Every couple of weeks so far this summer, someone has foisted the idea that if the Ohio State football team loses even one game this fall, the Buckeyes will be passed over when it comes time to hand out invitations for the BCS National Championship Game.
I can envision such a scenario, especially if there a couple of other undefeated or one-loss teams. But the supposition that OSU will be jumped by a two-loss team just seems ludicrous to me.
Performances by the Buckeyes in the last two national title games should have absolutely no bearing on how the 2008 season plays out. If past performance in a championship game is going to be part of your criteria for choosing teams going forward, Oklahoma should forever be eliminated from consideration. Didn’t the Sooners lose two title games in a row, including a particularly embarrassing 55-19 loss to USC in the 2005 game? I don’t ever remember hearing the notion that Bob Stoops’ team had to go undefeated the next season to earn a three-peat.
It was borderline sickening last year to watch ESPN the morning after West Virginia and Missouri lost season-ending games, throwing the BCS standings into turmoil. What was most sickening was the posturing by many of the so-called experts, making cases for their own personal favorites.
Even then, there were those who seemingly wanted to discount Ohio State’s season during which it was undefeated and ranked No. 1 for much of the year. It also seemed difficult to fathom a two-loss LSU team could have vaulted all the way from No. 7 in the next-to-last BCS standings to the No. 2 position. Yet, that’s exactly what happened.
How? Because many people somehow managed to discount the Tigers’ losses to Kentucky and Arkansas, each of which wound up with five losses last season. Since those defeats came against conference opponents, and the conventional reasoning is that the SEC is just a half-step below the NFL in terms of talent, LSU received the national title bid over a one-loss Kansas team, who’s only loss came in a seven-point decision to then-No. 4 Missouri.
The talking heads opined that since Kansas did not win its own conference, it was not worthy of getting a shot to win the national championship. The same argument was made for why LSU got the nod over SEC rival Georgia, which also lost two games. But while one could argue that the Bulldogs were the hotter team down the stretch with six consecutive wins to finish the regular season, they didn’t even get to the conference championship game.
I have no problem with that reasoning. However, if that is the applicable way to look at the final BCS standings, it seems difficult to believe any two-loss team should be able to leap over the champion from a BCS conference to make the national title game. And that is what some people would have us believe if Ohio State finishes 11-1 and that one loss is to USC.
If the Buckeyes go to Southern California and get their doors blown off, then they probably will have forfeited their chance at a playing in Miami in January. But if they play well against the Trojans – even in defeat – it would not be out of the realm of possibility for them to climb back up the polls by season’s end.
That game happens in week three of the 2008 season. There are 11 more weeks of upsets, twists and turns, and running the table after the USC game would allow Ohio State to inch its way back up the rankings.
Then if it comes down to a scenario where the Buckeyes are in position to go to the BCS game again and the fix is in, let’s just drop the façade. Forget the polls and all the hard work and the games and the pageantry and just let ABC and ESPN decide in August which teams they’d like to have in the January title game.
That would be just about as fair.
We have a trio of Buckeye birthdays today – Rickey Dudley, Otis Winston, Terence Dials.
Rickey Leshun Dudley was born July 15, 1972, in Henderson, Texas, and played football and basketball for Ohio State in the early to mid-1990s. He was originally recruited to play basketball and was a four-year letterwinner for Randy Ayers’ program. Then, John Cooper persuaded him to come out for football and he was a starting tight end in 1994 and ’95. Oakland drafted Dudley in the first round of the 1996 NFL draft with the eighth overall pick, and he played nine years in the league with the Raiders, Browns and Buccaneers. He retired following the 2004 season with 221 career receptions for 3,024 yards and 33 TDs.
Otis Winston was born July 15, 1973, in Toronto, Ohio, and was also a two-sport star at Ohio State. He played basketball for the Buckeyes from 1993-95, but earned more acclaim as a member of OSU’s track team. Winston was an All-American high jumper in 1993 and the Big Ten outdoor high jump champion in 1995, and won back-to-back conference indoor high jump titles in 1995 and ’96. He still holds the school record in the outdoor high jump at 7-4½. Winston is now an ordained minister and part-time screenwriter who lives in Columbus.
Terence Jerome Dials II was born July 15, 1983, in Detroit, and moved with his family to Youngstown, Ohio, where he became a star basketball player at Boardman High School. After graduation, Dials became a three-year starter for the Buckeyes from 2004-06. He was a two-year captain and Big Ten player of the year in 2006 when Ohio State went 26-6 and captured its first outright conference championship in 14 years. Dials has played the past two years in the NBA Summer League, and has played two professional seasons in France, making the French ProA All-Star Game in 2007.
Other luminaries from around the world celebrating birthdays today include: adventure novelist Clive Cussler; former Detroit Lions defensive tackle-turned-actor Alex Karras; TV actor Ken Kercheval (he played Cliff Barnes on “Dallas”); movie actor Patrick Wayne (John’s son and chairman of the John Wayne Cancer Institute); actor Terry O-Quinn (John Locke on “Lost”); pop singer Linda Ronstadt; political commentator and blogger Adrianna Huffington; former wrester and former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura; Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Barry Melrose; Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker; My Chemical Romance lead guitarist Ray Toro; and Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the sultan of Brunei and probably the richest man in the world. With oil prices fluctuating wildly these days, it is difficult to figure how much money the sultan has at any one time, but his worth is estimated at somewhere around $55 billion.
Last and by no means least, a very happy 21st birthday to my daughter Jessica.
** Thanks to ESPN for ruining a perfectly otherwise entertaining Home Run Derby last night. The Worldwide Leader’s hype machine was in overdrive we were told Josh Hamilton’s performance was one of the best moments in Yankee Stadium. Up there with Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech? Don Larsen’s perfect game? Reggie Jackson’s back-to-back-to-back World Series home runs? Oh, and by the way, guys … Hamilton didn’t even win the competition.
** As long as I’m venting, how much did ESPN overpay Rick Reilly to come over from Sports Illustrated? Reilly acted like Hamilton appeared out of thin air in Texas while fans in Cincinnati knew all about his inspirational story last year. Hey, Rick. Just because it’s the first time you’ve paid attention to the story doesn’t make it news.
** Finally, I know I’m going to upset her legion of fans – and you know the reason why you’re fans – but honestly, can someone take Erin Andrews aside and help her with her interview skills? Repeatedly asking, “What does this feel like?” doesn’t exactly make for compelling television.
** If the Packers really want to poke the stick in Brett Favre’s eye, why not trade his rights to Miami or Oakland? Then he can play for struggling franchises with micromanaging GMs and/or owners. One year of playing in the shadow of Bill Parcells or Al Davis ought to keep him retired once and for.
** This probably won’t come as a shock to any football fan in Ohio, but when Sporting News did a recent ranking of the NFL’s top 25 running backs, no Bengal or Brown was named in the top 15. Rudi Johnson of Cincinnati and Jamal Lewis of Cleveland – a couple of guys who may have their best days already behind them – were ranked 19th and 21st, respectively. The no-brainer at the top was San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson. Here is the entire list: SN’s Top 25 NFL Running Backs.
** As the temperature reaches 90 degrees here in central Ohio, I leave you with this thought, courtesy of Yogi: “Remember, it ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
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