By BuckeyeInBoca on 00:15:36 12/04/12
Watching the video's of the 2002 team got me thinking of something. Living in South Florida and being a Buckeye fan who wears Buckeye garb almost daily, I get the question slash insult alot of "How can you cheer for Tressel?". And it definitely increased after the Michigan game this year when they paid tribute to the 2002 National Championship team. Coach Tress got a standing ovation by 105 thousand fans and the team carried him off the field on their shoulders. My sad, cynical Michigan, Florida and Miami friends would causally say, "How can you cheer for that guy, he cheated". Well, this is how....
My Dad grew up in Portsmouth, Ohio a huge Buckeye fan. He lived through the great times and championships of the 50s', 60's, and the great Woody Hayes teams of the 70's. We moved to Upstate NY in '79 when I was 14 but Dad never let our love of the Buckeyes, Ohio State, and the history and tradition of real college football die. He didn't really have to though, 14 years living it in Ohio, having it etched in your very soul, was never going to go away.
So at 48 years old and having lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and now Florida, every Saturday afternoon in the Fall, no matter where I am, I find a TV that's showing the OSU game and sit down with anywhere from 1 to 200 of my new best friends, and just enjoy the show.
In 2002 my Dad got sick. He was very uncomfortable most of the time, couldn't really leave the house very far or for very long. But for 13 heart pounding, unbelievable Saturdays, and one indescribable Friday night in the Arizona desert, he was as happy, young and alive as I'd ever seen him. 2002 was easily the greatest season of football that I can remember being a Buckeye fan. In '68 I was real young and only remember my Dad and Uncles yelling their heads off, not really sure why. The 70's teams were great but never won a national title, the 80's and Earl, Speilman and the boys had some great moments. The 90's teams were unbelievably talented but couldn't beat that damned Team from up North, but 2002 changed it all.
That team, that year, had it all. We were still hurting from the 90's short comings especially against the "M" team. Had more hope than high expectations, a new coach we weren't sure of yet even though he did get our attention a year earlier by predicting we'd be proud of our young men in Ann Arbor Michigan in 310 days, and then actually followed up on it. Mike Doss was staying for his Senior year, we had some good freshmen coming in including a guy name Clarett, but we still didn't have a quarterback or a kicker.
By the way, the 2nd biggest question I get is "How can you not hate Maurice Clarett?". I can tell you how, because I love Maurica Clarett. Without him we don't have a National Championship, period. Maurice gave me one of the greatest years I've ever had as a Buckeye fan. And anything he's done wrong he did to himself, and he's paid for it many times over. How many of us can say that, that they went from being the king of an entire state, to a living hell, lost a fortune in fame and treasure, but are still standing?
Dad and I watched every game that year from his house in Key Largo, Florida, except for the National Championship game when he finally felt well enough to come up to Miami and watch it with me. I am seriously amazed he didn't die from all those close games that year, especially against teams like Cincinnati. Seriously guys? You let the Bearcats stay with you for 60 minutes? At 12:45am on January 4th 2003, Dad and I had our last beer together celebrating the Buckeyes first National Championship since 1968. He passed away later that year.
Simply put, 2002 could and probably should have been the worst year of my Dad's life, but it wasn't, and might have been one of the best. And it was because of that team, Coach Tressel, all his assistants, and those wonderful players who defied all odds, somehow pulled out every game, and beat one of the greatest college football teams in history in the greatest Championship games of all time.
Thank you coach Tressel.... and I will always cheer you.
"Buckeye fan since birth, in 1964"