TMZ May Have Secured Ohio State’s Successful National Championship Quest

Ohio State fans around the country should be grateful for TMZ releasing the dash cam footage of J.T. Barrett’s arrest last week. Perhaps more importantly, we should be grateful for all the comments on Twitter, Facebook and other online message boards from internet trolls and OSU haters that followed the release of the video. It may be just the fire the Buckeyes needed at this point in the season to complete their mission to win their second straight national championship.

Like many Ohio State fans, I was disappointed, frustrated and angered by the video – more because of the timing of its release, as opposed to the content it displays. Barrett was arrested in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 1 – on a bye week – and was subsequently suspended for the Minnesota game on November 7, and has had to feel the wrath of public shaming that always accompanies the Court of Public Opinion. He plead guilty in his court appearance on November 10 and had his license suspended for six months, among other punishments – both legal and team-related in nature.

Aside from the actual boneheaded and appalling act of drinking and driving, Barrett handled the situation like a responsible adult throughout the process. He was respectful and polite to the police during the stop, went directly to Urban Meyer to explain his wrongdoing (as opposed to hiding and making excuses), plead guilty in court and will continue to feel the repercussions of his actions for a good while.

But it seemed so out of place for TMZ to broadcast the footage when they did. Punishments had been doled out, the case had been closed. Barrett was ready to move on, make amends and do whatever he could to repair his damaged persona, amongst his teammates and his millions of supporters around the country. Then the video came out – and suddenly Barrett looked just like every other stereotypical star athlete, thinking he should be entitled to special consideration and privileges. Commence Round 2 of public backlash on social media and online message boards.

I admittedly have never met Barrett and have no idea how he truly is as a person, but by all football-related accounts, he’s a good kid and a valued leader. From that standpoint, it’s a shame that he now has thousands of strangers – many of whom dislike him solely because of the university he attends – defiling his character online. To many, he is now an absolute monster – a dumb, irresponsible jock who drives drunk, gets away with stuff because of his “lenient” head coach, and thinks he should get away with it because he’s the starting quarterback at Ohio State.

And while it’s unfortunate that Barrett’s character came under scrutiny – by his own doing – all of this TMZ-related backlash does present a silver lining for the Buckeyes. The negative talk from analysts and fans of opposing schools around the country could help build a more cohesive team and provide a strong “us against the world” mentality that was lacking as top-ranked team in the country.

Given how respected Barrett is by his teammates, and how contrite he has been since the incident, the avalanche of negativity surrounding him will likely lead the team to elevate their performances and rally around him. I can see it now – on November 28, as the Buckeyes wait to run onto the field at Michigan Stadium, you can almost guarantee that Michigan fans will verbally berate Barrett with alcohol-related heckles. Moments before he steps onto the field, he’ll be mocked for everything that happened. And it will strengthen an inferno that is already raging inside of him – and to a greater extent, it will fire up his teammates to have his back in that hostile environment.

Make no mistake about it, TMZ’s release of that video has ignited a fiery “us against the world” mentality amongst this close-knit group of Buckeyes, and they’ll continue to ride that momentum en route to another national championship.

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