In light of the Auburn Tigers’ thrilling upset of No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs has gone on the campaign trail for both his program and the Southeastern Conference.
But rest assured, you will not hear Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith stumping his program. From players to coaches and all the way up to Smith’s office in a highrise building across the street from the Buckeyes football practice facility, No. 2-ranked Ohio State (12-0, 8-0) is firmly focused on Big Ten Championship Game opponent and 10th-ranked Michigan State (11-1, 8-0).
With Auburn now firmly in contention for a berth to the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game, Jacobs went to bat for the Tigers and the SEC in light of the fact that conference now appears in jeopardy of having its streak of seven consecutive national titles snapped.
Florida State and Ohio State are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the penultimate BCS rankings, respectively, and Auburn figures to be the odd program shut out of the title game if the Buckeyes take care of the Spartans and their No. 1-ranked total defense.
“An SEC team can't get left out of the (BCS title game) with one loss," Jacobs said in an interview with USA Today. "We just beat the No. 1 team in the nation. ... And a one-loss SEC team that wins in Atlanta -- if it's us or Missouri -- you can't get left out of the BCS after you beat the No. 1 team. We have a better argument because we beat the No. 1 team."
Jacobs even went on in other interviews to use the phrase "un-American" to describe the SEC being potentially shut out of the title game while also describing it as an "impossible" scenario.
Smith, however, is cut from a different cloth. He appears reluctant to engage in a debate with other ADs through the media, and rightfully so. Experiences on the gridiron as a player at Notre Dame, and even as an IBM computer salesman, have taught him to focus on the task at hand, Smith told BSB.
This week, Smith said, he’s disregarding the BCS rankings because the task at hand is Michigan State, and that’s a tall task.
"I've learned in my life that you need to handle what's in front of us. What's in front of us is Michigan State," Smith told BuckeyeSports.com on Monday. "I'm not one of those guys that looks down the road because if you don't handle your business there is no down the road.
“If we don't handle the business in front of us the conversation is moot.”
Smith, ever the savvy media man, acknowledged that he was aware of Jacobs’ argument in favor of Auburn and the SEC but declined to directly address those remarks.
“I’ll give you a comment but it’s going to be boring,” Smith said with a laugh.
That fits nicely with what head coach Urban Meyer had to say at his weekly press conference.
"I'll have a comment on Sunday," Meyer said. "We play a game. For someone to ask about something after this game, I mean, that's cheating my football team. There will be conversation about what happens after this game until after this game.