Ohio State-USC: Bucks' Late Collapse Ignites Familiar Chorus in Ohio

Dan DelagrangeCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 13:  Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes leaves the field after losing 18-15 to the Southern California Trojans on September 13, 2009 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

As the USC Trojans and their freshman starting quarterback, Matt Barkley, continued pacing down the field and clawing their way to first downs late in Saturday's Ohio State-USC matchup, I could feel what was coming: The inevitable touchdown would seal the Buckeyes' fate, but more importantly, it would also uncork a deluge of whiney, "woe is me" tirades that have now become commonplace among Cleveland and Ohio State fans.

As I drove home after the loss, I kept replaying the game's crucial moments over and over in my head.

How did Terrelle Pryor not see Chris Galippo on what turned out to be a back-breaking interception?

Why did the OSU offense stubbornly go for the throat during its final possession of the first half?

How did the defense, which played wonderfully all night, suddenly fall apart at the end of the game?

Why does this seem to happen again and again to every team I affiliate myself with?

My thoughts were enough to bother me for at least the rest of the night. What really got me fumed was what I saw upon logging in to Facebook later that night:

"Jim tressel better be fired by monday. so much talent n he (expletive) it all up. all the (expletive) time. (expletive) him."

Buckeye fans: Trust me, I feel the pain too.

I've lived in Cleveland my entire life. That alone should say more than enough about the kind of otherworldly sports disasters I've been subjected to in my years.

However, these outrageous complaints from Cleveland/Ohio sports fans have to stop. Fire Jim Tressel? Really?

What's Tressel done since he's arrived in Columbus? Oh, he's only won a national title in an undefeated season, won five Big Ten championships, amassed a 3-3 BCS bowl record, and drummed Michigan to the tune of a 7-1 overall record.

Are we forgetting that he also hauls in some of the most talented, sought-after recruits (see Troy Smith, Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, Chris Wells, or James Laurinaitis for just a few examples) in the country on a yearly basis?

What about how, despite the continued lack of success against elite teams, he gets the Bucks to big time bowl games year after year?

You're right. We don't have room for losers in Ohio (great showing by the Browns yesterday, by the way).

What these chronic lamenters are forgetting are the positives gained within games like these. Remember last year's Fiesta Bowl? Ohio State fought the Longhorns valiantly, doing everything—including a Pryor TD reception—it could to hang with what many considered the team that should have replaced Oklahoma in the national title game.

A sure tackle on a quick slant by Quan Cosby at the end of that game could have changed everything.

The same thing happened Saturday, with the Buckeyes spewing their guts all over the field and reaching desperately at a victory. The defense was reckless and the offense did all it could against Southern Cal's outstanding front four.

I understand that OSU needs a big time win. They need it soon. However, when Ohio fans spout off garbage like "fire Jim Tressel" and whimper away into their familiar, comfortable loser's cocoon, it only breeds more losing.

I know what it's like to consistently be disappointed with a team's performance. It's tough. It's annoying. It's old.  

But come on, people! We've been through much, much worse. We are a fanbase that needs to take every victory (including ones in a heart-squelching loss) we can get, no matter how small.

The kind of losing attitude people adopted after Saturday's game only feeds the beast that Cleveland/Ohio sports has become: an efficient machine second to none in producing the country's most infamous moments of hapless loss.

The loss to USC definitely stings. So does last year's NBA Eastern Conference Final and the states of the Indians and Browns, but we as fans need to keep our chin up and keep looking ahead.

If we want to keep our reputation of being one of the most loyal, devout groups of sports fans in the country, now's not the time to start leaping off bandwagons and being fickle.

The same thing that's gotten us by a novel of other depressing moments in our teams' histories will keep us afloat once again: hope.