Commentary: Buckeye fans don’t deserve title


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COLUMBUS, Ohio — I’ve never quite understood why the Ohio State Buckeyes garnered so much hatred.

Sure, they’re represented by head coach Jim Tressel, a man so conservative that Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz came out of the game looking like Les Miles.

The Buckeyes play “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes during every dead moment inside Ohio Stadium. And they’re consistently — almost annoyingly — stacked with talent.

But still, they’re THE Ohio State University — one of the meccas of college football, “The Horseshoe,” one of the most widely recognized superfans in the country (you know him as the guy dressed in a cape and an Ohio State cowboy hat for nearly every Buckeye sporting event), and one of the biggest, most fervent student sections in intercollegiate athletics.

On the surface, the Buckeyes represent everything that is great about college football — passionate fans, a terrific marching band, and, yes, success.

But these sentiments lasted approximately 30 minutes after we unloaded our UI-issued Dodge Caravan in downtown Columbus on the evening of Nov. 13.

Walking to dinner with my dad and sister, we were taunted by Buckeye fans simply because my dad was wearing Iowa paraphernalia. And this wasn’t a friendly kind of taunting that most Hawkeye fans are famous for.

It was a “we’re-better-than-you-and-we-know-it-so-we’re-going-to-remind-you-of-it-every-waking-second” kind of taunting.

It was almost like encountering a couple hundred Iowa State fans, if only the Cyclones boasted a fraction of Ohio State’s talent.

I laughed off these run-ins until No. 15 Iowa’s game against No. 10 Ohio State. After the Buckeyes blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, the Ohio State fans — yes, the same ones who were literally smelling roses (rewatch ABC’s telecast of the game if you don’t believe me) a few minutes prior — began to get restless.

In fact, following the Buckeyes’ five-play drive near the end of regulation, which was stalled mostly because of Tressel’s conservative play-calling, the once-passionate, rowdy, and supportive fans resorted to booing their team.

Really? Your team has a chance to win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl, and you’re booing?

As if that wasn’t enough, I ran into a sideline “photographer” during overtime who made my blood boil even more. He was in the midst of a rant about Tressel’s play calling or something equally as stupid at this point in the game, when I shot him a glance.

“It’s just so hard being an Ohio State fan,” he said, trying to defend himself.

By the way, this happened a few plays before Buckeye kicker Devin Barclay nailed a game-winning 39-yard field goal to make Ohio State Big Ten champions.

I wanted to shake him and tell him his Buckeyes have been to six BCS Bowls this decade, including the 2003, 2007, and 2008 national championship — not including the 2010 Rose Bowl.

That sounds painfully hard to me.

But I didn’t, and after Barclay’s field goal, the “photographer” celebrated with the rest of Ohio State’s fans.

It didn’t seem right that the same fans who booed quarterback Terrelle Pryor 20 minutes earlier were mobbing him seconds after the Buckeyes’ 27-24 overtime win. It didn’t seem right that a fanbase so spoiled and so catty was celebrating its fifth-consecutive Big Ten title.

It didn’t seem right that a Rose Bowl berth failed to meet so many fans’ preseason expectations.
Ohio State, among other things, claims to be home of The Best Damn (Marching) Band In The Land.

After this weekend’s trip, I’d add The Worst Damn Fans In The Land to that already much-elongated list.

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