Tuesday, June 26, 2007

College Football At Its Best - Ohio State Buckeye Football

Today is the first in a series of profiles of traditional college football programs throughout the country....I contacted various bloggers who bleed for their favorite school and asked them if they would participate...so far over 12 bloggers have agreed...I appreciate all the time and effort all the bloggers put into this series...Our first profile is of Ohio State....Sean Sheehan is a 22 year-old graduate at Ohio State University...he has lived and died with Buckeye football for his entire life, and started blogging about Buckeye sports a little over a year ago...his site, AroundTheOval is a top site...
  • Around The Oval
  • Q1. First question - real simple - Woody or Tressel? And why?
    Woody. Tressel may eventually reach Woody's level, but he's not there yet. In my mind, at least, he's not even that close. Hayes won three national championships; Tressel will have to do at least that much before people start arguing about him vs. Hayes. Just as important to Woody's legacy are his off-field contributions. Outside of the OSU community, people know Hayes mostly for tearing up markers and punching a Clemson player. But OSU fans appreciate him for teaching classes, for visiting hospitalized children every week, and for talking with students. True, Hayes had a temper, and it was endearing in a way (rumor has it that he bought cheap watches just so he could stomp on them in practices to make a point), but underneath that, he was a good person focused on turning good football players into good men. Tressel behaves like a father in a 1950s sitcom: he teaches, he sets a good example, but he's reserved. It's not a bad thing, especially as it seems to have rubbed off on the players and kept them off of police blotters and the front pages of newspapers, but it's not real exciting. Hayes was more like a slightly crazy grandfather: he wanted to be a positive influence, but he was going to do it his way and to hell with anyone that didn't like it. That's more entertaining than Tressel's approach, and combined with Woody's results, it's enough to get him the nod easily over Tressel.

    Q2. What is the greatest Ohio State football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television? Explain the game and why it was so great.
    That’s got to be the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the national championship game. The 2002 Ohio State team wasn't much for easy wins, instead preferring to test the hearts of Buckeye fans everywhere. The Fiesta Bowl was more of the same. The thing I remember most from the game was how nervous I was for its entirety. The Buckeyes couldn't (or wouldn't) win easy during the season, and they certainly didn't start in the championship game. Some plays stand out: Craig Krenzel's many runs and subsequent pinata-esque beatings, Maurice Clarett chasing down Sean Taylor to take back an intercepted ball, the defensive pass interference (or defensive holding, depending on which picture of the Miami DB grabbing Chris Gamble you're looking at) that kept OSU alive. Mostly, though, I remember feeling nervous for an entire game, then feeling elated as Ken Dorsey's pass hit the ground. The game, like the season as a whole, proved that things were different from the John Cooper years, and that the Buckeyes weren't going to fold in big games (not a word, Florida fans). Plus, winning a national championship was kind of a big deal.

    Q3. Why do Ohio State fans hate Michigan? Do you think Ohio State takes the rivalry more serious than Michigan?
    There's a bit of the chicken and the egg to this question: are they a bunch of arrogant jerks with a holier-than-thou attitude and the ability to ignore their own faults while eagerly pointing out the faults of others and that's why I hate them, or do I hate them and therefore believe they're a bunch of arrogant jerks? I'm guessing it's more of the latter than I'd like to admit, though both sides have a tendency to apply stereotypes to each other. Wolverines see Buckeyes as a bunch of stupid criminals, while Buckeyes see Wolverines as snobs with an over-inflated sense of their importance. More important to the hatred from the Buckeye side, I think, is John Cooper's abysmal record against that school up north. For thirteen years, otherwise successful season were regularly ruined at the end. The Wolverines nearly ruined my formative sports-watching years, and I've never forgiven them for it.

    I think OSU fans take the rivalry more seriously than Michigan fans, but I’d argue that that’s because they take college football in general more seriously. In my experience, the average Michigan fan has the ability to approach the sport of football, and therefore the rivalry, rationally. There are plenty of hardcore Michigan fans out there that have college football ranked (correctly) as the most important thing in life, but I get the feeling from at least some Michigan fans that they understand that football’s just a game, that one game – even a rivalry game – doesn’t matter that much in the great scheme of things. There are OSU fans like that out there, but I think they make up a smaller percentage of our contingent. Ohio State fans, and Ohioans in general, are obsessed with football. It’s very difficult to be a casual Ohio State fan. Either you don’t follow Buckeye football at all, or your year is made or ruined by the outcome of the Michigan game; there’s not much middle ground. Some Michigan fans seem to be able to say things like “well, at least there’s still the Pistons/Red Wings/Tigers,” while the football team is far and away the most important team to Buckeye fans.

    Q4. Since 1970, who are the five greatest players to wear an Ohio State uniform and why?
    In alphabetical order:
    Eddie George – He’s a Heisman winner and the OSU record holder for single season rushing yards and touchdowns. His restaurant here in Columbus is pretty good, too.
    Archie Griffin – He’s the only person to win the Heisman twice, which makes him the best college football player ever. And since college football is the greatest thing ever, it stands to reason that Archie Griffin is the greatest person ever.
    Orlando Pace – He made the pancake block popular. He didn’t give up a sack in his last two years at Ohio State. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 1996. He was drafted first overall. That’s pretty good.
    Troy Smith – It’s a little early to know Smith’s place in Buckeye history, but he did win a Heisman trophy, putting him in pretty elite company. More importantly, he is one of only two Ohio State quarterbacks to beat Michigan three times, and he did it with a total of 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns.
    Chris Spielman – He’s Ohio State’s career leader in solo tackles and a Lombardy Trophy winner, but most Buckeye fans will remember the way he did everything: with maniacal intensity. The guy never took a play off; he was the ideal combination of talent and effort.

    Q5. Make your case why Ohio State football, as a whole, is the best football program in the country?
    What sets Ohio State apart from the other programs is consistency. A few schools (like Notre Dame) might have a richer history, and a few schools (like Florida) might be more successful today, but no school in the country can compete with the consistent success the Buckeyes have had. They’ve won at least one conference championship in every decade since the turn of the 20th century, and they’ve been in a national championship race almost as regularly. The Buckeyes have consistently been in the national eye over the past century, and that, coupled with the team’s success under Tressel, makes Ohio State football the best program in the country....

    I want to thank Sean for his time and for participating....Nebraska is the next college football program that will be profiled...


    SAMO said...

    "Mostly, though, I remember feeling nervous for an entire game, then feeling elated as Ken Dorsey's pass hit the ground."

    Umm, I am still waiting for that ref to call pass interference on that play.

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