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.
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
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: