Last night, Stanford beat Oregon. That result caused the ESPN talking heads, and sports show commentators throughout the land, to start talking about whether Stanford should jump over undefeated Ohio State in the race to get to the BCS National Championship game.
Of course, such talk caused heads to explode throughout Buckeye Nation. Loyal wearers of the Scarlet and Gray questioned how a one-loss team, which fell to 4-4 Utah, could possibly leap the undefeated Buckeyes. They wondered why Ohio State — like Rodney Dangerfield — is getting no respect this year.
There are two obvious reasons. First, everyone knows that the Big Ten, top to bottom, just isn’t that good. Second — and at least equally important — the members of the sports talk show fraternity realize that controversy helps increase ratings. They know that ardent Buckeye fans are easy to bait and quickly worked into a frenzy by the slightest sign of disrespect. So, if you are a radio or TV sports show host who puts the two together, you know that dismissing the Buckeyes’ latest drubbing of a Big Ten opponent, followed by raves when Stanford beats Oregon or Baylor beats Oklahoma, is bound to get you some angry calls from loyal OSU fans. And if you just want listeners, or readers, who cares whether they are agreeing with you or not?
I hope that the Buckeyes, unlike their fans, forget about the shows of disrespect and realize that there is nothing they can do other than win their game each week. If Ohio State can beat Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, and then topple, say, Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference Championship game, they’ve done all that they can do. I’m betting that, if that happens, the Buckeyes won’t have to worry about getting respect from the media. Instead, they’ll be worrying about how they can win that National Championship game for a change.