If you're an Ohio State fan (and if you're reading this, you probably are) you've likely noticed by now that the Buckeyes aren't exactly drowning in love from the national punditry these days. From the highest-paid solons in the media to the lowliest message-board trolls, folks are a little down on the boys in Scarlet & Grey kit. Maybe they shouldn't be, or maybe they should - it's tough to argue with the haters after the steaming pile the Bucks dropped against Ohio U. last Saturday. Either way, the negative vibes can be a little tough to take if you're a devotee of the THE Ohio State University.
Fortunately, I'm here to help. I've listed twenty rules of assessing the Buckeyes, twenty bits of what pass for common knowledge among the college football literati, or not-so-literati, as the case may be. Accept these rules as self-evident truth, and rest easy with the knowledge that when it comes to Buckeye football, you've got it all figured out, because, well, they've got it all figured out.
Here they are:
Rule 1: When USC dominates the Pac-10, it's because USC is awesome. When Ohio State dominates the Big Ten, it's because the Big Ten sucks.
Rule 2: Losing at home to a 41-point underdog is forgivable. Losing at home to a nine-win team is not.
Rule 3: Other programs merely lose games. Ohio State gets "exposed."
Rule 4: Come to think of it, Ohio State really didn't belong in the BCS Championship Game in 2006, even though they were the only undefeated team in major-college football and held the consensus number-one ranking going into the game.
Rule 5: The Big Ten-SEC debate can be decided solely on the basis of Ohio State's record against SEC opponents, and Ohio State's only. The fact that Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota all have multiple victories over SEC teams in bowl games this decade is utterly irrelevant.
Rule 6: Ohio State can only get to the BCS title game if it beats USC on the road. Of course, once the Buckeyes get to the BCS title game, they'll be "stomped", "pummeled" and "embarrassed", even though they were good enough to beat USC on the road.
Rule 7: Ohio State's schedule is a joke, other than that road game at USC. Jackie Kennedy also enjoyed her trip to Dallas, other than that thing with her husband.
Rule 8: Ohio State is the "Buffalo Bills of college football" since 2002 never happened; that entire season was actually put together in a TV studio, like the moon landing.
Rule 9: Since the nation is tired of seeing Ohio State get killed in the BCS title game, a one-loss Buckeye team should be passed over in favor of, among others, Oklahoma, which has lost four straight BCS games by an average margin of sixteen points.
Rule 10: Ohio State is slow, over-rated, under-scheduled, and generally sorry, yet the SEC's domination of the Buckeyes tremendously enhances that conference's prestige.
Rule 11: There is no difference between the 2006 and 2007 BCS title-game losses. None. They're the exact same game.
Rule 12: LSU earned that magical five-spot bump in the BCS ranking prior to the 2007 title game. Only Ohio State backed in.
Rule 13: Curb-stomping a one-dimensional WAC team playing 4,000 miles from home makes Georgia the most bad-assed juggernaut on the planet. Losing to a senior-laden SEC powerhouse in for all intents and purposes its own building makes Ohio State an absolute fraud.
Rule 14: Ohio State loses the BCS title game every year, "every year" being the last two whole entire years.
Rule 15: If Vanderbilt were in the Big Ten, the Commodores would be firmly ensconced in the upper echelon of the conference right out of the chute. We're talking Alamo Bowl year-in, year-out, at a minimum.
Rule 16: If Ohio State were in the SEC, the Buckeyes would be Vanderbilt. To be fair, so would Oklahoma, USC, and the 1999 Rams.
Rule 17: Fans of every SEC school have a perfect right to latch on to the feats of Florida and LSU and treat them as their own. That includes talking message-board smack to Buckeye fans, even if their own school hasn't been to the Sugar Bowl since Admiral Farragut ran the forts below New Orleans.
Rule 18: If Kirk Herbstreit keeps up his compensatory genuflecting toward the Southeastern Conference for long enough, maybe the honks below the Mason-Dixon Line will forget that he played quarterback for Ohio State (after a fashion) and wanted a Buckeye-Wolverine re-match in '06.
Rule 19: Rich Rodriguez will bring speed and offensive innovation to the benighted Big Ten, which apparently was still wearing leather helmets, running the Single-Wing, employing tackles as straight-ahead kickers, and using an inflated pig's bladder for a football in the medieval days B.D. (Before Dick-Rod).
Rule 20: Ohio State has to run the table and beat an SEC opponent in the title game- not just any opponent, but an SEC opponent- or its National Championship doesn't actually count. The title is automatically ruled vacant and decided, by a vote of all 119 1-A schools, between the champion of the SEC, God's Gift to Conferences, and USC, which, of course, will be "playing its best football at the end of the season." Ohio State gets a vote, just in case you think this method is unfair.
Okay, there's just a little bit of snark involved in this piece. And some of the criticisms levied at Ohio State are justified- for example, the softness of the non-conference schedule outside of the yearly marquee match-up. (Don't get me started on the in-state games.) But when it comes to the Buckeyes, in large part the conventional wisdom has turned into a substitute for actual analysis, a warmed-over hash of lazy talking points in place of thought. And damn it, for the money these personalities are making, they ought to do something more than repeat the same tired shibboleths.
Hell, I can do that for cheap. Matter of fact, I just did.