Queen City Spring Games Makes Sense for All Parties
By Brandon Castel
COMMENTARY — What came first, the chicken or the egg?
The causality dilemma is nearly as old as philosophy itself, and for ancient philosophers, it evoked fundamental questions of how life and the universe around us began.
Today, it is more commonly used as a way of signifying the futility of identifying the first case of a circular cause and consequence. How do we know whether there was a chicken to lay an egg without there first being an egg to hatch said chicken?
If the egg came first, where did it come from?
Such is the argument with Ohio State and the widening gap between the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati. By car ride, they are a mere two hours apart, separated by the 107 miles it takes to drive southwest on Interstate 71.
In mindset, they might as well be in different countries, entirely.
When it was announced Ohio State was considering the idea of holding its 2013 Spring Game in Cincinnati , one reporter—who may or may not be a colleague of mine at The-Ozone—asked why they simply didn’t hold it in Russia.
NCAA rules actually prevent schools like Ohio State from holding its spring game somewhere outside the state borders, but Cincinnati might as well be Russia, at least when it comes to the Buckeyes.
Cincinnati has been largely ignored by Ohio State head coaches for, well, far too long—especially when it comes to recruiting. Folks in the Queen City have been more than willing to ignore the Buckeyes right back.
Well, not quite all of them.
Ohio State has landed a few big names from the area over the years, including quarterback Greg Frey, tailback Carlos Snow and wide receiver DeVier Posey. They also snagged a 5-star offensive lineman named Connor Smith out of Colerain High School in 2006, but Smith never panned out with the Buckeyes.
Exactly which side started overlooking the other first is an argument (nearly) as old as the chicken or the egg. Cincinnati has sent more quality football players to schools like Notre Dame, Boston College and even Michigan over the past 2-3 decades than it has to the football powerhouse just two hours north.
That was certainly true under former head coach Jim Tressel, who developed a pipeline of talent from Cleveland to Columbus during his decade of dominance at Ohio State.
“From 2002 through 2011, he offered roughly as many players from one school in Cleveland (Glenville) as he did the entire greater Cincinnati area,” said Marcus Hartman, a Cincinnati native who writes for Buckeye Sports Bulletin.
“Overall, he signed 39 Cleveland area players compared to 22 offers (and 9 signees) in the Cincinnati area.”
Part of that can be attributed to Tressel’s familiarity with the Cleveland area. After all, he grew up in Berea rooting for the Browns while his dad, Lee Tressel, was coaching at Mentor High School and then Baldwin-Wallace College.
It might also be attributed to the underwhelming sense of acceptance the Buckeyes have felt in their sister city to the south. Unlike the more secular/liberal city of Cleveland, Cincinnati is a predominantly Catholic area with traditional powerhouse high schools like St. Xavier, Archbishop Moeller and Elder all being hotbeds for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame’s current roster features five players from the Cincinnati area, and it has been one of the few schools in the country to yank players from the Buckeye State, even after they received an offer from OSU.
This is partly because OSU has not typically come after Cincinnati kids as hard as it does kids from Cleveland—or even those from Dayton and Toledo.
That should change under Urban Meyer.
Kids in most Ohio cities are indoctrinated with love for all things scarlet and gray from birth, but Cincinnati is much more diverse when it comes to sports allegiances. There is a reason Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari threw out a ceremonial pitch at the Reds game this season, two months before Urban Meyer.
Cincinnati is actually closer to Lexington, Ky.—by proximity—than Columbus, which explains why the Wildcats are so big in the Queen City. So are the Bearcats. That might also help to explain the lukewarm relationship.
Since losing back-to-back national championship games to the Bearcats in 1961-62, Ohio State has all-but-refused to schedule UC on the hardwood. The two schools have met only twice since the ‘60s, with Thad Matta’s Buckeyes knocking off the Bearcats in the NCAA Tournament this March.
There is no hard evidence the Buckeyes have been intentionally dodging UC over the years, but I suppose there are also people who don’t think Mayweather has been avoiding Manny Pacquiao.
It has definitely created a bit of a complex amongst UC fans, who busted out the BUCkeye State t-shirts for their trip to the Sugar Bowl in 2009. They were promptly waxed, 51-24, by Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators.
Now Meyer is trying to re-build any burnt bridges between Columbus and Cincinnati. He started brilliantly by hiring legendary Colerain coach Kerry Coombs as his new cornerbacks coach, and moving the spring game to Paul Brown Stadium would be another virtuoso maneuver.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Queen City radio host Lance McAlister believes—or claims to believe in order to help his ratings—they should put a fence around the city to keep this from happening, but what could it possibly hurt?
There are plenty of loyal OSU fans in the city who would love to see their Buckeyes up close, and even more who would be willing to make the voyage from other cities in Ohio to spend their hard-earned money on the banks of the Ohio River.
A good chunk of it would end up in Mike Brown’s pocket, which seems to be his only real motivation. If nothing else, he should do it for his father, whose name still means something around Ohio; especially at Ohio State, where it stands across from Woody Hayes inside Ohio Stadium.
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