I am a man of reason.
With few exceptions, I’m pretty calculating, I certainly try to control what I can, and I’m much more likely to believe in statistical possibility as opposed to supernatural intervention. However, the one area I am, without a doubt, ridiculously superstitious, is when it comes to sports. And the crazy is most concentrated when I watch my Ohio State Buckeyes play football.
It’s a bizarre ritual with a million unwritten rules. I can’t talk to my friend Jared during a Buckeye game (unless we’re watching the game together, though we rarely risk it). I can’t wear Ohio State gear within a few days of the game, even if it’s by accident. I really can’t boast about a potential victory–it’s the kiss of death. If the game is going badly, I have to pause it for awhile (thanks, Tivo) and, by the time I catch up (fast-forwarding through commercials) that normally gives the team enough time to overcome whatever curse I’ve placed on them. Don’t believe in curses? I bragged non-stop about how Ohio State would dominate Florida in the 2006 National Championship game (and I listened to the song “Remember the Name” when I went running before that fateful night), and we know how that turned out.
And that’s the real problem with this kind of arrangement: I take the blame for the big losses (I watched the infamous Purdue loss with a group of strangers and accepted a handful of Buckeyes before the game began, I couldn’t watch the Wisconsin game live this year…) but, because I’m just that kind of guy, I make sure that the players and coaches deservedly get credit for the victory.
Last night, the players and coaches did their job (especially in the first half), but I think it’s time for my contributions to be recognized. Here is a list of what I did to secure victory:
• I did not contact Jared during the game (and obviously not John or Nate either)
• When the game got tight, I paused it via DVR and, after about 20 minutes of Parks and Recreation, I watched the game live
• I did not wear any Ohio State gear and downplayed the chances of the Buckeyes (though that wasn’t too hard after the Big Ten New Year’s Day debacle)
• During the first half (before Tressel decided to sit on an 18-point lead for 30 minutes–thereby making the Arkansas defense actually feel like it was doing something as opposed to stuffing nine men in the box to stop Herron), I was drinking Pepsi with an occasional sip of A&W Root Beer. During the second half, I tried to alternate the two in order to predict what was causing the success
• In the middle of the first half, I noticed I was sweating (because I sweat a lot when I’m nervous) and I was afraid my shirt smelled. So, I went into my room to change shirts, but then realized that I could ruin the game. So, after taking the shirt off, I actually put the damn thing back on
I am a bonafide crazy person when it comes to watching Ohio State football. And it gave us a ridiculous victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
It’s been weeks since the college football recruiting rankings were released and still, there remains a huge discrepancy: The Ohio State Buckeyes have the number one-ranked recruiting class on Scout.com, the number two-ranked recruiting class on CBS, the number three-ranked class from Sports Illustrated and the ninth-ranked pledge class from ESPN. I could see a little fluctuation and would even be willing to drop the Buckeyes to fifth in the ESPN rankings. But ninth place? One spot above Michigan? Really?
I hate to be Jonathan McConspiracyTheory, but I will say that it’s interesting that, on ESPN’s list, four of the top six spots are held by SEC teams; the other three lists only have the SEC with two of those top six slots. I say interesting because, as you know, ESPN is under contract with the SEC, and therefore would have a vested interest in promoting the fact that SEC teams were dominating the recruiting process. I’m not saying that’s what happened—I’m just saying that it’s interesting, that’s all.
It’s a shame that this cannot be more of a collaborative effort, a la March Madness bracketology. Even more upsetting is that no one is talking about it. Recruiting experts (apparently) don’t want to rip on competitors and, apparently, feel that they strengthen their position by ignoring everyone else’s. I’d love to see some kind of debate about how these types of rankings are determined and why they might differ. If nothing else, it would be a chance to showcase which formula works best and give each sportscaster the chance to defend their choice.
The whole thing reminded me of this fascinating piece in the New York Times, which talks about how the different online dating sites (Match.com, Eharmony, etc.) use different formulae to arrive at matches for people. In other words, each has a different equation that is supposed to discover true love, and each is convinced that they are right. These football rankings might not have the same impact as missing out on finding your soulmate (at least, I hope not!), but at the same time it has already affected discussions of pre-season rankings (more on that another time) and the strength of the conferences. And, after the shellacking of the Big Ten in bowl games (and Ohio State dropping another high-profile game, albeit this time a nail-biter), we can use all the help we can get.