As Ohio State 63, Penn State 14 recedes into our dark and bloody past, let us not forget what We The People Of The United States really think about RUTS (running up the score).
Some of us think it's gauche. Some of us think we think it's gauche but then prove susceptible to it. Some of us say it's gauche but only out of insincerity.
Yet on balance, as a culture, we have a deep and abiding and traditional fondness for RUTS. Future generations might wish to uphold or discontinue this tradition, but it's very much a tradition. Those who play football under Urban Meyer might pick up important "lessons" here and there, but let's not engage in chatter about -- oh, please, help us -- "class." Let's say what we want. Let's acknowledge who we are. As Penn State has yielded its most points since Duquesne won 64-5 in 1899 and Twitter must have gone mad, let's concede that, overwhelmingly, the state of Ohio pays Meyer $4 million per year to destroy.
Let's look in the mirror and state our national motto: Coach, you win big now, and we'll think up the rationalizations later.
Let's return to October 7, 1916, when the football coach at Georgia Tech remained peeved because he also coached baseball, in which he had absorbed a 22-0 loss to Cumberland (Tenn.) an entire year-and-one-half prior. Cumberland dropped its football program, but the Georgia Tech coach held them to the contracted 1916 game, for which Cumberland cobbled together 13 guys who may or may not have played football previously. Georgia Tech went up 63-0 after one quarter, and 126-0 at the half. According to the Cumberland historian Frank Burns, quoted by Frank Litsky in the New York Times, the Georgia Tech coach said at halftime, "We're ahead, but you just can't tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be alert, men."
He agreed to compress the second half to 15 minutes, but Georgia Tech still rang up 96 more points for the esteemed 222-0 victory that fulfilled our treasured American value of revenge. Thereafter, that coach won a national championship in 1917 with wins of 83-0 over Vanderbilt and 98-0 over Carlisle Indian School. In 1918, he went 118-0 over Furman, 123-0 over the 11th Cavalry and 128-0 over NC State.
Our country clearly was appalled.
Once his career ended, his name faded from consciousness.
You never hear it anymore.
His name was Heisman.
In fact, in the grand old days of yore, when everything was perfect and America was strong and decent (except for inhumane labor violations and so on), there were scores such as Princeton 115, Virginia 0 (1890); Michigan 130, West Virginia 0 (1904); Rice 146, SMU 3 (1916); Oklahoma 103, Arkansas 0 (1918); New Mexico State 108, New Mexico 0 (1932); Wyoming 103, Northern Colorado 0 (1949) and, from the give-peace-a-chance era, Houston 100, Tulsa 6 (1968).
Why, if you jam your ear into the conch shell of history, you can almost hear the fans of those losing sides, lamenting the unparalleled embarrassment in the belief that the winner shouldn't be embarrassed but the loser should.
Then, let's go back merely 19 years to the twisted autumn of 1994, when another indecipherable college football season came down to unbeaten teams from Nebraska and Penn State, who never did get to play each other. As would happen in any rational sport, the championship would come down to who got the most votes in a polling system.
As would happen in any sport that makes no sense at all, the voters fancied scores to help them discern. When Nebraska beat Kansas State only 17-6 on October 15, it got docked. When it beat Missouri 42-7 on October 22, it vaulted past idle Penn State, which had the temerity to refrain from playing -- a week after it beat Ohio State ... 63-14. Yet those were only preambles to the madness of October 29, when Penn State manhandled Indiana at Indiana, leading 35-14 in the fourth quarter as the subs were freed to the field.
Against those subs, Indiana scored 15 more points, including a touchdown on the last play of the game, and AP voters docked Penn State, Nebraska remaining No. 1 from there. Now, as with many elections, there were just enough swing voters to make a tilt, but their power was left to stand. And, just looking at the overall schedules, "Nebraska proved more," as the late-and-great Beano Cook put it. If you agreed with that -- and I did -- voters got the right answer for the wrong reasons while making a mess.
Where the only questions should be three -- Did you win? Whom did you beat? And where? -- Meyer knows there's always a fourth. He knows a frosty handshake is a wee price for a gaudier ranking. A fine student of history, he knows scores have longstanding sexiness. He knows his country. He might even agree that the postseason college football awards program, already garish, ought to incorporate fresh prizes.
To be true to ourselves, there should be one for Best RUTS.
And then one for Most Creative RUTS, where challenging a ball spot while ahead 56-7 very well could snare a nomination.
And then one for Best Disingenuous Rationalization for RUTS where, sadly, Meyer might get snubbed. In the aftermath of 63-14, he did acknowledge that big scores do help. He did commit excessive candor.