never happened.
Congratulations Buckeyes. And congratulations Buckeye fans. Hopefully there is one more trick left in the hat.
Anticipating the best tasting Thanksgiving turkey ever at firstname.lastname@example.org.