Central to the Dickens story are the three ghosts who visit miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge - the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future visiting Scrooge, to get Scrooge to change his ways and embrace the true meaning of Christmas. Scrooge is transformed upon the conclusion of the story after the visits. (I truly hope I did not commit a literary spoiler there for anyone who may not be familiar with the story, in all sincerity.)
As I viewed the B1G conference championship game last evening, I felt somewhat like Ebeneezer Scrooge in the sense that I was visited by a ghost from the past. This ghost was the Spartan Ghost Of 1998.
Congratulations to Michigan State for winning the B1G in deserving fashion last evening. Below is a tweet I sent out, primarily directed to my co-worker friend Eric, who is a Michigan State fan ~
@EricReplied Congrats to Sparty for outcoaching & outplaying OSU. Good luck vs Stanford in Rose Bowl. Play well for B1G.
— Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich) December 8, 2013
How did the Ghost Of Spartan Present haunt Ohio State and its fans, you may ask? In the same manner that other teams have tried to hurt Ohio State throughout the entire 2013 season - attacking an inconsistent Buckeye defense.
Ohio State's secondary was the victim early, contributing painful penalties at the onset (what were you thinking, Doran Grant and Ryan Shazier, on that opening Spartan drive?). Ohio State fell behind 17-0 early, and it seemed like it was going to be a blowout.
Ohio State rallied in the second half, scoring twenty-four points to take the lead. No matter, as The Ghost Of Spartan Present was aided by curious Buckeye offensive play-calling, as well as a return by the Buckeyes to lackluster defensive play, and The Ghost Of Spartan Present won the game, 34-24.
And yet...I feel this loss to Michigan State is not as deep, or painful, as the 1998 loss.
Am I disappointed that Ohio State did not win? Absolutely. Would I have liked to have seen Ohio State contend for The BCS National Championship? Without a doubt. (More than likely, Ohio State seems headed for The Orange Bowl, versus Clemson, on January 3rd, 2014, from projections I have read.)
Yet 1998, The Ghost Of Spartan Past, haunts me more in comparison. Maybe it was because Ohio State lost at home, in the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium, versus Lucas Oil Stadium. (Yes, I will concede most of those fans in Lucas Oil Stadium were Ohio State fans.)
Maybe it was because The Ghost Of Spartan Past was an unranked Michigan State team, while The Ghost Of Spartan Present is ranked #10 in the country. Probably by the time you read this, the ranking of Michigan State will be higher, and deservedly so, after last evening's results are analyzed by the voters.
I believe this is the reason, and this is painful to admit ~ the 1998 Ohio State team should have won the national championship that season. Ohio State fans know it, and so do other true college football fans who remember that season, and that Buckeye team.
And while this year's team is good, and worthy of a quality bowl game, do you truly believe in your heart of hearts that Ohio State was capable of winning the national championship?
Because deep down, and maybe it is just me, I do not. And I have not throughout the season. And I also believe others feel the same way...
Another championship season becomes a might have been because of Ohio State's leaky defense. http://t.co/Oz4L9NWLrl
— Bill Livingston (@Livy70) December 8, 2013
The Ghosts Of Spartan Past And Present, haunting Ohio State fans yet again. What about The Ghost Of Spartan Future, you ask? Ohio State's next visit is scheduled for November 8, 2014, at East Lansing. The last time Ohio State visited, it was the Buckeyes' turn to haunt the Spartans. Ohio State fans can only hope it will be like that 2012 visit, and unlike the unwanted visits of The Ghosts Of Spartan Past and Present.