Harrison Thought: No AP Title For OSU

Posted Nov 26, 2012

Ohio State just capped off a perfect 12-0 season--well kind of. Because of improprieties of the former sweater-vest wearing regime, that's exactly where this season will end. But what about the chances at an AP national title? Should THIS version of the Ohio State Buckeyes be considered by the media?

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

Ohio State just finished putting the cherry on top of an improbable undefeated-season by ruining the day (check that year) of its arch-rival courtesy of a 26-21 victory in Columbus. It will go down as only the sixth undefeated and untied season in Buckeye lore. And no matter how you slice it, it's a season that will be remembered for a lot of good superlatives.

After all, this shouldn't have happened. There was nothing to play for other than a participation medal of sorts with the trophy for finishing atop the Leaders division. This was supposed to be a bridge to bigger and better things under the gaze of Urban Meyer, and that's about it.

But something funny happened on the way across that bridge.

Braxton Miller grew into a bonafide Heisman candidate, and the Buckeyes rode him early to some close wins. Those same close-shaves seemed to galvanize a team that gained more and more confidence with each passing week. A defense that struggled early found its stride, offensive weapons stepped out as playmakers (most notably RB Carlos Hyde and WR Corey Brown).

When the clock struck zero on Saturday, what we all witnessed was an Ohio State team that answered each and every challenge. Granted it wasn't always a thing of beauty, and there may have been more miracles witnessed by the Buckeye faithful than the twelve disciples, but it all still counts in the end.

Twelve up, twelve down without a black mark in the loss column.

Something else interesting also happened along the way while OSU was winning underneath the guise of ineligibility. Chaos broke out of its chains and wreaked havoc at the top of the college football food-chain. All that's left as undefeateds are Ohio State and yes, Notre Dame.

So with that in mind, should the 2012 release of Scarlet and Gray software get consideration for an Associated Press national title?

Before we dive into these shallow waters of debate (leap at your own risk), let's get a couple of things out of the way straight-off the diving-board. If Notre Dame goes to Miami in early January and defeats the SEC champion, the case is closed. The Irish get both the BCS and AP titles with nary an argument. It will have earned every bit of the crystal hardware while OSU sits, ready to be released from its five-for-fighting penalty.

The other item worthy of note is that this was a truly special season for Ohio State and it should be recognized as such. It too--like Notre Dame--beat the odds, cleared every hurdle and raced across the finish-line. Nobody should take that away. It should be savored, recognized, and then we can debate all day about whether this Ohio State team could play on the same field with the rest of the upper-crust of college football this year.

So let's instead focus on whether Urban Meyer's crew deserves consideration for an AP title. And It goes much deeper than the undefeated record.

First consider this notion: Ohio State is done playing football. It does not have to go through another tough opponent in the Big Ten Championship game. It also doesn't get an opportunity to flock south and get out get out of winter's chill for a BCS bowl game. That's less than what its colleagues in the same national title conversation have to go through. And while it only seems the SEC champion has to traverse the two-game gauntlet, at least all of the other contenders have to pass a HUGE test in a likely big-money bowl-destination.

That means there is a right of passage that Ohio State will never get membership to. That's a huge deal when comparing resumes. That's not to say that the Buckeyes would have no shot at winning one of those games, it's just a fact that it gets no opportunity to prove itself. It wouldn't be worthy when stacking things up against say, an Alabama or Georgia squad.

Now before Ohio State fans pile on, remember too that your team is on probation. A team in the midst of sanctions shouldn't get a chance to prove itself, it shouldn't be looked at the same in the polls, and it shouldn't get the benefit of the doubt while it sits in the corner being disciplined. Would you shower your kid with ice-cream after he broke the fine China? Hardly. There were transgressions that were admitted, and this year is penance for such.

Let's also remember WHO the Buckeyes have beaten. Lest anyone forget, this is the year of the "not so Big Ten." Michigan State has been more disappointing than a tax-audit, Penn State's rallying cry was Michael Mauti, Wisconsin had a worse finishing-kick than a one-legged sack race, and Michigan has slipped next to the wet-floor sign one too many times. So yes, OSU has won all of its games, but it has done so in a conference that can't seem to get out of its own way this year.

It all adds up to OSU not being deserving of any claim as national champions. It's objective and maybe sad for some, but it's true as the day is long.

So remember this season for what it is. Ohio State, despite the challenges of a coaching change and culture shift, despite the inability to play for things programs like Ohio State like to play for, and despite the naysayers, got it all done this year. Taste it, savor it, and remember it. Just don't feel left out of the party when the AP doesn't throw some love towards the banks of the Olentangy.

After all, there might be plenty of more chances to make an impression on the media once Urban Frank Meyer really gets things cooking in Columbus.