Everything has a lifespan. Your favorite possession. That dream job. Even the people you love. With everything possessing a built-in expiration date, life is essentially navigating making the most of the limited time we have with everything and doing our best to take in the highest of those highs while simultaneously being at odds with the notion that nothing in this world lasts forever.
Now that we’ve gotten more existential than any Ohio State fan site ever has or will, let’s get to the kicker — I’m leaving Land-Grant Holy Land on a day-to-day basis.
Five years ago, myself, Matt Brown, and Chris Webb took on the Herculean task of stopping the Spinal Tap drummer trend of Ohio State properties on Vox Media’s SB Nation platform. From breaking news to far more importantly, helping talented men and women turn vocation to avocation, we’ve done that in spades.
When I left Eleven Warriors to take on this project in 2012, I compared it to Theo Epstein walking away from the two-time champion Boston Red Sox to try and save the Chicago Cubs a few months prior. Why leave something (and people) you love to go to a rebuilding project with little hope of success? The ultimate challenge. The Cubs got their title. And thankfully while I did this, Ohio State got one too.
Between here and 11W, I’ve been writing about, making dumb jokes about, and eating, sleeping, and breathing all things Buckeyes for nine years. That’s twice as long as I actually went to OSU. And longer than anything I’ve ever done in my entire life. It’s time to do something different.
I’m more than proud of what the Land-Grant Holy Land family has accomplished and even more excited about what’s next. The staff has never been better. And the best is yet to come.
Instead of waxing further sentimental, I’d like to spend the remainder of my last column as an Ohio State site manager more aptly: cataloguing the dumbest f***ing things I’ve ever said or done about or around Ohio State during the course of the last nine years.
3. Writing pure rubbish about Gene Smith not deserving a contract extension
The biggest swing and miss I’ve ever done as a writer was aggregate years old news of Ohio State’s extension of athletic director Gene Smith circa 2012. Thankfully most of its existence has been scrubbed from the record; it’s the only article we’ve ever retracted during my five years here.
Not only was it literally not news -- the extension had been signed considerably prior and somehow became such a flash in the plan that multiple Ohio State sites were covering it as news even though it was old cheese — but my commentary criticizing Smith’s record was petty and below the belt.
Smith, by all accords, seems like a pretty decent man. Given Ohio State’s track record during essentially all of his tenure with OSU other than his handling of that tattoo-for-bartering scandal (p.s. I unnaturally hate the ridiculously lazy nickname “Tatgate”), he seems good at his job, too. With tons of national championships across all sports and being smart enough to get out of the way and let the power brokers bring in Urban Meyer, there’s not a ton more you could ask of your athletic director at a place like Ohio State.
I was wronger than wrong to take weak-sauce potshots at him. And Ohio State’s overall success across all sports -- yup, including whichever non-football one you only nominally care about that’s making you mock outraged at the moment — during his reign only further rubs in what was my biggest whiff while writing about OSU.
Mea culpa, Mr. Smith.
2. Thinking Darron Lee will probably never play at OSU
I can’t find a lot of written record of this. I was respectful of Lee’s abilities in the long-form I did on Ohio State’s later national championship winning 2013 recruiting class. But this was a sentiment I expressed verbatim repeatedly in and around our newsroom.
Is he a safety? He sure looks skinny. Can he bulk up for linebacker? That guy? Maybe he can be a gimmicky Wildcat quarterback. I mean that’s what most of his tape is, right?
Truth be told I didn’t care much for his highlights. I thought the opposition he went against in high school was a bit weak. And given that he was all but the last member of that particular class, I figured he was a lottery ticket based on a good camp or two and maybe even to a small extent, his family’s q-score. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Lee would evolve into one of my favorite Buckeyes I ever covered. His impact in Ohio State’s win over Alabama can’t be downplayed. And he’s been fun in a small sample size during his short time with the New York Jets.
Mr. Lee, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for being such an idiot. The good news is the next tweener ATH won’t get the same level of flack from me.
1. Advocating that Mark Dantonio or Tim Beckman will be Ohio State’s next football coach
This one I have a paper trail of, and it’s also definitely something I said on Eleven Dub’s listserv repeatedly. I am not a smart man:
Let’s end with a prediction. On what date will Urban Meyer be named the next coach of Ohio State? Or, if you don’t think it’ll be Urban, who will it be?
Luke: The neverth of 2000-and-never. Urbz is a huge tease who'll enjoy the 3 month public ego massage he's going to get but I'll be genuinely surprised if he actually decides to coach next year. I don't know precisely who it'll be, but I'd wager it's going to disappoint a lot of people. I've kinda talked myself into being okay with Tim Beckman lately. Really. It's come to that.
What a garbage, faux intellectual take. Tim Beckman had certainly given Ohio State a game in Cleveland a year prior with an offense that was fun/sexier than anything he’d ever put together at Illinois. But it takes about 30 seconds of hearing that dude talk to understand why it wouldn’t be a good idea. And with the abuse allegations making him further toxic these days, especially given his history with Meyer, I hope Ohio State never comes within an arm reach of hiring him in any capacity.
Dantonio, I guess, was a Tressel-tree take? But despite his excellent body of work at Michigan State, the last year, his keeping-Jim-Bollman employed policy, and essentially everything off-the-field involving his program in the last 4-6 months makes it clear he would’ve likely been a swing-and-a-miss.
Urban Meyer may have a (deserved) ego, but the concept that he’s such a tease he’d play OSU’s interest just to make himself feel better about not coaching was dumber than dumb.
I’m beyond glad he’s Ohio State coach and even more thrilled I got to cover his first five teams. And trash takes be damned, just as excited to watch the next however-many as a fan.