Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sports Talk: A fun hypothetical game thought

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Nov. 28 , 2012.
I’ve held out hope for the last week and a half that I would have reason to write this Sports Talk piece, and, as predicted, I was not let down.
Regular college football season has come to an end and only two teams have maintained a crisp, clean record: Notre Dame and Ohio State. Too bad they will never get the chance to face off.
Anyone who follows college football closely knows that Ohio State was ruled ineligible for post-season play (aka, the BCS) this year and the simplest summary of it I found comes from Allan Brulett, a Bleacher Report correspondent, who wrote:
“The NCAA banned Ohio State from poststeason play this season because five players admitted to receiving freebies and discounts in exchange for memorabilia, and it turned out the Ohio State coach knew about it.”
I understand rules and regulations. I worked three summers with the Governor’s Scholars Program where there are black and white rules and if one is broken, no level of justification, begging, or pleading changes the result. If you start to make exceptions, you are headed down a slippery slope, so I am not here to gripe about the NCAA’s enforcement of a rule.
However, I do think it is necessary to note the punishment received is up for debate. First, the punishment is coming down on a team completely remove of the violations. Second, the violations were not harmful. Just kids being COLLGE kids.
With their faces and names plastered on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and throughout sporting goods stores, it can easily be forgotten that these guys are not yet pros. While they may have their college paid for, they aren’t exactly rolling in the big bucks and every college kid is up for making some extra cash. So they violated an NCAA rule? Punish them, but I hate that it’s being brought upon a group entirely removed from the scandal of two years ago. (And I’m 99% sure those involved hate that their actions are affecting an innocent Buckeye crew.)  
All I am saying is, it’s too bad the stellar group of athletes this year is paying the price for something they had no hand in.
Honestly, it’s too bad for every team in the Big 10 and NCAA division 1.  Ohio State would likely be a top ranked team in the BCS standings, but instead we will say they just “don’t count” and one lucky team will be spared having to face the Bucks.
I suppose, in the bigger scheme of things, being that college football does not have a playoff system in place (and won’t for another two years), and the BCS is simply a bunch of sports analyst “experts” choosing each individual BCS matchup, it takes away some of the blow. Ohio State just won’t earn a match up from by a so-called expert this year.
Reality is even if Ohio State was playing a BCS game, it wouldn’t necessarily be Notre Dame but one can’t help but wonder how a game would turn out. Their last meeting was the 2006 Fiesta Bowl where OSU took the title; however, when I asked former Casey News sports writer (and big brother, Buckeye fan), Nic Dixon, his thoughts on a hypothetical meeting, he bowed to Notre Dame’s defense, accepting that OSU’s defense would have trouble stopping the Fighting Irish. Then again, that may have been a standard prediction prior to many of Ohio’s 2012 games, but somehow they always pulled out the ‘W’. Bottom line is, we will never know.
For me, there is a bittersweet side to the fact Notre Dame and Ohio State will never play this season: I truly love both teams. (Of course, on the occasion the two do play, I’ll be sporting scarlet and silver every time.)
I’m proud and excited for both undefeated teams. I am so happy that Urban Meyer has found a way maintain the Buckeye Nation I love, no matter what stipulations the NCAA casts upon the powerhouse. No BCS playoffs? Who cares! We had a tremendous season of cheering O-H-I-O in their come-from-behind wins and can now close it out with a victory over Michigan that rounds out a loss-less season. Not too much to complain about.
Believe it or not, rooting for Notre Dame has not just come about due to my Hoosier husband. Whether it’s the Catholic thing, the incredibly beautiful campus, or the inspirational tale of Rudy, I find it impossible to dislike Notre Dame football. With their legacy of championships, it was only during my college days I began to question why “Notre Dame football” was held in such high esteem when, in fact, (cough) they weren’t all that good…
I’ve enjoyed their returned power in the past few seasons, peaking (so far) with this one. Nothing would make me happier than seeing their first national title since 1988 come with a victory over Alabama, if planets align for such a match-up in January. 

No comments: