As we're now just a couple of weeks away from the OSU-Texas BCS clash, the staff here at Cry Me A Cuyahoga River will soon be rolling out its 09 Fiesta Bowl Previews. I, however, will probably pass on the opportunity. Like several of my fellow CMCR writers, I have at least one degree hanging on my wall from The Ohio State University, and at times in my life, I would've placed the Buckeyes right up there with the Browns, Cavs, and Indians among my greatest passions.
Yet, as another apparent shot at redemption approaches, I can't help but notice that I'm just not that in to the Buckeyes right now. It's like a marriage that has suddenly gone stale. Long past that hot steamy days of undefeated seasons and National Championships, the Buckeyes and I are now methodically passing the days, exchanging pleasantries, and sleeping in separate bedrooms. It's not that I don't love the Buckeyes anymore. I know the feelings are still in there somewhere. I'm just not IN love with the Buckeyes right now. Does that make sense?
The loyal OSU fan in me wants to scold myself for having these cold distant feelings toward my beloved team, and in all fairness, the argument for OSU is quite compelling. Ohio State is set to play in yet ANOTHER BCS Bowl game, they just won a share of their fourth straight Big Ten Title, and they have accomplished all of this with Freshman both under and playing center. Moreover, they are set to sign their second straight top 5 recruiting class. None of this should be taken for granted. And yet, they're just not doing it for me. I'm interested but I'm nowhere near my typical level of infatuation. So, this begets one simple question: Why? The answer has several components.
1. I'm weary from years of defending this team:
Just about every Ohio State fan knows what I'm talking about here. Since that fateful day in Glendale, every Buckeye fan has had to answer the onslaught of critics that just love to take shots at OSU and the Big Ten. I, like most loyal fans, have come up with every excuse under the sun to defend our team.
"OSU big-timed it against Florida. Our Heisman winning QB had put on 25 lbs on the banquet circuit by the time that game was played. Plus, we lost our downfield threat 15 seconds into the game."
"It's just not fair that Big Ten teams have such a long layoff before bowl games."
"Don't tell me we play an easy schedule. I don't see other school scheduling major nonconference games like Texas and USC every year."
"The Big Ten isn't as bad as you think. Hell, the team we lost to went to the Rose Bowl."
"Those SEC school oversign all their classes. That gives them an unfair recruiting advantage."
"Maybe if the SEC had to play every bowl game in the midwest, things would be a little different."
"Of course we lost to USC. We were missing our best player. Take Tebow away from Florida and see how well they play in the Coliseum."
Listen, some of these excuses might even have some merit but it doesn't matter anymore. I'm tired of making them. I want my dominant football team back. It's exhausting trying to defend a team that does nothing but shit the bed on the big stage. I can't carry the burden of defending them anymore. It's time for their play to speak for itself again.
2. More than a little doubt has crept into my mind:
Aside from the exhaustion I feel from having to fight off the critics, a lot of my apathy stems from the fact that I'm legitimately questioning aspects of the program myself these days. You listen to Ohio State insiders and they all say that OSU's offense is outdated...that the coaches are telegraphing the plays. You can see it on the field. Compare Ohio State's offensive scheme to Florida's or USC's. Are they comparable? I'd have to say no. Now, on the flip side, Ohio State is a much more disciplined and fundamentally sound team (hence the reason they don't lose to teams like Ole Miss and Stanford), but until they modernize their attack, they're going to get smoked in a lot of big games.
Also, the elephant in the corner of the room with Ohio State is that they are always getting manhandled on the offensive and defensive lines. For whatever reason, Ohio State can rarely match the talent of the other big programs in the trenches. In the coming years, that may change (Adams, Shugarts, Brewster, and Boren are all going to be studs on the offensive side alone) but until it does, I'm not exactly holding my breath for a breakthrough win.
3. College Football in general has lost some of its luster:
I know, I know, when you're playing for National Championships, you don't care that the BCS system is an indefensible money grab. You don't care that the sport you love has a month and a half break before its last game. You overlook the fact that big games are unwatchable because of the commercials (as my co-writer just discussed). But when you stop drinking the Kool-Aid for a moment, you see a seriously flawed game. I still love all the pageantry and grandeur of college football. I'm just not as enamored with all the politics and commercialism that have infiltrated the game anymore.
4. I'm hungover from the Pryor recruitment:
I dedicated the better part of my final year of law school to the recruitment of Terrelle Pryor. I was absolutely obsessed. When he finally signed with Ohio State, it was probably one of my 10 happiest days as a college football fan. But a funny thing has happened as a result of the way I approached the Pryor recruitment. The bar has been set too high for him. I don't care that he has led us to a BCS game as a freshman. I want more. I want the greatest college football player ever and I want him now. I want what I was promised, damnit. I don't care, as a friend recently reminded me, that Vince Young was atrocious as a redshirt freshman. Pryor was billed as a cross between Vince Young, Randall Cunningham, Mike Vick, Walter Payton, and Jesus. I don't have time for anything less.
5. I've had enough of some of these guys:
James Laurinaitis, thanks for your contributions but get the hell out of here. You're not as good as A.J. Hawk and whenever I see you, all I can think of is how many big game losses you've been a part of. Alex Boone...leave....now. I'm tired of your choker ass too. The Brians, please move on. I like my Wide Receivers bigger, faster, and sexier than you guys.
Listen, I realize that the above paragraph is completely unfair. All of these guys have made great contributions to Ohio State. I'm just trying to explain why I feel so disenchanted with this program right now. It might not be fair and it might not be right, but for me, and I suspect a lot of other Buckeye fans out there, it's reality.
I'm sure as the Texas game grows closer, I will get geared up for another shot at redemption. Until then, while my co-writers are penning their game previews, I will sit here and sulk...left to reminisce about days long ago when Ohio State and I were hot, heavy, and on top of the college football world.