Monday, August 20, 2007

When Does a Buckeye Stop Being a Buckeye?


Most football fans can point to themselves as either being disciples of the pro or college game, and invariably have a long-winded prepared speech about which one is more “pure” and thus worth following. I have been fortunate to have grown up in a Michigan football house, where Saturdays were about college football and the annual holiday was the Michigan-Ohio State game, the outcome of which would determine the mood of the household until the Bowl game.

During this time I lived entirely in Baltimore, a city with a football team blessed with a one of the best defenses in the league and an offense that plays like it’s 1954 (Coach Carr would be proud). As I got older each team grew dearer to my heart, and eventually Sundays too were about football, which added a whole new set of holidays to my schedule. These two worlds, while making my weekends busy with football viewing, rarely collided. That is, until April 29. 2007.

My beloved Ravens drafted Troy Smith (yes, THAT Troy Smith) in the 5th round, to potentially groom behind Steve McNair to be the starting quarterback one day. My heart sank, I had just felt this coming. I held my breath for every training camp report, hoping against hope that he might get cut early (though he is battling with former UCLA quarterback Drew Olson, a player I loved coming out of college, for the starting job) and I would not have to pick between my love for the Ravens and my utter disgust with Ohio State. I’d like to think that once out of college, a player starts fresh. I suppose that goes for Leinart, Quinn, Ginn Jr., and every other player to crush my dreams as a Wolverine, but Smith holds an especially devastated place in my heart.

I watched the Ravens preseason game last night, and tried not to see last year’s game in my head or any other Buckeye memory. I listened to Al Michaels narrate a montage of Troy Smith highlights, his Heisman win, and a listing of his achievements (including his 3-0 record against Michigan) and did my best to root for Troy in the purple and black. Coming in to start the fourth quarter, Smith made some nifty passes against the Giants 3rd string, but I found it difficult to get excited. On the last play of the game, down by one point and at their own 20 yard line, Smith dropped back waiting to launch a hail mary down field… and he was easily swallowed up and sacked by the Giants defensive line. I jumped up from my seat and yelled, “Yes baby, take him down!”

I guess if I will always be a Wolverine, he will always be a Buckeye to me.

4 comments:

Earle said...

Hey man, don't worry. I felt the same way when Krenzel used to stink it up for the Bears!

cheryl said...

As a Packer fan, I must say the love of AJ Hawk is really bothersome. Yes, he is good, but I shall not forgive him for his transgressions in college choosing. And then there's the whole being married to Brady Quinn's sister thing.

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