The-Ozone Rewind: An Open Letter to the 2002 Buckeyes, 2002

Maurice Clarett Ohio State Buckeyes

[Editor’s Note: From now until Big Ten Media Days, we’ll be reaching into The-Ozone’s 23 years worth of archives and each day we will be posting a story from yesteryear. Big moments, small moments, big games, bigger games, and the random recruiting updates about guys you haven’t thought about in a decade or two.]

November 12, 2002 | When the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes survived against Purdue with Holy Buckeye to go 11-0, the critics came out of the woodwork. They couldn’t wait to tell people just how good the Buckeyes weren’t. Two days later, Tom Orr wrote an open letter to the Ohio State football team to make sure they understood the sheer amount of doubt fans and pundits had in them. We’re not saying they listened to Tom, but…it’s pretty clear that they listened to Tom. — TG

Dear Buckeyes,

You are all alone.

Nobody believes in you.

Sure, the team is 11-0 this season, and yes, that includes a convincing win over the number three team in the Bowl Championship Series. But that really doesn’t matter at all.

You’re not the best team in your own conference, let alone the country. Heck, you haven’t even been the best team on the FIELD on a couple Saturdays this fall. You certainly don’t deserve to be the number one team in the BCS.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the evidence.

From “It’s just my fundamental belief they are the second best team in the Big Ten. I’m not an anti-Ohio St. guy. If I had to bet my farm in Iowa on OSU v. Miami or OU, I wouldn’t pick Ohio St. I think Iowa, Miami and OU would all beat OSU.”

From USA Today: “I’m not convinced Ohio State, even though No. 1 in the BCS, is the second-best team in the nation right now. Miami and Washington State are the hottest teams in the country this week.”

Mark May of ESPN said you guys wouldn’t beat any of the other top five teams in college football.

How about “Has anyone else seen the Ohio State offense over the last few weeks and gotten a wee bit nervous at the thought of a potential screaming dud of a national championship game?” [Incredulous font mine. — TG]

Fortunately, it’s not going to come to that. You are doomed to lose at least one of your next two games, and very deservedly miss out on your chance to sully the national championship game.

More from USA Today: “I can almost sense one of those crushing Ohio State losses coming against Michigan. It’s in the cards.”

Lee Corso of College Gameday has already stated that Michigan WILL beat the Buckeyes.

From CBS Sportsline: “Your team is 11-0. You know what that means. Or maybe you don’t. Or maybe, if you’re familiar with Columbus in November, you don’t want to be reminded what it means…. History would suggest that a crushing upset is somewhere in the program’s very near future. Ten times Ohio State has started 8-0 since 1968. Ten times it has failed to keep its eyes on the prize.”

ESPN even thinks you deserved to lose last weekend. “Purdue played their typical game, they outplayed them but kind of gave the game away with interceptions and some sloppy play.”

Frankly, the guys in Bristol, CT. think you’re just lucky that you get to duck mighty Iowa. That game would look like a poodle against a steamroller. “After what Iowa did to Northwestern in a 62-10 rout, there is no doubt the Hawkeyes are the best team in the Big Ten.”

Think those media outlets are the only ones who think you’re nothing more than a fluke, a joke, an overrated result of some lucky bounces and easy scheduling? At least one, maybe two coaches voted you below teams with a loss in last week’s ESPN/USA Today poll.

And as many as five media voters did the same. Odds are at least a few of those even have you lower than Washington State. Yeah, that Washington State.

But that’s okay. I mean, you’re lucky they even change the channel off of Miami’s season-long coronation for enough time to remember who you are.

Being one of only two unbeaten Division 1-A teams means absolutely nothing. Everyone knows you don’t deserve to be where you are. From ESPN: “Despite last weekend’s loss, I would still take Oklahoma against Washington State, Ohio State and Iowa.”

In their rankings this week, ESPN comments “2. Ohio State — Strictly because of the undefeated record.”

Even your fans don’t believe in you. From the message board of this very site on Saturday afternoon:

* Krenzel blows
* Krenzel can’t hit the wide side of a barn! He’s horrible!
* Krenzel can’t get it done
* This game is over
* Krenzel doesn’t get rid of the ball again. He’s pathetic!
* No confidence in the O
* TRESSEL. What a coach. Reminds me of Cooper a little.
* I thought the strength coach was so good, I guess moving tractor tires around doesn’t hack it
* Send Tressel back to YSU and hire Urban Meyer [<—— Look at this guy! – TG]
* Get a new Freakin Offensive Coordinator, or fire Tressel if he won’t
* The fat lady is starting to sing!
* I guess Miami was right. We DON’T belong near the top
* It ain’t gonna happen today

And if you think I had to wade through thousands of posts over a month-long span to mine those nuggets, you’d be wrong. Those were all TITLES of posts in a seven-minute span immediately preceding the game-winning touchdown pass.

Face it guys, you’re going this one alone.

Now, it would be very easy to buy into all this talk and simply go through the motions this weekend against Illinois.

Then, even if you lose, you haven’t really under-achieved.

That would just mean you stopped getting all the lucky bounces and bad calls that have made your undeserving 11-0 run possible. And there’s no great shame in finishing the year 11-3.

The other choice, of course, is to take the field with a genuine sense of purpose.

To show the world what this team is made of.

To show everyone in the college football universe what it means to be an Ohio State Buckeye.

It’s time to put together eight perfect quarters of football in the next two weeks, then string together another perfect 60 minutes in Tempe.

So screw everyone else — ESPN, USA Today and all the bandwagon jumpers who lost faith in you.

It’s time for something much more important than them.

It’s time to become immortals.

It’s time to win a national title.

One Response

  1. The words I used in-front of my parents that day vs Purdue are still echoing in their Turpin Hills home.

Comments are closed.