Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Few would argue that any college in the nation can brag as much as Ohio State when it comes to the combined accomplishments of its football and men’s basketball programs this year. The claim, however, has its own internal debate.
Which team had the more successful season?
Was it Urban Meyer going 12-0 in his first season at the helm of OSU, or Thad Matta’s men coming within one victory of a return trip to the Final Four?
Well, it depends who you ask.
If the streets around campus could talk, they would tell you the football team. Lane Avenue was dubbed “12-0 Row” in December, but I have yet to hear plans of renaming Neil Avenue as “Elite Eight Boulevard.”
If you look to the final Associated Press polls of the seasons, you’ll get a different answer. Deshaun Thomas and company came in at No. 10, while Braxton Miller’s bunch sat unranked thanks to their postseason ban.
It’s a topic well worth discussion, but I’ve been having trouble picking a side.
After all, there are many factors to consider here.
You can weigh the historical rarity of each group’s achievement. OSU has seen 10 undefeated seasons on the gridiron, and only one of those years (2002) saw as many wins as the 12 last fall’s squad compiled.
Sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross’ game-winning shot against Arizona carried the men’s basketball program to its 14th Elite Eight. In Chicago just two weeks prior, the team ran to its fourth Big Ten Tournament Championship (the event began in 1998).
You might adjust for the competition OSU saw in the respective sports. The Big Ten provided a notably weaker test for Meyer than it did for Matta, who led his team to a second-place finish in a conference many considered to be the best in the nation.
The difficulty of the debate rests mostly in the bowl ban. Without it, we have a definitive answer. With it, we’re stuck in a limbo thanks to Wichita State’s one shining moment. If OSU had danced in Atlanta, my answer would easily be the basketball team. If they had bowed out in the Sweet 16, my answer would be the football team.
At the end of the day, for me, it’s the football team that had the more successful campaign. After all, they were perfect – the sixth season in program history with no ties or losses. As great as the basketball team became in late February into March, at no point could “perfect” be used to describe its year. If we’re handing the imaginary “more successful season” title to basketball, then football never had a shot.
Think about it, did you celebrate, scream, cry and, yes, drink, more when Ross’ shot went through the net or when we beat Michigan to cement 12-0 in the record books? Matta and company had an amazing season, but you can’t top perfection without a national title.
It seems the teams will also each present a new case for being the best next year.
Meyer’s second season will begin with the old “championship or bust” moniker for many fans, while the emergence of Ross alongside four returning starters is reason enough to expect big things in the Schottenstein Center.
But until Aug. 31 rolls around, when the football team is set to take the field against Buffalo at Ohio Stadium, the debate will go continue among fans.
But it’s the offseason, what else are we supposed to do?