With the uniquely college football topic of claimed national titles in the news recently, I got to thinking about whether or not Ohio State football could or should give itself credit for more than the seven it lists in its official records. The result was this story at BuckeyeSports.com (below), but it is worth noting some of Ohio State’s best arguments for a potential national title fall outside this “To claim or not to claim?” debate because no one, legitimate or not, has tagged them No. 1.
I guess it just goes to show in the Bowl Alliance/BCS era, the problem shifted from being overlooked to more often simply left out.
In 1996, the Buckeyes lost control of their own destiny with a loss to Michigan, but they beat an undefeated major conference team, No. 2 Arizona State, in the Rose Bowl. That cleared the way for Florida to claim the national title by avenging a regular season loss to Florida State, but it would seem Ohio State had a strong claim to a share of a title as well with the same loss total and a similar resume as the Gators. This is not to say Florida did not have a legitimate claim to a partial championship, but one wonders what made this year different from 1991 or 1997. Yes, the teams that shared titles in those years (Miami and Washington then Michigan and Nebraska) were both undefeated, but OSU and Florida also had the same record and similar resumes.
In ’98, the once-beaten Buckeyes didn’t have much of a claim over unbeaten Tennessee when the bowls were complete, but Ohio State had as good or a better a claim to the Fiesta Bowl berth that went to Florida State. And common sense dictated a Seminoles team without its starting quarterback was not the best choice to take on Tennessee.
Are those lost seasons of the 1990s payback for the generous way the ’61 and ’70 Buckeyes were granted shares of a national title? Maybe so. They are unquestionably a product of the media tenor at the time, and it is interesting to think about how those teams and their resumes might have been perceived in the post-2006 world where timing of a loss and simply being undefeated became smaller factors in our debates.