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Blog Entry

The Oklahoma and Ohio State Predicament

Posted on: August 24, 2009 12:11 pm
 
A great coach once said, “The only meaningful statistic is number of games won.”  Number of games won is a very important statistic, because without wins, a team and/or program would not be able to accomplish much, obviously.  Many programs today would take a nine win season in a heartbeat, especially those who are used to winning only five or six a season.  Many of your powerhouse programs look at a nine win season as a “rebuilding” year.  We’ve seen in the BCS era, teams with 11 or 12 wins at the end of the season are usually eagerly waiting to see if they’ll be factored into the BCS bowl series, or more importantly, in the ultimate prize…the BCS title game.  A team with nine wins usually isn’t in that mix.  Therefore, the great coach was right.  Number of wins is the most important statistic of them all.  It was true in his time, and is still true today.  But it doesn’t necessarily translate into a national title.  Not in these days of the FBS.  Therefore, as we know, only one team can claim national champion status each season...the one with that crystal trophy.  That doesn’t mean all other teams stink, even the one that loses to the one with that crystal trophy.  I believe the majority of fans are losing sight of the big picture in college football today.  Please keep reading.

Many fans evaluate a particular team or program based on its recent achievements, like winning a specific conference or a national title.  Although I don’t have a problem with this per say, I don’t like it when I hear things like Nebraska couldn’t even beat a high school team today, Oklahoma is “Choker U”, Michigan is no longer the king of college football, or Ohio State has no heart and can’t win a big game, and that these programs are no longer “elite”.  There’s more to these programs than the last several seasons that still make them elite today, and each have already accomplished more than most other programs in college football ever will.  I truly believe there is a southern bias within the media that causes a lot of this, and it has only come about within the BCS era, or near the tail end of the bowl alliance in the 90’s.  The myth that programs in the south have an advantage over the rest of the nation’s programs due to speedy athletes is another one that mind boggles me.  All of this is just pure myth, and the media mass-feeds it to fans year after year.  You’ll find players just as talented and fast in every region of the country, to include the midwest and the north.   I heard just yesterday on ESPN during a college football segment, Brent Musburger made a comment that the SEC is the best football conference in 2009.  Hey Brent, the pigskin hasn’t even been snapped yet!  Its comments like these that get fans going.

There’s no doubt Ohio State has faced a lot of scrutiny the past several years as a result of losing national titles to Florida and LSU, and a few other high profile games.  I’ve heard it all from Ohio State didn’t deserve to be there to Ohio State players don’t have the heart or desire to win big games.  I’ve even heard talk about how Ohio State didn’t deserve to win the national title in 2002, after they beat a team (fair and square) that dominated it’s opponents that season by an average score of 42-18.  Instead of complaining why Ohio State was overrated and didn’t belong in the 2007 national title game, look at the reason(s) why they got there.  In the case of 2007, teams that probably should have been playing for a title lost big games at the end of the season which in-turn prevented their appearance.  Missouri and West Virginia seem to come to my mind.  Talk about Ohio State losing big games.  LSU probably shouldn’t have been there either.  Oklahoma has had their fair share of scrutiny as well, if not more than OSU.  The fact of the matter is Oklahoma has won more games than 118 other FBS programs during the BCS era.  I sure don’t hear them getting any credit for accomplishing that.  Way to go Sooners!  I’ve also heard how people wish Oklahoma and Ohio State could play in a bowl game…to determine the real “Choker U” for the decade, and that they’d have to call it the Choker Bowl.  How demeaning and disrespectful is that?  What we’d actually have is two of the nation’s top five winningest programs in the BCS era squaring off.  It would, without doubt, be one of the best and most entertaining games of the decade.  Perhaps this game is well overdue.

Ohio State has lost against the following teams in high profile games:  2005 to #1 Texas, 2005 to #3 Penn State, 2006 to #1 Florida, 2007 to #1 LSU, 2008 to #2 USC, 2008 to #8 Penn State, and the last loss to #3 Texas in the ’09 Fiesta Bowl.  Ohio State has a record of 43-8 since 2005, with the eighth loss to #18 Illinois in 2007.  Between the 1998 and 2004 seasons, Ohio State posted a 65-22 record which includes a 4-2 bowl record.  The four wins were in high profile BCS bowl games.  So since 1998, Ohio State has enjoyed a 108-30 overall record…5th best in the nation.  2002 was a national championship season for the Buckeyes.

Oklahoma has lost against the following teams in high profile games: 2005 to #1 Texas, 2007 to #6 Boise State, 2008 to #6 West Virginia, 2008 to #3 Texas, and finally to #1 Florida in the ’08 BCS title game.  Oklahoma is 42-12 since 2005 and lost five other games to teams season-ranked at #9, #13, #19, #13, and #23.  The other two losses were to unranked teams on the road.  Between the 1998-2004 seasons, Oklahoma had accumulated 72 wins and just 18 losses to include a 3-3 bowl record.  Since 1998, their record stands at 114-30…tied for 2nd best nationally.  2000 was a national championship season for the Sooners.

The programs that have been on top as of late, Florida and LSU.  Both with two crystal balls since 2003, and Florida is eyeing their third in four seasons.  That is just incredible!  The only other program in FBS college football history to claim three national titles in a four year span is Nebraska.  Florida definitely has the ingredients within their ’09 squad to follow in those footsteps, and make their own history in college football.  But both of these programs have suffered failures, just like Ohio State and Oklahoma have the past few seasons.  I have a ton of respect for the programs at LSU and Florida, but I use them as my example because they have been on top the past few seasons, and they are current in the fan’s mind.  Sometimes it sucks being the best.  Ohio State and Oklahoma fans know where you’re coming from.  First off I can guarantee no program has faced the gauntlet of opponents Ohio State has since 2005.  Name one program that has faced three season-ranked #1 teams, a season-ranked #2 team, two #3 season-ranked teams, and a #8 season-ranked team and nine game-ranked top five-ranked opponents with all but one of them ranked  #1, #2, or #3 in the last four seasons.  I can name the only one…Ohio State.  Yes, I know, Ohio State has lost to the last five of these opponents.  Okay, now check this out:  Florida can claim losses in six consecutive tries in games against top 10 opponents during the 1999-2000 seasons.  It happened again 2003 through 2005, this time five consecutive losses to top 10 programs.  Many in Gator Nation will claim it was Zook’s fault all of this happened.  But let’s go back a little further…to the Spurrier years.  During the 1992-93 seasons, Florida lost four consecutive games to top 10 opponents.  And let’s not forget about that barn burner of a game in Tempe back in 1996, against Nebraska.  I think the final score was something in the area of 62-24.   See, not even Florida is immune to consecutive losses in high profile games, but that’s okay.  Every program has, and will go through spells like this.  LSU...man I have to make a game in Death Valley one of these days.  That atmosphere at night must be electrifying!  LSU has lost some consecutive high profile games themselves.  During the 1998 through 2001 seasons, LSU lost five consecutive high profile matchups.  They lost three more during the 2004 season.  I don’t think they are blaming any particular coach though.  I know LSU fans want to forget about last season, and look ahead to the success LSU might have in ’09.  Don’t’ get me wrong, I like LSU.  I will definitely make one of those night games…maybe even this year.  Anyone have tickets to the Florida game they want to be rid of?  I like Florida too, and would like to attend a matchup in the Swamp one day as well.  Too bad Mr. Two-Bits isn’t around anymore.  I would have liked to meet him.  What a dandy he was!  Good luck to the Gators this season, as they try to make college football history.

Folks, I could go on and on with this.  I can take the nation’s top 10 programs over the last 20 seasons and find where they didn’t quite perform to expectations in consecutive high profile matchups.  No program is immune.  So why don’t we lay off Ohio State and Oklahoma…because the next team these guys could beat might be your favorite team.  Then what?

I’ll apologize right now, in the case I offended any Florida or LSU fans/alum.  Like I said, those programs are on top of the world right now and this is why I used them as examples.  Any Sooner or Buckeye will tell you, sometimes it sucks being at the top.  Just enjoy your time there, because the history of sports surely teaches us that it won’t last long.  Then after the dust settles, we’ll have another predicament to talk about.

The new season is right around the corner.  Let's enjoy it, and show good fansmanship. 

Category: NCAAF
Comments

Since: Apr 14, 2008
Posted on: August 28, 2009 9:29 am
 

The Oklahoma and Ohio State Predicament

Onegreatseason, excellent response and thanks.  I read your article on the onegreatseason website.  Very good.  I would say the one area that has made a difference for a few of the top SEC teams the last several seasons is on the offensive and defensive lines.  When you talk about speed, that is the difference with the big guys up front.  USC is right there with them.  OSU has enjoyed lineman like this in the past.  The 2002 season presented plenty of fast, durable, and very athletic lineman on the OSU squad, similar to what we're seeing at USC LSU, Florida, and Alabama today.  OSU has not been able to garner those kind of players since after the 2002 recruiting season.  However, you'll notice these type of players have been high on Tressel's priority list the last couple of years, and he's getting them.  Everyone has speed at the skill positions like WR and defensive back.  It seems most teams are able to grab 4.4 forty guys at these positions with ease.  But there is much more to a player than just speed for example.  As a coach, you can present a 3-deep depth chart of 4.3 forty WRs, but if none of them can run routes effectively nor have great catching and athletic ability, they probably won't amount to much.  The same goes for a DB.  If those guys can't bring great cover and timing skills (and there is a science to it because I used to play the position) or come in with great balance, instinct and anticipation, they won't amount to much either.  Having great speed is a necessity, but there must be other skills and ability as well.  So, you're right.  There is some truth to the speed theory, and it has been proven.  But speed is only part of the total package.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and make two predictions, and to further explain where I'm coming from here.  I have seen this kid (a WR) play in two live football games in which he dominated (high school level).  He doesn't have great speed at the division 1A level for a wide out running around a 4.6 forty, but can run great routes and will catch nearly every ball within his tremendous reach.  Once he develops at the division 1A level, he will be a force to reckon with.  He's a quick study, and may reach that potential by the end of this season.  He will end up being one of the best receivers at Ohio State this decade...mark it down.  His name is Duron Carter.  This other guy also dominated at the high school level, mainly due to his speed and tackle ability at the high school level.  He's has perfect size and strength for a college defensive back, and runs a sub 4.3 forty.  I've seen him play on film, but not in person.  With his speed, he obviously has great closing ability.  He lacks anticipation and instinct, and seems to get disoriented at times when required to change direction which affects his angle of attack.  In high school, he simply ran guys down.  He won't be able to rely on that in college.  Anticipation and instinct are traits that can't be taught.  He may develop on his own in these areas as his college career progresses, but even though this guy is perhaps the fastest DB Ohio State has recruited this decade I don't think he'll ever be a standout player.  I hope he proves me wrong, because he really does have tremendous potential if he can develop at the division 1A level.  He will not come in and make an immediate impact like I think Duron Carter will.

So that's my opinion on the speed theory.



Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: August 25, 2009 3:09 pm
 

The Oklahoma and Ohio State Predicament

Excellent post. I just commented on someone's college football blog today about how fans of this particular sport are the most difficult on the planet to please. SEC fans like to say things like, "Ohio State sucks." Does Ohio State really suck? Does Oklahoma?

Of course not. They are and likely will always be two of the most respected, feared and admired programs in the great and long history of America's greatest sport.

Anyway, all things are cyclical, including the superiority the SEC is currently enjoying at the top of the sport. That certainly is a deep league full of great teams, players and coaches and many of this season's top games will come from that conference.

But let's take it easy on the SEC chest-thumping. In no other sport does a fan boast, "AL East, AL East" or "NFC South, NFC South" or "Horizon League, ya heard?" If your squad -- not another squad from your squad's league -- wins the conference and/or a national championship, by all means, rock the colors and proudly scream the name of your alma mater. But if you failed out of Ole Miss, do not give OSU fans a hard time about the SEC when you see them at Madison Square Garden in March 2008 and taunt them during the NIT semifinals of all things. Yes, I did witness such a thing. Shortly before OSU beat Ole Miss, if I recall.

First of all, it's March and we're at a basketball tournament. Secondly, please consider yourself welcome to point out the last time Mississippi beat Ohio State on the football field.

One thing I will say, however, is that there is some truth to the speed theory. If you ask me why there's more speed down south, I do not have an answer for you, but in any sport, regions or conferences have their stereotypes and trends. The Big East in basketball, for example, has often been known as a bruising league, while PAC 10 teams win with athleticism and finesse. In both pro and college football, some teams employ what's called the West Coast Offense. I think it's OK to accept that there is better or at least more speed in Florida, than, say, in Wisconsin. Few in Coral Gables are described as being corn-fed.

Anyway, I elaborated a little more on this a few weeks ago here:

I'm getting a little carried away here. (I feel like an SEC guy.) It is a great league, no doubt, but like the writer of this original post says, let's enjoy the season and show good fanmanship.



Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: August 24, 2009 2:19 pm
 

The Oklahoma and Ohio State Predicament

HA.....How could I forget that Florida fans should be jumping on the Oklahoma Bandwagon as well seeing as how their other NC was claimed by beating them lol

As a personal note to CBS.....any chance we could get SB to replace Dodd??



Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: August 24, 2009 2:12 pm
 

The Oklahoma and Ohio State Predicament

SB...Im not sure I could Agree with you any more with your assesment in this blog.  In the "Whats Hot Today" society that we live in people always tend to focus on what happened 5 mins ago and think that it has always been like that throughout history.  In fact History itself seems to be limited to only a few years at best.

I think what Florida has accomplished over the last few seasons has been nothing short of amazing.  Its hard enough to win a National Championship in college football, but to win 2 in 3 seasons, with as many talented teams as there, is awesome  What makes them even more worthy of being considered one of the best teams of all time is that they are the odds on favorite to win again this year.  Whether or not they can do it remains to be seen, but its a great time to be a Gators fan no doubt!! If they win again this season WOW what could you say except for "Kudos to you"

On the flip side of winning is losing. Teams like Oklahoma and Ohio State seem to bear the brunt of "Over Rated" or "Chokers" when that is far from reality.  First Off, I dont like to EVER think of a College Football team or players as chokers.  Thats a big bruden to place on kids and I dont like to apply this label to ANY college athlete.  Its a slippry slope when you start to do that and where does it end??  Do we label HS Kids as chokers?? Kids make mistakes at times in games and sometimes those mistakes become GLARING in the spotlight of todays media and coverage.  A blown Coverage or Missed tackle leading to a game Winning TD is something we are sure to see on Sport Center over and over again.  This becomes a reflection on the Team and University and opinions begin to be formed that are hard to shake.

Teams that make the Biggest Stage face off against other teams that deserve to be there.  Its not like OSU and Oklahoma are losing to Stanford (sorry USC fans) or App State (Sorry UM) on the Biggest Stage.  They are losing to teams consided to be the best right along side them and some one has to lose right??  You did a great job showing that OSU and Oklahoma arent the only programs who have faced adversity like this, and its a great reminder to "Haters" of these programs to remember that your school could be next and it could start with a loss to one of these teams.  I NEVER understood how Florida Fans could jump all over the "OSU is over rated" bandwagon when one of there NC is claimed by beating us.  That seems to diminish their win in my book and they should be the FIRST fans to talk about how good of a program OSU is.

Over the last 50 seasons (Id say thats a good sampling) there is only one other team that has a higher Winning percentage over that span than OSU and its Nebraska....Oklahoma sits at 6th and to find Florida you need to go outside the Top 10 to Number 12 and to find LSU you need to go down to 18th.  This isnt me trying to diminish what these schools have accomplished recently its just pointing out facts that because it is so right now it hasnt always been that way. Now for those people that want to say "well most of that was done 30-40 years ago and doesnt really matter"  Over the last 10 seasons OSU and Oklahoma rank 5th and 3rd in Winning Percentage ahead of both Florida and LSU. 

Good luck to EVERY school this season trying to win a National Chamionship.  Only one team can win it, and the loser deserves a lot credit for getting to the Biggest stage as well.  Good Stuff again SB I always look forward to reading!!


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com