Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A victory for windchills, sort of

There goes Ezekiel Elliott, busting through shoals of white Oregon jerseys again, wolfing down mammoth slices of clock, keeping Marcus Mariota over there on the sideline with his faithful sidekick, T. Heisman Trophy.

Strange. Ol' Zeke doesn't look cold at all.

Neither does Cardale Jones, who's currently bench-pressing the national championship trophy. Neither do any of those guys wearing scarlet jerseys and those weird stickers on their helmets that Ohioans insist are buckeyes, but that folks out in Colorado know is a different plant species entirely.

They could, Coloradoans no doubt would say, put that in their pipe and smoke it. Except it's Ohio, so of course that'll never happen.

What will happen will be a parade in Columbus, Ohio, celebrating a national championship for the Ohio State Buckeyes and the best coach in college football, Urban Meyer. The man is 38-3 since taking over the scandal-plagued program in 2011. He's three seasons in and still hasn't lost a Big Ten conference game.  And if you looked at his athletes vs. Oregon's athletes last night, you saw no discernible difference, unless the difference was that Ohio State actually had better athletes and more of them.

The final score was 42-20, after all. And the Buckeyes did exactly what they planned on doing, which is beat the Ducks up front, throw their A-list running back at them eleventy-hundred times, and dominate the clock. Mariota and Oregon's high-volume offense can't score from the bench, after all.

And so Elliott gashed the Quackers for 246 yards, including three second-half touchdowns that finished it. And the Buckeyes hogged the football for more than 37 minutes to Oregon's 22-plus. And what will all the people say now who said the southern schools are always going to dominate college football because the elite athletes won't go play in the cold, snowy Midwest?

Well. I know what this one will say. This one will say he was dead wrong.

Winning is a marvelous insulator, and so if you win at the outrageous clip Meyer has so far, the athletes will come. They won't care how cold it is in the wintertime. They'll just stay inside, or send out for Starbucks.

The plain truth is, you can still win anywhere in college football, and hallelujah for that. This was not so much a triumph for the Big Ten as it was a triumph for the home truth that, in college football, the head coach is everything. No one goes to Alabama because it's warmer than, say, South Bend; they go to Alabama because Nick Saban is there. If that weren't true, Mississippi State would be a powerhouse every year, too. But it wasn't until Dan Mullen got there that that happened.

Players play for coaches,  not for weather and not for mascots. And so Meyer's going to get just as many athletes, if not more, than all those southern schools. Ditto first Chip Kelly and, now, Mark Helfrich, at Oregon -- another school that, need we remind you, doesn't exactly play in a tropical climate. Yet they have as many athletes as anyone every year.

So score this one a W for those of us who are tired of getting taunting Facebook photos of palm trees and sugar beaches every winter while we run the bleeping Iditarod every morning.

This one's for us. Mush, Fido.    

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