I'm a Buckeye. I've been one since I was four years old. That was the year my dad took my grandfather to the OSU/Michigan game known as the Snow Bowl.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Buckeyes, the buckeye tree is a tree that grows primarily in Ohio. It's fruit -- the buckeye -- resembles a horse chestnut, only smaller, harder, and shinier. It has absolutely no commercial value, and is actually poisonous. In other words, buckeyes are a bunch of worthless nuts.
Buckeyes is also the nickname for The Ohio State University athletic teams and their fans. (Again, a bunch of useless nuts -- the fans, not the teams.) For the last few years, Ohio State football fans have been living a nightmare.
It started January 8, 2007. That's when Ohio State was supposed to steamroll the University of Florida to win its 8th overall national championship and its second in four years. Instead, the mighty Buckeyes got leveled 41 to 14. Embarrassing but a fluke, we told ourselves. Ohio State was over confident and had simply under estimated the Florida Gators. They had their guard down, failed to prepare properly, and let Florida get in a lucky punch.
Then came January 7, 2008. The Buckeyes are in the National Championship Game again. This time, they prepared. They were set to show the world that they deserved to be the champs:
LSU Routs Ohio State In Championship Game Buckeyes
Stumble Again As Tigers Win 38-24 For Second BCS Crown In Five Seasons
It was a better game, but still embarrassing. The whole nation was screaming in our ears--"Buckeyes over rated. Buckeyes are losers." We got no respect. It was almost too much to bear.
Then came August 30. Opening day. Ohio State with 20 returning starters, the most sought after freshman recruit in the country, and a highly favored Heisman Trophy candidate was a sure bet to make it to the National Championship game for the third year in a row. And because included among those starters was a cadre of seniors who could have turned pro but chose to return, this was the year that Ohio State was going to silence its critics. All it needed to do was get past USC in the third game of the season. And once again, in front of a prime time National audience, OSU was embarrassed.
Thirty-five to three.
But that wasn't what had made the nightmare so horrible. While OSU won the first two games by large margins, their play was sluggish and unimpressive against what was supposed to be significantly inferior teams. Had we been deluding ourselves all along? Are the Buckeyes over rated? Well it wasn't even a debate any more as far as the rest of the country was concerned.
And it didn't stop there. Sluggish, inexplicable play, consecutive games without an offensive touchdown. We knew what lay ahead was nothing but doom, but we couldn't wake up. And then it happened. we walked right into it. All of our hopes were pinned on one game. Penn State came to town. Ranked number 3 in the country. Undefeated. If we beat them, we get respect back. We don't go to the National Championship, but we win the Big 10. We go to the Rose Bowl and get another shot at USC and redemption. It's the 4th quarter, and we're winning -- 6 to 3. And then we fumble. . .
When you are having a nightmare, you are supposed to wake up. Your heart is supposed to be pounding in your chest, but you're awake, and you can calm yourself. You're not supposed to just keep dreaming the same horrible scene over and over. . .
That was October 25. Less than two weeks before the election, part of another bad dream that had started eight years before with a stolen election. A dream we couldn't wake ourselves out of.
A dream that just kept piling calamity on top of calamity. . .
But we did. We woke up. November 4, the real nightmare ended. And for me, and I hope other Buckeyes, it put things in perspective. This was real. This nightmare mattered. That other nightmare, the one about a football game, it's just a game.