A Farewell to Arms

By Ramzy Nasrallah on December 26, 2011 at 2:00p
HONK HONK BEEP HONK HONK HONK BEEP (sob) HONK HONK HONKThe worst evening in Ohio State football history immortalized on a Dodge Stratus.

There is still another game left, you know.

The 2011 season didn't mercifully end immediately after Braxton Miller overthrew DeVier Posey for what would have been the game-winning touchdown in Ann Arbor.

It wasn't over shortly thereafter once he curiously spiked the ball on third down, or after the following play when the offense failed to convert on its final opportunity.

Unfortunately, it didn't end on that high note hours later when Urban Meyer was announced as Ohio State's head coach. It didn't even end last week when the NCAA preemptively erased the Buckeyes 2012 postseason.

As much as you would like it to just finish so we can get on with celebrating Meyer's honeymoon year, this painfully mediocre chapter of Ohio State football won't end for another seven days.

Even with a victory, the Buckeyes aren't even in range of that coveted Also Receiving Votes group of teams that almost ended the season being ranked. This Gator Bowl is purely an exercise in aftertaste control.

You've got much more in store than just a second-tier bowl (on ESPN2! In Jacksonville!) against a third-tier SEC team: ESPN has a whole mess of Ohio State-related storylines to reshape into digestible little controversies for you, and you owe it to yourself to be ready for them all.

As ambivalent as you are about this game, we're here to help by chopping up, dissecting and preparing you for the narratives that will be fired in your direction heading up to and during the game broadcast.

Remember what you were subjected to in the second half of the 2004 Alamo Bowl? You were totally unprepared. We all were. This time it will be different. So that you'll be ready, here are the five most likely storylines that ESPN's sixth-string crew that will be covering the game with Florida will broach as part of its in-game banter.

Narrative #1: Ohio State's Last Gator Bowl Appearance was punchy

Remember when Woody Hayes punched Charlie Baumann? That was at the Gator Bowl, at it marked the sad end of a legendary coaching legacy. WOAH WOAH WOAH parallels much?

BOOM! HEAD SHOT!Taunting the sideline penalty: Uncalled.

Jim Tressel doesn't have the same benefit that Woody had of coaching his final team, but this is Tressel's squad and every player on the roster chose Ohio State to play for Tressel.

Normally this storyline would hang on the banner, but too much has happened recently with Ohio State to isolate it in the spotlight for too long. It's like Dick Clark getting a few minutes on New Year's Eve just to make him happy while making everyone really uncomfortable before throwing back to Ryan Seacrest.

Hayes has been dead almost 25 years. This little gem from college football history - and it's impossible to argue against its relevance; a coach punching a player during a game? - will only merit a ten-second clip and a couple of sentences during the game broadcast. You can thank the dumpster fire of 2011 for relegating it to the Director's Cut of the 2012 Gator Bowl.

Narrative #2: Ohio State's Last Game vs Florida was oh god no no no

Ohio State was favored the last time - the only time - they faced Florida.

The 51-day comedown following six weeks of buildup to facing Michigan in a colossal #1 vs. #2 matchup took its toll, a pound of flesh and everybody's first-born. Too many congratulatory gravy boats on the banquet circuit, way too many trips to In-N-Out, and the heaping helping of entitlement that came with being a wire-to-wire #1 did not help the team's mindset or focus either.

Averaged 93 yards & a TD per touch. HOW DID OHIO STATE LOSE THE GA-oh, rightGinn still has the highest points-per-second average in BCS title history.

Add to that several recent successful bowl trips to Arizona with a blase business-as-usual mindset and it all culminated in a nationally-televised catastrophe for Ohio State football.

Also unhelpful: Florida was exceptionally good; even better on that night than they had been for most of the season. Chris Leak? Really?

Not even the 2011 PR disaster that was Tatgate and the downfall of Tressel can compete with the inaugural BCS Championship Game for what was more damaging to Buckeye Football. It's that game in a landslide.

Scandals come and go (just ask [INSERT SEC PROGRAM HERE] about how damaging sanctions are long-term) but disastrous losses can impact perception forever, and this was the Titanic of college football hubris, complete with the Ohio State marching band eliminating the metaphor with a reenactment of its sinking-ship reenactment.

The Buckeyes' inability to even look competitive against Florida was the fertilizer upon which SEC superiority was built. Thanks to Ohio State, there is a gigantic perceived gap between the SEC and Big Ten.

Actual gap over the past decade? It's SEC 13, Big Ten 12 in head-to-head bowl games since 2002. KEEP THE INCONVENIENT NUMBERS OUT OF OUR POSTGAME CHANTING PLANS PLEASE.

Ohio State did a disservice for non-southeastern football that evening. The frosting on that cake came via LSU the following year in a game the Buckeyes shouldn't have even been invited to (more on that below).

That's not to say that the SEC isn't the best conference in the country. It's mostly hot garbage this season, but it's been on top for several years and LSU and Alabama are both elite. /obligatory Oversigning comment

Narrative #3: Urban Meyer's Former Players vs. Urban Meyer's Future Players

Meyer retired twice while he was at Florida. In his almost-year-off he's learned two valuable lessons about himself: 1) Work-life balance, and 2) Managing his health and well-being. The two are inextricably connected.

I WOULD RATHER COACH ON *THAT* SIDELINE!At least he didn't leave for the Redskins.

The timing of the Buckeyes' head coaching vacancy, at least from Ohio State's perspective - and Meyer's if you buy into the whole "dream job" thing - was fortunate.

Had Meyer been able to learn how to control his own damaging tendencies while active at Florida we would probably be busy learning to love Bo Pelini all over again.

This is where manufactured controversy settles in and digs deep: How will Florida's players take out their anger on the team who is almost ready to be coached by its former coach?

Were the reasons for his departure valid? Did he really have health problems? Has anyone noticed that "Meyer" rhymes with "liar" yet?

Most importantly: How much air time can we occupy with this topic to avoid talking about a game between two 6-6 teams whose offenses are among the very worst in all of football?

Virtually every player on the field will be able to say that they have met, known or spoken with Urban Meyer. It's going to be visited throughout the broadcast. The problem with making this out to be more than what it is: He won't be at the game.

Narrative #4: Ohio State is 0-9* Against the SEC in Bowl Games

Arguing against math is futile. Understanding math is much more productive.

Ohio State has singlehanded given the SEC its advantage in bowl wins over the Big Ten. This is largely because SEC teams are good. <-- newsflash

But why have other Big Ten teams - almost all of them, actually - been more successful against SEC teams in bowl games than Ohio State has been? In a lot of cases, Ohio State had its sights set on better bowls and landed in a consolation game, complements of Michigan. But there are many other reasons and precious few excuses as to why the Buckeyes have stunk in these games.

Rearview mirrors are handy in cases like this: A bowl-by-bowl analysis for the attention-deficit deficient that is unsatisfied with "because the SEC is better" as an explanation.

DANG IT THEY SUPPOSE TO BE SLOW!These sad Hog fans: A figment of your imagination

1977 Sugar Bowl: A total mismatch against Alabama. Easily the best SEC team Ohio State has ever played.

1989 Hall of Fame Bowl: Vastly inferior team vs. Auburn. It was the first bowl game for Ohio State in three years.

1993 Citrus Bowl: The euphoria of having not lost to Michigan for the first time in half a decade. Evenly-played game; Buckeyes lost by a touchdown to a Georgia team that missed the SEC championship game by five points.

1995 Citrus Bowl: Evenly-played game; the four-loss Buckeyes lost to a national championship-caliber 11-1 Alabama team by a touchdown.

1996 Citrus Bowl: Buckeyes choked away a national title shot and a Rose Bowl trip; lost to Tennessee in a classic consolation bowl letdown by six points in a game the Vols played with illegal cleats in a rainstorm. <-- not a conspiracy (this was the first bowl matchup with an SEC team that Ohio State was favored to win)

2001: Outback Bowl: Ohio State fired John Cooper after the loss to South Carolina. One bad team beating another bad team: Your modern bowl system at work.

2002: Outback Bowl: A bad (7-5) Ohio State team lost to a bad South Carolina team. A repeat from the prior year's Outback Bowl in every possible fashion.

2007 BCS Championship Game: The confluence of hubris, game planning and disrespected/talented opponentry. Florida in a slaughter. (this was the second and last bowl matchup with an SEC team that Ohio State was favored to win)

2008 BCS Championship Game: Ohio State finished its season ranked 7th, then watched all six teams ranked above lose. One monumentally bad quarter did the Buckeyes in against a vastly superior LSU team. Had the Buckeyes not ascended into the BCS title game they would have met a much crueler fate against USC in the Rose Bowl.

2011 Sugar Bowl*: Ohio State ran circles* around an Arkansas team whose receivers could not catch anything and then switched into its classic Tresselian Prevent Offense™ mode for a heart-attack victory*.

There are a lot of variables that went into that 0-9* record. A lot of them seem to apply to this 2012 Gator Bowl matchup with Florida. (see: 2001 & 2002 Outback Bowls) #foreshadowing

Narrative #5: Ohio State's Bowl Ban and Punishment: Not enough, or not nearly enough?

This topic is sure to infect the banter of ESPN's weaklings being relegated to Jacksonville. It will include uninformed opinions, that comparison to USC that makes absolutely no sense and most importantly - complete ignorance as to why Ohio State received a bowl ban.

I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT'S NO FAIRArbitrary comparison produces sadness.

The brunt of Ohio State's punishment was borne out of its second Notice of Allegations, which involved players receiving being overpaid for no-show jobs and getting cash payouts for attending a charity dinner, complements of a known booster whom the university did little to discourage from being involved in the football team.

Serious? Very. But far less sexy than covering up a petty cash scandal that involved discounted tattoos, and without the requisite boogeyman needed to construct an ongoing tragidrama for the 24-hour news cycle.

The receipt of a second NOA, within the window of already being a repeat offender is why Ohio State received a bowl ban on top of its already significant self-punishment.

You may or may not know the details of what happened, what the charges were, what was real and what was completely fabricated. Here's a pro tip for your own sanity: Nobody cares about the truth, least of all the network broadcasting the Gator Bowl. Right, Trojan fans?

BONUS Narrative #6: Tatgate: The worst scandal in college sports history, or just in the past 50 years?

No college scandal in NCAA history has garnered more programming time, discussion or resources than what ESPN has devoted to covering Ohio State's self-inflicted off-the-field challenges in 2011. If programming time is a function of importance, then it should be impossible to avoid the topic.

It's not the worst. It isn't even the worst this year that doesn't involve Nevin Shapiro or Jerry Sandusky.

Troy Smith getting a cash handshake from Robert Q. Baker resulted in a two-hour character assassination piece on the Ohio State athletic department disguised as the second half of the 2004 Alamo Bowl. Tatgate provides a lot more material with which the broadcast booth can work.

Be prepared - especially if this matchup of bad teams produces a bad game - for a quaint little revisitation of the scandal that refused to die. "Message fatigue" does not exist at ESPN. Right, Tim Tebow? (note: you will both hear his name and see his face during the Gator Bowl, guaranteed)

BONUS Narrative #7: How much of Ohio State's success over the past decade was because of Tressel's cheating?

Ha, just kidding. This narrative is almost exclusively Michigan fan-and-blogger centric; a classic coping mechanism for what had to be unimaginable futility throughout the dec - wait, no, the 1990s definitely ring a bell.

Dismissing its 1-9* record against Tressel teams on account of real or assumed cheating is not unlike Buckeye fans crediting all of Michigan's football success historically to having poached native Ohioans. Um...right?

Regardless, have a great bowl week. The next time we're prepping for an Ohio State bowl game it should be the dawn of 2014. If you think that's depressing, just wait until you see Ohio State and Florida on the field together next Monday.




gravey's picture

I think I'll buy the Paul Keels broadcast and synch it.  I hate ESPN.

FUqUespin's picture

God damn right.  I fuqing HATE eSpIn.

gravey's picture

Even better idea...why doesn't 11W find a way to call the game?  I'd tune in ALWAYS.  I'd much rather listen to my own tribe call the game....criticism from within the family is always easier to digest.  

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Unfortunately it isn't legal. 11W would have to buy the broadcasting rights for Ohio State games, and to my knowledge they are not for sale.

That being said, if we could do this we would be able to call Buckeye football games without having to look up player numbers in the media guide to see what the kid's name is after every play. You know, like Paul Keels has for over a decade now.

btalbert25's picture

I don't get Paul Keels.  He has a great voice for broadcasts, he calls the action well in my opinion, and when he was hired to do Reds games in 2010, I was really excited.  Then it was clear the guy didn't know who the Reds were.  The thing about him is, he would nail all these obscure Reds trivia question and recalled very specific details of games 40 years ago.  He seems to be pretty intelligent and clearly has a good memory, so WTF does he struggle so much in game? 

billjones's picture

I'm going to have to agree here.  Seems like a perfectly good guy, but he doesn't know the roster well.  I get the feeling he's biding his time here until Marty Brennaman retires.  I am constantly amazed when people speak of Paul Keels with reverence. 

Why did they ever get rid of Terry Gordon and Jeff Logan?  They were homers I could get behind. 


thorvath22's picture

He also did the play-by-play for TSUN in the 80's... He was probably a big M fan during that time as well.

KenK's picture

You can't make this a "live-blog podcast"? I'll likely have my TV on 'mute'.

By the way, nice job with the potential game narratives. Thanks.


Johnny Hooker: "He's not as tough as he thinks". Henry Gondorff: "Neither are we".

VestedInterest's picture

Relatively close to how the narrative will play out, doubt there's much deviation from the spin script. ESPiN got robbed of their opportunities on prime time (having picked up 3 of them) to blast the Bucks when Tressel moved on, as well as getting rebuffed by the courts on their attempts at procuring information via the freedom of information act. They'll make it up one way or another.

Bucksfan's picture

Can't believe hoverboards might debut before the Buckeyes are relevant again.

Poison nuts's picture

I'm an Ohioan living down in Fl and I'm headed to this game. Just found out that my pop got the tickets as a Christmas gift. Funny thing is that when he told me that we were going, my first thought was how happy I was that I wouldn't have to watch it on ESPN for all the reasons/storylines you have just written about. True story!

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

The fact that I live 5 hours away coupled with my daughter having to see her cardiologist in Gainesville (God do we hate going there x2 month) are only minor reasons I bought us tickets to the game. 

Its mostly so I could be spared the broadcast commentary (and of course because I love my Buckeyes, but again, thats why I need to be spared--my doctor thinks I am medication seeking since the beginning of last year due to the inordinate amount of Xanax I have requested). 

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

KenK's picture

Good luck with your cardiologist visits.

Johnny Hooker: "He's not as tough as he thinks". Henry Gondorff: "Neither are we".

Poison nuts's picture

5 hours Angelheart...Fort Myers area?

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

 I will be sitting at The American Junkie here in Scottsdale eating great food, drinking very cold beers, and hanging out with about 200 Buckeye fans out here in the desert!  The great part about that is in the fact that the only time the TV audio is on is during the game itself - all pregrame and postgame BS is turned off in lieu of fantasticly mixed music and Buckeye tunes!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

The Braden's picture

It wasn't over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!



gneptuneproductions's picture

With the Atomic Bombs they bought from Osama Bin Laden!

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Worman is a dead man!!! Maramalard - DEAD!!! 

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

VestedInterest's picture

Please tell me you attended Michigan.

The Vest-er's picture

I get the feeling you might be on double secret probation

Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.

The Braden's picture

Please tell me that (at least once in your life) you and your dumb little buddies have stayed up past your bedtime to watch Animal House


Robinson? HE'S A DEAD MAN!!

Hoke?!  DEAD!!



VestedInterest's picture

Yeah I've managed to catch it a few times, even without my little buddies who are grandparents now in a few instances lol. Brushed my hair back a little with that one, doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

......forget it he's rollin

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

The Vest-er's picture

Our new DC is getting gashed.

Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.

Bobcat04's picture

Noticed that. I have been a little shaky on the Withers hire, and this isn't helping. I just didn't see anything special about his body of work. Hopefully Luke is more running the show, so to speak.

William's picture

His defenses the past few years at UNC have been pretty good. Its hard to win a game when your team quits on you, and the offense sucks as bad as UNC's does, and has for the past few years.

poop's picture

My best guess on the narrative next Monday: "SEC this! SEC that! Rabble rabble SEC!" Or something like that.

Maestro's picture

mercifully.......spot on RN  ("the nurse" a potential nickname).

Finding myself trying to distance myself from this game because the cacoon that I have built around me doesn't want deal with the SEC bullshit.  Also feels that the cacoon is a bullshit way to avoid potential pain.

Go Bucks!!!!  Tear the Gators a new one.  Greg Oden needs a pick-me-up!!!!!!!!

vacuuming sucks

nickma71's picture

Julio Jones was stripped, and Malcom Jenkins ran the ball in for a touchdown last night. So there.

Scott's picture

You don't always use mouseovers, but when you do, they're incredible. The Akransas fans and Trojans girl are tops.

Class of 2008

ArTbkward's picture

Agreed, except the Urban one was my favorite. 

Nice touch on captioning the mock Arkansas quote with poor grammar.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

BrewstersMillions's picture

You guys used an excellent picture of Roy Hall. That shot captured exactly %50 of the memorable plays he was a part of during his career at OSU. The other being a TD against UM 51 days prior to the tackle he made on Teddy.

God I hate that dude...

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would be more obvious.

addman1405's picture

TL;DR #6 bonus NOA. Which school was this? Miami? 


During the Live Blog, we sshould turn this into a drinking game. #3 TAKE A DRINK!


Also, this was a great read.

Alexander DeLarge's picture

Very wishful thinking to say that Posey's would-be score would have won the game.

There would have been over a minute and a half left, Michigan had two timeouts and only would have needed a field goal and the Buckeye defense hadn't come close to finding an answer for stopping Robinson all day.


Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Your position of Posey's hypothetical touchdown as a game-winner being wishful thinking is supported only by an equally hypothetical field goal.

And from a kicker who was a shiny 60% from outside of chip-shot range this season, with a season long of 43.

I'd debate this further, but scratching my ass seems like a more productive use of time.

Numbnuts's picture

So my question is? I know we are on probation, but are we on double secret probation??

Narrative #5: I listened to Beano Cook this weekend spouting off how we got off easy, and what we did was as bad as USC!


Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Beano Cook is still alive and being broadcast somewhere?  Hopefully it is only via radio for his fat turkey neck wiggling was just plain disturbing to watch!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

btalbert25's picture

Well this is the same old cuckoo who picks Notre Dame to make the BCS title game EVERY YEAR.