If there's one thing America isn't good at, it's naming our scandals. What would we do if Richard Nixon hadn't paid Joe Paterno to break into the Watergate Hotel? Where would we be? With the originality of the goofs who dubbed the college football playoff "the College Football Playoff", I shudder to think.
Regardless, coming off a 12-0 season and entering the walkthrough that will be the 2013 regular season campaign, I think it's a good time to remind everyone just how lucky we were for "Tatgate" and its subsequent bowl ban. I was an unabashed defender on Terrelle Pryor on this very website, and since then my opinions of TP and his misdeeds at Ohio State have only grown more favorable.
Is there any rational thinking Ohio State fan (somewhat of a paradox, I admit) who would choose Jim Tressel over Urban Meyer? Because, without Tatgate and the Senator's inglorious exit, Urban Meyer would be plying his trades at another, lesser university than the one found in central Columbus.
Jim Tressel was a great coach, an Ohio State legend, and one of my life's regrets is I wasn't old enough to riot in the aftermath of the 2002 national title game. Yet, I truly believe we had witnessed the unforgiving ceiling of the Ohio State program under Jim Tressel: a lofty winning percentage sprinkled with disappointing losses to the likes of Purdue and Illinois or from programs like USC or Texas. Maybe I am on my own with this belief, but I do not think Jim Tressel would have ever won another national title while at Ohio State.
Winning the Big Ten used to suffice when the Big Ten was a legitimate football conference. Those days have gone the way of standard definition television and CD players. Sure, Tressel owned Michigan in a way few Ohio State coaches ever have, but it came in the twilight of Lloyd Carr's career and the abomination that was Rich Rodriguez's era.
With Urban Meyer, Ohio State will get all of Tressel's glory plus the talent required to take the Buckeyes into honest national title contention. For me, it boils down to 2006's BCS Title Game. It was Urban's best vs. Jim Tressel's best, and Florida gave us an ass-kicking that still makes me grimace in pain when I recollect on it. Had Urban not called the dogs off at half-time, they may have hung 100 points on Ohio State. And if you think Teddy Ginn would have made a difference, please turn off your computer and take a long walk outside until the drugs and alcohol dissipate from your brain and central nervous system.
No, Tatgate had to happen. I love Jim Tressel, and I thought him returning for this year's Michigan game was one of the best trollings of the 2012 calendar year, but I don't have any sympathy when it comes to his ouster. At best, Jim Tressel was strategically negligent with his star quarterback's extracurricular money-ginning.
I think he knew what was going on, and each time Terrelle Pryor pulled up to the WHAC in a new car, Tressel turned a blind-eye because he knew in the snakepit of college football, what Pryor was engaged in was a small-time misdemeanor. (He also knew JOE FREAKING BAUSERMAN was the back-up quarterback.)
As awful as the 2011 season was, it's a tax I'd pay tenfold to lead to yesterday and tomorrow's glory. The bowl ban ended up being a blessing, because I'm not sure Ohio State could've banged with Alabama in last year's national title game. While I doubt Urban Meyer's teams will ever get handed a mauling akin to the ones suffered by Tressel's teams from time to time, 12-0 was a perfectly acceptable capstone for me, the liquor-swilling fan whose game day preparation includes "which Ohio State shirt I'm going to wear."
I'm sure the players felt it left something to be desired, and that's the perfect scenario entering this season. Urban Meyer, pop psychologist, knows this. It's what has lead to "the Chase" you hear so many Ohio State footballers referring to this off-season. The 2012 season might have been an unsatisfactory meal for them, which is good, because it means there's still a hunger within.
Granted, I predicted the 2011 team would finish 11-1 with a Rose Bowl Victory, but last May I also predicted Ohio State would finish 12-0. I was laughed at both times, but this year, I feel even better about my prediction for the team: 12-0.
There are some who prefer to revel in past glories, "back when a handful of nickels kept the jukebox rolling all night." Some prefer to live in the future, where things can yet be altered, but to me, neither is worth as much as the present. Without the bowl ban, I'm not sure if I would feel as confident. I definitely wouldn't feel as confident if Ohio State was coming off a national title win or loss, and either way, it would have all weighed the same as everything else in the past: about as much as wind.
And to think, the storm that is brewing in Columbus started with Terrelle Pryor and others getting discounted tattoos. If Urban Meyer wins multiple national titles at Ohio State as I think he's poised to do, perhaps one day Ohio State will erect a statue of another Ohio State legend: Terrelle Pryor... tattoos and all.