It was a quick turnaround for the former Ohio State athletics greats and Buckeyes fans that participated in the inaugural “Ohio State 4-Miler.”
The event, a four-mile run and walk for which a portion of the proceeds will go to the Urban and Shelley Meyer Cancer Research Fund, began some eight hours after Ohio State football had its hopes of moving up in the polls dashed by virtue of Alabama’s win Saturday against LSU.
In theory, an LSU victory, coupled with Stanford’s Thursday win against previously No. 2-ranked Oregon, likely would have seen the Buckeyes climb into the No. 2 spot. Essentially, Ohio State would be in charge of its own fate regarding a potential berth to the Bowl Championship Series Championship Game with three regular season games to go. It wasn’t to be, however, as Alabama pulled away from the Tigers during Saturday’s showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium before winning, 38-17.
The spirits of the former Ohio State athletes were far from damp despite Saturday night’s disappointment. Two former Buckeyes greats were downright brazen regarding Ohio State’s title fate, saying they expect them to be in the national championship game when the dust settles.
Bobby Carpenter, a Lancaster, Ohio, native and member of former coach Jim Tressel’s Buckeye teams from 2002-2006, said he watched the Crimson Tide upend the Tigers on Saturday and lauded the Alabama coaching staff.
“Alabama’s a very resilient well-disciplined team,” Carpenter told BuckeyeSports.com. “They’re very well-coached. They’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Carpenter believes Ohio State will find its way into the BCS title game. Should that prove true in the form of a matchup against Alabama or any other top-ranked program, he thinks the Buckeyes would give a good account of themselves in the national championship.
“The best two teams don’t always play for the national title,” Carpenter said. “Alabama’s been very consistent against bad teams and they play well against good teams. You can never have a let down. They’ve got the crown and someone has to take it from them. Until they’re dethroned, it’s theirs to lose.
“I think Ohio State can compete with any of those top teams. It’s just about having a chance and an opportunity. If they ever get a chance to go out on that stage, I think they’ll have to play well and they’ll be able to do that. It’s tough to win every game. That’s why I put a lot of credence in going undefeated.”
Former Ohio State defensive end Matt Finkes, a product of the John Cooper-coached Buckeyes teams of 1993-1996, said he feels the same way as Carpenter.
Before delving into how the Buckeyes match up with the nation’s best teams, Finkes gave a jab at Michigan.
“You can’t count on Michigan guys to get the job done,” Finkes said in reference to former Michigan player, intern, assistant coach and current LSU head coach Les Miles. “You can count on (Missouri quarterback and Kenton, Ohio, product) Maty Mauk, a good old Ohio boy, to get the job done in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama.”
Finkes pointed to Alabama’s pass defense as one area of weakness for America’s No. 1-ranked team. He also said that Ohio State has a good chance to be in the national championship discussion at the end of the season.
“Winning 21 games in a row is no accident and I think that if we keep going, good things are going to happen,” Finkes told BuckeyeSports.com. “There’s a lot of football left to be played. Historically, there’s going to be one or two teams at the end and we just need to be one of them.”
Ohio State 4-Miler
The first edition of the Ohio State 4-Miler went down in Ohio history as the all-time largest inaugural road race with a sold-out field of 10,000 runners and walkers. All participants finished on the 50-yard line inside Ohio Stadium and received a finisher’s medal featuring the Buckeyes’ home field.
“It’s a great race for a great cause,” Finkes said of the race. “This is what makes Ohio State special.”
“It going to be exciting to see how much they can grow this in the years to come,” he said.