As an Oklahoma fan, it's tough to think of the Sooners as one of the national media's golden boys. For every article out there praising OU's recent dominance of the Big 12, you're just as likely to find another biting "Big Game Bob" story about the Sooners' struggles on the big stage. In a way, you would think that would make Sooner Nation and Ohio State fans something of kindred spirits in the college football landscape.
If rabble rouser and Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com is to be believed, however, the media handles OU with kid gloves relative to Ohio State, creating an egregious double standard. "It's ridiculous. And it needs to stop," according to Rittenberg.
The latest outrage, which apparently pushed Rittenberg over the edge, occurred on Monday. After crushing Tulsa, Oklahoma moved up two spots to No. 10 in the latest AP Poll; meanwhile, the Buckeyes whipped Toledo and fell two slots to No. 13. Rittenberg surmises that Buckeye beater USC's loss over the weekend precipitated OSU's drop
in the poll. He notes, however, that Brigham Young was spanked by Florida State, but OU moved up.
Add this new slap in the face to the long string of pro-OU, anti-OSU actions by the national media that Rittenberg sees no need to detail. (By the way, agree with him or not, Rittenberg should be commended for bringing the injustice of a completely meaningless poll to light.)
But to put an end to this discrimination, don't we need to understand the "why" behind all the hate for the Buckeyes and not the Sooners? Rittenberg himself is silent on this matter. EDSBS posits one theory: geography; to which the folks at Burnt Orange Nation offer a compelling rebuttal, but no alternative theory.
If we are to assume that this phenomenon does, in fact, exist, I'd say the reason lies in an extension of the ESDBS argument. It's not that OSU is located in closer proximity to more people and larger media markets. It's that more people care about Ohio State than OU. OSU is one of the largest schools in the country. It draws more media coverage than OU, because there's a higher level of interest in the Buckeyes. With greater media coverage, the Buckeyes' struggles appear to be magnified relative to those of OU.
Allow me to offer a more straightforward explanation, though: this supposed double standard doesn't exist.
Regarding Rittenberg's AP Poll travesty, in his mind there appears to be no way to legitimate the voters' decisions. Yet, I could offer up a number of possible reasons why a voter would be inclined to rank OU ahead of OSU, as well as to move the Sooners up and the Buckeyes down this week. Maybe some voters think OU is a better team than OSU. Maybe some voters think OU is improving, while the Buckeyes have hit a ceiling. Maybe some voters are penalizing OSU for losing in Columbus to a USC team they no longer consider to be the juggernaut it once was. Maybe some voters are cutting OU some slack for losing on a neutral field after Sam Bradford went down in the Sooners' first game of the year. Maybe some voters are projecting how they think the season will play out.
Take your pick of potential justifications, all of which seem reasonable, even if you don't agree with them.
(For the record, I wouldn't have Oklahoma or Ohio State anywhere near the top 25 at this point. Neither has compiled a good enough body of work to merit inclusion.)
From a more "meta" standpoint, I have no idea how to even begin addressing Rittenberg's issues with the alleged discrepancies in national perception. Outside of this one supposed instance of bias in favor of OU, what are some other examples? So far as I can tell, this week's poll is it.
If that's it, let's save the outrage.