“The journey continues…”
I'm back, baby! Albeit briefly ...
So said St. Urban, less than 10 minutes after the Michigan win. And we are officially in that afterglow period – no more football, only extended basking.
The same goes with the Bucket – a season-ending edition of this peculiarly packaged entrée that careens somewhere between irreverence and irrelevance. Hey - you get what you pay for (yes, I know it’s free). I am no one in particular. Writing to no one in particular. This is a virtual world for both of us; with no one using real names and each having profound opinions about a sport – college football – that likely shouldn’t be described with profundities. But to me, old Mr. B, the slightest positive nuance on the field or in the program can be like a religious experience. I get a little carried away, I’ll admit.
Despite the 2012 season now officially being in the past tense, I always think of Ohio State football in the present tense. Woody says, not Woody said. This is what Chic Harley will do. Etc. Because all that lore and tradition and legacy is with me as I watch the games and then write about my experiences. It’s a load, I can tell you that.
That’s why the Tressel moment was so appropriate to me – it was present tense as almost all the players on the field were Tress’s kids: both the 2002 group AND the 2012 collective. Those that criticize Tressel, those that don’t see the valor and triumph of this season; well, it’s like an old Hasidic tale: A beautiful young boy meets a beautiful young girl in the woods. They fall in love. Then a wolf eats them. That’s it. There are no fairy tales. Only real life and you have to struggle and grind to get through it. Tressel is not perfect; not a saint. Neither is Urban – sorry. There are no happy endings because nothing truly ends. There are just endings with qualifiers and circumstances.
But this is an ending for now. And what a wacky season it has been so far. A year in which the final regular season AP #1 (Notre Dame) wasn’t ranked in the pre-season Top 25 and the actual pre-season #1 (USC) didn’t end up in the Top 25 at all after the conclusion of the regular season polls. Ah, the experts have spoken. The same guys that still won’t give the Buckeyes their due. But that’s also coming around as Buckeye Haters Magazine – aka Sports Illustrated – which actually created much of the news it reported last year, well…two weeks ago, it ran a pretty positive article on Urban and the Bucks. All’s well that is ending well.
This season was important for me. For Bucknuts and for Buckeye Nation. According to Mrs. B, I always behave as if the Bucks do these things specifically FOR ME. And I believe they do! So for me, I wanted to win the Michigan game and go undefeated for some very specific reasons.
I wanted it for all the pundits that got down on the Buckeyes this year; got down on them for venal and personal reasons, and never let up despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. This season is for you. It’s for Cheating Chizik, who rented the top offensive and defensive players in the nation and won the Mythical National Championship just two years ago and got away with it while Ohio State was roasted like a tied-down goat: this season is for you.
I wanted this season for John Simon, who proved he was better on one leg than most defensive linemen are on two; and that his heart is stronger than his legs were weak. That strong heart was the hallmark of the 19 seniors who returned despite a greased exit plan in which they could have easily dived off a listing ship; listing because a self-righteous and overly-zealous bunch-a-bureaucrats tattooed the wrong players and turned infractions into a scandal; demonizing Jim Tressel while feeding our program to the media. This season is for the seniors.
The undefeated season is also for my Uncle Orby who played center for OSU in 1927 and 1929 (he would never talk about 1928…). It is for my grandfather who went to only one away game during his son’s entire career: the dedication of the public works project in Ann Arbor we know as the “Big Hole.” It’s for my father who got his bucknuttiness from his family in the 20’s and then passed it on to me in the 50’s and 60’s. Hey – it’s a family affair and has been for nearly a century. A great century to be a Buckeye!
Of course, the season was made infinitely better with the Michigan win that (only partially) offset its cumulative and on-going arrogance and misperceptions of grandeur; of also offsetting Shawn Springs slipping, of Tim Biakabatuka and missed field goals and the world’s most annoying fight song, and for the Ohio kids turned traitor to aid Michigan’s quest for world domination; I am thinking of Charles Woodson and Mario Manningham and Prescott Burgess most recently. And I am thinking of the Armpit of Annoyance, Desmond Howard, whose national spews make a Michigan man appropriately look like the missing link. This season is for you rat bastards of the north.
This season was for all the guys that didn’t get their just recognition as Buckeyes, just like this unusually selfless 2012 bunch didn’t anywhere outside of Buckeye Nation. It was for Nate Ebner and Antonio Smith and for the good things that Mo Clarett brought to Columbus. It was for all the walk-ons to whom Tressel gave scholarships after they worked their asses off for the team, toiling in anonymity. It is for the injured-forever players that got us excited and then got forgotten like Adam Olds and Scott McVey and Aram Olson and Ty Moeller, who seemed forever injured but fought back.
It is for the Ohio Hate squad, the punditry that tried to build themselves up while tearing OSU down. Who hate as a living. Mark May and Bruce Hooley and Tom Archdeacon and George Dohrmann to name but a few; who never let facts get in the way of a good story. Who don’t like the truth so they make up some of their own. Who live off of hating OSU but are afraid of killing the golden goose – a bi-polar relationship with college football reality. And we have Herbie to keep them all in line…
2012 is also for the SEC apologists, whose flaws they cover up while shining lights on the flaws of everyone else. A big year for the SEC? Bah humbug. Bought and paid for and made public just like so many entitled athletes and programs. We are talking about a league so good that they play Division II teams in Week Ten for vanity points but they won’t play any tough out-of-conference teams except at home. A league that won’t play in the cold and gets home field advantage in the post-season. A league that recruits 30-percent more players than the other league teams, that brings in kids that shouldn’t have graduated high school and somehow keeps them eligible; that pays their coaches twice as much as other conferences and that doesn’t cooperate with investigations but is the first to cast stones at those that do It’s the “If you ain’t cheatin,’ you ain’t tryin’” wink-and-nod conference. Florida? Georgia? South Carolina? Alabama? Maybe they are great because they keep beating each other and we are told that each other is great. Give me a copy of the Emperor’s New Clothes and gimme some truth. This league is the best justification for disbanding the NCAA and for creating the playoffs. Thanks for the inspiration. This undefeated Buckeye season is for once-beaten SEC teams.
This perfect unblemished Buckeye season is also dedicated to all the cyber prophets, the “insiders” who cut and paste Facebook posts and call them nuggets; who presaged that they know Urban Meyer well and that this OSU season would just be played to set the table for next season; who proved they don’t know Urban really at all.
But the season is unstintingly positive and also stands testament to:
1) The usher who has been at the same door since the new sections were created and always gives me a thumbs-up as I enter the stadium.
2) For the highway patrolman on Woody Hayes Drive – eternally dour and stern – who yelled “Go Bucks” and gave me a high-five right after the Michigan win as we ran for our car.
3) It’s for the players that go to hospitals and help little kids even though they know it’s never going to be reported but it’s still the right thing to do.
5) It’s for all the high school football coaches in the state of Ohio that love the Buckeyes but publicly pretend they don’t care where their super recruit goes to school.
6) It’s for scores like 42-39 and 13-9 and 50-14 and 10-10 that identify entire OSU/Michigan games without any further discussion.
7) It’s for the superstitious routines that you have to go through – or else the Buckeyes lose. It’s as simple as that.
It’s for this season and last season (that should have been vacated) and the season before that (that actually was). You can’t “vacate a season!” It still lives. It is present tense because we are still living it.
And – here in the end – this column and this season is always for me. For each of us who love the Buckeyes unconditionally and for whatever reason(s) drive us. It is for the Buckeye Brotherhood, and you know if you are in it or not. It is for no particular reason that we can effectively articulate – like a lot of my thoughts. It is for no one in particular from no one in particular.
But we know who we are…
Spanning the College Football Globe: The Facts and the Pub
The Big Ten and National Scene review by Dan Rubin, Bucknuts Publisher
*Bo Pelini, defensive mastermind. Or not. That was about the worst performance you are ever going to see in a big game by any team at any level.
The Huskers were not matched against some juggernaut. Wisconsin entered the game with five losses and only got there based on the travails Ohio State and Penn State have endured. The Badgers had three running backs eclipse the 100-yard mark … in the third quarter.
In the two highest-profile matchups for Bo’s boys this season – last night and @ Ohio State – his team allowed a combined 133 points. In the Huskers men’s basketball team’s most recent meetings with Wisky and Ohio State they allowed a combined 129 points – and the coach was fired after the season.
Will Bo suffer a similar fate? It depends what the post-Osborne Oversight Era will be like in Lincoln. Yes, the Huskers went 7-1 in the Big Ten and reached 10 wins. They also embarrassed themselves on national TV twice. Given the number of coach openings and intense competition for quality hires, here is one of the reasons I bet they don’t axe Pelini: Is Nebraska even that good of a job anymore given the evolving college football landscape?
*If there was going to be a four-team playoff, Ohio State would meet either ‘Bama or Notre Dame in the “semifinals.” But this just in: There is not going to be a four-team playoff. So if there was EVER a time to skip the bowl season so you can dial in with extra-laser focus on recruiting with a rock star coach coming off an undefeated season that made him even more rock starrish – it’s now.
And you can bet Urb was not watching the Big Ten tussle last night and thinking, “This is what we’re aiming for.” Nope, that took place as he was watching former foes Saban and Richt trade punches until the final seconds. Just take a gander at the offer list of potential recruits in Urb’s sights. You won’t find Wisky or Nebraska among them.
(And by the way, I bet Urb DVR’ed both games so he could focus on recruiting.)
*Speaking of Urb, you never hear him try and spin things opposite when the topic of SEC dominance is raised. He embraces it, partly I’m sure because he helped get it to that point. But if you watched the ‘Bama-Georgia game yesterday, you are pretty much prepped for the NFL Draft come spring. It was a great football game played at an insanely high level.
Still, just thinking ‘Bama is going to roll over Notre Dame is not easy for me. There is so much time between now and the BCS title game. Too much. I’ve always hated the extended layoff between the end of the season and bowl games that cause teams to lose for reasons like over-enjoying the banquet circuit. That’s not football. The Fighting Irish do have the defense to make things interesting. But this is going to be a litmus test for Brian Kelly. Can he find 21-26 points before kicking off against the Fighting Sabans?
*My guess is Braxton won’t be invited to the Downtown Athletic Club for the coronation of Johnny Football. That’s actually OK. It’d be one thing for No. 5 to sit there knowing he need not work on a speech. It’s another to feel disrespected by the lack of an invite. We need to think ’13 and any little edge helps.
*I’ve labeled several teams ‘counterfeit’ throughout the season. What does it mean exactly? Basically this: In a big game, you routinely fail to post. Eventually, we expect you to lose when the chips are pushed to the center. This week’s entrants are the aforementioned Fighting Pelinis and Texas. TCU and Kansas State should not beat a team with such fertile recruiting territory and tradition. The ‘Horns cognoscenti need to load up a Brinks trunk and make a beeline for Tuscaloosa. Problem solved.
(Editor’s note: Southern Cal is on the verge of counterfeitedness. Another season even similar to this one and the membership cards are being printed.)
**So here is what I think the pre-Bowl season top 10 SHOULD BE now: 1. Notre Dame; 2. Alabama; 3. Ohio State; 4. Georgia; 5. Florida; 6. Oregon; 7. LSU; 8. Texas A&M; 9. Stanford; 10. South Carolina
Bottom of the Bucket
Mr. B scrapes up some final thoughts
Music to my ears … Since I started the Bucknuts Radio Hour some 10 years ago (a week before Tressel was hired…), I tasked myself to pick out all the music since I have OCD about both music and Buckeye football. Most of the songs were either puns or designed to portend a future segment (well, an awful lot of the music made fun of fat or stupid Michigan coaches – now we can do both!). We added great movie lines and some oddball quotes later but if music is the soundtrack of our lives, then Bucknuts Radio music is what makes OSU football analysis sing.
This year, I stepped aside and let less vulgar and less pretentious guys choose the tune-age and the on-season/off-color stuff. But out of old reflex and bad habits, I ruminated on the 1000-tune Bucknuts library and silently chose what I would have played each week for the shows leading up to every one of the twelve 2012-season games. I can do it from memory – which is important, because we don’t write a lot of stuff down (slow readers at headquarters).
And to make it kinda official…
1) “Start Me Up” (Stones)
2) “Get It On (Bang the Gong)” (T. Rex)
1) “Just Like Starting Over” (John Lennon)
2) “So This Is the New Year” (Death Cab For Cutie)
1) “East Living” (Uriah Heep)
2) “Take Your Sorry Ass Back Down to Florida” (Cracker)
1) “California Dreaming” (Mamas and Papas)
2) “All My Life” – (Foo Fighters) “I’m done, done, on to the next one”
1) “The Beat Goes On” (Sonny and Cher)
2) “Wake Me Up When September Ends” (Green Day)
1) “Bright Side of the Road” (Van Morrison)
2) “Forecast Calls for Pain” (Robert Cray)
1) “I Want Red” (Sammy Hagar) “Green is mean but I want red”; even better right after beating Michigan State
2) “Hour of the Idiot” (Meat Puppets), in honor of Bo Pelini
1) “Crimson and Clover” (Tommy James) “Over and over” and, yes, I know its crimson and cream…
2) “Indiana Wants Me (But I Can’t Go Back There)” (R. Dean Taylor)
1) “Even the Losers” (Tom Petty) “Get lucky some time…” and Purdue always makes me feel unlucky…
2) “Where Was My Brain?” (Titus Andronicus); A question too often asked after a Purdue game
1) “Jailhouse Rock” (Elvis)
2) Many many songs with children themes in them that were wildly inappropriate even by Bucknuts’ standards
3) “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (The Tokens)
1) “Champaign Illinois” (Old 97’s) “You’ll not go to heaven; you’ll go to Champaign Illinois”
2) “So yer tellin’ me there’s a chance” from “Dumb & Dumber”
1) “Bye Bye Bye” (‘N Sync), traditional silly guilty pleasure; hey – the team had an “off week”, too!
1) “Whiskey Train” (Procol Harum); “Gonna ride that whiskey train…”
2) “C'mon, it's Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick 'em up, we zip right out again. We're not going to Moscow. It's Czechoslovakia. It's like we're going into Wisconsin.”– Stripes
1) Brady Bunch theme song
2) Flintstones theme song “Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, They're a modern stone age family. You'll have a gay old time”
3) “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” (Dylan)
4) “Deacon Blues” (Steely Dan) “They got a name for the winners in the world. I want a name when I lose. They call Alabama the Crimson Tide. Call me (freakin’) blue”
5) “Like Déjà vu All Over Again” (John Fogerty)
6) “Fading Into Obscurity” (Sloan”)
7) “You Will Always Be a Loser” (Titus Andronicus)
8) “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son” (Animal House)
Michigan and Brady Hoke present an embarrassment of riches each year…
The year is done…
1) “Highway to Hell” (AC/DC) “Hey, mama, look at me! I’m on my way to the promised land…” Played that every week as the intro during the 2002 season and darn if we didn’t make it.
2) “A Dream Goes On Forever” (Todd Rundgren)
3) “We Can’t Be Beat” (Mountain Goats)
4) “Anticipation” (Carly Simon) “These are the good old days”; truer lyrics were never sung…
And, finally, “Sounds of Silence.” Necessary to frame the season, I suppose.
Whew – I’m glad I got that over with! Now I can get those tunes out of my head. Until next year…
Cheatin’ Chizik is gone but the problems remain…They still a’cheatin’ down there in the SEC. That’s right – where once you buy a player, he stays bought. Like any good politician!
I digress here but promise to make this all work: In a book called “The Half Life of Facts,” it is determined that knowledge (basically a collection of “accepted facts”) is far less fixed than we assume. As an example, spinach was originally reported to contain a tremendous amount of iron – 35 milligrams per serving; not the true measured value of 3.5 milligrams. From there, spinach – incorrectly – became famous for being high in nutrition, all the way up to the creation of the Popeye character. That notion has never disappeared despite its foundation of truthlessness.
Such is the case with the SEC, that if we repeat the canard long enough that they are an elite conference, it becomes a self-fulfilling and self-sustaining prophecy. What did they do this year to deserve six teams in the Top 10? Who did they beat other than each other? And what does that prove?
As Greg Doyell of CBS Sports also intoned a week ago: “The SEC is overrated.”
Five SEC teams in the top nine of the AP polls -- six in the top 12 of the BCS standings -- and that's ridiculous. And those are ridiculous words for me to write, seeing how CBS is the home of the SEC.
The SEC is awesome, usually, so a season like this was probably inevitable -- a year when the league would live off its reputation. Meanwhile, one-loss teams Florida State, Oregon and Kansas State have almost no shot at the BCS title game because they come from the wrong conference.
It's a Ponzi scheme, this 2012 SEC fraud, built upon layers of air. Georgia is great because it has beaten Florida. Florida is great because it has beaten Texas A&M. Texas A&M is great because it has beaten Alabama.
And Alabama is great because it has beaten ... um, who has Alabama beaten, anyway? Alabama's best win in the league came against LSU, which struggled with mediocre Ole Miss and lousy Auburn and was given a scare by Towson or Towson State or Towson Christian or whatever that school is called. Before LSU, Alabama's signature victory was a 38-7 destruction of undefeated and then-No. 13 Mississippi State -- and Mississippi State hadn't beaten anybody either.
The computers love the SEC so much that I'm reminded of something former Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams said of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2006: The Valley got four teams into the NCAA Tournament, Williams said, because it "cracked the RPI code." The SEC has cracked the computer code. Schedule easy non-conference games, win them all, and then lose only to each other in league play. Voila! It's love, computer style. The SEC isn't playing football -- it's playing eHarmony.
OK, now that we have established beyond a reasonable doubt that the SEC is over-rated, let’s move on to some other conference shenanigans…
New teams, same old BS (Or is that “GS”?)… As many fans have come to realize, Gene Smith is in Columbus basically to take the money and take dictation from Bob Delany of the Big Ten. As all message boarders know, when realignment is suggested by the Big Ten administrative staff during some conference call, Gene dutifully notes that, too, and votes yes. We are going to be in a 7 or maybe 8 team division that will likely exclude Michigan but will include Maryland or Rutgers along with PSU, Indiana, and Purdue, and Wisky. The new B-10 is a money grab plain and simple because Rutgers and Maryland (and whoever else is to come, unless it’s Texas or Notre Dame!) adds no luster to the diminishing stature of our conference.
The Wall Street Journal assayed the business end of this deal in even bolder language, calling it “A bold act of colonialism,” adding that “The Big Ten, the benevolent conquistador, snapped up two schools with thin football pedigrees at a time when football is more important than ever (because of the money)”.
It’s akin to the made-for-TV “conference championship games” which pitted four-loss Wisconsin against Nebraska – two teams we already beat – at the Big Ten level, and a seven-day-later-rematch of UCLA and Stanford in the PAC Something. Yawn. The best part of this interim charade is that the new mega-conferences will wake up one day and realize they don’t need the NCAA and can give fans what they really want, since they are taking those same fans’ money.
One last consideration before hibernation: Increase the regular season to a 13-game schedule so that more of the Big Tenners can play each other.
Yes, eliminate the “bye” weeks. And then add some schollies to offset the wear and tear of playing more games. There you have it: better teams, more conference games, and more scholar athletes to sop up the new extra millions.
Or – the schools can just keep the money. What do you think, Gene?
Like my beloved Buckeyes, I am closing out my season unbeaten and unbowed. It has been a great 2012! See you on the flip side…
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