Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ohio State To Stop Playing Sports Versus Florida

Monday night in Arizona, Florida routed Ohio State 41-14 in the BCS national championship game. With the Buckeyes having been #1 all season, the result was stunning to most college football observers. However, the lopsided affair continued a pattern of futility for Ohio State athletics against the Gators. Therefore, OSU director of athletics Gene Smith has announced that the school’s teams will no longer compete against the University of Florida.

Many prognosticators expected the Buckeyes to dominate the Gators for 60 minutes on Monday. Instead, they dominated for 16 seconds. Ted Ginn, Jr. returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and then supposedly left the game with an injury. Actually, Ginn was simply following the philosophy of George Costanza – always leave on a high note. Quarterback Troy Smith was definitely left wanting more – more protection, more yardage, more completions, etc. Known for his stellar play in big games, the Heisman winner played more like Anna Nicole Smith with just four completions for 35 yards. Coach Jim Tressel desperately tried to jump-start the offense, but he could not find a hypnotist to convince Smith that he was playing against Michigan.

Lining up with Florida proved to be far more problematic than the Wolverines. Ohio State had feasted against bowl competition in Arizona, defeating Miami, Kansas State, and Notre Dame over the past four seasons. Of course, that assumes the phrase “bowl competition” can still be used for the Fighting Irish. The Buckeye football program has struggled against the entire SEC, with a 0-8 record against the conference in bowl games. The SEC is looking particularly strong now, as Florida’s Urban Meyer is the conference’s fourth active national championship head coach. He joins Steve Spurrier, Phillip Fullmer, and Nick Saban, unless Saban bolts for another job before I finish this article.

Last night was Ohio State’s second athletic debacle against UF in the past month. The basketball team experienced similar futility on December 23. With the injured Greg Oden back on the court, the third-ranked Buckeyes were confident as they headed to Gainesville to take on another group of national champion Gators. Florida responded with an 86-60 trouncing, as Oden struggled with foul trouble and was outplayed by Al Horford. Taurean Green led a 33-9 second half run that put the Gators in cruise control. Florida coach Billy Donovan spent the last ten minutes drinking egg nog and singing Christmas carols to his assistants.

Perhaps the Buckeyes had foresight of such a result last March. Second-seeded OSU fell to Georgetown 70-52 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. If Thad Matta’s crew had won that contest, Florida would have awaited in the Sweet 16. Most recaps claimed that the Hoyas’ stifling defense had ended the Buckeyes’ season. However, with the specter of the Gators looming, the real culprit was probably herpetophobia – fear of reptiles.

For good measure, last February the UF baseball team trounced Ohio State 10-3. Reflecting on the pattern of blowout losses to the Gators, Gene Smith decided that he’d had enough and put the no-Florida policy into effect. “That school has brought our athletic program nothing but pain recently, and it’s time to put a stop to it,” said the AD. “We’d probably lose to them in women’s hockey – we’re ninth in the country and they don’t even have a team,” he continued. “Seriously, they’d just put a few sorority girls on the ice, and they’d be smacking slapshots into our goal!”

The OSU men’s golf team will still honor its prior commitment to participate in the Gator Invitational in Gainesville next month. The program of Jack Nicklaus is bound to be a bunch of hackers that weekend, but Gene Smith does see a silver lining. He noted, “Sure, being in Gainesville will have our guys shooting way over par. But that means they’ll be tearing up their course and leaving divots all over the place!” The comment brought a fit of laughter, which soon deteriorated into weeping.

Otherwise, the faithful in Columbus will no longer have to worry about the Gators. After last night’s dominance by Chris Leak and his mates, the debate over whether Florida belonged in the BCS championship game seems like a distant memory. Last month, Michigan insisted that they should have gotten that berth. Today, for once, the Buckeyes agree with their arch-rivals.