On the third-quarter scoring drive that would eventually give Ohio State a 62-0 lead, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer faced a fourth and four at the Florida A&M 33-yard line.
Meyer could've attempted a long field goal, could've punted, or heck, he even could've just taken a knee, what with the game already so lopsided and absurd.
Instead, Meyer went for it. The Buckeyes got the first down and two plays later Ezekiel Elliott ran it in for another Ohio State touchdown in one of the worst college football beatdowns imaginable.
If anything, it wasn't that close.
"We overmatched this group on the offensive and defensive line," Meyer said in an understatement.
There was predictable criticism of Meyer on social media and, no doubt, living rooms and bars around the country. There may have even been a little of it in the stands of Ohio Stadium.
Who goes for it on fourth down when you're up 50-plus points to a team that had long displayed its complete inability to physically compete?
But the cries of classlessness were somewhat misguided. Meyer certainly could've managed the entire game better so it didn't get to that point – especially later in the game when it seemed even worse. This was obviously a non-competitive scrimmage from the start.
At that point though, his options were limited. Kick a long field goal would look just as much like running up the score. Taking a knee would be even more insulting than going for it. Punting from the 33 would've been only slightly kinder.
Besides, Urban Meyer isn't the athletic director or president of Florida A&M, the people responsible for signing the Rattlers up for a game that they had no chance to win, were at an increased risk for injury and were almost assuredly going to suffer a monumental embarrassment.
Meyer and Ohio State deserve some level of snark just for scheduling this game, but just about every football power does this (only Notre Dame and USC have never played a team from the FCS ranks, i.e. the former Division I-AA).
Besides, it takes two to dance and FAMU set itself up for this with a blatant money grab. The Rattlers were paid $900,000 to play the game. Money was the motivation. FAMU "needs" the money to fund its athletic department – a dubious concept since the 13,000-student school in Tallahassee, Fla., is anything but broke and about to dump the sport.
A couple hundred miles southwest, in Louisville, Kentucky, the Cardinals were similarly drubbing an overmatched Florida International team. Final score: Louisville 72, FIU 0. It got so bad there, the coaches – Louisville's Charlie Strong and FIU's Ron Turner – made a joint decision to keep the clock running for the final 18 minutes of the game.
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These kinds of games aren't new. They've been going on for years. They are so distasteful though that the Big Ten has actually banned its teams from scheduling FCS opponents such as FAMU in the future.
Offering the deal is bad enough. Accepting it is worse though. It's not Ohio State's full-time job to look out for the physical and emotional health of the FAMU players. It's the school's administration.
If Urban Meyer or OSU athletic director Gene Smith ever did a similar money-grab – say, $10 million to catch a beatdown from the Seattle Seahawks, then they would be rightfully blasted for their rampant commercialism.
As silly as a NFL-NCAA game sounds, this wasn't much better. FAMU is limited to 63 scholarships. Ohio State can have 85 – although due to NCAA sanctions, it's currently under that. The Buckeyes, of course, regularly land top recruits. FAMU doesn't.
That much the Rattlers knew and that's why just because someone is offering the money doesn't mean you take it. Yes, there has been a rash of teams from the former Division I-AA beating bigger-budgeted schools. North Dakota State has done it so often, ESPN chose to broadcast it's weekly GameDay show live from Fargo as a nod of respect.
FAMU isn't North Dakota State, however. It plays with great pride, has produced some great players and serves as the opening act of arguably the best band in college sports, but it isn't even at NDSU's level. No one could reasonably look at this and think they could go to Columbus and do much of anything.
Vegas had the spread at FAMU plus-49.5 points.
In the end, FAMU gained just 79 yards. They gave up 603.
Still, the Rattlers were signed up to play. They knew the deal and will certainly cash Ohio State's check. They brought every last moment of this humiliation on themselves.
This is on the Rattlers administration. They had no right to count on Urban Meyer to put the reins on his offense earlier to make this seem more palatable; not in a game that Ohio State probably shouldn't have offered, but FAMU certainly shouldn't have taken.
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