The one game season: and OSU football 2012

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never made excuses for Ohio State’s rules violations in 2010. Tressel needed to be out when everything came to light. The players who broke the rules were allowed to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl after it had been known that they had sold memorabilia. Their suspensions were moved to the beginning ofthe 2011 season. Some of the players had suspensions increased for additional violations. Terrelle Pryor left the program. For the other players, they served their suspensions and returned to the field. They were able to play in last year’s bowl against Florida.

So.

After it had been known that players broke the rules, the guilty parties were allowed to play in not one, but TWO bowl games.

Now all of the guys who broke the rules are gone and the team is ineligible because of those violations from a couple years ago.

I think it is so unfair to the players who are currently on the team who followed the rules who have had a great season that they can’t be rewarded.

Even if a person hates Ohio State, I feel that anyone who’s being honest ought to realize how inherently unfair the situation is.

Other teams have suffered bowl bans previously. USC is just wrapping up a bowl ban after it was previously discovered that Reggie Bush received money. But there is a significant different. Bush’s violations were not discovered while he was in school. For the Ohio State rule breakers, their violations were. They served their punishments and then they were allowed to play in post season games.

To the players and to first year coach Urban Meyer, I’m so proud of the season that they’ve had. This team battled all year and they’ve accomplished something special. Even for great teams, it’s hard to go undefeated and this team did. We can talk about how the Big Ten was down this year but at the end of the day, but all OSU can do is beat the teams on the schedule and they did that every week.

Throughout so much of the season, the defense has been lackluster this year. In the second half today, they played their best football of the season. With the offense struggling late in the game to get yards, I started to think, “It might not even matter….the defense is rolling right now.”

Before today’s game, I saw a clip of Urban Meyer addressing the team before the season. He was ripping into them taling about how mediocre they were, and how they weren’t good enough and about how hard he was going to push them. He said that if they had any greatness in them, he was going to find it.

He almost had me ready to get on a football field.

Throughout the season, in many ways, Meyer was diametrically opposed to Jim Tressel. Tressel was always diplomatic. Meyer was blunt. Time and again he was talk about players or the team not being good enough. As tough as he’s been of this team at times, to me it was therefore so fitting after today’s win when Meyer was being interviewed for him to say, “This is a great team.” (ironically, I’m sure the mantra in spring ball will be “You’re not nearly as good as last year’s team, they were great!”)

Many will argue that if Ohio State were to play a team like Alabama, or Notre Dame, or Georgia that the Buckeyes would lose. That may be, but so what? I feel that they deserve that shot regardless of the outcome.

Next week the Big Ten Championship will be played by two teams who both lost to Ohio State.

Next year, the team returns most of the nucleus of their starting lineup and will be a preseason favorite to compete for a national championship. Will they get there? Maybe. I hope so. Regardless of how good a team is, it’s still a tremendous challenge to win every game. In one year, Meyer took a 6-7 team to being the best team in the Big Ten.

Throughout last season, the hope of Buckeye fans was that a “single” Meyer would eventually become head coach. Throughout the spring, expectations were out of this world. For many Buckeye faithful, the expectation seemed to be that the team would win at least 2-3 national championships in his first five years. Now, after going 12-0 in his first season, that will only add more fuel to the fire.

Before this season, I had low expectations for the Big Ten. Wisconsin had lost a lot of players, Penn State is also ineligible for a bowl, Michigan wasn’t going to be able to match the overachieving success that they had last year, Michigan State lost too many key players from the offense. I thought Nebraska would be improved from a year ago, but they hadn’t impressed me in 2011 (and were frankly lucky to beat a bad Ohio State team last year). With games like Nebraska and Michigan at home, the year had potential to be very special. I always thought that if this team entered the Michigan game 11-0, with a perfect season on the line, at home, knowing it was their last game, that a superior Buckeye team would win.

Despite the fact that I thought that the team could win every game they played, I thought in a new system, they might drop one somewhere. But after early conference wins against Michigan State and Nebraska, an undefeated season seemed possible. The next month saw Ohio State playing two of the worst teams in the Big Ten (Indiana and Illinois) and less talented Purdue and Penn State teams. While a couple of those games ended up being very close, the team found ways to win. After a bye week, only two more opponents stood between the Bucks and perfection.

Madison always seems to be a tough place for the Buckeyes to play, but Wisconsin simply had not looked impressive all season.

Then there was the Michigan game. Today’s game was a great Ohio State – Michigan battle. The type of game that any fan of this rivalry loves. In the end, the Buckeyes made a couple more plays (and a couple less mistakes) and were able to edge out the Wolverines.

Who knows what the rest of the season will hold. In theory, they could still win the Associated Press national championship. Will they? Probably not, but it’s a possibility. Regardless of if that happens, this team still has a lot to be proud of for doing something that very few other teams can do. They might win the Big Ten Championship game, but the players know. They know that they’re the best team in the conference. And for them, for this year, that’ll have to do. Could they have been the best team in the country? That’s the question we’ll never know.

Thanks for a great job. Proud to root for this team.

O….H….

jrb

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