COLUMBUS, Ohio — Just prior to setting out for Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, the Ohio State football team headed home for the holidays.
But while the Buckeyes may be preparing to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, we at Land of 10 today are taking it upon ourselves to celebrate a lesser heralded holiday: Festivus.
Created by the character Frank Costanza on a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld,” Festivus is described on Wikipedia as “the perfect secular theme for an all-inclusive December gathering.” It features a Festivus Pole and feats of strength.
But Festivus is best known for its most popular tradition: The airing of grievances.
With that in mind, it’s time for us to air our grievances when it comes to Ohio State football — and its fans. I’ve got a lot of problems with you people! And now, you’re going to hear about it.
Complaining about Jabrill Peppers
You don’t think Peppers was worthy of winning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award, let alone being selected as a Heisman Trophy finalist. I get it.
But the way some Buckeye fans talk about Peppers, you wouldn’t think the Michigan linebacker/Wildcat quarterback is even good at football, period.
If that’s the case, then some poor NFL team is in for a big disappointment in the near future. A redshirt sophomore, Peppers is a consensus first-round pick in most mock drafts, with several prognosticators even pegging him as a likely top-10 pick.
If Peppers is actually as overrated as some Ohio State fans make him out to be, it’s hard to imagine his draft prospects being so high.
I know it can be hard to admit other teams — let alone rivals — also possess great players, but the reality is Peppers is just that. But I, too, think that if any defensive player was going to be a Heisman finalist this season, it should have Alabama’s Jonathan Allen.
But believe it or not, Peppers made a convincing case of his own — and the voters agreed.
Which brings me to my next grievance.
Two Oklahoma players selected as Heisman finalists
While I understand Peppers’ place on at least some Heisman ballots, I’m still waiting for an explanation for how Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and wideout Dede Westbrook each wound up in the top-five of Heisman voting.
Yes, neither Sooner won the award, so it’s hard to get too worked up about it — but do some of these voters actually do any research? Sure, Mayfield and Westbrook each posted impressive numbers, but they did so against an unimpressive schedule.
The highest-ranked defense Oklahoma actually beat this season? No. 51 Kansas State.
There are often geographical biases when it comes to Heisman voting, so perhaps their standout status in the Southwest worked to their advantage. But come on. The Heisman Trophy is supposed to be awarded to college football’s most outstanding player. Did that many people really consider Mayfield and Westbrook a part of that conversation?
What about Washington’s Jake Browning or the aforementioned Allen? Mayfield and Westbrook each deserved a trip to New York City, but Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel and J.T. Barrett didn’t?
I’m not buying it.
Speaking of Barrett…
Ohio State fans’ lack of appreciation for J.T. Barrett
There’s no getting around it: Barrett has become one of the most polarizing players in Ohio State history.
And for the life of me, I can’t understand why.
When some see the Buckeyes starting quarterback, they see arguably the most accomplished player to ever play the position in school history. Others see an underachiever who lacks the big arm to truly open up the Ohio State offense.
I side with the former.
Look at Barrett’s numbers and there’s no getting around what he’s meant to the Buckeyes’ offense. He’s lost just three games as a starter in his college career and led Ohio State to two appearances in the College Football Playoff.
Individually, Barrett will leave Ohio State with just about every record he’s eligible for — and several Big Ten marks, as well. And yet, some fans can’t seem to help but only point out his negatives that accompany his game.
— Dima (@suckatsports) December 8, 2016
@BenAxelrod 62% and he rarely throws downfield.
— David Zavac (@DavidZavac) December 8, 2016
As our Jeremy Birmingham wrote earlier this year, you’re going to miss J.T. Barrett when he’s gone. And Urban Meyer agrees.
“You look at wins, No. 1,” Meyer said of Barrett’s legacy. “Then you look at statistical (rankings) — touchdown, interception, passing efficiency — and that easily makes him one of the greatest quarterbacks probably to play the game.”
When it comes to the greatest pictures in Ohio State history, there’s Eddie George running away from Notre Dame and Beanie Wells running away from Michigan. Curtis Samuel’s game-winning touchdown against the Wolverines, however, might top them both.
And yet, some fans even found a way to complain about that. How? Because the Buckeyes weren’t wearing their traditional uniforms.
— Michael Whitney (@MWhitney25) December 2, 2016
I, on the other hand, didn’t just like that the Buckeyes chose to wear alternate uniforms for their rivalry matchup with Michigan this year — I loved it. In many ways, alternate uniforms represent Meyer’s modern era of Ohio State football. And whether you want to admit it or not, those cannonball matte black helmets are pretty cool.
I realize there’s something to be said about tradition, especially at a place like Ohio State. But like a wise man who also coaches the Buckeyes once said, “I love tradition, but I love recruiting even more.”
In other words, get on board. The modern look of Ohio State football isn’t going away anytime soon.