A collective facepalm for Ohio Bobcat fans this weekend, the likes of which include some recognizable sports names: Bob Brenly, Mike Schmidt, Thom Brennaman, Bulls radio man Chuck Swirsky and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King…and of course Bullpen Brian (Ha!)
More to the point, our Bobcats pulled a total Cubs move on Saturday losing to its long time rival Miami of Ohio 23-20.
Instead of playing for the tie with 9-seconds left in the fourth quarter, the heavily favored Bobcats made a risky decision to play for the win.
With the ball at the Rehawks 7-yard line, and facing one of the worst-ranked defenses in the nation, Ohio figured to have enough time for one last shot at paydirt before settling for a game-tying field goal.
The Bobcats, however, blew both chances in one snap.
On what turned out to be the game’s final play Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton lost track of the clock and took too much time trying to avoid a sack–he also forgot the Bobcats were without any timeouts.
By the time Tettleton was sacked there wasn’t enough time to spike the ball and kick the field goal. Game over, and with it Ohio’s undefeated season.
Similar to the Cubbies’ woeful ways, the Bobcats have been long-time losers in its football department since the early 1970s. But the hiring of former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich brought a Theo Epstein-esque excitement to Athens in 2005.
The program slowly but surely turned around under Solich with the Bobcats winning a league-best 46-games since 2006, advancing to three-straight bowl appearances and winning its first ever bowl game by defeating Utah State 24-23 in the Idaho Potato Bowl last season.
In fact, the past five seasons have been the best run in the program’s history. And when Ohio jumped out to a (7-0) record this year (including its Week 1 win vs. Penn St.) they popped into the Top25 rankings (No.24) for the first time since 1968.
Then in true Cubs form, Saturday happened and reminded us the Bobcats are still not ready for the big-stage but remain susceptible to its old bumbling ways.
In some fashion it’s a good lesson to learn regarding the turnaround of the Cubs as they rebuild from its 101-loss season.
It’s very possible Cubs fans could witness a long stretch of regular season successes once this rebuild gathers steam. But the true measuring stick will be how the Cubs perform under the pressures of October, when they’re the heavy favorites with a championship on the line.
If the Cubs’ learning curve to reaching a World Series takes a similar path to Ohio football, it seems we’re in for more North Side heart-break. But no one ever said losing habits are easy to break.