We did it! We made it! We trudged through the winter, hammered through the spring and waded our way through the majority of summer and we have finally come to it: Football is upon us. While we yearn for the cool fall nights and big time matchups that come with October, November and now December games, we’re more than happy to welcome in 80+ degree temps for a few weeks and sweat through the opening weekends of college football. Despite the worthiness of opponents, these are meaningful games that count in the standings and they begin on Saturday. But for now it’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
Customs and traditions
Are you ready? No, I mean are you really ready for it? Did you spend last weekend or the early part of this week getting the necessities for your opening weekend prepped, planned and bought? Or are you one of those “last minute” folks that will wait until Thursday or (good Lord!) Friday evening to have the ship ready to sail?
What am I talking about? Well, I have a checklist that is broken down into two separate checklists.
Checklist 1: The week before
This list contains mostly paraphernalia and the like. It includes making sure that not only is the Buckeye flag that fly’s year round on the porch standing with perfection but adding the “in season” flag. The week before checklist reminds me that I have to make sure and dig out any gear that has been stored away for superstition purposes that can only be wore on game days and make sure that it is properly cleaned (or in some cases it is blasphemous to even consider cleaning it) and ready for use.
It reminds me to make sure all Buckeye blankets are properly placed throughout the house. It’s my list not yours.
Checklist 1 also brings attention to travel needs for road trips whether they be to the Olentangy River Road parking lots or to some venomous away stadium. Is the portable grille’s propane tank full and is there a backup? Are the drink and food coolers cleaned? You don’t want to have to deal with this stuff during game week. Get it done early, ergo checklist 1.
Checklist 2: The week of
This list will typically stay out for the duration of the season and act as a party planning tip sheet. Whether the show is going on the road or staying at the homestead, this list provides suitable food and drink options for a viewing that involves anywhere from 10-20 people in the living room to 8-10 or more in the aforementioned parking lots.
This list also reminds me about some of my favorite programs so I don’t miss them. The Urban Meyer call-in show returns, as does Buckeye Roundtable on 97.1 in Columbus. Of course, you have to make sure and note the BBC Radio Hour as a “can’t miss” each week.
Now comes decision time: Are we going with heroes and grinders for pregame or do we want to open the season with hot wings and chilli or some type of stew? I think while the weather is warm we’ll go the sandwich route, save the hot stuff for when the temps begin to drop.
What are some of your traditions and what is on your checklist? Tell me about it in the comment sections below!
Nerves of steel
I never played college football. I had the chance to play at the division 2 level and passed to stay home and attend Youngstown State. You win some and you lose some.
While I am getting older, the memories remain (see what I did there, Metallica fans) of my own playing days and the time I spent as a youth football coach. Sometimes on the nights before big games I lay in bed and imagine a big game I played in or coached in. I swear it feels so real, the feelings just come rushing back like it was yesterday. I get the butterflies and the rundown of “are we as prepared as we can be” or “did I do all I could do to be ready for this battle tomorrow” in my head. I’m just getting up in the morning, feeding the dog and watching a game. Yet here I am laying wide awake imagining what it must be like to be involved in something as huge as Ohio State football. I lose sleep and I love every second of it.
I remember walking out on the field at Struthers High School. We had a locker room that was part underground and part under the visiting permanent concrete stands. There was a stairway that brought us up from under the ground onto the track that circled the field. This stairway literally emerged from the center of the visiting stands, right in front of the entire visiting crowd and behind the visiting bench where on most occasions the visiting team had already made their way to.
When the door at the bottom of those stairs opened and we walked up the corridor onto the track, there was no sound. People were booing and hissing, the opponent was standing there staring us down, and yet there was no sound. It wasn’t until we made our way down the sideline into the endzone in front of our band shelter that sound would suddenly flood into the ear-holes of your helmet. When the home crowd and student section were in plain sight, standing and chanting, waiting for the fight song to play and us to take the field.
Those are moments I’ll never forget. And they were on the field playing for a division 3 high school team in northeast Ohio. It makes me think about the absolute nerves of steel it has to take to walk down the ramp, emerge from under the red hood into the endzone, hear The Best Damn Band In The Land explode into Across The Field and trot onto the surface of Ohio Stadium along side some of the finest athletes in the country with 105,000 people roaring.
Now imagine you’re Dontre Wilson. The hype of your decision on where to go to school. Finally getting to school and making a name for yourself in fall camp. Having writers all over the country (yes, the country) talk about your speed and how you may be the top freshman in the country this this year that nobody is talking about, until now. During this week you’re told by two time National Champion head coach Urban Meyer that after making the jog onto the field in your first game as a Buckeye you have a 50/50 shot that you’ll be on the field for the very first play returning the opening kickoff.
How much sleep are you getting on Friday night?
What is amazing is these kids, yes kids, step up and play the role. They walk out there and channel the juice into a positive energy and let it flow when they touch the field. Ask yourself and answer honestly: Could you do it? If you had to God given athletic ability, could you step up on that stage and perform at the high level we expect these guys to?
I wonder sometimes if being young is to their advantage? Perhaps since they are kids and they haven’t had the life experiences we have as adults and therefore maybe aren’t affected in the same way we would be if put in that exact situation right now. That’s not in anyway a negative, more the advantage to being young and naive.
Me personally, I loved the big show. The more people in the stands the better I played. The higher the stakes the more jacked I was to get it on. But that was at Struthers High School in the suburbs of Youngstown. I’d like to tell you that (if I had the ability) I’d have done the same at a major college program like Ohio State. Fact is, I’ll never know. Most of us will never know. And that’s one of the reasons why these kids are so special to us.They’re getting that opportunity and proving they can handle it. And they’re doing it in the colors of our favorite school.
Sure, they’re kids, but I admire the hell out of them. Nerves of steel, man. Nerves of steel.
The depth chart for the Buffalo game was released on Tuesday. It still lists Jordan Hall, as expected, as the starter at tailback. However, word through the grapevine and various credible sources is that Warren Ball should see the bulk of the carries from the tailback position with Hall playing the H and being lined up all over the field. Let the “Jordan Hall – Percy Harvin” comparisons begin.
I expect to see Freshman all over the place. Look for Mike Mitchell, Vonn Bell, Dontre Wilson, Ezekial Elliot, Cam Burrows, Eli Apple and several others to see lots of time against the Bulls. In his second season at Florida, Urban Meyer famously rode a freshman class led by Tim Tebow to a national championship in the 2006 season much to our despair. He is looking to do it again in 2013, make no mistake about it. While there is no Tebow, expect freshman to play a huge part in the chase for 8.
Chris Fields is listed as the starter at H. While he will see action there and very well may be the first guy on the field to line up in the position, I can’t see him being effective enough at the spot to keep Jordan Hall at tailback and the cast of young running backs on the sidelines. Unless Fields has made huge strides this offseason and is the best kept secret in the Big Ten… Hmmm…
The game in 2015 at Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech will be a night game (no surprise) and will be part of the ACC’s opening weekend Labor Day something or other series. What is the big surprise is that the game is going to be played on Labor Day night. So, the Buckeyes will open 2015 on Monday Night Football. Cost be damned, I will be in Blacksburg to see this one in person.
Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @ScriptOhio! As always, I’ll be tweeting pregame thoughts, halftime likes/dislikes and adjustments along with postgame thoughts. And every now and then I’ll send out a tweet actually during the game itself if something really demands it.
Wrap it up
I knew we could make it. We just had to stick together and stay strong for one another and the time would pass quickly. It’s been since The Game on November 24th of last year that we saw our Buckeyes in action in a game that mattered. Saturday they come back with a 12 game winning streak and the biggest stakes of all on the line: The chase for 8. It’s going to be a fun season. Until next week, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
It’s the start of a new season. Speed is one of the topics being mostly associated with Ohio State and their influx of talent under Urban Meyer. What better way to get it rolling than to go back to last summer in Atlantic City for Metallica’s tribute to speed, live from Orion Music and More 2012 here is Fuel!