A Bittersweet Sugar Bowl Win

The Buckeyes won... but should everyone involved feel jubilated?

As the crowd filed out of the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana Liz and I walked together basking in the glory of Ohio State’s first victory against an SEC foe in their 31-26 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The crowd screamed out O-H from blocks away and I couldn’t even yell I-O back because of my hoarse voice from screaming during the game. That was due to a combination of trying to be louder than the Arkansas continent, which was so huge that it seemed like all of Fayetteville followed the Hogs to Nawlins (side note: for anyone that thinks our O-H-I-O chant is annoying, sit through three hours of constant WOOOOOO PIG SOOIE chants. It got to the point where the echo of the Hogs annoying chant made me want to grab ear plugs or stab myself in the ear.), and Jim Tressel almost giving the game to the Hogs (side note 2: If Tressel lost this lead he should’ve been fired the next day. Tresselball is going to cost him his job one year I promise you.).

As we walked towards the French Quarter we replayed the game in our heads; the huge second quarter, Cameron Haywood and Dexter Larimore’s career making games, the block punt that almost cost us, and finally the interception by Soloman Thomas that saved us.

Then I said to Liz “isn’t it funny that the guys that should’ve been suspended were the ones that one the game for us?” She smirked and said yeah but I don’t think she or any Buckeye fans truly understand what just happened.

The Buckeyes won the game and did so by beating the SEC at their own game with speed and physicality. The offensive line led by left tackle Mike Adams barely let any Hog put his hands on quarterback Terrelle Pryor and He and running back Dan Herron found holes to run through all day.

Receiver Devier Posey was able to get separation from the Arkansas defensive backs including a second quarter touchdown that ultimately was the difference in the game. Now read those last two paragraphs again, Adams, Pryor, Herron and Posey.. those were the guys who shouldnt have played in the game due to suspensions from improper benefits received. Instead they, as well as Thomas, were the deciding factors in the Buckeyes victory (well that and the defense of Arkansas was absolutely horrendous, again.). If they don’t play in this game who knows if Joe Bauserman, Brandon Saine and Dane Sanzenbacher could’ve had the same type of performance.

Soloman Thomas seals the win, even though he should've been suspended.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the W. Ohio State needed to shut up critics like Mark May who constantly bash them and slurp the mighty SEC (side note 3: wasn’t it great that he was booed loudly during the postgame interviews? We beat the SEC and let May have it in the same night, love it.), the win gives the University the respectability it rightfully deserves and saved the Big Ten from further embarrassment that it’s already suffered in 2010.

Yet I feel weird accepting this victory as sort of a triumph. We won in part because we got a pass from the NCAA. The NCAA thought about how the game might be impacted with the loss of our main guys and suspended them based on their infractions, and the timing of the game.

If this were before Toledo or Eastern Michigan in the early portion of the season they most certainly would’ve gotten the hammer for five games without question (hi A.J. Green), but they benefited from the fact that it was the Sugar Bowl and Allstate paid good money to have a good contest. For them Ryan Mallett couldn’t square off versus Bauserman, it would’ve been a disaster.

More than money, and the NCAA, is the fact that every big moment was punctuated by the players mentioned. Pryor’s feet kept us on front, Herron scored a touchdown and got key first downs as did Posey, and the final icing on the cake was the Thomas pick. These are technically heroes who we will tell stories to our kids about how they came through in the clutch and ended that damned SEC streak of dominance when last week we wanted to burn them at the stake for betraying us and disrespecting our institution for trading prized heirlooms for tattoos.

What that is, is the old adage that I tell everyone that lookedat me crazy when I watched Randy Johnson choke it up for the Yankees or watch Wade Redden was the Rangers money while we missed the playoffs last year. Everyone loves a winner and winning atones sins whether it’s right or wrong. One minute you can be a bum, the next your a god and the world is ok.

Ask Mike Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tyson and Tiger Woods. If you screw up but come back and win everyone forgives and forgets, but if you press forward an don’t come through it will always hang over your heads.

That’s what makes this victory so great and so disturbing. I still hate their guts for putting personal luxuries over loyalty of their school and basically getting patted on the back for getting the school more money. At the same time you have to admire that these guys came out focused, and determined to put all of that behind them and put together classic performances with the world on their shoulders and watching. Pryor and company were dropped into the lions den with the crowd calling for blood and persevered coming out on top.

I sound like a Scrooge but it’s how I feel. One minute I’m mocking Arkansas’s chant (WOOOOOOOO KICK ROCKS!!!), the next I’m stewing about how this victory will be viewed in the long term.

Whatever I come to I have to face the facts, we won, whether the NCAA is right or wrong our guys went out there and did their jobs. We finally knocked out the SEC and we got the monkey off of our backs. We also will forgive the players who made it all happen but will pay for their indiscretion though it will be later then when it should’ve been.

Whether right or wrong that’s how it is. I guess I shouldn’t be too grumpy about it especially when me, Liz and 20,000 Buckeye fans went home happy chanting SEC all up and down the French Quarter in celebration. Winning makes you happy, no matter what you do or what happens to make it happen.

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