Strange on several levels
So the Buckeyes landed in the Big Easy today and it felt as though a weight had been lifted off of me. Ever since Tatgate broke on the 23rd it has been a nonstop flow of crap. I mean the speculation and venting among the fan base of what should be done. Believe me I am nowhere near understanding how you could sell gold pants but I also understand that at nineteen stuff meant different things to me, there were different priorities and I used bad judgment and made mistakes at times.
The past week was even more insane with the player apology and then Tressel saying that all the players vowed to come back next year or they wouldn’t have made the trip. The apology was somewhat strange. It was good to hear the words from them but it was hard to determine how much was a prepared statement and how much was really them. Surprisingly Solomon Thomas seemed to be the most sincere, Posey and Adams were also believable. Boom and Pryor looked to be a combination of annoyed and disinterested. The thing is I don’t blame them for feeling this way. I still think the rule that you can’t sell your own possessions is dumb, I don’t think the punishment fits the infraction, and it happened almost two years ago. I am somewhat annoyed that the entire thing has been talked about more than the actual Sugar Bowl game itself. My personal opinion is to roll with what the NCAA said, appeal the suspensions and let them play in the Sugar Bowl. Move on already. After all we do have a game to play, against a good Arkansas team.
The vow/pledge to come back thing is even weirder. Most of the time I have the upmost confidence in Tressel to do and say the right thing. This was just odd. The whole thing is odd. I mean in Tressel’s words he didn’t want the players to “skirt the consequences” by getting an opportunity to participate the Sugar Bowl and not sit out next year by going pro. Sounds more like an ultimatum/blackmail than I am comfortable with. Similarly what effect does it have on the players? If it makes the most sense for them (and their families) to go pro they have to break a pledge to the Vest and incur his eternal scorn? Not to mention that if these players felt so little towards the program to sell that merchandise does Tressel think these guys just won’t “promise” to get in the game? It is just all kinds of weird.
It will be interesting to see how the team handles the elephant in the room that Tatgate has become regardless of Tressel telling them not to speak of the “incident” to the media. Of course we are now starting to hear the 0-9 clamor on overwhelming fashion. As a Buckeye fan it is difficult to have any backup of merit to support the “why we will win” cause and why we will end up 1-9 come January 4th. Kyler at 11w said it very well:
Players, coaches, fans and the media have all their theories on why Ohio State can’t beat SEC schools. If you go back and look at the seasons and games, though, it isn’t that much of a revelation to say the better team won. A nine-game sample size is extremely big when it comes to football. When you lose nine times to teams from a certain conference, it isn’t a coincidence. The losses have come under legends such as Woody Hayes and Jim Tressel and also under the often scrutinized John Cooper. Ohio State has lost in national championship games to SEC teams and in middle-tier bowls such as the Outback.
I really have no idea how things have gone this way against the SEC. There have been years where I thought we had really great teams, like 2006 when we had so much talent and ended up getting whooped. There have been close games like 2001 where Bellasari almost led us on a comeback only to lose on a last second field goal. We are headed back the Sugar Bowl where Woody first met the SEC in a bowl and Alabama won. How awesome would it be to end the run in the same place?
It may sound very cliché but we really just need to focus on this game. It is the first time we have ever played the Razorbacks and the first BCS Bowl that Arkansas has ever been to. And the craziest thing about all the distractions of Tatgate, the apology and the pledge is that it all involved the junior starters on the Buckeye offense. It overlooks the truly important matchup in this game. The high powered Arkansas let by former Wolverine Ryan Mallet against the stout Buckeye defense led by seniors Rolle, Heyward, Homan, Hines, Chekwa and Larimore. The Silver Bullets are a force to be reckoned with and this is the last game in a Buckeye uniform for those seniors – you know they want to go out a winner.
It is fixing to be quite a week for sure.