Buckeye Boost: Entitled Ohio State Will Get Rewarded With Unearned B1G Title, CFB Playoff Spot

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.

Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.


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    • And then once it expands to 8 teams or whatever, the same arguments will keep happening only they will be about the 7th and 8th spots. Does this G5 team with no losses/only one close loss to a P5 school get in over a 2-loss P5 team? Money-printers like OSU will get easy access to the playoffs in their ‘off’ years when they lose 2 or 3 games by getting put in over a Cincinnati or UCF for the 8th spot and we’ll rue the corruption then.

  1. Lol you’re right! One day we’ll all be clamoring to go back to the good ole bowl system after the BCS completely rigs the playoff system to be geared towards 5-6 teams every year. Maybe those old timers knew what they were doing after all?

  2. It will ALWAYS be about the most eyeballs on the product, it has zero to do with the “best” teams. If the PAC 12 can keep USC unbeaten and start crying they might be able to get them in as well…after all, they were good at some point in the 2000s

  3. 100. I totally agree with this. OSU is likely a top 4 team with the talent and recruiting classes they’ve put together over the last several years. However….. season resume has to come into play at some point. The best path for everyone – fans, coaches, players, programs, etc. (besides OSU) would be for an Ohio State vs Texas A&M matchup. A win there and a win over Northwestern would be enough for most people with no horses in the race to be happy with them making the CFP. The problem is OSU has no incentive to play an extra out-of-conference game because they will get what they want without having to risk a game vs A&M.

    Barring a close Clemson win over ND and an upset of Bama from UF, OSU is virtually a lock.

  4. The Big Ten is full of loathsome and cowardly creatures. First, they cancel the season prematurely. After sufficient public pressure, they FINALLY decide they are going to have a season. However, their totally illogical quarantine and contact tracing rules then lead to cancellations that leave their premier university not being eligible for their championship game. No worries! We’ll just change that rule about eligibility requirements so THE Ohio State University can play in the championship game! I would like to officially recommend the Big Ten change its name to the BIG POS Conference.

  5. Greg, great article. I think there is a larger point to be made about biases in favor of certain conferences. The way you described that Ohio State has played 4 nobodies and had to hang on against Indiana, is how the Big 10, SEC and ACC can be described pretty much yearly. Yet, especially in the cases of the Big 10 and SEC, the media and the playoff committee are so biased toward those two conferences in every single season. Many times a really good record in either the SEC or Big 12 depends on the strength or lack thereof of the crossover schedule. For instance, if in a normal year Ohio St played Purdue, Nebraska and Iowa (at home) that is a lot easier than Penn St playing Wisconsin and Iowa on the road and Minnesota or Northwestern at home. Same goes for the SEC. The way the Big 12 does it is truly crowning a champion that played every team and one team twice.

  6. Rules must be broken for the really important groups.

    Covid restrictions for thee not for the totalitarian overlords.

    Election laws only matter if my guy can win.

    Free speech only matters when it is consistent to one set of beliefs.

    Laws for destruction of property and rioting only matter when the justification doesn’t follow one set of beliefs.

    Rules to qualify for a football championship only matter if the preordained teams qualify.

  7. Clay made a good point this week, I think it was him, about the old pre-BCS system giving more teams hope and the top tier bowl games all more meaning. You could also just say it was sort of an unofficial playoff, since really no more than two teams in general would ever be considered champions by anyone if they won their bowl games in the old days.

  8. I was the biggest BCS defender. I got tired of the press/coaches choosing the National Champion, especially if it was #5 v #11 to determine #1. What would have made the BCS perfect? Eliminate the auto-bids from the Big 5 Conferences, and simply have 1 v 2, 3 v 4, 5 v 6, and 7 v 8 based on the formula derived from the 7 polls and strength of schedule.

  9. and just like that, college football ‘schools’ lookin out for the athletes … makin sure they learn the Golden Rule. lebron learned it in middle school. mark zuckerberg learned it at harvard and hunter biden learned it in the Navy; he who has the gold, rules.

    so the message to college athletes is – get your Gold … at any cost … even if the rules need to be changed to get what you want.

    can you read this Joe Biden?

  10. Isn’t Cincinnati in Ohio? Why not just make this Saturday a playoff eliminator? No travel, both undefeated, and OSU should roll them…Right? Then no one argues resume. They should have no problem with Northwestern.

    They won’t have a problem until the playoff. Then they’ll call the Big10 and request 21 points be added to their score at halftime so they’ll only be down a touchdown to ‘Bama.

    “What do you mean you can’t change the rules for us? Who cares if it’s halftime of a semi-final? We weren’t even supposed to be here! You already did it once? What’s one more time? Pleeeeeeaaaaaassssseee???”

    2020. Year of the slippery slope.

  11. Mason Mauler is a sad little man who has trolled Outkick for years. In the meantime, Outlick keeps growing,, Clay keeps getting richer..

    Now, Mason is paying Clay to post on here- and Mason thinks he is winning. LMBAO! #masonisapussy #19Dnotinfantry

    • Agreed. Neither system was perfect but one could make the argument the CFP is no more inclusive than the BCS was. If it they were still running BCS it would likely be Alabama vs ND/Clemson, probably just be the winner of the ACC CG. I’d be fine with that because the new system lets OSU off the hook and gives a team with more tread on the tires a punchers chance at winning it all. OSU has less wear & tear from only playing 6 game and would only have played 2 teams with winning records before advancing to the CFP.

  12. Whats worse is that if a conference can change the rules to allow a team to play for the title then what says the conference can fix a game to ensure that it happens at their will? Say tOSU needs a win over a good team in the conference champion. Say this team is Northwestern. Are we to believe that with all the rules changes and such that the BIG10 wont see to it that the refs are biased? If Biden can get 80 million votes then I’m willing to believe that corrupting some refs in a big game would seem like small potatoes.

  13. It’s two different issues. Indiana LOST to Ohio State. The Hoosiers don’t have an argument. It’s a bigger deal IMO to award Indiana the division winner just because OSU didn’t play enough games. That would be unfair. The other issue is if OSU beats Northwestern, so what. Their SOS is still lousy. Big deal if they are the BIG 10 champion. Again, so what? They played half a season against what amounts to a not-so-great league this year. OSU over Texas A&M, Cincinnati and even Florida? I’m not sure that’s right. But then I forgot about the ESPN money and what that corrupt network wants — the main reason college football is a shadow of it’s former self.

  14. Crazy tinfoil hat scenario:
    Alabama has an “outbreak” after this weekend, finishes season at 10-0
    SEC/CBS decides that Florida vs Texas A&M will serve as championship game…we’ll say Florida wins for this scenario, but it can apply to either team really
    Clemson wins close rematch with Notre Dame
    Since the Rose Bowl won’t have any fans in the stands this season, CFP “requests” the playoff game this year be moved to the Fiesta Bowl (played on Jan 2 this year) paving the way for….
    Rose Bowl in its normal time slot on Jan 1 featuring undefeated Ohio St vs undefeated USC (the Rose Bowl gets its beloved Big Ten vs Pac 12 matchup)
    Sugar Bowl on night of Jan 1 featuring Alabama (1) vs Notre Dame (4)
    Fiesta Bowl on Jan 2 featuring Clemson (2) vs Florida/A&M winner (3)
    The Rose Bowl gets its way with its favored matchup featuring the two conferences that started late (which avoids any “fairness” discussions)
    The CFP gets a lead-in with Rose Bowl for Game 1 and it gets a stand alone matchup the next night
    Call me crazy, but if we’ve learned anything this year, its that crazy happens.

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