By Dr. Jeff A. Glenn / @jagadelic
“Never wearin’ no Levis, battle me? Why try?
I’m a treat you like a stepchild, so tell Mommy bye-bye!” — James Todd Smith
This quote comes to us from James Todd Smith, AKA LL Cool J. But he could easily have been talking to Thad Motta, the Buckeye basketball coach. He is the forgotten stepchild in the football insane world of Ohio State Athletics. (Bro. Trible – you’re not the only one who can lay down the timely LL quotes!)
I made a joke on Twitter right after the Buckeyes eliminated the Syracuse Orangemen and punched their ticket for New Orleans and the Final Four. Something like, “Bowl Game Ban? No problem. We’ll just add a Final Four trip. Adapt and Overcome, baby!”
Now that I think about it, it’s more than just an attempt at a humorous statement. It really demonstrates how the basketball program has saved Ohio State athletics in the wake of the violations and subsequent punishments leveled on the hallowed football program.
That is, if we would let them. It’s hard for Thad and his boys to get their due. I can remember driving up from Cincinnati for the Duke game in January. It was a marquee matchup featuring two teams ranked in the top five. I turned on the Columbus sports talk station to hear what the fans were discussing in anticipation of this fantastic battle between two storied programs.
What did the callers want to know? How is Thad going to defend Duke’s freshman phenom Austin Rivers? How is Sullinger’s back? Will we still be as strong without Diebler, the Big Ten all-time three-point record holder who just graduated? No. None of these questions came up. What the fans wanted to know was, will Urban Meyer, the newly hired football coach, show up at the game? When our boys had their hands full battling Izzo, Draymond and Michigan State for a piece of the conference title, the talk of the town was the state of Urban’s recruiting class.
I wouldn’t blame Thad if he blew a gasket listening to such disrespectful nonsense. But I guess he knew what he was getting into when he signed up for this. Anyone needing to disappear in the Witness Protection Program would be well served getting a job with the Ohio State basketball squad. But I won’t shed any tears for someone who clocks $2.5 million, plus incentives. For half a mil, you could ignore me as long as you wanted to. If I ever got depressed, I would just read my bank statement.
At the press conference, he was asked how it felt to make it to the Final Four after two sweet sixteen defeats. Thad had to remind the reporter that he took the Buckeyes to the Final Four in ’07 with Oden, Conley and Daquan Cook. Sorry, Mr. Motta, but no one in Columbus remembers that, because it occurred three months after Florida detonated our beloved footballers for the National Title. We were still in mourning. It was nice to hear that you did well that year. Congrats. Whatever happened to that Oden fella anyway? Haven’t seen him on campus in a while.
But it’s a new day. This has been a great tournament for our part of the country. Four Ohio teams made the Sweet 16 and the state of Kentucky is about to engage in a Civil War of biblical proportions. I’m calling on all Buckeye fans and all Ohioans to get behind Thad and his talented, hard-working, high-achieving hoopsters. They have done a great deal to put a shine back on Ohio State athletics and we need to recognize. Ohio State vs. Pitino or Calipari for the whole ball of wax would be legendary. But we’ve got to beat Kansas first. Let’s go, Bucks!