Wednesday, September 10, 2008

David (Ohio) kicks Goliath (OSU) in the nards

By Rick Morris

I witnessed this past Saturday’s Ohio-Ohio State game at the Horseshoe with fellow FDH Lounge Dignitary Chris Galloway, a fellow Ohio alum, and some friends of his. It was a different experience for me than the 1999 tilt between the schools, which I attended with my father (an OSU season-ticket holder). For one thing, my dad and his friends were not amused by my donning of the gear of my alma mater and my obnoxious “road team heel fan demeanor.” Additionally, I saw very little green and white on that day almost a decade ago – by contrast, on Saturday, there was plenty of Bobcat representation, including a nice little pocket in our section.

As Ohio progressed through three quarters holding a lead before a series of late calls (“punt return fumble recovery,” “interception that was not trapped on the ground,” “punt return for a touchdown without a clip”) restored the natural flow of the universe according to The Powers That Be, the “Frontrunner State” fanbase showed its true colors. After some taunting towards us when OSU took a short-lived first half lead, the father-son combo sitting in front of us departed for good at halftime when our enjoyment proved a bit too much for them to endure. Additionally, when the Bobcats in our section hijacked the “OH-IO” chants by tacking on a “U” at the end, some ill-tempered hilljack below us kept turning around and flipping us the bird with a scowl on his face. The fact that the Buckeyes couldn’t stop backup QB Boo Jackson (an as-yet inaccurate passer who can only generate offense with his feet – but when he puts it all together, may I suggest that the university market some “You Mah Boo, Jackson” T-shirts”?) told the sullen fans everything they need to know about how this team will fare against USC Saturday night (notwithstanding the fact that they played vanilla on both sides of the ball so as not to reveal too much to the Trojans). Factor in the continuing fragile health of Beanie Wells’ foot – and the rumors circulating certain Ohio media circles that it is much worse than reported despite the fact that OSU will push him out there to try to get something done in Los Angeles this week – and you have a spoiled, petulant fanbase completely unprepared for the ambush they got from the Harvard on the Hocking.

Lest any of this seem like Buckeye bashing, let me note again that my dad is a season-ticket holder and that I have been fortunate enough to attend many, many games at the Shoe in the course of my life. Unlike my fellow esteemed Lounge Dignitary Paul Teeple, however, I know when to root for my alma mater when they are playing OSU. But even Teeps agrees with me about the excesses of a fanbase that are not worthy of a team coached by Jim Tressel – whose only real fault as a coach is the fetishistic worship of tenure over talent, one that could prove costly if the mediocre Mo Wells keeps taking carries from the likes of the explosive Brandon Saine. If Ohio State goes down on Saturday night, which seems fairly likely at the moment, you can bet that Tressel and the team won’t make any excuses – but the Frontrunner State fans will be full of them.

No comments: