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B1G 2021, Ohio State Potluck #1: It’s Going to be Unpleasant

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From speed traps and Waffle Houses to stoolie rumor-mongering and the broken nature of the Big Ten. Ohio, everyone!

2021 Big Ten Football Media Day
is ryan day getting a little bert to him, or is that just the flattering angle of this photo
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The state of Ohio brings up very few positive memories for me.

Welcome to Ohio State Week.

Poll

Look at that cover photo: Is Ryan Day getting a little Bert to him?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    No, you’re just crazy.
    (39 votes)
  • 15%
    No, but that angle does him no favors.
    (42 votes)
  • 21%
    No, but that beard does him no favors.
    (59 votes)
  • 48%
    Yeah, maybe a little bit!
    (134 votes)
274 votes total Vote Now

This is our last week of B1G 2021, kids. We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for topics and weird regional foods and peculiarities, fishing for any whiff of a storyline beyond “Ohio State’s gonna win the Big Ten,” scrapping and clawing for a couple clicks before SBNation finally puts the pillow over this blog’s face and lets us drift off to our permanent rest.

The Speed Traps of Madison County

Because I’m apparently the only one writing Potlucks at the moment (possibly alive—we’ll see what kind of feedback we get below), you get not a paean to some amazing food or drink from the state of Ohio, but rather my rambling reminiscences. Folks from Ohio, you can confirm or scoff at my experiences.

We competed in a quiz bowl tournament at Ohio State in what, I’ll say, was my freshman year at Northwestern. On that trip, I distinguished myself in myriad ways:

  • Was so hungover from the night before and my club president’s refusal to take Lake Shore Drive instead of I-94 on a Friday afternoon through downtown Chicago that I threw up out the window of the University rent-a-van onto 94 in the vicinity of U.S. Cellular Stadium.
  • Allegedly forgotten the change for the tolls. (I maintain it was not my job.)
  • Got into a screaming match in the car with a guy on our “B” team who was being a prick while we read packets.
  • Went to the wrong hotel in Columbus when we were already there about 2 hours later than we had intended.
  • Got a speeding ticket in Madison County, Ohio, where I’m fairly certain the speed limit on I-70 dropped from 70 to 65 and I was unaware of that fact. One of Ohio’s finest boredest was there waiting in an emergency turnaround, happy to do a little fundraising for the state.

The only positive memory of that trip was my first Waffle House stop, which I believe came shortly after my speeding ticket in London, OH. There was nothing extraordinary about it—I certainly didn’t need to be there for 24 hours—but I certainly understand why it is the cultural phenomenon it is.

That’s literally all I have for you, writers:

  1. Tell me a Waffle House story—be it your first time or the time you drunkenly did a syrup bong and the cook held the funnel.
  2. Give us your worst “driving through Ohio” story, please.

Green Akers: 1) I don’t have any good Waffle House stories, because almost all my youthful drunken escapades occurred in either Michigan or Canada and we ain’t Waffle House territory. Have I re-enacted the Super Troopers syrup chugging scene in more than one IHOP? Yes.

2) For this question, I’m going to bring in my dearly beloved, the future Mrs. Green Akers, a former resident of Dayton, Ohio, for her thoughts. Sweetheart?

FMGA: I spent seven years traveling the county for work and driving in at least half of the states and on the whole, Ohio has to be the worst. I spent a year in Dayton before I begged my employer to let me move back to MI and I do not miss it for a second.

My first taste of what Ohio had in store for me was when I was moving down. That Saturday, we had a little convoy with two cars and a Uhaul heading south following closely together though not right on top of each other. That was when I was introduced to what a friend—who was also new to Ohio—later nicknamed the Driving Buddies system, wherein random drivers in Ohio pair up and drive next to each other going 5-10 mph below the speed limit on two lane roads for miles.

There’s no way to pass (well, legally anyway - I once saw a pickup rage pass some driving buddies on the shoulder of I-75) so you just have to accept that you live behind this pair that has apparently bonded for life.

On this particular drive, I got stuck behind some Driving Buddies and was fifteen minutes behind the other two vehicles when we met at a designated exit for lunch. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of driving that stretch of 75, you’ll know it to be the most soulless, boring terrain imaginable and not somewhere you want to take your time.

Ohio would do well to acknowledge this and go the way of places like South Dakota and just let you drive 80 to get through as fast as possible.

Things did not improve during my year living there, and on my frequent trips back north to Michigan for both work and family gatherings, I also became painfully familiar with the miles and miles of construction as they widened parts of 75 and did other lengthy projects. On one trip down, to pass the time while stuck behind more driving buddies I counted the miles of construction from the state line down to my Dayton exit and out of approximately 150 miles of I-75, something like 90 of them were work zones.

WSR: I went to a Waffle House after my cousin’s wedding in the Jacksonville area with a bunch of former Florida rugby players. All I know is that I survived it, somehow. I haven’t returned to Jacksonville since just to be safe.

I’ve only driven through Ohio twice, and I regret both trips. It’s like an extension of Indiana.

pkloa: I'm a good kid, so I have no wild Waffle House stories. The servers all seem to love me, calling me "hun" and the like.

Ohio is an incredibly bland state to drive through, but I've never gotten a real horror story experience. Maybe the worst was travelling on State Route 2 behind a camper going a consistent 45 mph.

HWAHSQB: I ate at a Waffle House one time. It was 9:30 PM on a Sunday in Albuquerque and it was the only place I could find that was open.

Since I don’t have an interesting story, how about an interesting factoid? Waffle House serves more pounds of steak than any restaurant chain in the world.

I also don’t have an interesting driving through Ohio story, probably because Ohio sucks. People from Ohio constantly talk about how great stuff from Ohio is. I regularly invite them to go back to Ohio and leave me alone. They are second only to Texans in absurdly passionate state pride.

BRT: I’ve never eaten at a Waffle House, but do have two memories associated with them anyway. Once on a road trip to Florida in college, one of the cars in our crew broke down, and we managed to limp into a Waffle House parking lot. As you can imagine, in Georgia, this is not a very helpful landmark with which to direct a tow truck.

The second is that I had a student last year write about the cultural history of Waffle House for a research project. It was actually pretty interesting. The diner as an American working class icon is not a bad topic. I also learned from it that because Waffle House is open literally all the time, they are very prepared for various emergencies. Consequently, there is something called “The Waffle House Index” used by FEMA to describe the relative devastation of the storm. “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad...” Craig Fugate, former head of FEMA.

So, when this country finally collapses, the only thing left standing may well be Waffle House. Somehow, that seems like a fitting legacy to leave the world.

RU in VA: Hello, I grew up in New Jersey and did not find Waffle House until like... 2016? It’s okay. We just went in VA Beach when we were down there for a soccer tournament. I’d appreciate it if the prices were a bit more “greasy spoon”. It’s expensive for a grade up from prison food.

I drive through Ohio twice a year to get to Michigan. I’d rather be dropped into present-day Kandahar than have to live in Ohio.

MaximumSam: I hit a deer going about 55 on a back road in the middle of the night. I came out of it better than the deer.


The Football: Is Ohio State even a Big Ten team anymore?

I know, it’s a jarring question. But let’s use our Waffle House metaphor that I’m definitely not making up on the fly here, how dare you:

Culturally, ethically, politically I mean, uh, waffle-housily, does Ohio belong in the Big Ten, let alone the Midwest?

Let’s address the “rumors” that Ohio State could be making overtures to the SEC (or vice-versa). One of those rumor-mongers was a Barstool chud (who, yes, stooliebois, gets a lot more clicks that me and I’m soooooo jealous) who needs to hashtag his own predictions, so we won’t be linking to that. The other was from @DawgOutWest.

*It’s worth noting that each of these articles—including one at fucking SI.com—has said “according to multiple reports” and, to the best I can ascertain, quoted no one except for those two. Sports journalism and college football media in particular is so goddamn broken, he said while collecting peanuts for writing an unpopular (or unnoticed) sports web log.

It’s been enough, though, to capture the attention of cleveland.com podcasters and Someone over at Land-Grant Holy Land is even making the bold prediction that Ohio State will move to the SEC. (Only 2 comments on that article, so maybe mission wasn’t achieved.) And I’m bored, and it’s Ohio State Monday, and there are only so many ways, as Candystripes noted, to say “Here’s how my team is going to put up a valiant effort and fall just short of Ohio State THIS year!”

So, writers:

  1. Do you think Ohio State ever jumps to another conference? If you’re saying “Yes, in the future,” give us that dystopian landscape in which we are all wearing loincloths and bartering with buckeye helmet stickers for a simple loaf of bread.
  2. Where is the rest of the conference at in relation to Ohio State? Is this just a game where you close your eyes and think of England, or is THIS the year where we all finally get our revenge by living vicariously through...I don’t know, Purdue or something?
  3. How broken is sports journalism? Your column:

Green Akers:

  1. The reality of a college football super league seems inevitable, I’m just not sure if it ends up being, like, a 64-team thing to increase the amount of sellable product (games) or if it’s a narrowed, truly elite 16- or 24-team NFL minor league. I think I’d prefer the latter? If most college football teams cheer for programs that don’t belong on the field with the Alabamas and Ohios State of the world, won’t we be happier letting them go do their own thing while we play in our sandbox and go to the actual Rose Bowl?
  2. Far behind…but not irretrievably so, however many doom donuts Thump wants to burn on this blog’s front lawn. OSU did have real, competitive games last year, and that’s probably going to continue. Penn State still recruits well enough to compete with them, Michigan is a decent coaching staff away from having the talent on paper, and there’s usually a team like Indiana getting more than its talent on paper because of excellent coaching. But if the question is aimed at my team, hell no we’re not winning that game this year. We lost by 40 last year and it probably should have been more. I feel pretty good about the general direction Mel Tucker’s heading at the moment, but that’s a steep hill to climb yet.

3) This content is only available to subscribers on my OnlySportsFans page.

WSR:

  1. If it benefits them more than staying in the B1G does, they’ll leave.
  2. The B1G is the 2nd-best conference, but right now we’re looking a bit like Serie A after Calciopoli. Are there still other big teams in the B1G? Sure, but Juventus is gone and Milan, Fiorentina, and Lazio have all been given ridiculous points deductions and are no where near as good as the one unscathed team (who, coincidentally, were also cheating their asses off. Which makes this Ohio State/Inter comparison work on another level).
  3. There are two types of sports media, it feels like: The type that wear pompoms for the program and only release news that the athletic director approves, and the type that desperately wants a Pulitzer for uncovering a nefarious scandal involving student-athletes with expired tabs on their scooters. It’s pathetic.

HWAHSQB: If OSU does leave, I suspect it will happen before 2024. OSU was too cowardly to take the field against Illinois last year and that is the next scheduled meeting of these teams. The yellowbellies in Columbus might very well leave the conference simply to avoid meeting with Illinois again.

It’s broken. Badly. When half of the sports journalism world are Missouri or Northwestern graduates, it’s exactly as broken as you’d expect.

pkloa: I get that I'm just bitter and jealous, but I really don't think too many would miss the Buckeyes if they left for some super conference. As I said in Townie's weekend update, though, Penn State would probably pay their way in beside [behind] OSU, and NOBODY would miss us. So yeah, none of the benefits for us.

We're obviously behind Ohio State, regionally and nationally. But not as far behind as UTEP, so middle fingers to the Miners! And nobody up north beats Ohio State, they just sometimes beat themselves.

Sports journalism is no different than the rest of journalism, or much of what was once good. Newer generations don't care as much, and businesses gots to get that money nom nom nom.

BRT: It does seem like we’re at a moment of “Let them eat cake!” nationally, in pretty much every realm imaginable. More of human history can be described that way than not, so perhaps this is less newsworthy than I’m making it out to be. But in that landscape of super selfishness, where everyone looks out for themselves and f*ck everyone else, then it does seem completely appropriate that OSU would skip out and join a “superconference.” As a fan of a bad team that has to play OSU every year despite being in a different division, I would not actually miss them very much.

It is, in fact, a game where I close my eyes and think of England, and if I’m being totally honest, one where I feel just fine finding something else to do for the day. During this year’s slaughter, I have booked tickets to an afternoon showing of Hamilton in Omaha, and I cannot express how much more I’d rather watch Hamilton than Nebraska getting blown out by OSU again.

I’ll be honest, the only sports journalism I read is us, and we’re not really journalists. I think we’re pretty great, but that probably means that anyone actually making money at doing this is a talentless, ethic-less hack.

RU in VA: No. They’d lose too much “old” money that’s investing in watching them kick Michigan’s ass once a year. Endowments need cashflow!

College football has been a very fortunate system the past 150 years. There have been powers, dynasties, but also parity. A national system where a team from Boise, Idaho can compete against any public university? Awesome to see.

I see college football closing the ranks like all college sports except basketball already have done. There aren’t 80 contenders for the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. There’s like 20 serious programs and a bunch of others that exist. Men’s Ice Hockey revolves around the same 20 schools.

Eventually we’ll get to a point where 20 football schools regularly compete, and the rest serve as an unofficial D-League. I’m cool with that - I think the B1G only puts in four teams to that: Wisco, Michigan, Ohio State, and PSU.

MaximumSam: It’s not impossible. There were real cracks that showed last year, with OSU trying to play football and getting stonewalled by Kevin Warren and crew. I don’t know if OSU will be trying to get along as well as they used to, and the relative imbalance may exacerbate the situation.

Poll

When will Ohio State leave the Big Ten?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    2024
    (21 votes)
  • 6%
    2025
    (13 votes)
  • 15%
    by 2030
    (31 votes)
  • 6%
    by 2040
    (14 votes)
  • 61%
    not before the heat death of the universe
    (127 votes)
206 votes total Vote Now