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Last updated: 11/30/2012 3:37 PM
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Around The-Ozone Water Cooler:  Do the Buckeyes deserve to win the AP National Championship?
By the-Ozone Staff

The things we talk about around the office. One of these days we'll have to do a water cooler regarding our thoughts on Lindsay Lohan or Basketball Wives, because it's pretty much all we ever talk about.

Sometimes, however, the talk turns back to football and the Buckeyes. The discussion this week is a popular one following Ohio State's perfect 12-0 season. If the Buckeyes are the last undefeated man standing, should they receive the AP National Championship? After all, it's hard to do better than perfect.

Rarely, however, is it quite that simple. Hence our need to hash the discussion out in Water Cooler format.

(Hang in there, Lindsay! The gang is all rooting for you.)

Brandon Castel: If the Buckeyes finish as the only undefeated team in college football, do they deserve to win the AP National Championship?
 
It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer. The Buckeyes are one of only two undefeated teams in the country, and if Notre Dame were to lose the BCS championship game – presumably to either Alabama or Georgia (so Alabama) – there would be only one undefeated team in college football.
 
Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes would stand alone, and on a normal year, that would be enough, at least for me. Ohio State did everything it was asked to do this season, winning all 12 games under a first-year head coach and following one of the most tumultuous seasons in school history.
 
I agree with Meyer, this team deserves remembering. This team was special, and this team overcame a lot to do something few teams in Ohio State history have ever accomplished. Even some of the great squads never went undefeated, but I’m not sure that fact alone makes this a national championship team.
 
If the Buckeyes weren’t banned from postseason play, they would have to beat Nebraska –something they’ve done already this year – in the Big Ten championship game this Saturday. But more importantly, they would also have to beat a team like Notre Dame, Alabama or Georgia in the BCS title game.
 
Could the Buckeyes beat those three teams? Who knows. Not many people thought the 2002 team deserved to be on the same field with Miami, but we all know how that ended up. So do I think they could have won it all this year? Why not. It wasn’t always pretty, but they won every game they played and it’s hard not to believe in this new coaching staff after what we saw this season.
 
But I also believe a 12-0 season is, in many ways, incomplete when we’re talking about national titles. Forget the fact this team only played three ranked teams all year – none of them higher than 19th in the country – Ohio State fans should know all too well that a perfect regular season doesn’t make you the best in America.
 
Ask Troy Smith about that, or Todd Boeckman. The 2006 Buckeyes were far more impressive than this group – though certainly not as gutsy –  but they got run off the field by Meyer’s Gators. My point being that until we see Ohio State on the field against the best, it’s hard to crown them as champions. Fortunately, we won’t have to worry about that for next year.

Tony Gerdeman: I think there are a couple of different ways to look at this. Since their season is done, the Buckeyes can no longer move forward and earn a higher spot. Basically, while they are sitting still, Alabama or Georgia will be jumping them with a victory over undefeated Notre Dame.

And really, why shouldn't they? The winner of the SEC Championship, should they beat Notre Dame, would then have two consecutive wins that would far exceed anything that Ohio State has done this season.

One line of thinking that would favor the Buckeyes is the idea that right now, Notre Dame and Ohio State are the two best teams in the nation. So, in the voter's mind, if Notre Dame loses, they would then ask themselves if they think the Buckeyes would've beaten the Irish if given the chance. And since all votes are merely opinions anyway, where's the harm in believing that Ohio State would beat Notre Dame and then deserve to be #1?

And a voter cannot punish the Buckeyes for not playing in a conference championship game because they aren't punishing the Irish for the same offense.

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, no voter is going to base their vote on whether or not they think Ohio State would beat Notre Dame. They have already made their decision. I would be shocked if the Buckeyes received a single #1 vote if they are the only undefeated team at the end of the year.

And in the end, I would have to agree with those voters. Ohio State had an easier road to their undefeated season because they didn't have a bowl game. In order to win the AP's vote, the Buckeyes needed to absolutely dominate opponents this year. They needed to leave no doubt.

Instead, they left doubt in most of the games they played this season. They won six of their 12 games by a touchdown or less. That's not the domination they needed, and because of that, I can't say this team would deserve an AP National Championship.

Ken Pryor: When I was initially asked to pen my opinion on this issue I leapt at the opportunity. I have grown weary of listening to the talking heads on television blather on and on from their moral soap box about how they think Ohio State will not be considered for the AP national title based on the idea that the voters will not want to “reward” the Buckeyes while being on NCAA probation.

I would simply ask the question: Since when did that matter? Let me recite for you what it says about the AP National Championship as per some crack internet research:

"The Associated Press is not tied to the Bowl Championship Series, and the trophy can be awarded to a team which did not win the BCS National Championship game. This happened once after the 2003 season when LSU won the BCS title game, but USC received a higher total of votes in the AP Poll and therefore received the AP National Championship trophy."

Now get this part: (Read carefully and take it all in)

"A team serving an NCAA postseason ban or being sanctioned that results in forfeiture of wins and the BCS National Championship is still eligible for the AP National Championship."

That’s from the AP website, friends. That’s not my opinion. I didn’t make this up. It’s on the books. So let me ask again, since when did the voters not want to “reward” a team with a national championship based on that team being on NCAA probation or suffering from a post season bowl ban?

Let me add what AP Sports Editor Edward Taylor had to say in 2004 in an email to the LA Times:

“The poll is intended to measure on-field performance. If teams are allowed to play, they’re allowed to be ranked and USC certainly played in 2004.”

I could take that exact same phrase and plug in the words ‘Ohio State’ for ‘USC’ and change the date to 2012 and everything would apply.

The Ohio State Buckeyes played football this 2012 season.  I don’t care how much Mark May, Kirk Herbstreit, et al. tried to ignore them each week on their respective evening programs.
Not only did the Buckeyes play, they beat all comers, which must have really burned the media clowns.  Their darlings and the precious stories that might have come with them were all being victimized by the Buckeyes. 

As the season wore on, the media developed a new twisted love for Penn State and their feel-good story of overcoming insurmountable odds in the face of humility heaped upon themselves, but Ohio State had the unmitigated gall to beat them.

To make matters worse, the Buckeyes had the nerve to ruin the Montee Ball coronation as the nation’s #1 touchdown scorer in NCAA history. The celebration had to be postponed for another week.

You could almost hear the media asking the questions: Didn’t Ohio State know they were banned from bowls?  Why were they playing so hard and trying to win these games? Why not play fair and let Ball get his record touchdown? 

Finally, there was the Michigan game. Brady Hoke won last year, hopefully (in their eyes) signifying a return to conference supremacy for the Wolverines. Nope…Ohio State just had to go out and win that one too. The nerve of Urban Meyer. He did know that his team was on timeout didn’t he?

Beginning around week seven I began to notice a media backlash or shunning, if you will, of Ohio State. Polls came out that did not properly reflect OSU wins. There seemed to be a pre-meditated concerted effort to keep them out of the national championship equation. Some voters actually dropped the Buckeyes after a close win while rewarding other programs with better rankings after throttling extremely weak foes.

I am of the opinion that many of these media hacks are voting from emotion and hurt feelings and disdain for Ohio State. They have no intention on allowing the Buckeyes to get a share of that national crown if they can help it. Yet here is Ohio State sitting at #4 in the AP Poll, albeit begrudgingly, behind Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia.

If the Buckeyes have an outside shot, they may need Alabama to run the table the remainder of the way. The Tide winning out would give them the BCS crown, but it would also leave Ohio State as the only remaining unbeaten team in the nation. This might open the door for Urban Meyer’s boys to be awarded the AP crown.  However, I’m not holding my breath. 

The media love affair with Notre Dame is matched only by their affinity for anything SEC football.  The AP could very well award one-loss Alabama their version of the national championship following a season-long script that ignores the Buckeyes, hiding behind the tired “They’re banned” mantra.  It would also ignore the dictates of their own rules that state post-season banishment has no play in crowning a national champion.

Another tired line I am hearing relates to the Buckeyes supposed lack of a legitimizing win. Really? You mean Alabama can get tons of schedule points by beating Michigan, but Ohio State cannot? Florida Atlantic, Western Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Western Carolina and Auburn aren’t exactly bolstering Bama’s schedule strength are they?

Georgia really stepped out there by scheduling Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Missouri, Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. But don’t let me discount the points they must have gained from being thrashed by South Carolina.

Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Penn State, & Michigan…since when did beating these programs become “illegitimate” ? I’ll tell you when…just as soon as Ohio State played them, and not a moment sooner. When Bama beat Michigan, the whole country stood up and took notice that the Tide was for real. It sure seemed legitimate when Notre Dame beat Michigan and Michigan State. When OSU beats these same foes, they quickly become hollow victories.

Should Ohio State get a share of the national championship via Associated Press? Absolutely, yes. Will it happen? That remains to be seen. Urban Meyer promised to commemorate this team with rings and recognition within the hallowed halls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. I fear this may have to suffice.

Scott Dame: (For the sake of space and simplicity, let me make this argument with the following assumptions: First, that if Notre Dame wins out, they will deservedly be named champions in every poll this side of The Birmingham News. Second, the winner of the SEC Championship game between Georgia and Alabama will face Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship).

As much as I want to play the homer and say the Buckeyes would deserve the AP title if Notre Dame loses, I just can’t bring myself to do it. OSU’s schedule just wasn’t tough enough.
According to the current AP Top 25, OSU’s best win of the season was against No. 14 Nebraska. Their only other win against a ranked team came against No. 21 Michigan.

Meanwhile, a one-loss Alabama would have beaten No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 3 Georgia, No. 9 LSU and Michigan, while losing to No. 10 Texas A&M. Likewise, a one-loss Georgia would have wins over Notre Dame, No. 2 Alabama, No. 5 Florida and a loss to No. 11 South Carolina.

I fully recognize that the rankings of SEC teams are inflated by nearly a decade of CBS, ESPN and other media entities running 24/7 public-relations campaigns for the SEC. I also realize that certain AP voters have refused to judge Ohio State on a level playing field.

But those are only mitigating factors in this equation. I just don’t see a scenario where Ohio State’s résumé would be reasonably deemed more deserving of the AP title than either contender mentioned above.

Nonetheless, Buckeye players, coaches and fans should take great pride in the 2012 season. As Brandon has pointed out, this was just the sixth unbeaten season in the history of Ohio State football. It happened on the heels of the seven-loss train wreck that was the 2011 season. And it was done with a new head coach and mostly new coaching staff.

NCAA sanctions, media agendas and a weak Big Ten combined to stack the deck against the Buckeyes this season. But instead of folding, Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes grinded their way to a full house. Congratulations to them.

Embrace 2012; cherish it, even. Don’t beat yourself up wondering what might have been.

Michael Chung: The AP Poll has already answered this question and it is NO. Ohio State really needed to demolish Michigan by a 41-14 type score to have any chance at being considered the AP #1. Michigan has played both Alabama and Notre Dame. The Wolverines lost big to the Crimson Tide but should have defeated the Irish.

By ranking Ohio State #4, the AP is saying that the best Ohio State can do is #2 but likely #3 in the end, clearly telling Buckeye Nation that they do not believe Ohio State is the best team in the country.

Urban Meyer said it earlier in the year: Ohio State is not a great team. Though he has reneged since the end of the season, I think his earlier comments reveal much truth. With a down Big Ten, I do not think OSU would have any chance to receive the AP #1. Had Michigan been able to defeat Alabama and Notre Dame, or at least one of them, then maybe OSU gets in the discussion but the Buckeyes' strength of schedule and Tressel-like escapes will not warrant the AP voters to vote them #1 over an SEC team with one loss.

Why waste time worrying and wondering and hoping for an AP national championship when the Buckeyes have finished the season undefeated and have a victory over Michigan? Let us focus on the future when Ohio State will have another top 5 recruiting class for 2013 and is well on its way to an even better 2014.

Why not focus on the fact that Braxton Miller has still not reached his ceiling and is likely taking snaps the next two years? Let us look forward to a top 5 preseason ranking and a very favorable schedule. Let us look forward to a possible championship season next year and hopefully many more years of Urban Meyer as head coach. The future looks bright, and no matter what any AP voter or poll may say, OSU had a championship season.

John Porentas: Now I know why no work gets done around here. All this time spent on this question, and they didn't even understand the question.

Do the Buckeyes DESERVE the No. 1 ranking in the AP if they are the last undefeated team standing? Heck yes. As Ken Pryor pointed out, the AP poll rules permit it, so why not.

My esteemed colleagues have gotten sidetracked onto the issue of whether they would be voted No. 1 and off the stated issue of whether they would deserve it. The only argument that might hold water is the schedule argument, but that argument was rendered moot when the same voters made the argument just a few years back that the likes of Boise State, TCU or even Utah had every right to that top spot so long as they won the games scheduled. So why doesn't that apply to the Buckeyes? It does, so they would deserve a No.1 ranking.

End of argument. Go get some real work done idiots.

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