Archive for the ‘General Sports’ Category

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Open letter to Ohio State sports fans

April 23, 2007

Note: I wrote most of this on April 3rd, immediately after the NCAA tournament final and before I saw the reaction of the city.  So while not all contained below is still relevant, I still wanted to finish this up and get it out there. 

Dear Ohio State sports fan:

Please be aware of how lucky we are.  In the past seven months, we (yes, I’m included here) have been blessed as fans.  With the success of the university’s major sports programs, Buckeye fans should be grateful.

As everyone knows, OSU football rules in central Ohio, often to extremes.  In most years, OSU basketball is something to be followed while football is out of season.  A distant second, if you will.  Still, year in and year out we dutifully camp out at tailgate parties, line up at Ohio Stadium and Value City Arena, crowd in front of the television set, or huddle around the radio to enjoy our beloved Buckeyes.  Whether you’re an alum, born a Buckeye, or a convert: you know there’s nothing like watching and cheering the scarlet and gray.

Since September 2nd, 2006, the football and basketball Buckeyes have done the following:

  • Earned a combined (47-5) record. (12-1) for football and (35-4) for basketball.
  • Won a football and basketball Big Ten Championship.
  • Played in each sport’s National Championship game.
  • Been led by a Heisman Trophy winner in football and the National Defensive Player of the Year in basketball.
  • Provided a lot to be proud of for their mostly loyal fans.

Why do I say “mostly” loyal?  Those of you who didn’t want to face Florida in the final basketball game know why. 

Some Buckeye fans were so distraught at the January 8th drubbing at the hands of the Florida Gators in the BCS title game (41-14 final for those keeping score), that they couldn’t bear the thought of losing to the basketball Gators in the basketball final and having to “suffer the ridicule” sure to be inflicted upon them from Florida fans.  Really, is that what it’s come to?

No other Division I program can say that their two money sports had a combined winning percentage of over 90% during this past school year.  Even Florida, who earned both national titles, can’t say that (they come in second at 88.9%).  I understand that the ultimate is winning the title, but when you have roughly 119 teams competing in D-I football and over 300 competing in D-I basketball I don’t think it’s realistic to expect to win either of these titles in any given year, let alone both.  (I understand that realistic expectations are not part of every Buckeye fan’s arsenal).

“But,” you say, “the Florida Gators have accomplished just that, beating my Buckeyes to win each title.” 

It’s true.  And the football and basketball programs in Gainesville should be receiving all the credit in the world for what they’ve accomplished.  Winning it all is the goal, and they’re batting 1.000 this year.

“So, Drew… what the hell is your point?”

I have two points, I guess. 

First, that I think it is shameful for any true Buckeye fan to not be supremely proud of our Ohio State athletes after the year they’ve given us.  Losing two title games in three months is nothing to cry about.  You’ve had the joy of watching guys who will be “one-namer’s” in Columbus for a long time: Troy, Teddy, Gonzo, Oden, and Conley.  You’ve jumped out of your chair in disbelief at hail mary passes, nail biting victories, lightning quick steals, and thunderous dunks.  You cheered and exhorted at every turn.  Losing a final game is no reason for these athletes to see your back turn, or to watch you crawl into a blanket because you can’t bear to watch another damn Gator Chomp.

Secondly, and I guess this is related to the above point, regardless of what many obsessed OSU fans may think: it’s not our God-given right to win every game, title, and award there is.  I was as disappointed as the next guy when the football Bucks got decimated in Glendale.  But from a purely sociological standpoint, I was fascinated.  In the span of 24-hours, the team went from being king to a failure.  Staunch supporters didn’t want to show up to work the next day because they didn’t have to think about how bad their team lost.  Then the basketball team, starting two freshmen, takes the team and the city on an unforgettable ride through the NCAA tournament only to lose in the final game to the same Florida school that dismantled their football brothers.  If you’re the sort of person who would go to the airport to welcome home a champion, I hope you made it to give the Buckeyes a hero’s return from Atlanta.

Before the tournament started, the prevailing attitude among Buckeye fans was this: we’ll be happy with a Sweet 16 berth, and anything beyond that is icing on the cake.  A Final Four appearance would almost be too much to ask and we’d be elated to play in the final game.  As the final weekend began, there were some callers to local sports radio shows who were ready to forsake the Buckeyes if they didn’t win it all. 

As I’ve seen since, Buckeye fans seemed to have taken the basketball loss better than the football loss.  The question we all wait to see answered now is how will these two teams after losing such notable players as Troy Smith, Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, Antonio Pittman, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and Daequan Cook?  Some losses will hurt more than others, but my hope is that although the characters in the play have changed the audience will still cheer as hard at the curtain call.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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Midweek Hit List

March 14, 2007

I decided it’s time to end the temporary hiatus.  I’ve got a few things rolling around in my head, and that’s what this site is for, so here we go.

  • Due to travel and other constraints, I haven’t seen the Jackets play since March 3 against Phoenix.  I did catch the overtime session against LA, but other than that I’ve not had my hockey fix.  Having read through the Dispatch recaps and those at Army of the Ohio, it looks like CGMDM is sticking his nose in things a bit too far and Alex Svitov’s return to the lineup has relegated Geoff Platt to the fourth line.  The dude (Platt) finally picks up his first NHL goal and one game later he’s playing with Jody Shelley.  I’m not saying that Platt is the next coming of Martin St. Louis or Daniel Briere, but I think his style fits the Nash/Vyborny line better than does Svitov’s (who’s not exactly Todd Bertuzzi / Jason Arnott in his prime, either).  It seems as though CGMDM believes that just because Svitov is paid around twice as much as Platt, that he’s twice as good (or at least he will get twice as much opportunity to make Dougie look smart).  If Platt fails, it’s a cheap gamble.  But if Svitov fails, it’s a more expensive mistake.  And we all know that MacLean doesn’t make mistakes, so Svitov is going to play (a lot) until he’s either 1) worth his contract, or 2) his contract is expired.  I hope Freddy Modin doesn’t mind (since he’s stuck here, too).
  • Last night I was able to confirm that Truth Serum is real, and not a hockey-knowledgeable figment of the internet.  We got together and talked (okay, mostly he talked but his stories are much better than mine) for a few hours about hockey, the Blue Jackets, the site, etc.  Most of the people I see on a daily basis are at best casually interested in hockey.  It was enlightening to be able to sit with someone who obviously grew up with the game and has stuck with it at many levels throughout adulthood.  I think that there are some good things coming down the road at the End of the Bench, and Truth will be a vital part of these projects.
  • Baseball is coming up right around the corner, and I’m moderately excited.  The Reds look to have a decent combination of pitching, defense, and offense.  At this point it’s hard not to think that they could be contending in September.
  • College basketball is in the home stretch, as the NCAA tournament starts tomorrow afternoon.  The field seems pretty wide open with any of four to eight teams being legitimate contenders, including the Buckeyes.  Regardless of the outcome, two of the greatest days of the year for sporting events are this Thursday and Friday.  Thirty-two games in two days, all on television, and every one of them means something.  Grab your seat in front of the tube early, and plan to have your heart (and bracket) broken by some 12-seed.

The Jackets play tonight in Anaheim, radio only.  Friday at San Jose and Saturday at LA.  Then a stop in Detroit next Thursday before they make it home on Sunday the 25th.  As was reported in the Dispatch yesterday, it’s likely that Columbus will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs sometime in the next week.  But everyone here (and, well… everywhere) knows the lights were dimming by the end of November, and they were turned off during the six game homestand in February.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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Dollars and sense

March 8, 2007

This post is in reponse to the comments on the previous post.  Please read these to give you some context for my words.  A few excerpts from the comment string:

From Tyler (of The Jacket Times):

I’d really like to see the Jackets move, but the Red Wings should get first dibs. One notable thing about the Wings is that they have proven that an Eastern Time Zone team can win out west, despite time zones, jet lag and travel times.

From Patrick:

Regarding Bettman’s tenure as commissioner in the NHL, revenue streams have increased astronomically since he came into the league. Regarding Bettman having to do with anything that goes on the ice; that is really determined by many committees that are chiefly run by the general managers and owners. The competition committee that was led by Brenden Shanahan two seasons ago is the chief architect of the new rules. Remember Bettman works for the owners who pay him. If the owners did not like the job Bettman was doing, he would not be there. Bettman is a conduit, politician, and quite clever and hard working. The game is going through a renewed set of growing pains(since the lockout) and really the game has never been better on the ice. With the Crosby’s, Ovechkins, Staala, Malkins, Phaneufs and Kopitar tonight, what a future for the game.

From Matt (of FireBettman.com):

How is Bettman clever? Clever in how he can trick the fans and others maybe. Bettman *should* be there to make the game better, not listen to the owners. He should stand up to them if he thinks something they want isn’t right… but I have a feeling he doesn’t know enough about the game to know what’s right or wrong for it. I wonder what Bettman’s salary is???? I guess it’s easy to do what you’re told when you’re being paid a hefty salary by them.

And who cares if revenue is growing right now?

My response:

Tyler- I think you’re right that Detroit has helped to prove that a Western team in the Eastern time zone can win. But they have also had the benefit of two expansion teams in their division since 1998 (and the Blackhawks). Still… good point.

Patrick- I think you and I are on the same page.  Keep reading.

Matt- I hesitated to write this [last] post because I knew it would elicit polarizing responses, but decided to proceed because I don’t want to censor myself. The many sides of the Bettman issue remind me of bad political debate, with neither side willing to concede an inch even when a good point is made.

While some hockey fans may not appreciate what has happened to “their” game during Bettman’s tenure, there are a few things that everyone with an opinion on the issue should know. The first were touched on by Patrick above, that many committees have implemented rule changes and other things that Bettman haters love to harp on. Why is no one knocking on Brendan Shanahan’s door asking why he helped to approve the shootout?

On your website, you link to Gary Bettman’s Wikipedia entry, which notes that like NBA commissioner David Stern, Bettman has very little connection to the actual game/sport of hockey (which brings me to my next major point that Patrick also mentioned above).

Gary Bettman works for the owners. Not the NHLPA, not the fans, and not “the game”. Owners of a team are very likely preoccupied with one thing: money. So I would argue that while maybe you and many others don’t care if profits soared astronomically under Bettman’s watch, the owners most certainly do. I think a lot of people have a misconception that owners of sports teams (and I honestly believe that this applies to all four major sports leagues) are less concerned with the integrity of the game than they are with the almighty dollar. There will be those who appear to buck this trend (maybe Mark Cuban?), to be sure. But to think that John McConnell or 99% of most other owners care more about shootouts, realignment, poor scheduling, and the flawed point system more than “money money money” is simply ludicrous.

Professional sports is no longer about a game, it’s about business. Where fans like you, me, and anybody else who gives a lick get frustrated is when the business goals are out of alignment with the goals of the game. Art Modell moved a very successful franchise away from Cleveland. Why? It all boiled down to money. Why did any of Hartford, Quebec, Winnipeg, Minnesota, et al move? For the money. Nobody is arguing that fans in Winnipeg are any less deserving than fans in Phoenix to have a hockey team to watch. But the ownership group got a better financial package to move, so they did. It’s sad, but it’s not like this stuff started 10 years ago. Sports teams have packed up and moved for decades. It’s not about the game, it’s about the dollar.

Owners care about money, Bettman brings them money. Those who write his check are very happy.

Yes, there are other issues.  But I think if you can accept the money issue for what it is, the rest of [y]our complaints are very ancillary and not specifically adjudicated by evil Gary alone.

I don’t know how many more times I’ll bring up Bettman in this (my) forum. Why? Mostly because I don’t love or loathe him. It’s hard for me to have an opinion about someone who is fairly removed from the actual game (hockey, not the NHL) that I love. But it’s obvious to me that there are people who have a very focused opinion on the commish. I’ll probably let them have their fun on their own sites, and I’ll stick to complaining about Doug MacLean.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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15 yards for excessive celebration – or why fighting should be in every major sport (just kidding)

October 20, 2006

It’s getting harder for me to watch football games these days.  It is not uncommon to see an act of celebration after every play. 

A defensive lineman stops the running back for a one-yard loss, springs to his feet (however fast a 300 pound lineman can do so) and does a little dance move on the field.  A receiver catches a 15-yard pass, is tackled, and gets up only to go down on one knee and make the referee’s first down signal.  A running back burrows through the goal-line defense to score a touchdown to bring his team to the wrong end of a 35-6 score, and looks like he’s possessed dancing back to the sidelines.  And of course there is the cornerback who deflects a pass away from the wide receiver, and spends the entire walk back to the line of scrimmage jawing with his opponent.

I’m not against celebrations, per se, but it seems like more and more players are transforming their post-play actions from sharing a fun moment with a teammate or the crowd to a self-centered taunting of the opponent.  I feel that celebrating can be time appropriate.  If it’s the fourth quarter and your team is up by two, and you make a sack that pulls the other team out of field goal range, I can see running back to your huddle and sharing a high five or chest bump with your teammates.  If it’s the first quarter and you catch that 12-yard slant for a first down, keep your mouth shut and get back to the huddle.

There are public service announcements that tell kids to be good sports (and don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of these in the NFL as well), and then when the game resumes you’ve got any number of characters in the game doing the exact opposite.  It seems to me that too many players are worrying about perceived disrespect and how they can get back at an opponent for the slight. 

When kids see these outrageous displays, they emulate this behavior.  Professional athletes, despite the wishes of many, are role models to many children.  How soon until we see a field full of 11-year olds re-enacting the scene that unfolded this past Saturday involving the University of Miami and Florida International.  Competition brings out the best in some, and the worst in others.

What can stop the players from these self-serving displays?  Stronger parental upbringing?  Peer pressure?  I’m not likely to believe that these will help the current situation.  You’ll always have “good kids” and “bad kids”, doing as they learned.  I’m one who believes that the only way to control this type of behavior is through the organization.  In football, this depends on the level of play. 

In college, I believe that the coaches have a great deal of responsibility in making sure that their team practices good sportsmanship.  Limiting playing time based on bad behavior can be a great motivator.  This accomplishes the goal two ways.  First, the obvious negative reinforcement.  A player may be less likely to act out in favor of actually playing.  Secondly, if the offending individual is not on the field, he can’t commit the act. 

At the professional level, I don’t believe that this can be acheived as easily.  Players are no longer performing to get to the next level.  They’re getting paid big money to go out and be the best.  Cutting playing time likely won’t work as the player gets paid whether he’s sitting on the bench or hitting the field.  I’m not sure what the solution to this problem would be at this level.  My gut feeling is that levying personal foul penalties for anything resembling taunting would develop some level of accountability in players.  Last weekend, Larry Johnson tackled Troy Polamalu by his hair (not a penalty) and then hung on and (sort of) lifted him off the ground by his hair (certainly a penalty).  He was flagged, and his team suffered as a result.

Why not take the standard and broaden the enforcement?  In my NFL (which will never exist), a player could celebrate in a reasonable manner (no obscene gestures, etc.) after every play as long as it is with his teammates.  After you’re tackled or if you’ve scored, you don’t flip the ball at the opponent.  After you make a sack or a big hit, head back to the huddle to have a head butt and high five with your teammates.  If you break the rules (no taunting), it’s a 15-yard penalty.  Do this enough, and we’ll see how you like it in the locker room after the game, regardless of how much money you make.

Trash talking is a part of any competition.  Whether it’s a sporting event, card game (I do this all the time), whatever… it happens.  So why do I not care as much about trash talking as the obvious taunting?  Probably because the trash talk doesn’t translate to my living room.  By this I mean that I know they’re doing it, but I can’t hear it.  Physical taunts (including the facemask-to-facemask jawing) do translate to my living room, and to the living room of every youngster who watches and plays football.

I’m rambling, but you’ve made it this far so let’s keep going.  My next question is why don’t I see this kind of behavior in every major sport, or at least as much as I do in football.

First, basketball.  Okay, it’s in basketball.  I don’t watch the NBA (in large part because of the selfish behavior which changes the game dramatically from the college arena), so I don’t care as much.  But from what I’ve heard, David Stern (NBA commissioner) is cracking down on player disrespect to officials this year.  I think this is a good move, but basketball still has a long way to go.

Next, baseball.  Now we’re getting closer to my point.  A batter will generally (though not always) not show up a pitcher.  Why?  Because the next time he steps into the batter’s box, he doesn’t want a 95 mile per hour fastball in his ear.  And pitchers will generally not be too outrageous (unnecessarily) in pitch location because as long as they don’t play in the sissy American League (even still, good luck Tigers!) they have to face the same fastball to the ear.  Fear is a big motivator, and nobody in their right mind thinks that getting hit by a pitch is fun.

Lastly (I thought I’d never get here), hockey.  Why don’t hockey players strut around after a big hit, key assist, or short-handed goal?  Because they would probably get their ass kicked.  Not figuratively, like a locker room verbal tirade from a concerned teammate.  More literally.  Like when the offending player stepped out on the ice next, he has a neon sign flashing “I’d like to have my face beat in, any takers?”  Hockey players can regulate their behavior within the rules of the game.  Yes, penalties will be assessed for the fist fight, but a player likely won’t do it again soon.

My arguments are weak, I’m bothered too much by something that likely won’t change, and I’ve taken way too long to get my point across (taunting sucks).  All valid points.  But I got it off my chest, if only to ask: how many times will a Buckeye celebrate in an unsportsmanlike manner in any given Saturday game?

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Vacation at last

September 1, 2006

It’s September (finally), and in the EOB household that means three things (in no particular order).

  1. Football is back.  I can rot in front of the TV on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for the next three months plus.  While the Buckeyes are sure to entertain this year, my Browns are much less inclined to do so.  In any event, I can quit pretending to like baseball for another six months (especially since the Reds went in the crapper the last week.)  P.S.  for those that don’t personally know me, I do enjoy baseball, but I have to have something to pick on.
  2. Hockey is about a month away.  The Bluejackets have marginally more hope of making the playoffs this year than in any previous, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking Stanley Cup in September.  Word on the street (and by street, I mean my house) is that NHL Center Ice is still a possibility in the EOB household.  With a new TV in the mix with picture-in-picture, could I actually be sick of hockey by the end of the season????
  3. I’m headed on vacation.  For six years running, Mrs. EOB and I have skipped town the first or second week of September and headed to Tennessee to relax in the hills/mountains.  The last few years, other friends have gone with us and we’ve all had a great time.  I’m hoping that when my yearly vacation allotment runs out this year that I’ll come back to good news regarding the Zherdev situation.  My better sense tells me that I should just enjoy my time off, because some things won’t change.

My point of the whole post is that I’ll be gone for a week and won’t be updating again until at least the 11th.  Stay tuned to Michael at Army of the Ohio for your dose of CBJ news, and the usual suspects for everything else.

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Random musings

July 31, 2006

Who said that?

Great post over at Abel to Yzerman on the differences between the mainstream media and bloggers. Citing a post on True Hoop, A2Y primarily discusses the reluctance of the MSM to credit or reference competing media sources.

As the casual internet-using sports fans (those who stick to the ESPN, SI, CBS Sportsline, etc. sites) begin to access the good writing that can be found, I think that the bloggers who stick it out (and don’t produce swill) will slowly be legitimatized, not in the least for the things mentioned at A2Y and True Hoop.

Forum madness

I’ve recently joined the forum community over at Kukla’s Korner. I’ve lurked on many forums (from topics ranging from music, home repair, hockey, and poker to name a few) for years, but never posted at any of them. The primary reason is the number of complete morons who exist solely to berate the decent (or otherwise) posts of the civil minority.

Thus far, there does not seem to be any of this behavior in the Kukla Kommunity. I know it’s a relatively new forum, but the discussion does seem to be intelligent, reasonably thoughtful, and devoid of aforementioned morons.

Congratulations and thanks to Paul for putting this up here for us to use.

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Unloveable pariah

July 28, 2006

It’s been a slow news week for us Blue Jacket fans. Sergei Fedorov went for a ride with the Blue Angels, but there’s not much in the hockey sense to report.

In the past week:

The Reds have gone 4-2 and still lead the National League Wild Card race by 2 ½ games.

The Browns have lost their newly acquired starting center, LeCharles Bentley, to a knee injury on the second day of training camp. At least we can temper our expectations before the season starts.

Floyd Landis has failed a drug test and may be stripped of his Tour de France victory. I’m not sure which surprises me more; that the instantly loveable Mennonite might be a druggie, or that I don’t really care.

Hockey bloggers everywhere have struggled to maintain focus. In the aftermath of the beginning of free agency, so many are experiencing their first truly slow period since starting their blog. Many hockey bloggers seemed to start their current sites either during the lockout or during the beginning of last season (not me, I’m always behind the curve).

Last summer, there was the lockout to write about and plenty to fuel the stream of words. As the labor dispute was settled (however long it lasts), the community was giddy with anticipation for the return of the game. The season progressed (breaking only for more hockey during the Olympics), and the Cup finals went the limit. Scarcely had the Caniacs started partying when the entry draft took place, soon to be followed by the opening of free agency. Now, with over two months before the regular season starts up, things are a little quiet.

I, for one, think this is a good thing. Before we know it, the season will be upon us and we’ll all have more to write about than time in which to do so. Abel to Yzerman and Behind the Jersey will write about the Red Wings and their quest to maintain Central Division dominance. Cason and The Penalty Killer will chronicle the Canes’ victory tour. James and Eric will keep us updated on things everywhere. Jes will have the Balastik Monitor rocking to keep everyone apprised of the best shootout artist this side of Jussi Jokinen. And here at home, Army of the Ohio (with a newly redesigned site) and Death Cab for Woody will dutifully track the CBJ and their quest to crack the second season. There will be plenty of great writing. But everybody needs a vacation, and I think we’re seeing a little of that right now.

Keeping in spirit, today I’ll address a topic from a different sport (one that never gets a rest here in Columbus), Ohio State football.

I got to thinking today (with a little help by eavesdropping on a lunch room conversation) about everyone’s favorite athlete here in central Ohio, Maurice Clarett. In the last four years, Buckeye football fans have seen the best and worst of Clarett, and the best and worst of ourselves. I’ll condense the story for those of you who’ve heard it before.

In 2002, Clarett was a star in the making. The starting running back from Day One, Maurice helped lead the Buckeyes to a 14-0 record and a National Championship. His brash style and me-first attitude may have been disconcerting to those outside the Buckeye family, but those of us in the circle didn’t care because we were winning. Clarett helped lead the Bucks over the rival Wolverines, and in the title game he made a brilliant play when he stripped the ball from a defensive player who was returning an interception thus negating a potentially costly turnover. He scored twice against Miami, including the winning touchdown in double overtime. Many in Columbus were already working the bronze for his bust in the hall of great Buckeyes.

So often in sports (and in life), we see extraordinary feats by otherwise ordinary people. Surely this wasn’t the case in Columbus. Clarett was not merely ordinary, but surely superhuman. Carrying a team to victory as a freshman was surely only the start. Unfortunately for all involved this was not only the peak of his involvement with the OSU football program, it was also the end.

It’s been (all to) well chronicled, the downfall of number thirteen. Falsification of police reports, suspension from the football team, failed attempt to enter the NFL early, ESPN articles laying out the wrong-doings of the OSU Athletic Department, pitiful training camp showing with the Denver Broncos, aggravated robbery charges, and so on. In the span of less than two years, Clarett went from being the king of Ohio to being a pariah. Pilloried in the media, at the water cooler, and in the minds of many fans across the country; Maurice is the story we still can’t escape from. But it’s not his fault.

Don’t get me wrong based on that last sentence. Maurice Clarett is responsible for all the legal trouble (falsifying reports, burglary) he has lived through. His challenge of the NFL to lower/abolish the minimum age for entry into the draft was a valiant effort. However misguided it may seem in retrospect, it takes courage to single-handedly step out against a billion dollar corporation. What is not Clarett’s fault is that he’s still the lead story all too often. For eight months or so, he had the good fortune to play for one of the great college football programs in the country. In the years that have followed, he’s had the misfortune to suffer the wrath of the fans of said program. To paraphrase William Congreve, hell hath no fury like a Buckeye fan scorned.

If Clarett had been a backup and still made the same mistakes, it wouldn’t be a story at all. But because he had led the team to greatness, things were expected of him. Athletes, especially stars, live by a higher set of expectation in the eyes of the public. How some fans are able to reconcile their self-imposed conflict is beyond me. The same people who were dancing in the streets celebrating the Buckeyes on top of college football, were later joining the mob with torches in hand when Clarett spiraled out of control.

Athletes are human, and personalities in a clubhouse will be as diverse as they are in your family, office, or social group. Some you’d invite into your home and let them watch your children. Others you’d just as soon meet through inch-thick glass and a telephone. It is an interesting exercise to observe fans cheer for both types of people at the same time, something that seems somewhat unique in my experience as this doesn’t seem to happen all that often in “real” life. I do not know Clarett personally, but he helped a team I follow to a title. For this I am grateful. I did (and do) not expect more from him. Maurice Clarett does not owe me anything. I feel disappointment for him, but I do not vilify him for the choices he made. Each time his face appears on television, or his name in print I don’t wrinkle my nose in disgust like so many do. Maurice made decisions that have affected his life, not mine. The sooner the people in Columbus can allow the circus that he has become fade away, the better for everyone involved.

Is Maurice Clarett an extraordinary talent who squandered his gift, or just another ordinary soul suffering from the same problems as the rest of us? Ask a thousand Buckeye fans, and you’ll get a thousand different answers.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.