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Random Thoughts: Judging Ohio State’s season, ESPN’s false Georgia narrative, Bengals, Reds, etc.

So, anything happen over the weekend? I was pretty busy, but I still managed to come up with these opinions/bloviations/etc. for your consideration. 

  • Let’s get this out of the way: Ohio State had a good football season in 2018. The Buckeyes went 12-1, beat Michigan and won the Big Ten. Those are tangible goals, and Ohio State accomplished all of them. Of course they would like to go undefeated, and of course winning the national championship is also something they have in mind every season no matter how realistic it might be from one to the next (and it should always be realistic to some extent). The former is generally more a fluke than anything else, and the latter is still reliant on the whims of a select group of people (same as it ever was). 
  • I got the impression from Urban Meyer and some of the players in the postgame locker room that they almost look at the national championship as a cherry on top of a season, like something that is nice but not essential to their happiness. Maybe they were just doing that to justify not winning as many games as a team with their perceived talent level is supposed to, but I believe the feeling was genuine. 
Senior Terry McLaurin says Ohio State ready to accept fate
  • There is good reason to feel that the college football national championship is still semi-mythical. Not as much as it was in the past, of course, but not quite as concrete as it is in… well pretty much every other sport and at every other level. That’s how it’s going to feel as long as the basic math problem of trying to fit five power conferences and Notre Dame into four slots still exists. 
  • Of course, the coaches in all the other sports know surviving a singe-elimination tournament — especially one with more than two rounds — is a bit of a fluke itself, so they tend to view their championship seasons found money, too, as long as they are content to know they have put their best effort into every season, so maybe this is a problem that will never really be solved. 

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  • If you think Georgia should have made the playoff, you’re wrong and you should feel bad about having such a terrible opinion (Bulldogs fans exempted). I hope people in the real world weren’t exposed to the lies about Georgia having a chance to make it that paralyzed twitter and ESPN for about 16 pointless hours Saturday night into Sunday. 
  • If the SEC championship game had been George’s first loss, the Bulldogs should still be out. But it was their second loss and that is why the Bulldogs getting in was not even a legit debate. Yahoo! Sports nonetheless reported Georgia getting in could have meant the beginning of the end of the four-team playoff. Missed opportunity for the rest of us? 
  • Another terrible point of view that’s gotten some traction: Notre Dame’s season wasn’t as good because they aren’t in a conference. That’s dumb. They played five ACC teams, USC, Stanford and Michigan (plus Vanderbilt and Northwestern). That’s good enough for me. It’s not the Irish’s fault the other leagues put themselves at a competitive disadvantage by having conference championship games. 
  • Oklahoma and Ohio State were both defensible picks. Neither should feel slighted by being left out. Ohio State’s biggest problem was perception, but that was pretty much all the Buckeyes’ doing. One could argue the Buckeyes were a better overall team than the Sooners, but they ended up behind them in Football Outsiders S&P+ despite having a much better defense. I generally prefer measuring good wins than bad losses, but in this case I don’t think either team stands out. So if it fell back to comparing their losses, that’s fair — and there is no comparison. Oklahoma brought it in its loss and Ohio State did not. So it goes… 
  • Oklahoma deserves its bid far more than Alabama did last year, for what it’s worth. 
  • Ohio State angle aside, I have to admit as a general observer of college football at-large I was very disappointed to see the Big 12 not punished for staging the stupidest conference championship game ever (no small feat). Oklahoma most likely would have been in without playing Saturday, though obviously the Sooners would have been out if they lost. Maybe Ohio State would have jumped them by adding a solid win over Northwestern, but that seems unlikely since the committee just decided a month ago the Buckeyes aren’t their cup of tea. 
  • Considering how often the result of the Big 12 title game was bad for the conference’s BCS hopes, maybe the simpleminded people running that league would be wise to play the lottery this week. That luck ain’t lasting forever.
  • The Bengals stink and don’t seem to be too bothered by it. I applaud the fans who are protesting with their wallets. The latter was obviously going to happen if bringing back Marvin Lewis didn’t yield immediate results, which wasn’t likely given the roster and became impossible because of injuries (and probably because of Lewis not being an effective coach anymore). 
  • NFL.com reported over the weekend Lewis’ contract for next year might not be guaranteed (as had been assumed). That would significantly alter my previous assumption he is almost certainly going to be back in 2019 if they can move on without paying him.  
  • In case you wanted more evidence LeBron James will never equal Michael Jordan, LeBron's agent says he had to go to the Lakers because he wouldn’t be subject to as much criticism for losing there as he would be in Cleveland or Philadelphia. That’s about the weakest thing I’ve ever heard, especially for someone who is allegedly an alpha dog. 
  • Lastly, the Reds continued their encouraging offseason by making the tough-yet-prudent decision not to offer Billy Hamilton a contract for next year. That is smart because he would have made a lot more money than he is worth via arbitration. However, it is also pretty amazing how fast he went from them over-valuing him when they could have traded him last December to his having almost no value by the end of April. 

“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook

About the Author

Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox Media Group Ohio since 2016. 

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