Thursday, June 03, 2004


Troy's Denlinger verbally commits to Ohio State
Where the heart is

I must say I'm underwhelmed, both by the news and by the articles.

Before I go any further, let me first offer my congratulations to Mr. Denlinger. He'll get to live out a dream by playing football for the Buckeyes and get a free college education in the process, and that's awesome for him. I love it when kids from my hometown and high school are awarded scholarships to play in college. I continue to root for them and follow their careers, and I'll do the same for Denlinger.

I just wish, personally, that he had gone somewhere other than Ohio State.

Born and raised in Troy, Ohio, just a little over an hour away from Columbus, I grew up a Buckeye fan. It was inevitible. Troy is traditionally very much an Ohio State town. Ohio State dominates the coverage of college football, to the point where you almost don't realize there are seven other Division IA football programs in the state (BGSU, Toledo, Miami, Ohio U., Akron, Kent, and Cincinnati). As I started getting into college football, Ohio State was the team I started following.

That began to change in the fall of 1997, when I started attending BGSU. I had become a hardcore football junkie by then, so I went to all of BG's home games, despite the fact that the team wasn't very good. I didn't feel any compunction about maintaining my allegiance to OSU, since they were obviously on a different level than BG was. Then something else happened.

My love of football first began with my high school's team, the Troy Trojans, and that didn't go away when I went to college. I started college at Wright State University, which is near Troy, so continuing to attend games was no problem. Even when I came to BG, which is over 100 miles from Troy, I still went to the games each Friday. I still do it. I missed one game last year, and it was the first game I had missed since 1997. I haven't missed a home game since 1991, when I was a freshman at THS. I'll do it again this year, and every year until it isn't possible anymore for whatever reason.

In the fall of 1995, when I was a freshman at Wright State, the Trojans started a freshman tailback by the name of Ryan Brewer. I'm telling you, the kid was an absolute joy to watch, from the moment he first stepped onto the field at Troy Memorial Stadium to the moment he left it for the last time after his #4 was retired immediately following his last game. I can't even put into words how special he was. Not only was he always the best player on the field, he was also the most determined, hard-working, and charismatic; in short, everything you want in an athlete.

I'm going to stop myself here before this blog rages out of control. I could rave about Ryan Brewer all day long if I let myself, as several of my friends can attest. Mr. Brewer will get an entry all to himself at some point in the future; today I want to talk about Ohio State.

Brewer wanted to go to Ohio State. They...well, they didn't recruit him, so he ended up playing at the University of South Carolina. Ordinarily this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but by that time I was spending time on Internet message boards, and most OSU fans were nasty in defending OSU's non-recruitment of him.

That's where my allegiance to the Buckeye football program started to slide. I tried to separate the team from the fans, but I couldn't do it. I essentially stopped caring about the Buckeyes, and was even known to root against them on occasion. When John Cooper was fired as coach, I thought that might make it better. It didn't. Also during this time, BGSU's program improved significantly, to a point where they're now much closer to the same level as Ohio State. That being the case, there was no longer any need to split my allegiance.

I've continued to scan OSU message boards and such, just because it's an easy way to keep up on recruiting in Ohio. The trend in their fans continues--the arrogance is often stunning. Granted, this isn't all OSU fans, but the obnoxious ones seem determined to give them all a bad name. Also, I went to a game at Ohio State last year when BG played there, and I had a chance to see firsthand how their fans (and even some stadium workers) treat opposing fans. Not so good. All in all, Ohio State has left a bad taste in my mouth over the years, no matter how hard I've tried to like them.

I still try to like the team, even if my interest isn't close to what it once was. They're in a different conference from BG, so the two programs don't really affect one another that much. I try to separate the football on the field to all the crap off of it, but it's hard. Even maintaining neutrality is hard. It would be great for college football in the state of Ohio if the OSU program would implode, and being a die-hard fan of one of the other programs, it's hard not to root for that. Still, Brandi is an OSU fan, and it's fun to watch the games together, and having personal connections (even if they're tenuous) makes it better. So maybe Denlinger will bring me back to the Buckeyes.

Oh, and the reason I'm disappointed in the articles (mainly the one from the Troy Daily News) is because I thought the Brewer mess may have created some bad feelings for OSU among Troy's coaching staff, and I thought they might have asked about that. Maybe that's not the case, though, or maybe the coaching change at OSU healed the wounds. Who knows? I was just surprised that there was no mention of Brewer at all.

Again, I want to congratulate Todd, and to make it clear that I'm happy for him. I hope he does well at Ohio State, and I even hope he wins a national championship while he's there. I'll definitely be pulling for him. I'm just saying that if I had been choosing, he would have gone elsewhere.

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