Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Monday, January 07, 2008

A national championship you say-- ehh?

So later today, The Ohio State Buckeyes will take on LSU for the national championship. Suffice to say, the build-up to the game has been a lot less feverish than last year.

The reasons for this this are many. And rather than pointless speculate about why as was done poorly elsewhere- I will just share why it is this way for me.

Most of it has to do with the Browns. I grew up in Cleveland so Columbus has never held much appeal to me. I did not attend OSU and no one from my family has either. Since the Buckeyes are the only big-time D-I program football program in the state -- of course I always pulled for them to win. But when they do win I don't get that excited and when they lose my entire week does not suffer. As I kid I have vague memories of the Buckeyes playing Charles White and USC in the Rose Bowl and I remember Keith Byers losing his shoe against Iowa. I took a lot of crap in college every time John Cooper choked against Michigan and it has been fun whooping on the Wolverines the last few years. When the Bucks knocked off Miami to win the National Championship a few years ago I was shocked how unexcited I was. I mean I was happy they won rather than lost but I didn't celebrate because it wasn't really a Cleveland team. And yes during the game most of my thoughts were on the Browns impending wildcard game and when the Browns gave it away late-- nothing could console me.

Last year I was much more pumped because so many Clevelanders were big parts of the team and because frankly the Browns had sucked for so long. The Buckeyes had become my Browns surrogate. This year we got a taste of how much fun it is when our beloved Browns win. I still have not gotten over not making the playoffs. I watched parts of the playoff games this weekend but I could not handle watching the Titans play. There was just too much what could have been. That spark of what it felt like to believe in the Browns again was enough to remind me that the Buckeyes are really not my team.

Around the nation there has been a backlash against the Buckeyes. I believe most of it has to do with the general douche baggery of the extremist end of Buckeye Nation. Most find it funny that Ohio State insists on the The while in fact Michigan has the reputation for academics. I have often said I like the Buckeyes and detest many of their fans. The constant OH shouting from community college people who never attended Ohio State can get old in a hurry. For the most part Jim Tressel's team has little in common with the worst of their fans. Jim is a class act. He is a good coach and seems like a good human being. While most of the Ohio State fans I ruin into --at least here in Cleveland-- are just the opposite. Spend a little time on the Internet and you will find many Ohio State fans out of control pushing the bounds of poor sportsmanship. I have met several Ohio State athletes past and present and none of them ever had anything in common with these drunken stupid people who cheer them on. Now I know that is just a small segment of Buckeye fans-- there are many Browns fans who behave the same way. I just can't stand fans who cheer to get on camera rather than just cheer on is happening on the field. Yes your team is winning but that doesn't mean you get to act like an asshole. That is reserved for Yankee fans. The Red Sox nation has gone from sympathetic fans to Yankee-like in a short period of time and frankly the Buckeye fans seemed to have followed suit. Last year's championship blowout was a slap in the face. And while I hope the wake-up call pushes Tressel's boys to a win-- a part of me would not mind the Buck-nuts put firmly in their place for a long while.

Add to that neither team earned their way in. When you can't stop a team for the last eight minutes at home-- you don't deserve to play for the title. LSU could call the Kentucky loss on the road in multiple overtimes a mulligan but you shouldn't get a second mulligan when you lose to a team you should beat in Arkansas. But no one else deserved to play for the title either so you play the cards you get dealt. I don't want to hear about how hot Georgia or USC is right now. Why does USC get a free pass for losing at home to Stanford? Georgia blew it against Tennessee and lost at home to South Carolina. And home losses to Stanford and South Carolina are worse than a home loss to Illinois. I don't care who else you beat. So the rules are the rules and this is what the rules say the match-up is. But it is still tough to get excited for.

So here is to Jim Tressel lifting the trophy later tonight but I would gladly trade it for a Browns playoff game. At least Pittsburgh lost in a painful way in the playoffs so the football week wasn't a total loss