Hi friends, it’s been a minute. I have a few thoughts I’d like to share.
* Before we dig into anything else, especially any sort of autopsy of this weirdo regular season and the sideshows and emotions that accompanied it, let’s go ahead and start with this; Saturday absolutely ruled. It ruled even when judged against the increasingly large inventory of Michigan victories over the last few years. It might be the best of the decade, even better than The Spot. It ruined a playoff dream, and any ambitions of momentum for Michigan were cruelly vaporized in front of a national television audience. Their entire identity of a program was barbecued, one touchdown pass at a time. Ohio State turned Michigan’s vaunted defense into Texas Tech. Hell yeah.
- I can’t speak for any other fan, but for me, this season wasn’t particularly fun for a lot of reasons. The easiest ones to talk about are the football ones. This year’s squad was armed with near unlimited promise, especially after the first few weeks of the season (albeit against overmatched opponents). And then we saw an Ohio State team that was increasingly unlike any Ohio State team in recent memory. It couldn’t run the football. It couldn’t get off the field. It made careless mistakes. And it made virtually every game on the schedule, no matter how vast the talent gap, losable.
- And that, of course, bled into the other stuff. The repeated anguished sideline shots. The rehashing of the offseason, where any tiny benefit of the doubt that Urban Meyer had earned was justifiably nuked from orbit by any college football fan outside of the 614 area code. The repeated callbacks to the end of Urban’s tenure at Florida, which were harder and harder to ignore. It’s one thing to almost lose to Minnesota or Maryland. It’s another thing to get blasted by Purdue. It’s another thing altogether to feel like you’re witnessing everything come to an end.
- And shoot, we still might. I don’t think I’m quite as negative as some other members of this website (which is fine), but I don’t know that some of those structural problems were resolved in one, singular, glorious baptizing of Michigan in the Olentangy River. There are still very serious questions about not only the effectiveness of multiple Ohio State assistants, but Meyer’s ability to evaluate and potentially replace them. The 2019 recruiting class projects to be the worst of the Meyer era, and among elite recruits in Ohio, there’s some data to suggest that Ohio State’s default overwhelming advantage is waning. And look, even if he does look like that a lot, Urban hasn’t looked good this season. There’s no reason to think that what we saw on Saturday is guaranteed to be the new standard. What Ohio State is the real Ohio State at this point, the Michigan game, or the Indiana one? Or the Nebraska one? Or the Purdue one? We’ll find out more this coming weekend.
- Perhaps it is unlucky that the glare on the program is particularly strong this season. I’m categorically against ESPN, or any other broadcasting company conspiracy theories. Ohio State is, if not the most valuable television brand in college football, surely in the top five. No broadcasting company is going to have a built-in BIAS against that brand, not ESPN (who, lest we forget, also paid a ton of money for Big Ten rights), not Fox, not NBC, or Turner, or anybody. It would be horribly bad business sense, and that’s the driving factor in this stupid sport.
- Does that mean individual broadcasters or media members might have agendas? Of course. We’re all human. Some clearly have bigger Ohio State (or Urban Meyer) blind spots than others (I imagine you can all think of a few this season), and if you’re expecting pure impartiality on say, midwestern athletics when you check to see what Paul Finebaum is saying, you deserve what you get. But the biggest bias, more than regionalism or personal vendettas, is towards the new. And this has low-key been a really boring college football season. Without drama or major storylines, the hint of regime change at Ohio State is going to get more broadcast TV attention than it might say, if all of this was happening in 2013, in my opinion.
- So I dunno about any AGENDAS TRYING TO KEEP OHIO STATE OUT OF THE PLAYOFF. Honestly, I know we’re all going to be screaming about Oklahoma over the next week, and I just don’t care right now. The resumes are very similar. Oklahoma’s defense is even worse than Ohio State’s. Ohio State has a better win, Oklahoma didn’t get blasted by a Purdue. The math is pretty similar. I guess i’m happy to fight about that next week once we have all the data, but it’s hard for me to care right now.
- Players don’t have this luxury. But I’m not one of them. I plan to simply enjoy this blowout for a little while longer. Maybe Ohio State is totally fixed. Maybe I was wrong, and they were never breaking to begin with. Maybe we’re still in the twilight of this era anyway. We’ll have months and months to argue about all of that.
- But, I’d sure as hell rather argue about that than argue about how my favorite team will ever beat their rivals. That’s a lousy argument. And one that thankfully, we won’t have to have for a while, maybe a very long while.