Ohio State Buckeyes Lack Focus and Mental Toughness
I remember a time when I was about 14-years-old and I was in a local boxing tournament that was being held inside our gym and my next scheduled opponent was a boxer named Veroman Witcher. Everyone (including myself) considered Veroman to be no match for me. As a result, days before the fight, I had this very nonchalant attitude as if everything was under control and I would easily handle this chump. Even up to the day of the fight, instead of focusing and getting mentally prepared, I was out horsing around with my friends, while my opponent was at home resting and strategizing for the fight like any responsible athlete should do. Even during the few hours and minutes leading up to the bout, I was still just having a good old time laughing and joking with my buddies.
Finally, it was time for Veroman and me to step up into the ring and rumble. And to my surprise, at the first crack of the bell, Veroman jumped out on me like his life was at stake. Veroman was like Smokin’ Joe Frazier coming after Muhammad Ali—he just kept coming, leveling blow after blow the entire fight.
I still don’t know how I did it but I somehow managed to survive his wild unrelenting assault and held on to win the fight. At least that’s what the judges decided. However, I knew the truth; I got a home gym decision. I didn’t deserve to win that fight–I got beat! I was way more talented than Veroman, but he was more focused and on mission–with a will to win at any price.
There were other times in my career where I went up against much better competition than Veroman that I had the same laid back, ill prepared, mental attitude of thinking I was invincible. But I still managed to win those fights. Yet as talented as I was compared to Veroman, his strong will to win overcame his lack of skills and any fear he may have had about my reputation as a superior fighter. Watching Saturday’s Ohio State vs. Wisconsin Badgers game brought back memories of that fight with Veroman Witcher.
Buckeyes vs. Wisconsin Blow by Blow
The Buckeyes came into Madison Wisconsin ranked No. 1 in the nation and believing that they were more superior than their opponent (kind of like me when I fought Veroman). After all, how many times has a Badger team ever beaten the Buckeyes? Wisconsin on the other hand, came into the contest with a Veroman like attitude: focused prepared, with no fear of the No.1 Buckeyes and on an all out mission to win.
During the first round of the game, I was upstairs cleaning my room when my son hollers up to me from downstairs ” Dad, we’re down 7 points!” I said, ” Yeah, right, the game doesn’t even start until 8:00 pm.” I then anxiously scrambled to turn on the TV to see if my son wasn’t just messing with me.
Yep. There it is. Wisconsin had come out swinging just like Veroman–David Gilreath took the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a TD! Then I saw the Badgers deliver another viscous blow to the Buckeyes–it wasn’t fatal but they were in command of this fight 14-zip.
Wow! Now I start to notice how weak the Buckeye offensive line looked against the Badgers’ defensive front. I mean them Badger boys were all up into Pryor’s grill as soon as the ball was snapped.
Less than midway through the fight–the Badgers were already up 21-0.
The Buckeyes have no offense? No defense? Is this Déjà vu: Ohio State and LSU or the Buckeyes against any SEC team?
I’m about fed up with all these Buckeye big game disasters!
OK. I’m feeling a little better now: we get 3 points midway into the 2nd quarter.
It’s the opening of the second half and Terrelle Pryor and company drive down for a sore. It’s 21-10–still hope. And the Buckeye defense is starting to step it up. They’re definitely looking a lot better than their pathetic performance in the first half.
Ooh! We score again and to my surprise Jim Tressel goes for a two-point conversion. We convert and the Buckeyes are back in action!
It’s now a two possession game with a lot of time left on the clock, But the Buckeyes can’t afford to make any mistakes or Veroman– I mean Wisconsin–will capitalize. And if they do, it could be fatal.
4th and long: Tressel decides to punt. I don’t blame him, even though ESPN commentator Kirk Herbstreit thought his former team should have gone for it.
D**N! The Buckeye defense just could not come through this time like they did in the opening of the 2nd half. The Badgers are moving the ball, running down the clock, and before you knew it, the Buckeyes chances for a national championship were fading away–Another Buckeye Big Game Disaster on National Television.
I love The Ohio State Buckeyes and I was stunned and disappointed over this loss like so many other fans. But this time the disappointment is a little bit different, because from experience, I get where the Buckeyes made their mistake.
The Buckeyes took their opponent for granted. They were simply not focused and mentally prepared enough to overcome the Badgers’ preparation and strong will to win. The Buckeyes seem to have a big problem with being focused and mentally prepared to do battle.
Even Kirk Herbstreit commented on it towards the end of the second quarter:
“…Wisconsin is ready, prepared, and hungry, and the Buckeyes look flat.”
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes–unlike in boxing–the No. 1 college football team in the nation could not look for any judges to bail them out on this one.
Ohio State has a very weak schedule to finish out the season. So even if they were to win their remaining games, it’s very unlikely they will get a shot at a national championship.
A Lesson to Learn
The Buckeye vs. Badger game should be a lesson to all competitors that no matter what you do in life do it wholeheartedly and take nothing—and I mean nothing–for granted. You never know when or if that next opponent is going to summon up all their will and more to take you out. So stay hungry and focused and if you should slip, correct your errors. Most importantly, constantly monitor your mental attitude. It’s the most important weapon you will ever have.
Like they use to say, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” I just wish my Buckeyes would learn to do it.
I’m getting tired of all these Buckeye big game disasters!