There’s a lot of dislike for, and skepticism about, the Ohio State Buckeye football team lurking out there. All of the sports pundits are picking Alabama to win easily, and the Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Crimson Tide as a 9.5 point favorite. That’s a lot of points when you consider both Ohio State and Alabama have only one loss and Ohio State just won its conference championship game by a 59-0 score.
We experienced some of this pervasive anti-OSU passion firsthand during our recent trip to Jacksonville. When we were enjoying a beer and some appetizers at a Riverside neighborhood tavern, we overheard this guy ranting about how Ohio State didn’t deserve to make the playoffs. Actually, “overheard” isn’t quite the right word — this jerk was so loud that you couldn’t help but hear the scorn he poured on our beloved Buckeyes. To make matters worse, his name was Bob.
Why was this guy so deadset on saying that the Buckeyes were pretenders? There were lots of reasons. The Big Ten sucks. Everyone knows that Ohio State chokes in big games. The Virginia Tech loss showed Ohio State’s true value as a team. Urban Meyer is a decent coach, but he screwed the University of Florida. And, as is usually the case, he had a conspiracy theory, too — it’s all about money. I don’t think he was saying that anyone got paid off to put the Buckeyes in; instead, he believed the playoff selection committee wanted to pick a Midwestern team to try to increase interest in the first-ever playoff, and Ohio State is about as well-supported and Midwestern a team as there is.
We didn’t engage with this loudmouth; you’re not going to change the mind of somebody like that with reasoned discourse, and there’s no point in getting into an argument in a bar. But listening to his diatribe was enlightening. It showed a perspective on Ohio State that is a lot different from what you get here in the heart of Buckeye Nation. We won’t be able to change the conspiracy theories, but a win over Alabama Thursday night would go a long way toward changing some of the other views.