Monday, October 30, 2006

"The Main Event" -- Buckeye Football, not Babs

From the Oct 19 Columbus fishwrap, otherwise known as the Dispatch:

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2006 SPORTS 01B

By Rob Oller, The Columbus Dispatch

Let those with ears hear: Rudimentary religion is alive and well among Buckeyes fans, where praise and prophesying rival that of a Pentecostal tent revival.

Preach it, brother.

Beware the evils of ESPNU.

It's going to be No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the 'Shoe come Nov. 18.

Any old smooth-talking devil would be better than Brent Musburger.

It's funny how some Ohio State fans accept the secular sermonizing, but they get nervous when someone from inside the program offers a prayerful "Oh ... my God."

The reasons for the worry vary, but among them is the thought that religion is fine -- as long as it doesn't detract from an undefeated season. The externals are what matter most: film study, focusing on Michigan, mouthing the words to Carmen Ohio, no gray on their sleeves.

The internal issues -- such as whether to wear faith on their sleeves -- are best kept secret, which is why it will be interesting to watch the reaction to a faith-based public outreach scheduled for Oct. 30 in St. John Arena.

The free event, dubbed "The Main Event," is billed as an opportunity for OSU fans to get to know what makes some of their favorite Buckeyes tick. It should be subtitled, "It's what's on the inside that counts."

Organized by senior defensive lineman Joel Penton and endorsed by coach Jim Tressel, the evening event -- paid for primarily with donations from area churches -- will show people what the two dozen or so born-again Christians on the team do when they're not making Michigan State look like Jones Middle School.

"Most people only get to see us on TV, only get to see what we do in football. They don't get an inside look at the people we really are," defensive lineman David Patterson said.

Do people care to know the who (Patterson)? Or just the what (Ohio State football player)? We shall see. It seems fair that if you're going to judge a player by the stories in Sunday's paper, then it wouldn't hurt to listen to the stories in his heart.

But there's a risk in getting to know the person, because then booing him doesn't seem so impersonal.

On the other side, there's a risk in being seen as someone not completely committed to bringing the Buckeyes their second national championship in five seasons.

"If you're going to speak to the Red Cross banquet on Thursday, it's like, 'He should be working on the game plan,' " Tressel said. "But we want (college football) to be a whole experience, and we'll take that risk."

No wonder Tressel proudly says Penton spends as much time preparing for "The Main Event" as for the Buckeyes' 12 weekly main events. It's not that Tress doesn't care about beating the Wolverines -- "We want to win games and we better win games," he said -- just that he cares more about the internals. He talks of the expectations put upon freshmen when they arrive on campus having been king of their high school communities.

"Everyone who goes out of town with the marching band is expecting him to take over the world and lead Ohio State to championships and go on to the NFL as the No. 1 pick, and it doesn't always happen that way," he said. "There are always battles, just the normal things that normal students not playing football have to adjust to. But the thing they have that they can hold onto is their faith. That's their rock."

Which is why some Buckeyes want to talk about it, Tressel said, mentioning Penton, Patterson and receiver Roy Hall, who wonders what all the fuss is about. "We're not giving a church service. We just want people to come out and listen," Hall said. "Faith can begin with just listening."

Listening? That's a novel approach. Much of the din this season -- and it's only going to grow louder -- comes from the harangue and hyperbole of those whose noise knows no bounds.

Finding perspective among the pandemonium can be difficult. Some Buckeyes and their coach want to make it easier.

I'll bet the Dispatch will be surprised when a capacity crowd shows up for the event.
Wow. Now we have God on our side, and along with WWH, how can we go wrong? (Although I think WWH is rolling in his grave when he sees Troy Smith pass so much)

Good for you, Tress. You ARE the complete package.

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