As expected, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer’s comments about the upcoming Ohio State-USC match-up in September on a Los Angeles radio station (http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/6066 ) got Buckeye fans around the nation fuming. The reaction is not surprising, given the die hard loyalty of Buckeye fans nationwide, but as an anomaly in Cincinnati (a fan of both the Buckeyes and the Bengals) I find the reaction to Palmer’s comments from Cincinnatians intriguing.
As evidenced by the responses left on fellow Bleacher Report writer Justin Anthony’s article (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/22213-brian-kelly-wants-a-rivalry-with-jim-tressel-and-the-ohio-state-buckeyes), it’s obvious that many Cincinnatians are in agreement with Palmer regarding Ohio State.
Perhaps a little history lesson is required to explain Cincinnatians’ malice toward the Buckeyes:
The City of Cincinnati, despite having some of the best high school football teams in the state, has always been a weak spot in the State of Ohio for Buckeyes support. Of course head coach Jim Tressel manages to get big recruits out of the Queen City, but you don’t see the same number of scarlet and gray supporters in the Tri-State that you find in Columbus and Cleveland.
Much of it has to do with the University of Cincinnati. That’s not to say UC is a bad school (by all means, it’s a great school in certain academic fields), but hatred toward the university 125 miles to the north is nothing new. Ohio State has always been the largest university in the state, with UC being second-largest. From a sports fan’s perspective, the difference between the two schools is night and day: Ohio State is typically regarded as a football school, while UC’s strength is its basketball program. That’s not to say there aren’t any Buckeye basketball fans or UC football fans.
For what its worth, whenever UC and Ohio State play each other in football, the Bearcats typically give Ohio State a rough time, as evidenced by their 2002 meeting at Paul Brown Stadium when the Buckeyes barely eked out a 23-19 win.
Ironically enough, both of UC’s basketball championships in 1961 and 1962 were won in victories over the Buckeyes.
So why all the hatred from most Cincinnatians toward Ohio State? While UC is one indicating factor, the city’s location, and in turn the short distance to other major universities, is another reason for the anti-Buckeye sentiment. Given the city’s large Catholic population, it’s not uncommon to see support for Notre Dame all over town. Not only that, but college football’s “Cradle of Coaches” is only a 45 minute drive north: The University of Miami in Oxford Ohio. The alumi living in Greater Cincinnati make up a large portion of Miami’s fan base. Finally, being right across the river from Kentucky, many Cincinnatians support the University of Kentucky, having connections to the Bluegrass State. Wildcat football fans, after years of futility, have finally had something to cheer for the past few seasons.
So while us Buckeye fans angrily talk about what we’d like to do to Carson Palmer if given the opportunity (lest we forgetthat the guy is just sticking up for his alma mater), you’d have a hard time finding a Cincinnatian who disagrees with him. He may encounter a lot of former Buckeyes in the Bengals locker room who like to brag about their college, not to mention the team’s owner (Mike Brown, the son of Ohio football god Paul Brown, who won the Buckeyes their first national championship in 1942), but he’s only saying what many Cincinnatians have felt about Ohio State for a long time.
Would you blame him?