Blue Ribbon Unmasked

By Jason Priestas on July 21, 2008 at 2:00 pm
Just a B?

After ESPN released their Buckeye football preview last week (courtesy of Blue Ribbon) there was a bit of confusion over the grades assigned to the units. Despite spending most of the preview heaping praise on the team, the writer saw fit to give the offense a C+, the defense a C and the special teams a B+.

Shortly after the preview comments section blew up, the grades were changed to a B+ for offense, B for defense and C+ for special teams. Definitely more in line with what to expect this season, but this defense is only expected to be B quality? Tsk-tsking did ensue and is still going strong nearly a week later. Blasphemy!

Well the author of the preview finally outed himself (ESPN did not publish the original byline) and it's none other than the Dispatch's very own Ken Gordon. To his credit, he came clean and published evidence to support his defensive evaluation: seems a number of people think I've shortchanged the defense by giving them a B.

My response: Statistics are great, but you have to go past OSU's rankings nationally last year to give the Buckeyes an honest grade.

And I firmly believe Ohio State has a better-than-average defense, but not a truly great one. Not "A" material....yet.

Here's one reason why: In the few games last season in which the Buckeyes faced a team with both an experienced quarterback and a quality running back, they went 2-2.

Definitely a valid point. I'd still argue that there's no way the offense (despite Pryor) should have a higher grade than the defense heading into this season, and Gordon kind of echoes this himself by stating that maybe it was "an invisible ink B-plus". I may have to try something like that on my next performance review: "How about an invisible Exceeds Expectations?"

All of this exposes a larger problem for Blue Ribbon and by extension, the WWL. By using local writers -- all with different standards of excellence -- the grades aren't really uniform within conferences, let alone nationwide. According to Blue Ribbon Wisconsin ($), Michigan (!?!, $) and Penn State ($) all have better defenses than Ohio State expects to have this year.

Speaking of the WWL, College Football Live returns today (3:30ET) with the Vest and Tim Tebow booked as the first guests. There's promise of additional interactive elements this year including analysts tackling viewer emails, the ability for fans to upload videos and live feedback. Just like a blog, but better hair and makeup. And quality production elements. And pants.