Tag Archives: Maurice Clarett

Has Buckeye Nation Lost Perspective?

Buckeye Football is fine. Photo Credit: Nike.com

 When the Iowa Hawkeyes drubbed the Buckeyes 55-24, pretty much ending their College Football Playoff hopes, many Ohio State fans threw in their collective towels and called the 2017 season a loss season. But, if the Buckeyes win out, they’ll be B1G Champions for only the second time in Urban Meyer’s tenure. A conference title will land them in either the Fiesta or Orange Bowl. There’s still the very small possibility of a College Football Playoffs birth if chaos occurs. So there is a LOT left to play for.
However, this defeated mindset leaves me ashamed to be an Ohio State fan sometimes. This fan base needs some perspective and I’m here to offer it to you.

As a 37-year old who was born after the Woody Hayes era unceremoniously ended, I missed the golden age he led in Columbus that propelled the Buckeyes to national prominence with 5 National Championships, 13 Big Ten titles and 16 wins over “That Team Up North” in 28 seasons.

My father raised by me on Buckeye football. I listened to him tell stories about the greatness of this program before my birth, yet as I watched as a youngster teams lead by Earle Bruce, I didn’t see it. There were no national titles, but he did win 4 Big Ten titles, 5 bowl games and was 5-4 against the Wolverines. Coach Bruce only had one top 5 finishes (1979) and had eight consecutive seasons of 3 or more losses. This program was no longer on the level of the Notre Dame’s, Nebraska’s, Oklahoma’s, Miami’s and Penn State (pre-B1G affiliation) who dominated NCAA football during that period.

Then there was the Cooper era, the period that hurts and haunts me still. Only 2 wins and a tie in 13 tries against TTUN. 7 bowl losses. 3 Big Ten Titles and No National Championships despite reaching the top 10 in Associated Press Poll 7 times and starting the season in the Top 10 four times.

It wasn’t until I was a 22-year old senior at The Ohio State University that I saw my favorite team play for a national title and win it, led by Jim Tressel, Craig Krenzel and super freshman Maurice Clarett. 22 years it took for me to experience my team win it all. Compare that to a current 22-year old Ohio State fan that has seen the Buckeyes win 2 National titles (2002, 2014), play for another 3, 9 outright/shared B1G titles and 15 wins in “The Game”, which include a current 5-game win streak. I’ll gladly trade my first 22 years of Buckeye football fandom for that of a current 22-year old.

 

These last 15 years especially have spoiled Buckeye Nation and distorted our perspective of how hard it is to truly be great in college football.

The schools that dominated the college football landscape of my youth (Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami, Georgia, Michigan) and even the turn of this century (Miami again, Texas, USC, Florida and Florida State) have all gone through multiple losing seasons, coaching changes and program derailing scandals. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have been at the top or in the thick of the Championship race. And when there has been a down season, scandal or coaching change (2011), the Scarlet and Gray quickly bounced back (2012; 12-0).

In the last 25 years or so, we’ve never had to hear the phrase “The Buckeyes are back!” like the Miami Hurricanes are hearing this week ahead of their matchup with the Fighting Irish.

So as you watch this 2017 version fight for a B1G Championship in clearly the most challenging Power 5 conference this season, remember the main goals are still obtainable. But more importantly, there are a lot of fans bases that would love to have our “problems.”

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Resurrected Buckeye

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Photo Courtesy: ESPN/Twitter.com: @ReeseClarett13

I have three favorite Buckeye Football players in my life as a fan, and they’re all running backs. Archie Griffin, Eddie George and Maurice Clarett. Clarett is the only one that doesn’t have a Heisman Trophy—he does have a National Championship Ring—but that’s okay, what he’s doing now is more valuable.

After spending three years and eleven months behind bars, Clarett has emerged to share his inspiring testimony that has not only captivated Buckeye Nation, but the Country. His ESPN 30 for 30 film, “Youngstown Boys”, aired on December 14th to rave reviews.  The documentary allowed a world of people, inside the mind of the young man with so much promise, who in his own words said, he threw it all away. For a decade many followers of Buckeye Nation despised him, calling him a sell out, accusing him of trying to take down their beloved Buckeye Football program as he faltered. But after the film, many were so highly impressed with his humility and turnaround, that he doubled his twitter followers that night. He’s now at 55 thousand.

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Maurice was kind enough to sign my Clarett jersey from the 2002 National Championship season. It’s going up next to my autograph Archie and Eddie.

He is currently in the midst of a Meet & Greet tour around the Columbus area, and it’s a long wait to meet the former Buckeye. That would never have been the case three or four years ago when he was first released from prison. Several fans still held a grudge against him. I went on the third day of the tour and he’s already sold out of his inspiring book. Those same people who sneered at him and made him the punch line of their jokes, now cheer and support him again as if he’s still breaking 50 yard runs in the Shoe after running over a couple of linebackers. It really is the best redemption story I’ve ever seen. You could even call it a resurrection of sorts. Clarett has always hoped to inspire and help people. It was something his former Head Coach Jim Tressel mentioned at length in the documentary.

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Get a copy of “My Life, My Story, My Redemption” from mauriceclarettonline.com

I just ordered his book “My Life, My Story, My Redemption”  from his website (mauriceclarettonline.com) and plan to start reading page by page as soon as it arrives. What I do know already about his story, is that what he has learned, and is now sharing, couldn’t have been learned at the height of his success as a star at Ohio State. Sometimes in life our greatest lessons are learned in defeat. It is clear Maurice has grasped the lessons he needs to continue to be successful in this new chapter.

10 years ago he inspired an entire fan base with his play on the field, 10 years later, he’s doing the same with his life off the field. Buckeye Nation should be more proud of him now, than they were when he scored that game winning touchdown, late that January Arizona night in 2003.

Had Clarett never been suspended for his sophomore season, he would have been the front runner for the Heisman. I’m confident in saying, with the talent surrounding him at OSU and the promotion from the athletic department, he would have won the bronze statue at some point in his career. But it’s clear, what he’s giving back now is worth more than the Heisman. I’m proud and all of Buckeye Nation should be proud to call him one of our own.

P.S. If you go out and meet him at one of his events or cross paths with him out and about, make sure to give kudos to his mother and his girlfriend. It took strong, faithful, devoted, caring women to help Maurice get to this point and they deserve plenty of praise for their roles in the resurrection of his dreams of inspiring people.

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Maurice with his team. Mother, Girlfriend & Daughter. Photo Courtesy: twitter.com @ReeseClarett13