In town for one of eleven stops on his Patriot Tour, retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell was a guest of Urban Meyer this past Saturday as a guest speaker to talk to the team after practice. As a lot of you know, Luttrell wrote the book Lone Survivor based on his account of the events surrounding “Operation Redwing” in 2005 in Afghanistan. The book was made into a major motion picture aptly titled “Lone Survivor”.
If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I strongly recommend reading the book first. Having done both, I can attest that the book is much better, though the movie does do it justice.
As some of you may recall, Jim Tressel required the Ohio State football team to read Lone Survivor over the summer of 2009. This of course aroused my curiosity and made me want to read the book. So, one hapless day while bumming around Barnes and Noble I came across it in the best sellers section and took it home.
The title leaves nothing to the imagination: The story has one survivor and it is obviously Luttrell. Knowing that, I wondered how good of a book/story it could be if you already know that only one of the four SEAL’s on the mission are going to be coming home? After reading it, “how good” was not the question. The question I was left with was “what am I doing with my life and how can I make it better?” And yes, the book is an amazing. Early on you realize that knowing that he is the only one who makes it out is secondary to how it happens. It will take your breath away and that is no exaggeration.
Luttrell’s amazing story is about brotherhood; never letting the man next to you down. His story is about perseverance and determination; nothing was going to stop him from making it out to tell the story of his heroic brothers. Nothing was going to stop him from living. His story is also very much about choices and how they impact everything we do and the consequences of them.
On campus at Ohio State, Urban Meyer has been making comments recently about changing the culture around the Woody Hayes Athletic Facility. When pressed by reporters to elaborate on what he meant, he responded by saying he wanted guys who weren’t afraid to make a mistake and would battle for the guy next to them.
To me, he was saying he needed to change what I felt became an issue somewhere early in the 2013 season: His guys lost their hunger and assumed their talent would be good enough to show up and beat anyone on their schedule. His comments took me back to the preseason of 2012 when we all heard Meyer shouting to his troops on the ESPN Training Days special “The Ohio State Buckeyes are an angry team!” Flash forward to somewhere after the California game and all the sudden his team isn’t so angry. In fact, they look rather complacent.
Sure, they were on fire the night they walloped Penn State at The Shoe. Yes, they came out and blew the doors off of Purdue. But how many other games were close in the fourth quarter when they didn’t have to be and shouldn’t have been. An “angry team” typically has no such issues. A team that may be in need of a culture change, however, might.
While at Florida, Meyer had a team that was always loose and on the brink of being wild. They had a rock solid leader in Tim Tebow to keep the ship steered straight, but the vast majority of the group walked with swagger and couldn’t wait to get on the field and put a whipping on someone. They enjoyed it. Meyer’s 2013 Buckeyes for large parts of the season played games like they were showing up for work on a Monday morning.
I wanted to tie these two topics together because I believe they go hand in hand. Meyer wants a culture change and Marcus Luttrell is a man who lived a story that should have the impact needed to affect such change. Hearing Luttrell tell his story of never letting his buddies down and giving it everything you have all the time because tomorrow is never promised has to have an effect on 19 and 20 year old college kids.
If I learned one thing from Lone Survivor it’s that you can’t be afraid to go for it, whatever “it” may be in your own personal setting. Naturally in the real world there are limitations to that, nobody is telling you to put your life savings on black and double down if you win. But in a collegiate sports environment there is no reason to not do just that. What have you got to lose besides a football game?
Hopefully what the Buckeyes took away from Luttrell was that message of making use of every advantage you have and give all you have to be as great as you possibly can not just on Saturday’s but in preparation. They also should enjoy doing it, which a lot of times seemed like it wasn’t happening. Unlike Marcus Luttrell’s story, this is college football not life or death.
Honestly, I’m guessing Luttrell’s message to the Ohio State football team sure was a simple one: Get on the field and let it fly, fight for your brothers, soak in the moment and cherish every bit of it.
Who better to light the fire that changes the culture in the direction Meyer wants his program?
The running back race is assumed to be Ezekial Elliot’s job. Bri’onte Dunn is reportedly having no part of succeeding the starting the role to him without a fight. It’s also important to remember that Rod Smith, Warren Ball and Dontre Wilson all return and will fight for carries. While I expect someone to emerge as “the” guy, I can certainly see a running back committee approach early on in the 2014 season.
Speaking of the 2014 season, kickoff in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium (home of the Baltimore Ravens) for the season opener with Navy has been announced for 12:00. Expect a large Buckeye crowd as always, but maybe even more so with a late August trip to Baltimore, a rarity for Buckeye travelers, on the docket. Crab cakes?
It is with stunned amazement to me that TTUN is not being investigated further for the alleged rape cover up. It’s also amazing to me (I honestly just found this out) the way that Brady Hoke rules like a dictator around the football facilities. You may say “sure, it’s his program”, but not giving media access to school paper? Keeping all reporters out of their Pro-Day?
A lot has been said about Aron Craft now that the season has ended and along with it his Buckeye career. A lot of the talk has centered around and been about his legacy and his place in the pantheon of Ohio State hoops. In my opinion Craft is a hoops hall of famer at Ohio State and it’s because of his hustle, grit, leadership and defense. In short he was the ultimate role player/side kick. I’m not going to recap 2013/14, but I actually feel sorry for Craft and the way his senior year went down. The reason for my sympathy is that he was thrust into a role he doesn’t have the offensive talent to accommodate and that’s the leading scorer or “go to” guy. Though he did his best to fill the part, it was unfair to cast him in the role.
Speaking of college hoops, I’m really befuddled with people talking about how Wichita State allegedly was set up to fail the NCAA selection committee. I have 2 reasons/questions for the people taking up arms in support of the Shockers: 1. If Kentucky was the best of the four number eight seeds, and Wichita was the fourth of the four number one seeds, how is it “rigged” that they met up? Isn’t that how seeding in a tournament goes? And 2. Why would an organization like the NCAA that has done so much in the last ten or so years to make things easier for the little guy to even the playing field all of the sudden decide to set up one of the products of that evolution?
Don’t forget that the Scarlet and Gray game is right around the corner, April 12th at Ohio Stadium. Maybe I’ll see you there! Until next time, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
In the midst of winter Metallica announced they would be embarking on a spring/summer jaunt around South America and Europe. While this is nothing new, deciding to call it “Metallica: By Request” certainly was. Everyone who purchased a ticket to one the upcoming shows was emailed a ballot to vote for 18 songs (no limitations for deep cuts, rarities. Nothing was off limits) to comprise the evenings setlist.
As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, they announced that their contribution to making the setlist would be the premiere of a brand new song! So, naturally, we all waited on pins and needles and finally on the first night of the tour in Bogota, Columbia the boys announced and then erupted into a new track called The Lords of Summer. I am very pleased to present our MTOTW from Bogota, here is The Lords of Summer!