Ah, the joys of a new server to bring you the midweek morass that is SBP. Thanks to everyone’s patience as we had a bit of a sabbatical earlier this week to upgrade the hamsters in the wheel.
Before we get into the usual links and fun-making, I wanted to talk a bit about fan expectations.
Over the past few days, Buckeye Nation has seen both sides of the loyalty of young adults, and hopefully our amazingly rabid fan base can gain a bit of perspective.
First, we watched in shock as Ohio State Senior (and tBBC favorite) Michael Brewster went undrafted in the NFL selection process. Even more shocking was that several centers from inferior programs did not suffer the same fate- Western Oregon? Michigan? C’mon…
While there are surely lots of reasons that this happened, including, as our friend Jeremy Birmingham pointed out, really REALLY poor coaching during his college career, it’s difficult to pinpoint one specific instance that led to Michael falling from a first rounder as a junior to an afterthought as a senior. It could be some of the season’s struggles- Michigan State and Florida both indicated that they could get a jump on their rush due to his rhythm (Might also explain Shugarts’ issues); at times his shotgun was a bit off target as well. It could have also been the “post-season”; reports that he had some challenges at the senior events, rumors of a rift that led to a last minute change of agent. Or, like many members of last year’s team, perhaps all of the off field drama and change caught up with him all at once.
But for Buckeye fans, our feelings of empathy and sympathy for Mr. Brewster were also tempered with another realization- this happened, in part, because he is a Buckeye. No, I’m not insinuating that the NFL is intentionally snubbing Ohio State players- the data proves that to be less than accurate. Instead, I believe the Michael cost himself lots of money because his loyalty to the program and to the coaches wouldn’t let him cut and run in the middle of the chaos.
Granted, we don’t know what went on behind the scenes other than this- of the members of the “Block O/Brew Crew”, Michael was the highest profile recruit and player to not find himself in the papers on a regular basis for off field issues, particularly during the past 13 months. To the contrary, as his friends and teammates (some of whom he helped bring to Columbus) continued to make decisions that led to last season’s issues and were over and over again sanctioned in ways that hurt the team, Brew was the anchor that sought to keep things together. During a time when it would have been easy to jump to the next stage in his career- first round projections, programmatic instability, loss of friends and coaches, Michael chose to stay in the Scarlet and Gray.
And that decision, in part, cost him on draft day 2012.
Let me be clear- Michael Brewster doesn’t need me to be an apologist for him. He’s landed with his home-town team (although Kansas City would have been nice for family reasons), and is bringing the positive attitude and hard work mentality to his current situation in the same fashion that he showed in Columbus. Tuesday’s Dispatch has a great article on where he’s currently at, including this great quote-
Just more people that I get to prove wrong. I think it’s an exciting challenge.
But you’ve got to wonder- if you took off your Ohio State glasses for a minute, and imagined that he was your son or grandson or family friend; If you knew in January 2011 how the season would end up for the Buckeyes, what would you tell him to do? Would you ask him to be loyal to his alma mater, or pursue his dreams in “The League” even if that made Ohio State weaker in a key position?
You’d hopefully choose the career option in your advice- particularly if you had the wisdom of hindsight. And yet, as fans, we often want young adults to think not of their own needs and dreams, but to have the same needs and dreams that we do- to be enthralled with Carmen Ohio no matter the cost.
And that brings us to Lewis Neal.
As you may have heard, Neal has de-committed from Ohio State after a quick verbal following the Spring Game. Michael at The Silver Bullet has a great interview with him following this decision, and even in the brief paragraphs there you can sense the tension that comes with being a high profile athlete making life impacting decisions.
Again, we may never know the full story and may never get to see Lewis in the ‘Shoe, if rumors that his offer is no longer valid are indeed true. But the fact of the matter is that Neal is making decisions that will benefit him and his calling and passions… and, judging by the comments that he makes in the TSB article, Ohio State fans are not OK with that.
I know that I’m banging my head against a wall of my own making here; that the same passion for our teams is what brings you to tBBC on a regular basis and allows us to outgrow our server. But, and this is not just true for Ohio State fans, it’s important to remember the part of these players’ lives that exists after they’ve been injured or drafted or graduated or transferred… and that, ultimately, if we want the best for our favorite program we have to also want the best for people who choose to be a part of it. Even if that choice only lasts a few days.
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