Ohio State University football fans are playing the “what-if?” game. But they’re asking the wrong question.
The Buckeyes are an unexpected 10-0 under new head coach Urban Meyer. One of the two major polls ranks them tied for sixth in the nation. The team has an opportunity to put together its first undefeated regular season in a decade.
In a normal year, that would mean a slot in the Big 10 championship game and a shot at playing for a national title. And that has Buckeye fans wondering:
What if OSU had removed itself from bowl consideration last year? Might the National Collegiate Athletic Association have been satisfied with that, and not banned the Buckeyes from a postseason bowl this year?
What if the team could play for the Big Ten title? Could the stars align and put the Buckeyes in the national championship game? If Ohio State played for the Bowl Championship Series title, anything could happen, right?
At the core of these questions is the assumption that OSU is a victim, that the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal (and former coach Jim Tressel’s role in it) was not that serious, and that it’s wrong to punish student-athletes who were not guilty of the infractions.
Current team members can’t play in a bowl game this season because their university failed them, and because too many people wink at infractions — not because the NCAA hates the Buckeyes.
The only “what-if” question that counts is: What if OSU had overseen its football program more rigorously? The answer is: The Buckeyes would be savoring a remarkable season and looking forward to another Big Ten championship and a post-season bowl victory.