I'm convinced there is a very vocal minority among the legions of Ohio State faithful who will never be satisfied. Not just with this team, an imperfect 8-0 squad no one expected to be 8-0 anyway, but never satisfied in general.
Case in point: Saturday, after my beautiful bride spared me from the ignominy of leaving The Shoe after Kenny G's fourth-quarter INT (yes, the West Virginia fan in my household saved me from being one of those fair-weather fans streaming from Ohio Stadium like rats fleeing a sinking ship), we popped over to Rooster's to celebrate the Buckeye's victory with a Yuengling and some wings. Standing in line for the men's room - yes, the Hamilton Road Rooster's has only ONE urinal - I overhear two mostly-inebriated fans waxing philosophical about the failings and shortcomings of Ohio State football as we know it.
"He's a good offensive coordinator at best," said Drunk Fan #1 in reference to OSU's current commander-in-chief. "But he's going to ruin Braxton." Were it not for a heavy desire not to get urinated on prior to drinking my first beer of the day, I would have politely asked the drunken reveler what in the name of St. Woodrow he had been smoking up to that point in the day... My self-preservation instincts being soundly intact, I let the opportunity to engage in lively conversation pass.
Throughout my visit to Rooster's two-holer, the conversation between boozed-up compatriots continued, mostly on the central theme of Urban Meyer's shortcomings as a coach, and bemoaning the horrible state of essentially every unit on the field. While I'm not one to view the Buckeyes through scarlet-colored glasses, I'm also one who thinks it is important to keep things in perspective... At this point last season, how many fans would have projected Ohio State to open 8-0 for the first time since 2007?
Arriving back at my booth, I muttered something about "These #*$% Ohio State fans..." about which my wife inquired what had me in such a foul mood. After I recounted the outhouse exchange, she reminded me that barely 8 hours prior I had commented that our fans were among the hardest to satisfy anywhere in the country. We were sitting in the Vivian Hall parking lot waiting on the rain to let up so we could hit some friends' tailgate, and invariably the conversation on the various programs repeated the talking points about how poor the defense has performed, how we nearly got beaten by Indiana and looked uninspired against relatively weak non-conference opponents.
At some point, it gets tiring, really. For a decade I listened to friends and fans alike complain about the myriad sins of Tresselball - we didn't put enough points on the board, we focused too much on managing the clock, and if he talked about the importance of the punt one more time... Here we are in a season where we have nothing more than a divisional title to play for (those dreaming of AP voters putting any or all of Florida, Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Notre Dame, K-State and/or USC behind The Ohio State University... I have some ocean-front property for sale) and an injury-riddled team is showing heart for days AND we've put up 50+ points in THREE games...
In fact, the team has scored fewer than 29 points on only one occasion: that slugfest at Michigan State.
Okay, we're playing crummy defense. Like Coach Meyer, I'm not one for excuses... Still, it's silly to ignore the fact that we're thinking of moving everybody but the second-string waterboy to linebacker because everyone else is hurt.
I'm convinced that even if we win out - a tall order with road trips to Happy Valley and Camp Randall Stadium - the begrudgers among us will continue to scoff and sputter about Urban Renewal until next season, waiting for the "I told you so" moment we don't make it to the Rose Bowl or the National Title Game. Folks who want the coach's head after the most breath-taking come-from-behind victory in since about 2002 aren't really looking for a great team... They're glass-is-half-empty fans who take some masochistic pleasure in calling in to post-game shows to expound on why they saw a big defeat coming all along.
As exciting as this season is, next season could be really magical with everything to play for again... But understand that for Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller, the expectations are nothing short of a National Title and a Heisman Trophy. Anything less is, well, just something else to - literally - piss and moan about.