When the last Big Ten team was eliminated from the NCAA baseball tournament, it officially ended the 2016-17 athletic season. I am not going to pretend know when that was, even though I did attend the Indiana vs. Ohio game during the Lexington regional. Or it could have ended at the NCAA track and field meet in Oregon. Since I don’t think a baseball team made it out of the regionals, it was probably the NCAA meet. That’s not the point.
It’s over, and when things are over, it’s proper to immediately dwell on the past, and your memories. So I decided to come up with a list of the greatest moments of this past season. To be clear, this is MY list. I am sure you are great person, and have a bunch of great memories yourself. I don’t care. We are talking about me right now, stop being so selfish.
Thad Matta Getting The Pink Slip
Ivan the 4th out of Russia is known as Ivan the Terrible. Terrible is really bad. The problem is that there isn’t an exact word for it in English. He wasn’t known as terrible in his own time. The force is a better translation, but still not completely accurate. An enigma, so to speak. So when I say Thad getting canned is a great memory, it’s not. It’s also not a terrible memory. I just don’t have the proper word. Impactful, that might be a better word. Someone that actually passed 9th grade English could probably find the proper word. And they could tell me if I should capitalize english there. It’s confusing.
The phrase I would like to use is “It’s a big fucking deal” but the censors will get me if anyone bothers to read this. When Thad came to Columbus, Ohio State basketball was in a weird place. It had huge success in the early 90s, after falling flat on their face for a few decades after being a premiere program in the 60s. Then it fell flat on it’s face again, before being picked up briefly by Jim O’Brien, only to be dropped down again with scandal. That scandal even had a scandal, because a judge ruled Jim O’Brien didn’t deserve to be fired. The word to describe Ohio State basketball in that time is easy, confusing. Ohio State basketball didn’t have an identity.
Then Thad came along, and put us in a place. Two final 4s, a bunch of 20 win seasons, and a nifty little sweet 16 streak. Was it great? No. But it was steady and successful. Us Buckeye fans knew what to expect. Hope and expectations built up, only to have the rug yanked out from under us after a little bit of tournament success. I personally was happy with it, because I remember all the years where we didn’t make the tournament in the 80s and 90s.
Some were not, and wanted Matta gone. When his back went out, and he couldn’t perform to the best of his abilities, he was canned, and they got a new coach. I am still processing it, much like the husband that cheats on his wife, and then when she divorces him. I mean, I get it, but I don’t really get it. If sports ever makes me seek therapy, this is it.
PJ Fleck Rows His Boat To Minnesota
This year I decided to start blogging about sports. After going at it alone for a while, I hooked up with SB Nation, and joined Hustle Belt, the MAC blog. It was great. I don’t know how much you follow the MAC, but we are a big deal. Credentials, Cash, Chicks, we get one of those things.
My colleagues and I got to experience PJ Fleck The Terrible up close and personal. The guy is nothing if not impactful.
Now, he is in the Big Ten. Is he still going to be the tornado he was in the MAC? I personally believe he will be. For the first time in my life, Minnesota football will be must watch TV for me.
Sure, I used to root for them when Lou Holtz and Glen Mason took their turns at the helm, and I even know who Rickey Foggie is. One of Ohio State’s greatest games ever happened against the Gophers.
But now, we have the potential for an event that never happened in my lifetime, though I know it was the case back in the long ago. Minnesota might actually become a player on the national stage. Fleck is that good, or at least I think he is.
Usually, I am all about what happens on the field. Two coaching changes comprising my “moments” is shocking. What is even more shocking is that a call would make up the third. Refs, to me, are like weather. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but it’s part of the game. Sometimes it favors one team or another, and that’s a thing, but I am more interested in watching how the athletes perform, win or lose.
As a Buckeye fan, I wish the spot was bad, though I believe it was correct. We need to pause for a moment, and reflect to understand why I feel this way.
The rational part of my brain respects Michigan. That part of me roots for Michigan to win every game but the Ohio State game, and I respect their tradition. The other part of me hates them to my core, and wishes horrible things to happen to them, at all time.
When the two titans of college football face off as the last regular season game of the year, I tell myself I want a good, clean game, where the better team wins. The other side of me wants absolute pain for the team up north. This season, we had a close, hard fought game, where someone had to win. It came down to a spot, and it was controversial. The smart side of my brain believes the spot was good, and Ohio State won fair and square.
The terrible side of me, however, relishes in the glory of a bad spot. Losing to your rival is horrible, but to lose on ref’s blunder, or worse bias, awful. Good. Good. It makes it sting that much more.
So that’s it for the 2016-17 season. I am sure you have your opinions of it, and my story. Just remember, when you tell me in the comments that I am terrible, terrible could mean spectacular, and I am certainly going to take it that way.