A Letter to My Dog, Half Pint

This last year may have been the worst one of my life, but at least I've got the world's two greatest dogs by my side to help me stagger into 2018. Today's post features a letter to Half Pint. Benjamin will be getting a letter later this week--he'd never let me hear the end of it, otherwise. Also, this posts features a lot of short video clips of Half Pint being silly. Since I apparently can't do anything right these days, they are exclusively shot in vertical mode. Please accept my apologies (and cut me some friggin' slack).

Justified Sports Hatred: Why I loathe 'THE' Ohio State University


In sports, hatred always seems more justified and acceptable than in other facets of our lives. In our day to day routines, it is considered an honorable trait to always look for the good in others and resist the urge to be malicious. Even in politics, there is a danger of having people tune you out and discount your opinion if you viciously attack those that have an opinion that differs from yours.

In sports, however, hatred is seen as a quality that you must have to be genuine. If you are a die hard fan of one school, then you must hate at least another one (sometimes more) with an equal or even greater passion.  For example, since I am a HUGE University of Kentucky fan, I am supposed to violently hate the University of Louisville Cardinals...and I do.

                                                                   A. Davidson
Stop the car, then back up to make sure you got it.

Some of it is justified. When I was a senior assistant with the UK Marching Band, a Louisville fan threw a hot dog at me with deadly accuracy. It was a shame that their quarterback didn't throw like that fan did, since we upset the then #17 ranked Cardinals 22-17.

After winning the game, our director George Boulden and I went down to get our equipment...where we were threatened by the Louisville police to leave or get arrested.

But I digress. I had no problem with Louisville before I went to school at Kentucky, and to be honest, I really don't hate them in the sense that it actually makes me mad. If I see a person in a Louisville shirt, I'll usually make some jab about how we beat them in basketball every year, they'll shoot back that they stole our coach, we'll laugh a little, and that's it.

Louisville fans make me laugh even when they aren't trying to be funny.

Ohio State, on the other hand, is a completely different story. When I see someone wearing an Ohio State jersey, sporting an Ohio State flag at their home, or driving incredibly slow in the left lane while sporting an Ohio State bumper sticker, I become enraged. Not just sports rage...real rage.

2007:  The seeds of hate are sown

My hate for Ohio State began with the 2007 National Championship game between SEC representative Florida and the Buckeyes. I really didn't have anything against OSU at this point. The only real negative I had heard was the Maurice Clarett scandal from a few years ago. Apparently, the star running back was receiving cash and "loaner cars" (those will become a theme in this article, by the way) while also being investigated for academic fraud. In fact, according to Clarett, he and other Ohio State players could get a loaner car any time they wanted.

Of course, this was also the same guy that had quite a bit of trouble with the law during and after his time at Ohio State. He was dismissed by most (including me) as just a rogue trouble maker that was causing problems for an otherwise very respectable program.

Pictured:  Not a good apple

Before the championship game began, I remember hearing the announcers talk about how incredible OSU's defense was and wondering if the Gators would even be able to score a touchdown against them.

Well, they did. In fact, Florida scored quite a few touchdowns on the way to routing the heavily favored Buckeyes and making their Heisman Trophy Quarterback, Troy Smith, look like a Division II back up.

It was at this point that I began to notice a few things. First of all, why the heck was Ohio State so heavily favored in this game when their bowl record against SEC teams at that point was 0-8? In fact, isn't the Big Ten in general pretty terrible in all their bowl games? Why does everyone think that OSU and the Big Ten are so great?

All their teams are surrounded by corn fields, that's why!

Also, wasn't Troy Smith, the supposed "best player in college football," the same guy that took $500 from a booster the year before? Ah, whatever. Kids can make mistakes...again.

And how could you not trust Ohio State's coach, Jim Tressel? The man was a devout Christian, ran a clean program, and he actually wore a sweater vest for every game. Maybe Ohio State was overrated, but at least they were also honorable.

I now trust this armless manequin completely

By the start of the next season, I was surprised to see Ohio State begin the year ranked 11th in the country. And despite their incredibly weak schedule and a loss to an unranked team, they made the National Championship game again.

How did a team that didn't play anyone all year (and lost to an unranked opponent) get back to the title game?

2008:  The hate begins to take root and grow.

On January 7, I watched Ohio State lose ONCE AGAIN to an SEC team in the National Championship game; this time it was to the LSU Tigers. The Buckeyes and their weak conference were also subsequently raked over the coals for once again exposing the Big Ten as being severely overrated.

When I tried to bring up this viewpoint to a die hard Ohio State buddy of mine, I began to see the delusion of the average OSU fan; he told me to stop speaking about it immediately or he would no longer be my friend.

There was also discussion of him 
taking his toys and returning home.

OSU could perhaps get a ranking between #20-#25 just due to their tradition and recruiting, but there was no way they would even get close to being ranked #10 in the preseason.

I was right: Ohio State began the next year ranked #2.

I had once again underestimated the power of corn.

The next year, OSU again plowed through their incredibly weak (though slightly more respectable than 2008) schedule, lost their only two games to other fellow top #10 ranked teams, finished the regular season ranked as the #10 team in the country, and still made a BCS bowl (thankfully, not the championship this time). As usual, they lost.

2009:  The hate begins to wilt.

Once again, Ohio State played a pathetically weak schedule to propel themselves into BCS bowl game.  However, out of the 3 top 25 teams that they faced, they won against 2 of them. They also convincingly won their bowl game against a very good Oregon team.

Maybe my hate was becoming misplaced. Maybe Ohio State was finally living up to their billing as a perennially top ranked team. My hate for THE Ohio State University began to soften...

...only to be completely replenished and augmented the following year.

2010:  The hate is revived and becomes a fully grown tree

Once again, Ohio State rode their weak schedule sprinkled with a few quality wins to a BCS bowl. By now, this had become a common theme that inspired more eye rolls than fits of anger. But then, Ohio State president Gordon Gee stepped up to the plate to renew the vitriol.

His ridiculous bow ties were 
not the reason, but it definitely did not help

Gee dismissed Texas Christian University and Boise State as teams that deserved a shot at the national championship. In an interview with the associated press, Gee famously said:

"I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderer's row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day.
So I think until a university runs through that gauntlet that there's some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame."

There are a couple of reasons that this quote angered me and many others. First of all, TCU's 2010 schedule and Boise State's 2010 schedule were both just as difficult or arguably MORE difficult than Ohio State's schedule every year. To drive this point home even more, TCU beat a #5 ranked Big Ten team in their bowl game. Boise State also demolished the #19 ranked team in theirs.

To make things even worse, Ohio State got caught in the beginning stages of a huge scandal. Apparently, 5 players on Ohio State's roster, including star quarterback Terelle Pryor, were caught exchanging game items and memorabilia for tattoos.

What really stunk about this scandal was not that a few kids made mistakes, but the ridiculous claims that Ohio State and the NCAA made to excuse the players behavior. Apparently, they were not adequately educated that what they did (receiving benefits based on their status as athletes) was wrong and they were just doing it "for their families."

He got this ink done for Mother's Day next year

Even better, Terelle Pryor pretty much admitted he knew that what he was doing was against the rules. Here is one of his quotable gems:

"What did I learn? It's two years ago, you know, so I already knew what I should have done two years ago." So to tell the truth, I didn't learn much because I already knew what I should have did two years ago. Now I wouldn't make the same decision, so I couldn't tell you I learned something because I already knew what I did wrong."

Tressel and the university claimed that they had no prior knowledge that the players were doing anything that was against NCAA rules. They were punished by being suspended for 5 games...beginning NEXT year. The indicted group would still be allowed to play in their BCS bowl game against Arkansas because the game represented a unique opportunity for them.

The most unique opportunity?  
We will each ride out of the tunnel on one of these!

Was the NCAA serious? What about the Perry Jones case at Baylor? He was suspended for some loans his mother took (and payed back) so that she could afford the rent. This was done while Perry was in high school and WITHOUT his knowledge.

Regardless, Baylor's best player was suspended for the Big 12 Basketball Tournament. Apparently, that opportunity was not special enough to forgo punishment for something Perry had nothing to do with from his high school days.

It now seemed that THE Ohio State University had gone past just getting overly favorable treatment in the AP polls; they were now getting it from the NCAA itself. Little did I know how bad it was going to get.

2011:  The hate gets angry and becomes the tree from 'Poltergeist.'

I will photosynthesize YOUR SOUL!

It turned out that the scandal was much worse than just a few rogue players pretending that they didn't know the rules and getting tattoos "for their families." Apparently, Tressel knew about the players wrong doings back in August, but did not tell anyone because the tattoo shop was involved in a federal drug investigation; he wanted to make sure not to leak any "confidential' information."

This may have made a little sense, except that he did forward the information to Ted Sarniak, a prominent business man from Pryor's home town and someone referred to has Pryor's "mentor.

"You're about to get mentored in the art of making it rain, son!"

Jim Tressel was suspended 2 games (which he wisely asked to be extended to 5) and fined $250,000.  When Gordon Gee was asked he would fire Tressel for lying to the NCAA and getting the school into hot water? Gee famously responded to this question by saying that the coach's job was completely safe and he hoped that Tressel didn't fire him.

As the investigation widened, it turned out that Ohio State players and their families were getting some pretty sweet deals on cars from a dealership...that was subsequently getting lots of guest tickets to Ohio State games.

Terrelle Pryor had also been pulled over 3 different times driving 3 different vehicles...from the same dealership. The dealer claimed that letting people take multi day, out of state test drives was "no different than any of the other 10,000-plus deals that I've done for all my other customers."

Pictured:  The most awesome and least profitable car dealership ever.

Terelle Pryor was then stupid enough to shop up to a team meeting in a customized Nissan 350z with temporary tags (from the same dealer, of course) and registered in his mother's name. Turns out his mom was able to score this sweet ride for only $18,404.50 (after market wheels included) AND further reduced the price to $11,435 after what must have been the mother of all trade ins.

Somehow, the NCAA found no wrong doing in this case.

They also found no scratches on this trade in junker

As the NCAA began to ramp up their investigation, people began to point out that OSU could be considered a repeat offender due to the fact that their basketball team was still on probation from less than 5 years before these new allegation surfaced.

Instead, the NCAA assured THE Ohio State University that they would not be hit with the harshest penalties of "Lack of Institutional Control" and "Failure to Monitor." This was due to Ohio State's excellent rules education...you know, the same rules education that did not adequately service the "Tattoo 5" and gave them an excuse to play in the bowl game.

The horrifying results of trying to decipher the NCAA's logic.

A few weeks later, Jim Tressel finally resigned as THE Ohio State University's coach. Believe it or not, here is where my hate truly took on a new dimension. Ohio State fans still supported the man that brought disgrace to their University. There was even a section of a Columbus 4th of July parade dedicated to him while there was another one ripping Terrelle Pryor.

All of this is in spite of the fact that there may have been even worse violations occurring under Tressel's watch that may one day come home to roost. Of course, it may really be more of a problem with Ohio State as a whole; new violations occurred this season when two OSU players were caught taking money from a booster recently.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will fully admit that I think the rules about players not being able to sell their own game items is ridiculous. These players make millions for a system that pays proportionally very little back to them if they don't get into the NFL.

Ohio State, however, seems to be able to get off much lighter than other schools for not only committing violations, but lying about their knowledge of the infractions...or just pretending that they didn't happen.

While schools like USC get hammered for the actions involving 2 players and miles away from campus, it seems like Ohio State can pretend to not know what goes on right under their noses and get a slap on the wrist...and maybe only a top 15 preseason ranking next season.

And you know that they'll be prepared to defend the title against the Akron Zips!

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

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