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The Good Ole Days

“You know that feeling that you got in the pit of your stomach, the night before Christmas? Now times it by a million!”

The reason for that feeling in the pit of your stomach is one that comes once a year, at the same time every year.

“It’s football, spiked with an acute sense of identity.”

It is the longest week of the year. The week where the fevered anticipation can simultaneously give you goosebumps and slow down time. The week where every single “M” on the campus of The Ohio State University is crossed off. The week where “productivity” at work means watching 5 minute videos of past fights from The Game. It is the week where students used to jump into a freezing cold lake because it helped the football team win a football game. It is in your DNA if you are a Buckeye.

The Horseshoe vs. The Big House

Good vs. Evil

Woody vs. Bo

“This is more than a game, this is war!” – Woody Hayes

Ohio State vs. Michigan

Full disclosure: the above video is one hour of a roller coaster of emotions, carry on.

This year’s edition of the game does not carry the same playoff implications as last years, but it doesn’t matter one bit. It is and will always be a one game season. It is also the definition of Schadenfreude: “Joy in the misery of others.” We don’t need to embarrass that team up north, but I sure hope like hell that we do.

There is a reason that just a few short weeks ago when I got up onto the stage at ESPN College Gameday to get a picture with the cast I made a distinct point to give Desmond Howard a hearty “Go Bucks!” to which he did not grace me with a response. Matt – 1 Desmond – 0

Gameday

However, this year’s game is unique in a few ways. This year’s game should be one hell of a sendoff for a Buckeye Legend in JT Barrett. One more pair of Gold Pants for the best quarterback in Ohio State History should do the trick.

It also will make quite a few people wish for the good ole days. The days of the little 8 and the big 2. The days of 3 yards and a cloud of dust. The days of the traditional winged helmets vs. Buckeye leaves.

Image result for ohio State vs michigan
Damn, that’s a pretty sight

I say this because there are plenty of folks that are rather upset that the Buckeyes are going to be wearing alternate jerseys this year. They believe it ruins the feel of The Game and is a hindrance to the rivalry. I say that when we score 56 points against our most hated rival it won’t matter what we are wearing, plus we are going to look fresh as hell in those icy white jerseys.

I believe this game is actually one heck of a contrast between the good ole days and the new era.

No, there are no oversize numbers on jerseys anymore, nor is there a three yards and a cloud of dust offense. Woody Hayes is not walking through the tunnel on Saturday. But hey, at least there are no more leather helmets either. But there is one thing that most successful NCAA D1 programs do not have anymore. That is a 5th year senior starting at quarterback for The Ohio State Buckeyes. Rarely do you see many players stay through their senior year. Ohio State fans have witnessed players leaving early basically since Urban Meyer was hired as head coach. Now this “good ole days” quarterback is running a spread power offense; and that is where the contrast comes from.

Life will never give you the same exact thing each year either though; no matter if it is a football game or a friendship. That is the nature of life. Each year things will continue to change. Gray hairs will start to be found, friends will move and then move again; just as the calendar changes each year so will life. But if you look back and say “those were the good ole days” you are selling yourself and everyone around you short. These are the good ole days.

Ohio State will have on different jerseys, but on Saturday it is still Ohio State vs. Michigan. It is still the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Just as your friends, regardless of where they are living will still be there rooting on the Buckeyes with you…no matter the amount of gray in your hair.

“Time and Change Will Surely Show, How Firm Thy Friendship”

As always, Go Bucks and beat TTUN!!!!!

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For Those About To Rock

Let me ask you a question.

What is your favorite song to rock out to?

Not a song that you can play when your coworkers get in your car to go to lunch that you know won’t offend anyone. No soft rock music station song. I’m talking about a song that as soon as you hear it, you crank that SOB up as loud as you possible can.

You sing along until you sing a note completely wrong…then you sing even louder. (never done that, by the way.)

A song that makes you think air drumming in the car is a good idea; let me tell you…from what I’ve heard and I emphasize heard, it isn’t.

One that when you listen to it, you think that it might actually blow the speakers out…and for however long that song lasts it doesn’t matter to you if they do because you are so lost in the music.

I’m hoping that there are plenty of songs that you are thinking of right now. Probably thinking of the specific times and memories where what I just described actually happened. There is usually a situation attached to these songs.

It could be at The O Patio (RIP, eventually) on a Weds. night in college and “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show comes on. Of course you find your friends and you clear the vocal cords.

“For Those About To Rock….*Cannon Fire* WE SALUTE YOU……Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.” and if you aren’t dancing around and singing to that at the Blue Jackets game you clearly are not defending NWA.

Maybe you are in the car driving with your best friends at 3AM and none of you can fall asleep…and then all the sudden “Can’t Stop” by RHCP comes on. You all say a quick prayer for your ear drums and then all four of you start belting that song out like you are on stage in front of a million people.

Or picture that you are on your way to an interview for your dream job and “Lose Yourself” by Eminem comes on. You turn into one of the transcendent rappers of your generation and you rap out every single word to get yourself in the moment.

I know one that every Buckeye fan, and at this point every football fan who has been to a stadium, will love to hear on a Saturday and that one is “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. Bobby Vegas is still Buckeye Bouncing from the first time we heard it in 2009 in The ‘Shoe.

“Rocky Top”, “Fight On”, “Anchors Away”, and of course: “Buckeye Battle Cry”, “Fight the Team”, and really anything played by The Ohio State Marching Band. All songs that get turned up rather loudly when they come on.

For all of these songs that you crank as loud as possible, there are plenty of songs that will require a much more peaceful mindset in order to enjoy the way they were meant to enjoy. “The Architect” by O.A.R. is one that comes to my mind. “Just a Feeling” by Maroon 5. “I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice. There are plenty of songs that don’t belong over the loud speakers of your favorite stadium.

But you still get lost in these songs that are meant for long peaceful drives just the same as you do as the loud party fuel songs that used to bump through your college house.

I’m used to those types of songs…the ones that you can’t wait to play for your friends during a celebration. I’m used to that type of living as well: nonstop, can’t sleep, got somewhere to go and not enough time to get there kind of life. It certainly has gotten me into some trouble at times in my life but I’m slowly learning that both of these kinds of songs are worth getting lost in.

But this Saturday we have the opportunity to get lost in a different type of song. Saturday will be the first night game this year in the Horseshoe and yes, we will be able to Buckeye Bounce as much as we would like. Just don’t spill anything on a purse in front of you that belongs to a lady in a fur coat (shameless plug, read my last post because that happened to me.)

We, the 12th man of Buckeye Football will be asked this coming Saturday by players and coaches alike to get the Horseshoe rocking. Night games at Ohio Stadium have become much more frequent now that Urban Meyer is our head coach but in my mind that does not take anything away from how amazing they are. The many traditions that Ohio State already has along with other awe inducing features that happen when kickoff happens late at night should make it “Harder To Breathe.”

Now beware…I speak from experience here, but late kickoffs can also mean a little too much time to listen to your freshmen year Bangerz playlist that I definitely have never made(I made one), that someone made in the dorms freshmen year(it was me.) It gives you a little too much time to rock as hard as you can if you catch me. I too still love to jam to “Opposite of Adults” by Chiddy Bang on occasion but there is no need to play that before 3:37PM this Saturday. There is no need to create an all-day playlist of 537 songs to listen to. Who would do such a thing? Just kidding, where my River Rats at?? But seriously, don’t make one for Saturday. You will need to start it at approximately 34 hours before kickoff.

The best song we hear all night on Saturday will hopefully be the sound of the team singing Carmen Ohio after going 2-0. We have already seen in this college football season that no matter what the score is that the game ain’t over till it’s over. So if you are going to the game you should know that “You Get What You Give”: cheer loud, stay till Carmen, and lose your voice as well as yourself in the moment.

As always, Go Bucks! Beat OU!

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The Crescendo

“You know I’m back, like I never left” – Me, maybe

Tomorrow, August 31st there will be an electrifying crescendo.

The Orchestra?

Buckeye Nation’s collective restlessness.

The Instruments?

The Ohio State University Football Team.

The Crowd?

The Rest of the College Football World.

Welcome back College Football, we need you now more than ever. Just writing these words about Ohio State football gives me this transcendent energy(it’s a good thing that I’m writing this at 9:45PM, sorry sleep schedule) that will reverberate throughout the land come tomorrow.

That energy is what gives Columbus, OH and all other college towns all across America the unique feeling that only college football can bring. I am excited for the NFL, although it is somewhat similar to a football version of the Saw movie series; in which the Bengals find yet another way to rip my heart out of my chest. But the real excitement that I have for this football season begins in Bloomington, Indiana at 8:00PM.

That is when the city comes alive, water cooler discussions on Monday begin and end with Ohio State Football, and even the construction barrels change colors to Scarlet and Gray…just kidding, that’s ridiculous. No matter where you are, if you are living in the city of Columbus or are a part of Buckeye Nation dispersed throughout the World, life will feel a little better come Thursday night.

College football can seem like a somewhat trivial thing…a sport played by college kids. Where the NCAA makes head-scratching rules, and the coaches make more money than I can imagine. But there are reasons to care deeply about this sport and these players. These reasons are accentuated leading up to the season opener, because we have gone 7 months without this great sport.

“You know I’m back, like I never left” – College Football, probably

In my mind Buckeye Nation collectively cares for a multitude of reasons. We care because of the tradition that Buckeye football brings. Not just the football tradition, but all the other traditions that come with Buckeye Football. Pre-gaming and tailgating with friends that may have traveled from all over. Playing backyard football while grilling out. Letting the Aunt that has indulged a little too much have the microphone while simultaneously asking where in the hell we got a microphone. Simply being with friends and family, rooting and cheering for a common cause. We care because Buckeye Football brings us back together.

We care because of the indescribable feelings that the sport and our team gives us. For 4 hours last November during The Game I had quite the experience. I had who I am assuming was a very nice lady hating me because of an accidental spill that slightly got on her purse. But when Curtis Samuel crossed that goal line and our Buckeyes defeated that team up north, Fur Coat lady and I embraced like the weight of the world had been lifted off our shoulders. Not a lot of things these days can destroy animosity like those 6 points did. Similarly, not a lot of things can bring together a group of thousands wherever they are located throughout the world.

Lastly, I think that us as fans care so much about watching this great sport is because of the players. I finally feel old as heck not because I have to ice my knees after working out. I feel old because these players are younger than my younger sister. Where the hell is Never-land when you need it?

These players seemed like super heroes when we were children, they represented our future when we were high school kids, peers when we were in college, and now they are just kids playing a game. One of the greatest things about kids is watching them grow up, and that is what we as fans get to do each and every football season.

We have had the ability to watch one player in particular grow up from a kid out of Texas to the man and leader he is these days. Of course I am talking about JT Barrett IV.

From the moment he stepped on the field to lead the Buckeyes he has been a natural leader, a great teammate and by all accounts a great friend. But he has had his share of ups and downs. This article written by Bill Landis of Cleveland.com describes everything that I could say here but don’t need to. We are witnessing one of the greatest Ohio State players of all time, and we have one more year to appreciate it.

This year is unlike any other year and at the same time it is just like any other year. We will witness Heisman moments, we will witness insane upsets, we will sing along to Hang on Sloopy. And we will drink until we wobble in our shoes.

“You know I’m back, like I never left” – Macklemore, actually

We’re going to rekindle old friendships, make memories, forget our dignity at times(along with our wallets), and create lifelong friends.

That is what this and every football season is about…and like Macklemore said(probably not about college football but whatever) it is glorious.

As always Go Bucks, Beat IU!

 

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And Not To Yield

2016 is almost over. I say again, 2016 is almost over.

I am sure that many of you are very happy about that fact too. It seems like every day this year something unfortunate has happened. Loved Celebrity deaths, senseless violence, and Cincinnati sports can still be classified as miserable but at least Cleveland did well this year!

I know that a lot of people are going to take the New Year celebration to forget about 2016 but I think that we need to look back at 2016, pour some out for the sad but celebrate the good, and if we think about it there really was a lot of good that happened in 2016.

I said the following line in my post last year at this time and I hold the same thoughts for 2017. Shameless plug for all my other posts assuming you like this one, and in my humble opinion…you should.

“This post is about a reflection period and then an overwhelming feeling that 2016 is about to be huge.”

There are a number of things we can do in 2017 to make this next year a successful one. A majority of you reading this will probably make New Year’s resolutions for a multitude of reasons and that is a great thing! I have seen a lot of articles and posts that New Year’s resolutions are dumb because if you want to make a change, make it today. I agree with the notion that any day you can make a change in your life. But I also love the ability to take a deep breath, reflect on the past year, and get ready for the next chapter in the book of life.

I am going to keep with the theme of quoting my favorite poet in my New Year’s post (2 shameless plugs in one post? You know we got it). This one is I think a solid guide on how we should use the resolutions that we make, and in general how we should live life.

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” –Alfred Lord Tennyson

New Year’s resolutions are great but only if they work, and for them to work they need to last longer than 2 months. We all want to work out more in 2017, we all want to eat healthier, we all want to go skydiving(right?) but there needs to be a relentless pursuit of accomplishing these goals.

I think that one of the coolest things about the human brain and soul is that all of us are looking for something all the time, oftentimes not telling anyone about it. Whether it is love, adventure, or even just a good book, we are all searching. Continue that search in 2017 because the reward for finding whatever it is you are looking for is great. Then find something else to search for.

The end of that line from the poem Ulysses is the best part of the whole poem. “And not to yield.” Those 4 words almost get me as fired up as hearing an “Michigan lost yet again.” Do not yield in the pursuit of accomplishing your goals for 2017, or succeeding in keeping your new years resolutions. Do not yield. Do not let anything stop you from succeeding in 2017. There are going to be too many things that are going to happen that will generally be out of our control. That is inevitable. Control what you can control and Do. Not. Yield.

This life was not meant to be slogged through. We are meant to be living lives full of meaning. I have not quoted any scripture in these posts but I absolutely love this line of scripture:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

There will be thieves out there in the world in 2017. Trying to steal our happiness, but we cannot let them permanently own that happiness. You have control over your happiness in 2017, own it! Winston Churchill once urged us to “Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” The thieves might seem like a formidable enemy, but if I was a betting man I would go all in on you to succeed.

In also keeping with tradition of seeing parallels with life and the Ohio State football team, do you think we would be playing later today in the Tostitos Bowl if we had yielded? (Battlefrog and Playstation can go home, it’s always going to be Tostitos to me.) Just like everyone did in 2016, Ohio State suffered a setback. We lost in the sea of white clad crazy Nittany Lions. You know what happened after that? We kicked some ass the rest of the year and are now playing for all the Tostitos…and also a National Championship. The Buckeyes did not yield in their relentless pursuit for a bag of chips…I mean a National Championship. You shouldn’t either.

Strive to accomplish your goals and resolutions, seek to learn more about yourself and the world you live in, find something you are passionate about, and do not yield in your relentless pursuit of success.

Now it’s time for me to lose my voice for the last time in 2016 cheering my Buckeyes on to victory. Don’t worry, I’ll save some to sing Carmen Ohio as the ball drops and we begin 2017.

As always, GO BUCKS! Beat Clemson!

 

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Perspective

 

Four more days until The Game.

There are a lot of things on my mind about this particular edition of The Game and I will get to talking about what this year’s game means to me shortly, but first let me talk about a little perspective.

What are some of the thoughts that roll through your mind when you hear that word? Hot takes on twitter dot com that you disagree with? A coworker that thinks something besides what you think?

“If only Brad saw that Panera salads are bad, actually!” Perspective.

“Red Vines are delicious!” “No, they actually aren’t.” Perspective.

My favorite: “Skyline Chili isn’t real chili.” Child Please. Perspective.

Also, it is real chili…don’t @ me.

Those are very trivial examples of what differing perspectives can show. Some people think that Skyline is bad (they are wrong) and some think it is good (they are probably from Cincinnati, and are also correct.) But there are a lot of things in life that if we looked at with a different perspective, we would be doing ourselves a favor. Also, I fully understand that some people don’t look at sports with the same perspective that I do. I think sports can actually teach us quite a bit about life which is pretty much everything I talk about in this blog….yeah, shameless plug already.

I am one of those people who is from Cincinnati and absolutely loves Skyline Chili. I thought I knew that city front to back and as of very recently I realized that I did not. I have been downtown, seen Fountain Square, watched the Opening Day Parade, and played cornhole at Rhinegeist, but I saw Cincinnati from a whole new perspective this past weekend. I finally got to ride the new streetcar which runs from the Banks all the way up to Findlay Market. On this trip I got to see a good part of Cincinnati from a whole different physical perspective. It was incredible! All the amazing murals throughout the city and all the different architecture blew my mind, not to mention the diversity of the people I saw throughout the city.

It allowed me to see Cincinnati in a whole new light.  I had no idea how big Cincinnati was and how artistic the whole city was.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Sometimes stepping back and forcing yourself to see something in a different light, or getting someone else’s perspective on something you have a preconceived notion on can do wonders. I had a preconceived notion that the city of Cleveland wasn’t that great, but after a couple years of visits and seeing it from some friends’ perspective I came to have a different type of respect for the city. It was as simple as going in with an open mind and seeing the city for what it was, not what I thought it was.

As humans we can get into a routine of thinking about or doing things a certain way and all it takes is a little bit of an open mind and some reconsideration to see things differently. As a senior in college, I gave a piece of advice to the younger guys in my fraternity that we can all apply to our daily lives. I told the guys to take their headphones out while they walk across campus to class. I said this for two reasons.

1. So that they might see campus in a different light; it isn’t just paths and construction, it is a beautiful campus.

2. So that they might be able to look someone (yes, that included girls) in the eye and say hi. Even if it was the ol’ Fetty “Hey, Whats Up, Hello!” version..just hopefully not in that voice you guys all just used in your head.

I think we can apply that to our daily lives of commutes and work too. Take a slightly different path to work one day. This will not only keep you on your toes on how to get to work, but it will also allow you to see different parts of the city that you normally don’t!

“You can change your perception on something by simply changing your perspective. “

One of the better examples of a change in perspective that comes to mind is when my Dad and two of my Uncles climbed and summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and rises about 19,000 ft. above sea level at its peak. Talk about a change in perspective! To allow the full justice of that accomplishment to be done, I will turn it over to my dad, who writes much more elegantly than I!

“Visually, talk about a different perspective…waking up in the morning, enjoying the sunrise, and realizing that the clouds are below you! That is surprising. The clarity of the night sky from above the clouds is astounding….the beauty is amazing and the harshness is a little eye opening. Once the sun was down, you had to beat it to the tent pretty fast to stay warm.”

The good news is that we don’t have to climb up a mountain to be able to see life with a different perspective! We can choose to see things differently each and every day.

kilimanjaro-ohio

However, there is one perspective that will not ever change.

You are either a Buckeye, or a fan of the team up north.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no way around it. People who move to the area quickly understand what the rivalry means. Everything between the two institutions is a competition. I have a close friend who moved down to Columbus from his hometown in New York about a year ago and I will never forget my first words to him. We worked together and as he was asking one of our HR reps if there was anything else he needed before his first day, I walked by and quipped “just don’t ever wear maize and blue together.” His Fiance and him now have a solid amount of Buckeye gear and are undoubtedly going to be watching this game intently.

This Saturday, the Buckeyes will face off against their rivals from the state up north in a match-up for the ages. This game has it all: top 5 match-up, future NFL talent lined up everywhere, and what is sure to be a raucous crowd. This game means a little bit more to me though, and it has to do with what my physical perspective will be while watching.

Four years ago as a college senior I took place in the yearly tradition of plunging into Mirror Lake while it was freezing cold out in order to beat TTUN. This was my fourth and last year doing the jump and as I was leaving the scene, I got dealt a bad hand. If you have jumped you know that the entire area is pandemonium; it is cold, wet, muddy, and all around insane. As I was running up the hill towards The Oval with pizza on my mind, someone cut in front of me and I caught one of his elbows right in the left eye.  I dropped like a sack of potatoes and luckily my friends stopped to make sure I was okay. I made it back to the house clutching my eye and not knowing what the damage was.

mirror-lake
Yeah, that is frost on the trees

Back at the house I opened my eye, saw double of everything, and promptly declared “I’m good, Go Bucks, Lets go!” Needless to say I was not okay, and ended up in the Emergency Department shortly thereafter. They diagnosed me with a Orbital blowout, which is basically a fracture of my eye socket. I called my mom as I was sitting in the hospital bed and I didn’t know how to start so I just said “Mom, I’m in the hospital…” and then my phone died. Perfect timing right? A couple hours later I saw my mom strolling into my hospital room and I vehemently exclaimed “I’m going to that f****** game on Saturday!” Yeah I know, swear jar. Once I heard her say these five words: “Your dad and I agree” I knew that I was not going to that game.

I watched that 2012 game from my couch in Cincinnati instead of the student section with my fellow Buckeyes. I did not get to see the Buckeyes complete an undefeated season. I actually saw two of that game because I was still seeing double, but that’s not the point!

Talk about perspective.

This year I will have quite a different perspective for this game. I will be watching The Game in person with one of my best friends. Words cannot describe how excited I am, so I will not even try. I have been waiting for this game for four years, and Saturday cannot come soon enough.

As always,

Go Bucks, Beat TTUN!!!!

 

 

 

 

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You Win With People

It seems kind of crazy that it has been an entire year since I started this blog. Just last year I was terrified and also excited to post my first ever blog and now here I am! Thanks to all who have read and hopefully will continue to read! If this is your first time reading my blog thank you as well but…go read my other posts!!(Got that shameless plug out of the way real early this time!) Now on to the reason for this post!

If you have any knowledge of Ohio State Football you probably know the name Woody Hayes. I’ve quoted him a couple times in previous posts(shameless plug cWoody Hayesount: 2). Woody Hayes is mostly known for winning a lot of football games as the head coach of the Buckeyes but there is also a lot more to him than meets the eye (as with everyone).  If you Google his name you will find out quite a bit but I want to focus on one of his more famous quotes and would like to expand on what it means to me and how we can all apply it to everyday life.

“You Win With People” – Woody Hayes

 

I think there are three main things that we can do as people and for people that will allow us to “win” each day. I define winning the day as living each day to the fullest and learning something new each day, which I have previously written about as well ! (shameless plug count: 3)

The first thing I think that we need to do each day is to cooperate with other people. This may seem obvious or it may get you to scratch your head. Of course we need to cooperate right?? We were hopefully taught to cooperate with others when we were very small and there was a reason. Brian Tome, the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati brought up some things this past weekend that relate directly to this idea. He made the point that every great thing that has ever been accomplished in this world has been because of a group. A group that cooperated.

The most recent example that I thought of was my trip about a month ago to Portland, Oregon to visit my Aunt and Uncle. Our picture from Cannon Beach is pictured above (The state of Oregon = Buckeye Nation). There is tremendous cooperation that has to go in to getting on a plane and flying thousands of miles across the country. The group that makes those trips successful are large and incorporate people that you may not even think of. From the people that created the websites/systems that let you schedule your flight using a computer, to the people who scan your ticket, to the flight attendants, to the air traffic controllers(Breaking Bad anyone?) to the pilots and even to the passengers. All these people have to be cooperative with each other in order for the flight to taxi, take off, fly, and land safely.

 

The second thing I think that we need to do every day in order to win is to tolerate other people. These days it seems that judging and arguing and generally being disagreeable towards others is just commonplace. With our scalding hot takes, putting people “on blast”, and ripping people via social media while hiding behind an egg avatar at its peak; the world tolerate seems to have gotten taken out of the dictionary while words such as “fleek” have been added. I think that just because other people’s viewpoints or beliefs are different from yours does not mean that you should publicly (even if you have 13 other egg avatar followers) shame them.

There are so many different backgrounds and cultures out there that no one can begin to imagine living through all of them. So instead of the instant judging that comes with something different, try just tolerating. I am not saying you have to agree with others, but just don’t judge. I believe that the toleration of others viewpoints will lead to understanding if not appreciation of other cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs. That understanding of the diversity that you encounter everyday will allow you to live each day without the anger that comes from judgement.

“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus

The third and final thing that I think everyone needs to do each day is to love each other. I’m not asking you to use the Image result for heart eye emoji in every text, although that could get pretty entertaining. The love I am talking about does not mean that you need to romantically love everyone in the world, that would defeat the significance of romanticism. I am talking about the love of meeting people and learning from them. Everyone you come in to contact with will leave an impact on you if you let them and if you begin to love that learning experience, I think that your day will be better. I also think that a true friendship is rooted in a love for that friend. The following verse can be taken literally, but in my mind it means sacrificing for your friends to show that you care for them.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13

Urban Meyer preaches the “Power of the Unit” and I believe in that power as well. The unit that he talks about are different units of the football team, but we all have our “units” in life that we hang out with. Our units consist of our group of friends; for me it would be Steeb 6, Delt,  my coworkers, etc. For Urban, the units are the different position groups that make up a football team.

Urban constantly discusses fighting for the guy next to you. The different units that make up the Ohio State football team become as close as any group of friends or family, and they share the love for each other that allow them to go out there on Saturdays and play their hearts out. Those units are the quintessential example of people cooperating, tolerating, and loving each other in order to win the day. The most visible of those winning days are Saturdays in the fall, but that bond that the units share is formed way before gameday. Speaking of gameday…3 DAYS TILL BUCKEYE FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!

Now I want to sort of go back to the Woody Hayes quote that I discussed earlier. I do believe that you win with people, but I would offer this one change:

“You win with the RIGHT people”  -Matt “Not Woody” Stuckey

As Jim Collins, the author of the book “Good to Great” says:

“In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with ‘where’ but with ‘who.’ They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

As much as cooperating, tolerating, and non romantically loving the people you encounter every day will lead to winning the day, there is another level to winning the day. To steal Urban’s mantra for this years team…simply doing those three things will get you to The Edge, but to cross the threshold of winning the day, you must find the right people to cooperate with, tolerate, and love.

Take your group of friends for example. It would not function nor be a fun group to hang out with if one of the people was not the “right” person. If a person applies to be a pilot for an airline but is not qualified, that group will not function properly because that applicant is not the “right” person for the job. If I tried out for an offensive lineman position at OSU, I would not even come close to sniffing the field because I am clearly not the “right” person for the job.

You get the picture. Groups, jobs, and relationships do not work if you do not have the right people in place.

As a perfect example of winning with the right people, I have two examples that I will leave you with.

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to witness a lifelong friend get married to the woman of his dreams. He comes from one of the best families that anyone has ever and will ever meet, and his family is part of a group of families from our street that we affectionately refer to as “The Village.” The Village is a group that is so close that we all consider each other family. Remember when I said that every great thing that has ever happened has been by a group? Well, for all of us kids from The Village to have grown up as successful as we are speaks to the great things that the parents of The Village did for us. This was a friend who I had grown up with and have tremendous respect for. To see him standing up there ready to commit unequivocally showed me that he had found the right person to marry. That’s called winning.

This coming weekend I am blessed to be a part of another great friend’s  wedding as a groomsman. I have known this man for eight years and he is also one of the best men I know. Him along with his soon to be wife have taught me so much about life and what it takes to be a man. Along with me will be two fraternity brothers standing next to our friend as a witness to his marriage. We don’t even consider each other friends or fraternity brothers at this point, we consider each other family. Remember when I said that every great thing that has ever happened has been by a group? Well once again, for all of us to be as successful as we are now is credit to how we all took care of each other through college and supported each other. Along with the other groomsmen, we could not have a better reason to get together and celebrate for our friend and brother. Saturday will be a great night, and we will all be winning then.

From my first post one year ago to  this post, I have grown so much as a person and as a writer. My first post was hardly even 800 words and this one now is approaching 2K. I never would have thought I could do this and get the great feedback that I have received so far.

As always…GO BUCKEYES BEAT BG.

 

 

 

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Smiling Hope

“Hope smiles on the threshold of the year to come, whispering that it will be happier.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

There are only two days till 2016 and that thought terrifies me.

Not because of the reasons you may think though. I am not looking backwards at things that have happened in 2015. The event isn’t what determines the outcome, but the combination of the event plus the response. Although there are things I feel directly responsible for, things that have led to the events that happened in 2015, I cannot dwell on them. That is not what this post is about.

This post is about a reflection period and then an overwhelming feeling that 2016 is about to be huge.

All of my posts have been about Ohio State football so far and it makes sense. OSU football is one of my passions that I feel very strongly about. The unadulterated joy that I feel while watching my Buckeyes play on Saturdays in the horseshoe is incomparable. This post won’t be fully about Ohio State football but the theme does have some parallels with our tilt against the Fighting Irish on January 1st.

This bowl game is a celebration, and not just because it has the word party in the name (It will always be the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl to me, what even is a Battlefrog?)  Some will say it does not matter because it is not one the playoff games but I will counter with the fact that celebrations always matter. Celebrations can sometimes mean more than “the one that matters.” Celebrating the small things like a delicious coffee, or all green lights on the way to work matter. Celebrating the big things like birthdays and promotions matter too. Without celebrations we are a rolling ball down a white canvas that never ends.

On January 1st we are celebrating the end of quite a few Ohio State Football careers that have defined the program for the last couple years. On January 2nd Braxton Miller will no longer have a chance at another spin move that shakes up the entire college football world. Guys like Bosa, Thomas, and many others will be gone after this win. But are we going to sit around and cry about it and worry that we won’t be a good football team next year??

Hell No!

We are going to celebrate all that they have done in a Buckeye uniform and hope they can consolidate everything they have done into one game against the Fighting Irish. Then after that, hopefully we can celebrate another Buckeye victory. Ringing in 2016 with a rousing rendition of Carmen Ohio is not a bad way to start the new year. After we send our proper goodbyes to some of the best gridiron talent Columbus has seen, we begin to celebrate the unknown. We celebrate the guys that will get the chance of a lifetime next year. Buckeye Grove is always looking to grow a little bit more.

With that, the theme of the post follows the same timeline as the above couple paragraphs. December 31st is not a day to worry about what did or didn’t happen in 2015. It is a day to look back, accept all that has happened as a part of you, and embrace it. People went through some tough times this past year, had phenomenal personal achievements in 2015,  learned more about themselves than they ever knew. You know what we do with all that? The tough times, the great times, and the times when laying on the couch was the only thing we wanted/ could do?

We celebrate.

That is what the combination of December 31st and January 1st is about.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is part of a book/speech by Randy Pausch. Randy was a professor at Carnegie Mellon and gave one of the best speeches I have ever heard as his “Last Lecture.” Randy was suffering from Pancreatic Cancer and did not have much time to live. He gave this last lecture at Carnegie Mellon and by the Grace of God survived long enough to write a book titled “The Last Lecture” which encapsulated all he talked about in his speech.

“We cannot change the cards you are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

December 31st is about making sure that in 2016, we play the hand as best we can.

Now January 1st is about celebration.

We have reflected back on 2015 and hopefully not had the thoughts of “What if?” or “If I just did this differently…” because that is just like sitting in a rocking chair. Gives you something to think about but doesn’t get you anywhere.

We celebrate everything that we have been, are currently, and wish to be in the future. 2015 was a chapter in our book of life, it didn’t make the story but certainly added to it. Without our experiences in the past year(s) we would not be the people we are today…and I for one have not met one person who’s story is not worth telling, or worth celebrating.

The quote at the  beginning of this post is one that I just found from Tennyson. Alfred Lord Tennyson has been my favorite poet ever since I had to write a paper on him back in High School I believe. I did the research and realized he had some really great things to say; that his perspective on life is one I wish to mirror in my own life. We are on the threshold of 2016 and that hope that 2016 will be better is already smiling down on us. Let’s get to a higher place this coming year, moving forward with the purpose of a better year while bringing with us the past that has helped shape who we are today.

 

Happy New Year everyone, and as always GO BUCKS!! BEAT ND!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Big One

Throw it all out.

Throw out the superstitions. Throw out the records. Throw out the expert predictions.

This is Ohio State vs. TTUN.

This is the greatest rivalry in all of sports.

This is the biggest game of any season. This is the game that everyone circles on every single schedule that has ever been released by The Ohio State Athletic Department. This is the game that has me up at 1AM writing this post because I couldn’t sleep. Fevered anticipation only begins to describe how I feel about this game.

About the only thing we can keep is the deeply rooted tradition of this game. This game predates the first playing of the World Series by 6 years and the creation of the NFL by a quarter century. It has been played on the last week of the regular season since 1935. It determines bragging rights for the next 364 days no matter what had happened earlier in the season. The Winter doesn’t feel so cold when the Buckeyes win this one.

Legends are born in this rivalry. Legends. Guys that will be remembered forever in school history because of what this game means. Our Buckeyes have a chance to do something very special in about 5 hours. 4-0 against TTUN would be one hell of an accomplishment for the senior class. 4 pairs of gold pants. For those of you that think our Buckeyes might be a little down because of the debacle from last week, think again. When that kickoff happens at high noon, the Buckeyes will be ready.

Every single year this game is a battle. No matter the records, the goal is beat TTUN every single year. There is a reason that the Woody Hayes Athletic Center has a countdown clock to this game running constantly. There is a reason the victory bell rings for a full 30 minutes after wins over TTUN. Below are three of my favorite battles between the Buckeyes and TTUN.

 

  1. Let’s Party Columbus(2002): This game featured the greatest running back I have ever seen play for the Scarlet and Gray. Maurice  Clarett is easily the most talented RB I have seen in my short time alive. Clarett bouncing the first TD to the outside, catching that wheel route to setup the game winner, all with this huge pad on his left shoulder. It was amazing. It also featured the most gutsy player I have ever seen play at Ohio State in Craig Krenzel. This game sent Ohio State to the BCS National Championship where they played the greatest game I have ever seen, but first Columbus had to party.

 

     2. The Game of the Century(2006): #1 vs. #2. This one determined who was going to the National Championship. It was a knock down, drag out, heavyweight battle for the ages. 10 Rounds of rub routes, play action TD’s, and precision passing by my favorite Buckeye of all time, Troy Smith. This one took some years off my life but in the end if was a 42-39 victory for the Buckeyes. The video below shows not only how epic this matchup was, but also how intense this rivalry is as well.

       3. TYVIIIIISSSSS(2013): This one featured it all. From an almost pregame fight in the tunnel, to an actual brawl at the start of the second quarter that led to double freedom rockets flying, to a game winning interception…Urban Meyer described this one as “an instant classic.” It left TTUN’s quarterback Devin lying on the turf and after the game “looking and sounding as saddened as any athlete after a setback.” It had me screaming “TYVIIIISSSSS” to anyone that would listen to me at the back bar at Eddie George’s Grille. This one led to a text from my mom asking if I was still alive afterwards. One of the greatest Buckeyes to ever play at our great University had a career game in 2013. Braxton Miller accounted for 5 TD’s that day and helped lead us to victory over TTUN, oh and he gets an encore today. Carlos Hyde ran for over 220 yards. This was one for the ages.

 

This isn’t just another game. It never is. The hits are harder, the emotions run higher. This one means more. Let’s make the Great State of Ohio Proud today.

GO BUCKEYES, BEAT TTUN!!!!!

 

 

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Translating Vision to Reality

Fellow Buckeyes….We finally made it.
We made it to week 11.

OSU vs. MSU
The first of the gauntlet.
We got through 10 victories and are about to embark on what will define the rest of the season. We have seen the spin moves, witnessed the all-time greatness of Zeeeeeke, marveled at the power and authority of Bosa.

Now we come to a crossroads.
This season has brought us some renewed youth, plenty of fun, and may have even brought tears to our eyes at some point.
(Yes, that was shameless plug for my other posts…read them!)
What will this season bring us? Will it be a 10-2 frustrating finish? WIll it be an 11-1 regular season with a solid bowl game? Will we do what we didn’t even do last year and make it to the post season with an unblemished record of 12-0 heading to Indianapolis?
I think the only way to figure out where we will go from here will be to look back and see how we got here. I don’t mean how we got to 10-0. I’m not referenceing the improbable run to the National Championship last year either. If you want to read that story I highly recommend reading “The Chase” by Bill Rabinowitz which is an absolutely incredible story…and to think we as fans got to witness it firsthand!
No, I want to look back at how the greatest leader in all of college football forever changed the storied program that is Ohio State University Football.
Now I haven’t written a blog post in a while and I have been meaning to write another one for some time but couldn’t really think of a topic or find the motivation. I started thinking one day, which isn’t as rare as you think, and realized that for all the (well deserved) accolades and constant attention that the players get, the coaches don’t get near the credit for the success of the team.
Sure Urban Meyer gets asked ALL the questions about the team seemingly every day between the radio show, Big Ten teleconference, etc. But I don’t think too many people get to see how Ohio State went from a 6-7 awful miserable season that culminated in us losing to Florida in the Gator Bowl to AN UNDEFEATED SEASON! 12-0! Are you kidding me? The breath that all the other Big Ten teams thought they would be able to take while OSU was rebuilding was gut punched right out. We were back baby!
But how did that happen? Was it Urban Meyer magic? We had witnessed the voodoo powers of that guy on that fateful night in January when one of my favorite Buckeyes ever was rendered useless by the machine like destruction of the Gators. If you know me, you know how vocal I am….ask my Dad about that night and I think maybe 15 words were spoken the entire game between the two of us. Up until Urban was announced as our head coach; I didn’t particularly like the guy because of how he made me feel that night. I thought that was going to be the greatest OSU team I would ever see play…then Urban arrived to Columbus.
I was intrigued…I had always heard Urban talk about the culture of the progra, and how the team needed leaders to be successful. I never knew how these guys actually became true leaders of the team. The year the Buckeyes went 12-0, you heard a lot about guys like John Simon and Zach Boren, and for good reason! Not only did Zach give all Ohio State fans one of the all time greatest pictures from the game vs. TTUN, but he also switched positions halfway through the year!
I was finally able to begin to answer these questions not long after I began thinking about them when the book titled “Above the Line” By Urban Meyer and Wayne Coffey came out. As soon as I read what the book was about, “Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship season”, I knew I had to get that book. I wanted to know everything about how a 6-7 team can come to have an undefeated season and a National Championship in the span of three years.
Urban Meyer has always struck me as an extrememly motivating guy. When you hear his voice in the hype videos, or hear him in the post game comments, you can tell that he has an intensity in his voice that can get the most down person fired up beyond imagine. I once tweeted that “Urban Meyer could lead me into a fight against a Black Hole and I would think we would win.” When I was watching the feature on the Buckeyes during this past summer’s airing of “Scarlet and Gray Days” which was on The Big Ten Network, there was once scene where Urban is getting after his guys during a meeting. He yells that this is the “Number one team in America, coming together, having dinner and getting ready to go to work!”
That was the most fired up I have ever been to go make dinner.
It is that type of intensity and passion that we see on a week to week basis when Urban Meyer roams the sideline, tosses headsets, or gets after it pumping up the crowd right before Carmen Ohio.
We all see the end results, we see the game scores, we see the highlights and we think that’s because the only thing that these guys know how to do is train football players, scheme football plays, and call football plays. That is all very well and important to win football games but what this book has taught me through only about 150 pages of it is that all the football acumen that the coaches have is nothing without the leadership.
Being a young professional, I have always been interested in doing the best job possible in the role that I have, but I have also always been interested in what makes people tick and how to motivate them to give 100% everyday. I haven’t had the range of experience that some of my other coworkers have, but there has been one huge thing I have noticed in my positions so far that directly correlates to how Urban Meyer leads the Ohio State Program. The leaders of the company will determine how the company functions. We have all seen it, one way or another. Whether it be on a sports team, or in a professional environment. It is easy to bust your ass and get the job done the right way everyday when:

1. You love what you do

2. You have a motivating boss that you want to do a good job for. This has to be imbedded in the culture of the workplace and that culture is determined by the leaders.
The Performance Pathway, introduced by Focus3, a Leadership Consulting firm in Columbus reads this:
“Leaders create culture, culture drives behavior, behavior produces results.”
Urban Meyer is one of the greatest leaders that the college football world has and will ever see. I can unequivocally say that now after reading only 150 pages of his book on leadership because I have the results sitting in front of me. The results are in the form of a Sports Illustrated cover that shows Zeke running over two defenders, with a picture of Urban Meyer hoisting the trophy right above it. The results are directly related to the behavior that was instilled by the culture that was created by the leader. That leader being Urban Meyer.
Without giving away too much of the book, I want to give three reasons of why I think the Ohio State Football program is setup for continued success as long as Urban Meyer is head coach.

1. E+R=O. This is the leadership mantra setup by Focus3. Event + Response = Outcome. This can be applied daily to every single person. I received a wristband with this mantra on it and it is a great reminder to me that the outcome is not determined by anything other than my response to any event, whether planned or not planned. There are numerous occasions of how Urban Meyer and the Ohio State team responded to events that led directly to the outcomes we have all witnessed.
2. The Culture of Excellence. There is a phenomenal story about how Urban dealt with the team he inherited after the 6-7 season. All I can say is that the team didn’t go 12-0 because of Michael Jordan’s secret stuff water bottle. It took a lot of tough love and a lot of hard work. Urban has worked extremely hard to create this culture and it now permeates through the whole program. Another one of my favorite quotes from Urban is “It is so easy being average, TO HELL WITH THAT!” This goes right along with the culture of excellence.
3. Accountability. Urban Meyer has willingly admitted that he did not have his priorities straight near the end of his time with Florida. He readily admits that he was sacrificing his family time and his health for a football program. He took the time and got his mind right to straighten out his priorities and he has brought that accountability with him to the football program. After the loss to VT last year he was the first to accept the blame. “We lost this game because of me. Because we weren’t prepared. You want to bring the heat, bring it right here.”
If you are looking forward to these next couple of weeks of football and possibly forget to do some Christmas shopping, look no further than the book written by Urban Meyer. Just make sure to ask to read it as soon as whoever you get it for is done!
GO BUCKEYES. BEAT MSU!!