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When money and TV ratings start talking, people jump. So nothing could have been more obvious than the fact that Ohio State was going to get into the Big Ten Championship Game and the College Football Playoff. Despite all the hand-wringing, conspiracy theories, tears and mental breakdowns — some of them not even coming from Kirk Herbstreit — there never was an Ohio State problem.
The conference athletic directors, according to several reports, decided in a meeting today to break their own rules and simply wave the Buckeyes into the conference title game. Sorry, Indiana. You’re out.
It’s just a few rubber stamps away.
And when I say there was never an Ohio State problem, what I mean is that the Buckeyes were always going to get what they and their fans think they’re entitled to. There is this problem, though:
Ohio State doesn’t deserve to be in the Playoff.
I mean, what have the Buckeyes actually done this year? They beat four crummy teams with a combined 8-18 record: Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers and Michigan State. They have one victory over a team with a winning record, Indiana. And that was just a seven-point win at home that exposed Ohio State’s inability to stop the pass against a good team.
So after playing just five games, how is Ohio State ranked No. 4 in the College Football Playoff poll?
That’s because there are some things we just know, right? We know that Ohio State is one of the nation’s top teams and that it gets to the Playoff regularly. Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson have separated themselves from the rest of the entire sport.
But the College Football Playoff is supposed to be about this year, not reputation and recruiting classes. That’s what preseason polls are about. Then the season takes place, things change, and we learn reality.
Otherwise, there is no need for the regular season. Everyone plays for the postseason, the bowl games, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the Final Four, the World Series. But the regular season is still supposed to matter.
This season has always smelled of Ohio State entitlement. The Big Ten never would’ve even played the season — reversing its decision not to play over COVID fears — if Ohio State didn’t have national championship expectations. Now, the rules requiring a minimum number of games-played to be eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game are being changed to help Ohio State.
Sorry, technically it’s The Ohio State, isn’t it?
The College Football Playoff committee members are watching games to pick the four best teams, and they’ve decided that Ohio State’s win over Indiana is all the proof they need? Really?
Or maybe the committee members’ eyes are seeing the Buckeyes team from six years ago that beat Alabama and then Oregon to win the national championship? Or some of those other Buckeyes teams since then.
The Playoff has to be reserved for the four teams that have had the best season. This season. To just automatically put Ohio State in when other teams, such at Texas A&M and Cincinnati have done more, well that’s just not right.
I know it isn’t Ohio State’s fault that COVID messed up its schedule. But it’s not Texas A&M’s fault, either.
But right and wrong isn’t really the issue. We saw this coming.
Michigan had too many positive COVID tests and had to cancel its game this week with Ohio State. That left the Buckeyes one game short of being eligible to play in the conference championship game. Herbstreit, the ESPN analyst and former Buckeyes player, predicted this would happen, though he said Michigan would fake the results just to stick it to Ohio State. (He later apologized).
But ESPN wants Ohio State in the Playoff because the Buckeyes draw big ratings in a year when sports viewership is not a sure thing for anything not involving Mike Tyson. The Big Ten doesn’t have a team with a Playoff-worthy resume — though Northwestern could be interesting if it beats Ohio State in the Big Ten title game — and was never going to risk Ohio State’s entitled spot.
Some people have suggested that Ohio State should play a non-conference game this week to improve its resume. Sure, that would be a great idea if Ohio State were playing by the rules everyone else is playing by. But no. You don’t risk your spot in the Playoff.
Not when everyone is playing by your rules.