150 years after “the War,”  Southerners remain a peculiar sectional lot.  I know, b/c I’m one of them.  Who else, for instance, would comment on Ohio State’s perennial inability to beat teams from Southern climes in big Bowl games? 

Three years ago, Florida took the highly favored Buckeyes to the woodshed in the national title game.  Last year in the big show, LSU kicked them around the Super Dome to take the championship .   Last night in the right-below-national-title Fiesta Bowl, our neighbors across the Sabine, the Texans, had the honors.

One argument out there is the Big 10 Conference (Ohio’s home conference)  is simply overrated nationally, and as a result, their teams’ reputations during the season  turn out to be grossly inflated, as evidenced by the way the conference representatives get beat up in the post-season games against top teams from other conferences.   (There’s statistical credence to this argument: I think the Big 10’s record in Bowl games this year is a not-too-impressive one and six).

But I have another  hypothesis.  Ohio State’s problem is Head Coach Jim Tressel’s wardrtresselobe!  He shows up on the sidelines every game wearing a red or gray sweater vest with a tie.

Back in the 60’s, maybe such attire would have looked cool.  All of  the coaches in that era wore snazzy suits and sports coats (and don’t forget Bear Bryant’s trademark hound’s tooth hat).  If those old dudes would have slept in their clothes Saturday nights after the games, they would have been ready for church Sunday morning without having to change.

But in the contemporary era, that dapper look on the sidelines simply appears nerdy.   So how is it fitting that a rock ’em/knock ’em/down-and-dirty championship football team be led by someone who looks the part of a nerd?  It’s a contrary image.  It’s incongruent.  It’s contradictory.  It must cause some measure of embarassment to the players, potentially leading to the kind of demoralization that results in uninspired performance.  Ergo, they lose!

Truthfully, this hypothesis is not terribly plausible.  But it is amusing.  And if Coach Tressel is superstitious at all, and if he’d look for any common denominators in the past three Bowl games that he lost, one detail he could certainly change in hopes of breaking the spell is his wardrobe. 

How’s that for an outlandish suggestion?