Tonight's ESPN telecast of the Sugar Bowl showdown between Ohio State and Arkansas could include Buckeye bashing of unusual proportions.
While OSU fans usually perceive national announcers to be biased towards the opponent, this year's scenario offers even more reasons for negativity.
*Ohio State is 0-9 against the Southeastern Conference in bowl games.
*The Big Ten went 0-5 in New Year's Day bowls. Michigan, favored in the analysts' picks on College GameDay, was blown out 52-14 by Michigan State. Brent Musburger couldn't stop crowing "This one is for the little guys!'' after TCU stunned Wisconsin 21-19. OSU is carrying the torch for the entire conference against the Razorbacks.
*Ohio State has been seriously criticized for allowing five juniors suspended for the first five games in 2011 to play tonight. OSU coach Jim Tressel made quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas pledge they would return for their senior seasons to be allowed to see action.
ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer took another swipe at Tressel this morning, saying on SportsCenter he thought it was a mistake that the five were being allowed on the field. Palmer suggested that good games by any of the five could help them renege on their pledges, which might not happen if they were forced to sit out.
*The actions of Pryor will also be seriously scrutinized. He continues to lash out at his critics, including ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, the former Ohio State quarterback. When the suspensions were announced, Herbstreit said it would be "addition by subtraction'' if the five left early for the NFL. Pryor responded over the weekend by saying, 'I don’t worry about what Kirk Herbstreit says, to tell you the truth. Has he beat Michigan?''
Lettering from 1990-92, Herbstreit tied the Wolverines, 13-13 in his only start.
Pryor's rebuttal seemed lame. If he cared so much about beating Michigan, why would he have sold the gold pants trinket he received for the Buckeyes' 2008 victory over the Wolverines?
Tonight's ESPN announcing crew will be Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge, with Holly Rowe as the sideline reporter. It seems as if the network has selected the talent with the fewest ties to Ohio State. Say what you want about Musburger, but he is more of an OSU supporter than many realize.
Some OSU fans have said that watching football games does not synch with the OSU radio network broadcast because of the delay involved. If that's a problem, be prepared for the Buckeyes to be wearing the black hats tonight.