That One Time Back in September When We Thought Ohio State Football Was Dead

By Johnny Ginter on January 30, 2015 at 2:10 pm
Ezekiel Elliott high-fives a fan at Ohio Stadium.

Let's start with a quick thought experiment.

Chase Complete: Recapping Ohio State's Improbable Title Run

Okay, so the desiccated corpse of Wes Fesler comes down from Former Ohio State Football Coach Heaven and offers you a deal: the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, he says to you as an eyeball dangles lazily from its socket, will go on to incredible success until the end of time.

Done deal, you shout, apparently not getting the concept of a Faustian bargain.

No, no, no, says he. The Ohio State Buckeyes football team will win the Big Ten and Rose Bowls and National Championships... IF you kill the beloved childhood pet of a random child. The conditions are that a) you will not know the child, b) the animal will drop dead instantly and not suffer at all, and c) the success of the football team is directly tied to the magnitude of the animal chosen to be callously bumped off in the name of sports.

In other words, your average bug-eyed goldfish in the hands of a three year old not yet familiar with the concept of morality is probably worth an out of conference win over San Jose State. A big dumb rabbit named Filbert belonging to a watery eyed seven year old is consecutive away game victories over Michigan State and Wisconsin. An Ol' Yeller situation gets you a natty.

So what do you do? Well, if you aren't a sociopath you tell Wes Fesler to get stuffed. Because making sports a literal life and death decision, even if it's the life of a barely sentient guppy, is insane.

Which is exactly why I feel like this is the question I should've asked after the Virginia Tech game this year.

Actually kind of true in the short term

The first thing that I probably need to get out of the way is that I 100% acknowledge and agree that the VT game sucked, in pretty much every conceivable fashion. Barrett looked bad, the offensive line looked worse, and the defense in general was trying to empty a sinking ship with a thimble.

Even worse was that it was a night game loss, against what was supposed to be a decent-ish opponent, meaning that for the third time in four games Ohio State couldn't seal the deal against a team not hamstrung by trying to defend the free world in their spare time between games. Losing to an off-brand Jim Tressel also rubbed salt into the wound, especially at a time when the Urban Meyer honeymoon was in danger of entering the "guided tour of the Gettysburg battlefield just got rained out" phase of disappointment.

So I understand getting mad. I do. And here on January 30th, as we giddily sleep on our mountain of schadenfreude, it's pretty easy for me to wag my finger at the naysayers of September and scold them for freaking out.

And it's even easier when they were freaking out as much as they did.

Yeah he sucks

Compiled from some of 11W's best Virginia Tech postgame threads, here is a short sampler of some of the saddest individuals on the internet.

Anyone else feel very dissatisfied with the program these past years? What was all the hype about urban meyer about? Our whole coaching staff needs some cleaning out. Now, I'm not saying fire urban but he needs to make some changes. I miss ole jim. Long live the sweater vest!!!

"Let's be real here, guys. 25-3 is honestly not all that awesome. Surely firing most of the coaching staff will solve our problem of only winning 89% of the games we play."

the only power rusher on the team is Rod Smith. Just like I have been saying for months now. Now let someone tell me how great Ezekiel Elliott is. The Buckeyes have one power rusher...and like I said, he is BIGGER, FASTER, and STRONGER than Elliott or Samuel. Keep downvoting me, idiots....I'm right.

Rod Smith, kicked off the team in October, had two carries for six yards in 2014 up to the point that comment was written.

On the bright side - the expectations for this season have been lowered so low that I can only hope we can muster up the testicular fortitude to at least be a .500 team this year.

One can only hope!

Warriner = 5 star garbage

Herman = 5 star garbage

Smith = 5 star garbage

Fickell = 10 star garbage


All right, I'm having a little too much fun with this, but I know that deep down these (stupid, illogical, uninformed, drunken) comments come from a generally not terrible place. In the heat of the moment after a loss, we're hurt, frustrated, and upset, but overall I don't think that anyone here is really saying anything so egregious or awf-

Surely President Drake will fire someone over this. I feel at least as mentally abused as a hazed band member.

Uh. Well, okay. It's a really bad joke. Still, I don't think that anyone would resort to personal attacks, right? Right?

Why do I have a nasty suspicion that Urban will be admitted to Riverside Methodist tomorrow with chest pains?


Riddled with phlebitis

College and professional sports are kind of amazing in that they have very little material utility to the average person, but they still manage to worm their way into our hearts and lay eggs that we can't remove. People live and die based on which way a ball bounces on a given day, and when you get down to it, that passion can be kind of beautiful in a really stupid way.

Football is by far the worst for this, and college football worse still because of the incredibly high stakes that are involved week to week. Any one game can end a team's season, and on a really rough night in September, that's what most of us thought had happened.

But it hadn't. The 2014 Ohio State team turned out to be some kind of amazing football Voltron, replacing parts on the fly and never missing a beat. J.T. Barrett got so much better that he was on the Heisman short list. The offensive line came together so quickly it was like Michael Jordan slipped them some Secret Stuff somewhere around halftime against Cincinnati. The defense kept shrugging their way to respectability. Cardale Jones, Cardale freaking Jones, led OSU to three of the biggest wins in program history. And then they won a national championship.

None of that was expected, which made all of it incredible to watch.

That's my point, really. Don't flush the goldfish, don't kill the cat, don't take Ol' Yeller out behind the woodshed (unless he really does have rabies). Teams change, improve, find heroes, and get better. Calling for Urban's head, or spamming J.T. Barrett's Twitter account, or sacrificing a goat to banish Luke Fickell from the land isn't just stupid, it makes it harder for you to enjoy it when a team pulls itself out of the muck and accomplishes something truly great.

The 2014 Ohio State football team proved that if people are properly motivated, gigantic success often follows even the dumbest failure imaginable. It's a lesson we fans shouldn't forget.

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