I was considering this idea before last night's game, but I still think it holds a lot of truth.
Maybe a bowl ban this year isn't so bad. I mean, there's a lot to be gained from a (potential) undefeated season even without the opportunity to play after The Game. Before you click away from this post, consider the following...
Would you really want to see this team in a BCS game?
As Buckeye fans, we've had to deal with more than our share of BCS heartbreak. Imagine this team against Alabama or Oregon. Versus the Crimson Tide, the defense would have to be called upon to win the game. Think about that for a moment.
Maybe the Buckeyes could put up some points versus Oregon, but would they really be able to keep pace with the Ducks? I mean, if Indiana dropped 49 (albeit 14 in garbage time), what would Oregon do?
This team is not ready to be a national title contender much less any BCS game. The bowl ban allows the Buckeyes another year before they have to compete at that level.
A weak B1G means an under-prepared OSU team with a pathetic SOS necessary to land in the BCS championship game.
The entire conference is down and that may help explain OSU's fast start and hopefully greater finish. However, the flip side of that is that an undefeated Buckeye team might not have enough points to even be considered for the championship game. And we've seen what happens when OSU walks all over a weak conference schedule and has to play a tough SEC team (or Texas) in a bowl game. A stronger conference means that Ohio State is stronger on paper and on the field. Most likely, the league will be much better next year. Expectations will be lower, so a few surprise non-conference wins will mean a whole lot more to the league's resume.
We don't want to depend on the strength of the conference this season to propel OSU to higher rankings. OSU's weak this season as is the rest of the conference. Everyone can be better next season in order to send what we believe is going to be a juggernaut in the 2013 team.
If the Buckeyes go undefeated, what will they have left to prove?
Alabama is still hungry this year because they didn't run the table or win their conference. A few years ago, they faltered following a national championship because they grew complacent (and had to replace nearly their entire defense). If OSU goes undefeated this season, there will be plenty left to prove. There will be a conference championship and a potential national title within their grasp. Honestly, I feel they will be contenders for the next two seasons with Braxton Miller at QB. Regardless of how much they accomplish this season, the 2013 Buckeyes will be hungry to accomplish more.
2012 is basically a free year with no expectations and a year to work out the kinks.
A big part of the Buckeyes' struggles this year have to do with a new coaching staff. Additionally, they have to shake off the cobwebs that gathered during a 6-7 campaign. Now, there is inconsistency on offense and a defense that has forgotten who they are. This team needs a year to gel without expectations. At Ohio State, anything less than a Michigan victory, conference championship, and national championship are considered failures. Because of this year's postseason ban, they only have to worry about one of those goals. The pressure can begin next season. Let them get used to the new system and work on improving young players now in preparation for when things get real next season.
Finally, as Buckeye fans, we can get back to enjoying the little things that attract us to Ohio State football.
I'll be the first to admit that ever since the 2002-2003 season, I have obsessed over another Ohio State championship. Early season losses to Texas or USC put me in a foul mood for the rest of the season. Late or mid-season losses to Penn State or Illinois caused me to forget that a conference championship was still within grasp. Troy Smith's magical Heisman season will forever be tainted by his overindulgence-induced no-show in that season's championship game.
Lost were the times when I learned to love Ohio State football. I grew up during the Earl Bruce years where winning the conference title and beating Michigan were still a big deal. Even during Cooper's years, I obsessed over whether this team was truly ready to beat Michigan. The Rose Bowl victory in 1997 will forever be one of my most cherished memories as a Buckeye fan - right behind 2002-2003.
This season is our chance just to enjoy the games and players. Regardless of how terrible they've been at times this season, the Buckeyes are still undefeated. Braxton Miller really is something special and we'll most likely get to see him play for two more years. There's a coach that's changed the culture, injecting it with some juice. He truly loves being at Ohio State. This season has been fun, but it wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable had we spent every week worrying about what Oregon or [insert any SEC team here] was doing. 2012 is about the Buckeyes. It's about learning to love Ohio State football once again - especially after the debacle of 2011.
So, for me, the bowl ban is no big deal. I've come to peace with it and am just trying to enjoy the ride. How are you feeling about the ban? Do you wish this team had an opportunity to reap the benefits of an undefeated season with a weak conference slate? Or, like me, you are just trying to enjoy the ride?