Photo courtesy of the Ohio State athletic department
Maybe I’m a pessimist, but the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl doesn’t matter for the Ohio State football team. The Jan. 2 game against the University of Florida is just the season finale of a sub-par drama.
You see, bowl games normally have some combination of three purposes at OSU:
1. They’re a celebration for a successful regular season and a chance to send the seniors out on a happy note.
2. They can give momentum to the players returning for the next season and build excitement for what’s to come the following year.
3. They bring notoriety to the program.
For the Buckeyes, the Gator Bowl matchup doesn’t have any purpose.
By normal OSU standards, the season was a failure. The team has already lost as many games (six) in the 2011-12 season than they have in the previous three years combined. For the first time since 2003, OSU lost to arch-rival Michigan. And, the season was riddled with scandals and suspensions.
This season isn’t one to celebrate. It’s one to forget.
Even if the Buckeyes win, any momentum the team builds will be about as useful as a refrigerator in the arctic as OSU prepares to enter the 2012-13 season with a postseason ban.
And no offense to the Gator Bowl, but let’s call this game what it is. It’s a matchup between two normally elite programs going through a transition stage put together because of OSU’s recent hire of Florida’s former coach, Urban Meyer.
Whichever school wins this game will shove the trophy in the back of its trophy case behind its BCS hardware.
Fans are feeling the same way. Ticket sales have been sluggish for both teams, but multiple reports have claimed that travel packages for the bowl game are selling slower than at any time in recent memory.
The fact is, fans don’t want to celebrate the season either. Most of them wish OSU had self-imposed a bowl ban this year so the program could have avoided a ban next year when the Meyer era began.
I’m sure people will tune into the game, I’m sure the players will play hard and I’m sure many of the coaches going into their final game on staff will do their best to make the best out of a bad situation.
But at the end of the day, the outcome and the game itself is meaningless.