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Mr. B Savors Perfection

It was cold. It was sloppy. It was frustrating.

I'm back, baby! Albeit briefly ...

It was a beautiful thing!

As to the cold? In the first quarter, we were up 7-0 and I told my seatmate, “Hey – it doesn’t seem so bad, really.” Then we were down 14-10 and I said, “Man, is it cold or what?” Your weather perspective changes dramatically depending upon if you are winning or losing.

And we are winning - 12-0, baby! Just as I predicted last Aug. 26. You can look it up. That spasm of prophecy is slightly mitigated by the fact I have predicted a perfect season four out of the last six years.

So, let the wallowing, the preening and gloating and smack talk begin! I want to hear chortling and cackling and trash-talking out there. I want sounds of vindication and retribution. I had so many headlines and first lines to pick from today. As Urb said after the game when asked an edgy question: “Trying to picture the headline now.” My first impulse was to say “We did everything we could to lose, but just enough to win.” It’s Michigan, though, and there has to be a winner and there has to be a loser; and as a post on MGoBlog put pithily: “They own us. They look at us as a little brother now. Sad but true. I hate them so much.”

That’s darn near perfect, there.

This was Ohio State-Michigan, for the 109TH time. It was Urban versus Hjoke for the first time. It was revenge for last year’s forgettable 40-34 loss that snapped a memorable seven-game winning streak. This was the first of the new winning streak. Get used to it, TTUN. OSU has now won 10 of the last 12 meetings and six straight at home over the hated rodents from the north. Other notable factoids? These 2012 Buckeyes became just the sixth Ohio State team in the 123-year history of OSU football to finish a season unbeaten and untied.

Like the rest of the perfect season of 2012, it wasn’t easy and often not pretty. While this was a team that maybe didn’t necessarily “refuse to lose,” it was a team that kept snatching victories from the jaws of defeat. They did it their way a dozen times and there is a lot to be said about that.

Here are a few of my favorite things from yesterday:

1) Coach Jim Tressel. He came out with the 2002 team at the end of the first quarter. My first thought was: Is there anything more intimidating to a Wolverine team than to see Tress back on the sidelines? Second thought: I bet they aren’t going to announce his name. Then the 2002 players took care of that by lifting him on their shoulders to a thunderous roar. JT wore sunglasses so you couldn’t see his emotions. You could see them anyway. It was another beautiful thing.

The legacy is safe, fans. Tress beat Michigan 26-20 his first year. Urban was only one point off. But he was on point and sounded almost senatorial when he said after the game, “This team will never be forgotten.” UM versus UM. Hey Michigan – the “One Year War” is over now! Those were mostly Tressel players on the field yesterday just like they were his in 2002. But it was Urban this year that got them to play hard and to bring the magic back. Tress’s (and Urban’s) guys combined were 26-0 out there on that field yesterday. 2002-2012. Pretty special bookends.

2) Since “The Game” was moved into its final-season game position in 1935 (remember that year, Bucknutters), undefeated teams have won in 1947 (UM), 1948 (UM), 1954 (OSU), 1968 (OSU), 1970 (OSU), 1971 (UM), the 1973 tie, 1975 (OSU), 1979 (OSU), 1997 (UM), 2006 (OSU). Just 11 times overall in more than 65 years.

The most painful games are the easiest to remember: OSU was undefeated and lost to Michigan in 1969, 1993, 1995 and 1996. OSU was undefeated and tied UM in 1973. 1969 was Bo’s revenge for Woody running up the score (50-14) the year before. That kept the Bucks from their only back-to-back national titles. 1973 might have been the greatest OSU team ever but Woody went all-conservative against the Weasels and left kissing his sister with the gimpiest tie imaginable. And then OSU got voted to go to the Rose Bowl, an action that precipitated Bo’s later cardiological issues. 1993? We were embarrassed 28-0. Let’s not talk about it. 1995? Lost 31-23 and then lost the bowl game. 1996? Another team contender for greatest of all time. Shawn Springs slips and game over, 13-9. It was hard to watch the one-score ending yesterday without being emotionally blinded by all that I had seen and experienced before that…

3) The Hoke factor. In 2011, Michigan was a couple of freak plays from going 7-5. They used that “traction” to anoint a cartoon character as their new spiritual leader and to lead them into a new Stone Age, kinda like LLLLLLoyd Carr, who couldn’t beat Tressel and thought 9-3 was a pretty good year in a down conference. They’ve got their new Carr now even with the stone tires. I told you before and I will tell you again that this guy defines “average.” He looks like Fred Flintstone and sounds like that creepy pedophile from Family Guy. He is 8-4 this year and one miracle play (Northwestern) away from being 7-5 going on 7-6 post-bowl game. He can say he pulled off a Lawrence Welk. By losing to Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State, he lost to “A one and a two and a three.” It’s embarrassing to his hometown of Kettering that Brady couldn’t find a headset to at least keep his ears warm during the game…

4) This feels like the earliest end-of-season ever. Late November and we are undefeated and king of a small mountain. We accomplished everything a team could hope to accomplish.This also feels like the best of all possible worlds. If the great Dr. Pangloss were here, he might say something of the sort: Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference. I say: “Appeal the Bowl Ban”! Let’s just keep this magic keep ongoing.

5) If the 70-some recruits weren’t blown away by the epic event of yesterday, then they probably aren’t Urban or Buckeye material. Couch-burning and car-tipping aren’t taught until after you enroll, though…

6) It felt like Michigan was moving the ball at will in the first half, but upon further review, there were just three “drives” that did us in during the first half: 1) Someone forgot Roundtree and then they let him score on a 75-yard, 10-yard pass 2) We roughed their kicker and then muffed the same punt; then got a roughing-the-passer and then they scored – about 80-yards worth of assists 3) Denard bounces off two tacklers that didn’t even put their arms out; more than half the game’s total UM rushing yards on one messed up play. And then?

7) Great defensive adjustment(s)! After the half, Michigan’s vaunted attack was shut down. Cold. Did I mention how cold it was out there?

There are now six all-time undefeated and untied Buckeye teams. The others?

1) 1916: 7-0 under John Wilce
2) 1944: 9-0 under Carroll Widdoes
3) 1954: 10-0 under Woody
4) 1968: 10-0 under Woody
5) 2002: the 14-0 dream season under Tress

We are in some pretty rarified atmosphere here when we talk about a legacy program going back 123 years!

Ohio State is thriving, at the beginning of a biblical-esque seven years of feasting while Michigan is preparing for seven years of famine. Think not? Before its senior game a week ago against Iowa, Michigan officials made an all-out press to get the student section at Michigan Stadium filled before the noon kickoff. And that has been a growing problem recently. Athletic director Dave Brandon said there were 11,000 empty seats for the kickoff against Northwestern. It only sparsely filled in as the game went on. For the 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Michigan State on Oct. 20, there were 3,500 no-shows, Brandon said.

You imagine Ohio State having trouble filling seats? We could increase the ‘Shoe to 150,000 and there would still be a waiting list. It will never come down to Urban Meyer doing what Hoke was asked to do two weeks ago, in a public announcement: "Hopefully their peers will get there early," Hoke said. "It's a 12 o'clock start so that all those kids can be recognized the way they should be recognized when you play at Michigan."

Brady – it was a high noon game again yesterday and the fans showed up. And so did the players in this perfect season. We ARE Ohio State. Not only is it a great time to be a Buckeye right now, but all times – good or bad – are great times!

Like 2002, we don’t appreciate these marvelous years until we can get some distance from them. Didn’t we think that the national championship 10 years ago was one of the first of many to come? Ho hum. Then when we lost in two more championship games within five years, it was just a matter of time. Right? Uh, no. The one thing time solves every time is the perspective of how special some times are. This was such a special year. So was 2002. Perfect should never be the enemy of great. And 2012 was perfect enough.

Expectations have shifted. I am predicting, well…how about that national title in 2013, Urb? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Spanning the College Football Globe: The Facts and the Pub

The Big Ten and National Scene review by Dan Rubin, Bucknuts Publisher

Yes, this interruption in Mr. B’s service is a trip around the B1G and the country at large. We’ll get to that. But first, this is a little something for the PARENTS of potential Ohio State recruits who attended The Game.

Did you see Buckeye Nation’s reaction to Jim Tressel? You want to send your son off to a place that will love him FOREVER – regardless of whatever mistakes he might make? If you attended the game I hope you DVR’ed it. Chris Spielman (where did he go to school again?) was joined in the booth by Sean McDonough, who was incredulous that the 105,000-plus would react to Tress the way they did given the sanctions. Guess who wasn’t surprised in the least? Spielman.

It’s different in Columbus. It just is. You go to college to set yourself up for life. I’ll bet every kid that signs with the Buckeyes thinks the next stop is an NFL city near you. But what if it isn’t? Your son will still be a valued member of Buckeye Nation (see: going to college to set yourself up for life).

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming …

*The B1G capped the strangest season in recent memory with Wisky losing in overtime to Penn State. That made me chuckle. Spin it, Bret, spin it. If the goal for the Badgers this season was mediocrity, mission accomplished.

Nebraska? Did Bo fail to get the memo on Iowa (It read: “Iowa stinks”)? The fact the Badgers and Huskers will duel it out for the most hollow conference championship trophy ever is fitting. My guess is the underlying thought of every B1G coach, athletic director and school president right now has little to do with toppling the Bret and Bo. It’s this: How do we beat Urban? Not sure they are going to like the answer for the next decade (or longer if dude wants).

That’s it for the B1G. Literally.

And now for a top-down look at the national scene …

*I said it in this space around Week Five after Notre Dame held Michigan State, Michigan and Miami (Fla.) to a combined 12 points (and no touchdowns) over three weeks. The Fighting Irish are good. They’re very good. Are they loaded with NFL players on offense? Maybe not, though Theo Riddick is arguably the best offensive player I’ve seen this season that gets no national run whatsoever. That defense is strong and will have a chance to slow down Georgia or ‘Bama. While the secondary is nothing special, the Irish defensive line and linebackers are exceptional. Exceptional. And to trade punches with an SEC power, that is without question a pre-requisite.

*It appears ‘ol Johnny Football is going to win the Heisman as a redshirt freshman. I can live with that. Dude has put up numbers that rival the Newton-Tebow campaigns. He’s also fun to watch. Count on next season’s quest for the trophy being a two-horse race between Johnny and a certain No. 5 we all know and love. As an aside, anyone want to play Texas A&M right now? If this were a tournament sport, I might give Vegas some of my coin on account of the Aggies.

You may be asking yourself right now, where are the rest of the Interlude Interlopers? Well, yesterday was so big, so massive that we had to gather several of our standout contributors for a Bucket Overflow column coming your way shortly. All your favorites have contributed: Duane, Ramzy, The Technician, Mark Porter, Bill Kurelic and The Captain himself, Jerry Rudzinski. Stay tuned to Bucknuts …

Bottom of the Bucket

Mr. B scrapes up some final thoughts

Last week was our traditional “Michigan jokes” week. And for the second year in a row, a Mr. Gary Youra won the contest enabling him to become “Mr. Michigan Joke” and reminding us of an old Arab curse: “Yura Wolverweenie.” The winning submission was a variant of a previous joke: Michigan coach Brady Hoke was so confident in beating Ohio State that he decided to only dress half his players for the game. The other half had to dress themselves.

Mr. Youra – you are entitled to a one-year free Bucknuts subscription, so please come to the office and let us recognize you!

Long rides home … It’s a short hour-and-fifteen-minute sprint home from our South Field House parking space back to Dayton. But it can be the longest ride in the world when you lose. The radio is turned off by Springfield and it’s utter silence back to the Gem City. I remember it all too well after the Texas game and the USC game and the Penn State game – all at night. But it is harder to remember back 12 years ago when we last lost to Michigan, though.

The radio stayed on the whole way yesterday and it was a happy bunch ripping down I-70 West…

This one’s for you … My father was at that first end-of-season Ohio State-Michigan game in 1935. He was a Michigan student and caught himself cheering loudly for the Buckeyes in the Wolverine student section (Ohio State won 38-0). He realized he had made a terrible mistake selecting schools and he transferred to Ohio State the next year, graduating in 1940.

He hated Michigan in some visceral irrational way that helped define my football-spectating childhood; in a way that carries over to today. He would never miss a Buckeye game on TV, right up until the time he was 95; often going to Buckeye bars to watch “his boys” play. Last year, he passed away right before the Michigan game. It was a confusing season for him as he didn’t understand the Tress Mess and couldn’t bear to watch his boys under-perform. I would call him after every game and try to explain what was going on but I didn’t understand it much better than him.

I miss those calls. It felt funny yesterday that I couldn’t share this with him and “his boys”. It is my first Michigan win without him and that makes it bittersweet. But I am sure he is savoring yesterday’s win somehow.


Stay tuned … The Bucket Overflow is coming soon …

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