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Ohio State football: Trying to see the forest for the trees

Sometimes, we need to get to 20,000 feet to see the forest for the trees

Urban Meyer waves as he leaves the Big Ten competition in the dust
Urban Meyer waves as he leaves the Big Ten competition in the dust
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Often times we don’t realize how great something is until time or circumstances force us to step back and evaluate that something. For fans of Ohio State football, we’re still smack dab in the midst of the something, and we won’t be able to put everything in perspective for, hopefully, quite awhile.

Naturally, human nature makes us look at things more critically while we’re in the moment. What are we doing that could be done better, how can we make this thing perfect? Regardless of what your job is, when you’re on a run of success you want to keep it going, make it better, make it perfect. Even if the end result is what you were hoping for, the higher up the ladder of success you get, the more self-critiquing you do—how could I have gotten here faster, why didn’t I do this instead of that?

All the while, you lose a little bit of perspective on what it is you’re actually accomplishing.

So it goes with Ohio State and her legion of fans these days. Since 2001, Ohio State has gone on a run that all but a few programs in the country would take, and for all the good, it’s also ratcheted up the expectations. Expectations are never a bad thing, but when you pursue perfection while meeting those expectations and fall short, people tend to lose perspective.

What Jim Tressel started and Urban Meyer is continuing is historic, and with a program that’s as accomplished as Ohio State is, that’s really saying something. But when you’re in the middle of the forest, it’s tough to see because of all the trees. And as late as 2011, we thought we were entering the darkest of forests, with no map, no trail out, and no compass.

Our inability to see the forest for the trees is understandable, though, if not misguided. When you consider all the attempts at deforestation a lot of folks in the national media are trying to do, it’s easy to see why something like a 21 game winning streak is glossed over, while we look to find ammunition to boost our immediate results. It’s tough to appreciate a this nearly-two-years-in-the-making accomplishment when it seems everyone not attached to or rooting for Ohio State tries to diminish every one of those victories, and then collectively dismisses all of them. And when other undefeated schools sit ahead of Ohio State with schedules and competition that’s considered just as weak, it’s easy to get frustrated.

Between the regular criticisms of the non-conference opponents, to the weakness of the Big Ten as a whole, it’s been tough for Ohio State to get any traction in their argument to play in the BCS Title Game if they are one of three undefeated teams at the end of the season. And barring a loss by two of Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State, Ohio State will not be playing for the BCS National Championship.

But if you can step back and look at the panoramic view, that’s okay.

This program is on a run that we will be hard pressed to see again in our lifetime. 21 games in a row and counting is exceedingly difficult, regardless of who you play and how strong or weak your conference is perceived. With the College Football Playoff on the horizon, the non-conference schedules will improve, and the schedule will go from eight to nine conference games. The Big Ten as a whole is going to rebound, so when you combine those factors it means that once this streak ends, be it in two weeks or next year, it will hold a special place in Ohio State football history. Streaks like this don’t come along very often, and it will be exceedingly difficult to get back to this again. The Buckeyes have only had a streak this long once in their history, from 1967-1969. Heck, in the almost 120 years of college football in total, only 46 teams EVER have exceeded a 21 game winning streak.

This is special, and even pundits that love to hate the Buckeyes are even starting to acknowledge what an impressive run this is.

However, that’s difficult to see right now. It’s easy to focus on things like an inconsistent offense, a passive defense, or a high profile recruit that chooses to attend school elsewhere. To a lot of folks, all that matters is the BCS Championship Game. I understand that, and at a place like Ohio State, championships should be expected, and that should be the goal.

But to get to that level, you have to accomplish great things beforehand, and what’s going on is a great thing. It’s easy to focus on whether or not Ohio State can make it to the BCS Championship Game, but let’s not forget what’s gotten the Buckeyes into the BCS title conversation.

It’s a team that doesn't lose. Not only don’t they lose, they seem to be peaking at the right time, just in time for the November run, the Big Ten Championship game, and whatever bowl appearance awaits them.

It’s a great time to be a Buckeye.

Heck, it’s never a bad time to be a Buckeye, but right now, it’s about as good as it can get.