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Kirk Herbstreit Says Rose Bowl Not A Consolation Prize For Ohio State

The former Buckeye signal-caller and current ESPN analyst doesn’t think the non-playoff game is meaningless.

There was a time when reaching the Rose Bowl was the ultimate goal for Ohio State. If the Buckeyes won the Big Ten, they would traditionally head to Pasadena to take on the winner of the Pac-12 in "The Granddaddy of Them All". 

Utah fits that bill this year after the Utes won their conference for the first time, the feeling isn’t exactly the same for the Buckeyes, whose ultimate goal in today’s landscape is College Football Playoff or bust.

That mentality isn’t something that sits well with former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who will call Saturday’s game, which also involves his son, walk-on freshman tight end Zak Herbstreit.

After all, in his four seasons with the Buckeyes (1989-92), his teams only reached the Hall of Fame Bowl (twice), Liberty Bowl and Citrus Bowl, none of which are anywhere near the equivalent of a New Year’s Six Bowl like the Rose Bowl.

“Before we had the BCS and the playoff, the goal was always to go to the Rose Bowl,” Herbstreit said during a teleconference on Monday afternoon. “But how often did they actually go? Not very often, yet they still went to another bowl game and they were excited.

“I just don’t buy into this narrative of meaningless bowl games. These teams have always had goals of getting to the championship and it doesn’t happen all that often, but you don’t throw in the towel and say, ‘Well, we didn’t accomplish our goals.’

"It’s the Rose Bowl. We used to have to try to deal with a consolation prize being the Citrus Bowl. But it’s the Rose Bowl. Maybe these players, when they get out there on the field, it’ll dawn on them why it’s different and unique. I get being disappointed, but you’ve got to shake it off and move on to the next game and get that bad taste out of your mouth.”

Of course, the bad taste to which Herbstreit is referring is Ohio State’s 42-27 loss to Michigan back on Nov. 27.

It was the Wolverines’ first win in the series in 10 years and kept the Buckeyes from reaching the Big Ten Championship Game for the fifth straight year and the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive season.

Since then, wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett have all opted out of the Rose Bowl in order to protect themselves and their lofty draft status.

However, if it was up to Herbstreit, they’d all be suiting up for Ohio State one last time this Saturday.

“I hope this isn’t our new norm,” Herbstreit said. “I hope it’s just an era that we’ll get out of. Is the Akron game a meaningless game in September? Are we just going to pick and choose which game has meaning?

“You go and play and compete your ass off. That’s what you do. That’s your job.”


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