No fans are more fanatical than Ohio State fans. They wear their colors with pride - some of them on a daily basis(just make sure you wash 'em guys). The badge/stripes on their sleeves represent confidence, determination, and unwavering support. The product on the field is a direct reflection of the fanbase. Together they stand, unwavering. It's not unusual for Ohio State fans to wear their jerseys the day after a loss, something you rarely see amongst other fanbases. The team stands arm-in-arm after every game, win or lose, to sing our Alma Mater, 'Carmen Ohio'.
Normally, Ohio State fans, much like their coach, keep things close to the vest. An afternoon game at Ohio Stadium has been one of the more tame environments in college football, especially since the open container rules came into to play in 2003. OSU fans have always had a reputation, but that reputation started because of their fanaticism, and not because of their 'attitude'(this is a recent myth). During the 'Animal House Years'(1990-2002), Ohio State tailgated like they were drinking steroid laced beer - but it was still a safe, albeit uncomfortable, place for opposing fans to see a game. After the '06 and '07 National Championship games, when the conference supremacy stuff started, so did the ridicule. I've said it many times, 'Ohio State has become the most hated team and fanbase in the country'. They've engaged in an unwinnable argument, mainly against SEC fans, about their ability, or lack of, to compete with the best teams in the country. One side citing 0-9 and referring to the results against Fla and LSU, the other side citing tradition, the 7 National Championships, the bigger picture, the regular season record versus the SEC, and the history before 2006. The onslaught continues.
It didn't get really bad until the LSU game. After the loss to USC it got even worse. Every Ohio State post exploded with detractors and Ohio State defenders like flies around a butchers' dumpster. The media, ESPN, Mark May, and yes, even the Sporting News capitalized on this sports' subject cash cow. It's almost like they had worn out their welcome with the Maurice Clarett issue (boy did they ever/ESPN) and they needed another Buckeye subject to ride into the sunset. No post attracts the numbers of a good, old fashioned, controversial Buckeye post.
For a while, I started to loath the subject. I didn't even want to talk about football anymore. There was no place to hide. There IS no place to hide.
Now, we have a new badge to wear. We have realized, maybe for the first time ever, that we may not be as good as we thought we were, both as fans and players. This is the single greatest thing to ever happen to Ohio State football. Chic Harley, Woody Hayes, and the 'Ten Year War' have taken a back seat. No Tebow speech, no coach, no influential speaker could motivate this team and fanbase like the ridicule has. That's not the only perk. The recruiting has gone from very good to outstanding. The expectations have gone from 'undefeated' to 'one game at a time'. The threat of dissapointment has melted away like a Good Humor bar in the hot Florida sun. What may have been lacking, motivation, has been injected into the veins of every scarlet blooded player and fan. I can no longer promise others that Ohio Stadium will be 'relatively quiet', no longer expect our fans to behave admirably in the face of victory, no longer hang my head, brainwashed by the Haters' chants of mediocrity. That's right, 'No More Mr. Nice Guy'.
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