Ohio State football may not be scandal-free, but this column is.
I am going to take a different approach with this football column: After this sentence, I promise not to use the words “scandal,” “suspension” or “violation.”
It is clear that these terms have come to define the OSU football program lately, and they will surely continue to swirl once new reports and rulings are made in the coming weeks and months.
But they will not define the program forever.
On Sept. 3, 2011, a team of “silver bullets” will storm onto the pure, green turf of Ohio Stadium, and will be met by the roar of more than 100,000 Buckeye faithful. I cannot tell you confidently which players will be a part of that rush, but I can tell you six who will not.
Regardless, Luke Fickell will lead an OSU football team against the Akron Zips on Sept. 3.
At that point, at least for a few hours, those words that I have refused to write will be replaced by phrases like “field goal,” “first down” and “touchdown.” Fans will have the opportunity to complain about quarterback Joe Bauserman and how much they think Braxton Miller should be the starter. We can moan about punting on fourth and short, and jump up and down with excitement when running back Jordan Hall breaks free for a big gain.
Along with the football action on the field, the Best Damn Band in the Land will perform “Script Ohio,” along with a surely entertaining halftime show. After what will most likely be a victory for the Buckeyes, students and fans will put their arms around one another and sing the words of “Carmen Ohio.”
Fickell and the players will join in the sing-along.
Even more so than when Woody Hayes was fired, the current circumstances of OSU’s football program have tarnished its reputation. It is no doubt a big, black eye, and it is likely to get worse before it gets better.
But bruises do heal — it may take several years, but Buckeye football will recover.
Jim Tressel and Hayes were not bigger than the program, and both were held accountable for their actions.
No matter what else becomes of the uncertainty surrounding the Buckeyes, “Script Ohio,” “Hang on Sloopy” and the other meaningful rituals that occur Saturdays in the Horseshoe will live on. I think I speak for most of Buckeye Nation when I say these times cannot come soon enough.
At the end of the day, these traditions will never be forced to resign.