June 19, 2009
Ohio State's 2002 mythical championship team has come in for a bit of a bruising in a couple offseason retrospectives for looking nothing like a national champion on paper, precisely the reason I left the only 14-0 team of the last 100 years off my list of the best teams of the decade earlier this week. (Of the 25 teams I looked at for that post, only Washington in 2000 and Oregon in 2001 outscored opponents by fewer points per game than '02 OSU, and only those Ducks had a smaller advantage in terms of yards per game.)
Quite a few commenters expressed their, let's say, disagreement with that decision, but even an e-mailer who wrote to defend the Buckeyes had to admit, after a recent encounter with perhaps the grittiest and whitest of all gritty white quarterbacks, that the '02 team was defying pretty long odds to beat that Miami juggernaut in the Fiesta Bowl:
"Krenzel says he is still in awe of the fact they won."
From a guy whose stat line against the 'Canes was 7-of-21 with two interceptions and no touchdowns, he'd have to be. Really, anybody who actually went through that season would have to be, especially if he was on one end of the ballsiest play call of the decade:
Boise State fans are going to write in now to say "you mean the second-ballsiest play call," but you give me a choice between giving the ball to Ian Johnson on the three or Craig Krenzel on 4th-and-1 from the 38 to preserve a perfect season, that's not a tough call. No, calling your noodle-armed scholar's number in short-yardage is the gut-wrencher there, the one situation where fans are more likely than not to curse your name forever for not being able to grind out a yard against frackin' Purdue if that ball falls incomplete. But you can't win much of anything without occasionally telling the odds to go to hell.