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Ohio State Buckeyes: Was Their Brand A Factor In Being Selected?


December 6, 2016

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While the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes did not win a conference championship on the field this past weekend, one reason why they may have been tabbed for the upcoming College Football Playoffs is their massive big name off of it.

Home to the “Best Damn Band in The Land” the Ohio State Buckeyes can also lay claim to being home to the best brand in college football as well.

Two years after being the first ever No.4 seed to beat the top two teams in route to securing their eighth national title, Ohio State can now add another distinctive notch in it’s brief—but impressive—College Football Playoff history in being the first non-conference winner to participate in it.

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As the debate is currently raging amongst fans, coaches and the media about Ohio State being in the four-team playoff, despite losing to the eventual B1G champion, Penn State, this no doubts brings into question, the exact value of winning conference championships.

Leading up to the selection, many were debating about the selection committee either including both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, or choosing one of the team if not both, it became clearer with each passing day right up until early Sunday afternoon that conference championships are ONLY a metric if both team’s resumes are comparable.

And based on a direct side-by-side comparison, Ohio and Penn State aren’t even in the same ballpark.

Yes, No.2 Ohio State got upset by Penn State 24-21—thus their only loss—but Penn State in turn lost by 30-plus points to No.5 Michigan—whom Ohio State outlasted in an instant double overtime classic, controversial spot be damned!!—and an unranked Pitt squad on the road.

While Penn State would complete one of the greatest comebacks in the history of a conference championship in defeating No.6 Wisconsin 38-31, it proved too little, too late, as the two-loss Lions getting manhandled by the Wolverines by 30-plus points and losing to an unranked team out of conference proved to be the nail in their proverbial playoff coffins.

As a Buckeye fan, I was one in the minority that stated that the Lions deserved to be in at No.4 over the Washington Huskies—and their sorry-a%s 127th ranked strength of schedule, Rutgers, really!!—due to the fact that they beat my Buckeyes head-to-head and balled out in Indianapolis*

* To burrow from Drake’s “Forever”, but Penn State sophomore QB Trace McSorley ain’t nothing to play with!

Beyond the never-ending debate, analytics and countless Penn State-based/anti-Ohio State-hating fan conspiracy theories, but what is the real reason why THE Ohio State is currently prepping for DeShaun Watson and the Arizona desert, while they are getting ready to fly out to Los Angeles to face college football’s hottest team in Sam Darnold-led USC?

The answer is simple.

Money and their money-making brand.

Money, money, money, moneyyyyyy!

Like Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the Buckeyes make in rain wherever they go, are able to duck, dodge and evade the toughest and meanest trolling fanbases enough to land make them kiss leather and hit the ground.

Not to insult the intelligence of fellow sports fans, but let’s be real for a second.

While the corporate proxies—a.k.a the Selection Committee—will never admit it directly, the reason why the Buckeyes were dropped from No.2 to No.3—and in over Penn State in the eyes of many—is because they are a scarlet-and-gray, money-making traveling horde of financial opportunity.

Think about this for a second, the committee’s job is to select the four “best” teams right? What they REALLY mean is the four “best” teams that will make them—and their corporate masters at Disney enough money to make Scrooge McDuck blush.

Did you ever wonder why they had them at two, but no longer than three? Because the fix was already in for a Nick Saban-Urban Meyer clash of titans, that’s why!

Combine that, with the Buckeyes well-established—and passionate fan base—is known to travel and take over opposing stadiums, a la the 2014 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans vs Alabama and the national title game vs. Oregon—and you can see one of the reason why the Buckeyes were picked.

And on what field did the Buckeyes beat the Ducks on? Yup! You guessed it, the same one that they will be playing on vs. Clemson—who lost 45-40 on it to Alabama—last year in Glendale, Arizona.

If you think that the committee didn’t take these factors into consideration of slotting the Buckeyes for the Fiesta Bowl due to their LARGE alumni and fan backers in Arizona, and their long and storied history of playing in the Fiesta Bowl, then you need to look deeper into this.

Ohio State is 5-3 all-time in Glendale, and the fact that they JUST defeated Notre Dame 44-28 on it last New Year’s Day, and the committee proverbially gifted the Buckeyes an extra home game.

Now to the money and cents section.

According to a Forbes article titled ‘College Football’s Most Valuable Teams 2015: Texas, Notre Dame And … Tennessee?’  by Chris Smith, the Buckeyes are the seventh-most valuable college football team with a value of $100 million—the most of any team in the College Football Playoffs, followed by Alabama at No.8 valued at $99 million and Washington at No.13 who is worth $78 million.

How much are the Nittany Lions valued at, you ask? Just a mere $81 million, good for No.11

While top-valued Texas ($152 million), Notre Dame ($127 million) and Tennessee ($121 million) are all not in the playoff this year, one extra nugget that Buckeyes fans can hold over the arch-rival Wolverines fans is that despite their team being the fifth-most valued college team at $105 million, they need to stop whining about ‘The Spot” and worry more about prepping for Florida State in the Orange Bowl and a way to beat Ohio State in Ann Arbor instead.

There are the old proverbs of “money talks and bulls&%t walks”, and “follow the money”, clearly the selection committee heeded the message of these two sayings clearly in putting the cash-cow Buckeyes in the College Football Playoffs.

Thanks to their rich and storied tradition of dotting the ‘I”, buckeye leaf helmet stickers, legendary coaches such as Woody Hayes and Paul Brown, controversial bowl selections** and the Buckeyes get to once again frolic in favorite desert oasis in yet another bowl game.

** Google ‘The Vote of The Roses”, in reference to the infamous 1973 10-10 tie vs. No.4 Michigan, which resulted in No.1 Ohio State going to the Rose Bowl, despite the Big Ten’s policy of sending the conference champion and not sending teams in consecutive years until 1971. Regardless of the outcome, Michigan would have gone to the Rose Bowl, but instead Ohio State was voted in as it is alleged that Michigan State voted for the Buckeyes, in response to Michigan’s “no” vote of allowing the Spartans to join the conference in 1949.”

While Ohio State fans such as myself are happy to see the Buckeyes in the playoffs, with a chance to win their second national title in three years, and ninth overall, in this modern day era of way-too-many corporate-owned bowl games, House of Cards-like pay-to-play lobbying and politics, off-the-field scandals and transient head coaches leaving one school for another, there is a reason why the Buckeyes are the most loathed college football team not named Texas or Notre Dame.

Maybe I’m throwing all the Penn State sympathizers and anti-Buckeye hating surrogates a bone in embellishing their theories as to why the Nittany Lions are not in the playoffs and that their NOW bitter border rivalry with the Buckeyes just got a spark of much-needed juice.

Make no mistake, this is the stuff that ignites Bo vs. Woody-esque type of clashes, as Urban Meyer and James Franklin do have a history rooted south of the Mason-Dixon line.

So yes, next season in Columbus when the conference—and possible Rose Bowl—champions come to the Horseshoe, will the Buckeyes be nine-time national champions?

Regardless, both programs can thank the committee for adding some proverbial nitro fuel to a newly-ignited border clash between storied programs from two football-passionate states as Ohio and Pennsylvania, who will be more than happy to settle their bitterness on the field, and now have their fates placed at the mercy of brand-obsessed, money-hungry committees instead.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com