The Survivor: My Amazing Story of Life as a Bauserbomb and My Journey to Redemption

By Rick the Bauserbomb on April 1, 2013 at 8:00a

College football fans think games are won and lost by the athletes and the coaches. It is the players and coaches, after all, that work the nested hierarchy of the profession to land at the highest stage of the game, like college football. It is also the players and coaches that take devastating losses personally, with professional consequences that can become personal. These are half-truths. We footballs — the actual balls themselves — are part of the game.

My name is Rick. I'm a football and I was part of Ohio State's 2011 collapse at Nebraska. This is my story.

The scene of the accidentWhere I met my fate.

I always dreamed of playing big-time college football. Football is my life. I AM a football and I wanted to be the best. But, it was hard to entertain dreams of glory growing up in Uhrichsville, Ohio. The quality of football is far from great. It was basically just me, Lawrence, and Alshon. Lawrence (he always insisted on being called Larry) stopped developing after grade school and still remains in Tuscarawas County as a pee wee football. Last I checked, Alshon resides in the garage of the McGillicuty family on Center Street. We haven't talked since high school, though I wish him well.

During high school, I sought the tutelage of Papa Jerry. I called him Papa Jerry because he was like a father football to me. Papa Jerry was the best tutor I could find in Tuscarawas County, having been a football for Marietta College in the mid-1970s. Papa Jerry agreed to take me underneath his stitching, but always told me to temper my dreams. Maybe I could get a walk-on offer at Ohio Northern. Maybe I could get a scholarship to his alma mater in Marietta. But maybe wasn't good enough for me. When I got the preferred walk-on offer from The Ohio State University in 2007, ol' Jerry couldn't believe it.

I redshirted my first year at Ohio State. I worked hard and learned as much as I could, but keep a low profile. Beyond some scout team honors for my work in helping Ohio State prepare for Purdue in 2007, I didn't make an immediate impression. The depth chart ahead of me was outstanding. Only the best footballs get used at Ohio State. Still, I was part of some great teams and some great memories. My highlight to that point had been a celebratory spike from Brian Rolle in 2009.

My time came in 2011: I was going to be in the rotation for our game at Nebraska. It promised to be a signature day. I was going to be a part of Ohio State's first visit to Lincoln and Nebraska's first Big Ten home game. I worked my ass off during practice that week, which is made all the more difficult because footballs really don't have asses. I worked that hard and, for a while, it showed during the game itself. I like to think Carlos Hyde's 63-yard touchdown run was a team effort between he and I.

And then Braxton Miller got injured and Joe Bauserman had to come in. Don't get me wrong. I like Joe, but things went south in a hurry. Without Braxton, and with Bollman and Siciliano in the booth, we were a ship without a rudder.

The worst of it came late in the fourth quarter, having already lost the lead and all of the momentum, Joe hurled me into the stands on a 3rd and 10 with the game tied. I was intended for Devin Smith. I landed on a poor Nebraska fan in the 24th row of Memorial Stadium. Ashley Jo Hansen was fine. Her soda and nachos were not. The injuries I suffered from that throw effectively ended my college football career and to make matters worse, we lost that game on that next Nebraska possession.

This is where we get back to those half-truths I mentioned earlier. I took that loss incredibly hard. I couldn't convince myself that I wasn't a cause of that crushing loss. I could've done better to navigate myself into Devin Smith's arms. I should've. With my career over, I couldn't have a chance at redemption. It ate me up inside (my inner rubber, that is). For months, I tried to wash away the pain and trauma of that defeat through liquor. All the vodka in Columbus couldn't soothe that pain I felt inside me.

My turning point came in May of last year. After waking up in a dumpster outside Brothers Bar & Grill, I knew I needed a change. I lost many friends that October night in Lincoln, but I was spared. My career was over, but my life didn't have to be. I committed myself to change.

Since then, I'm on the straight and narrow. I found a job working at a Mt. Vernon YMCA. The pay is decent and the hours are great. Importantly, I'm happy. It's there that I met my fiance, Veronica. She's a badminton racket. Things are moving pretty quickly between us, but I feel I'm in a good place now.

I get asked by my coworkers, especially the dodgeballs, if I have any regrets. Yeah, I do wish some things would've worked out differently, but life is about the journey.

Do I begrudge the experience at Ohio State? Not at all. I follow the Bucks every Saturday on TV. Go Bucks.


Comments Show All Comments

cronimi's picture

Godspeed, Rick. Keep doing it right, one day at a time. And a big congrats on getting together with Veronica. I hear badminton rackets really like shuttlecock.

Earle's picture

Y'all had to know that was coming.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

Grant Edgell's picture

Rick and I just missed crossing paths at that YMCA by about 15 years. I may try to track him down when I'm back home in Mount Vernon next week.

nickma71's picture

I kind of hear Tom Hanks saying "You're a toy!"

AltaBuck's picture

Since you mention Tom Hanks, I'm wondering if Rick ever hung out with Wilson the soccer ball.

I am Groot - Groot

CanadianBuckeye's picture

Not to be nit picky, but Wilson is a Volleyball.  I have heard he is very sensitive to these kinds of comments as well, hopefully he doesn't come by and see your post, he would probably end up going back out to sea in shame.

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

That Bauserbomb chart is hilarious now...
it wasn't so funny that night in Lincoln...

AJW_16's picture

I would like to see Rick the Bauserbomb become an unofficial mascot of sorts here at 11W. His insights are very interesting.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

omahabeef1337's picture

Am I the only one that never found the Joe Bauserman bashing funny? Seemed like a nice guy, just not a great QB. He wasn't expected to be a great QB, nor did he ever claim to be. He was put into a tough situation because of the actions of others.

OurHonorDefend09's picture

I saw him at the RPAC with some football players immediately after that season and he looked more out of shape than Jim Bollman. The fact that he considered himself capable to play football on that team was insulting. Plus, he played a professional sport before, therefore, he can't be considered a "kid" unworthy of excessive insults. 

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

omahabeef1337's picture

Blame OSU for giving him a scholarship, not him for taking it.

Buckeyeneer's picture

I have mixed feelings about it myself . . . not that that stopped me from piling on. I feel he was put in a difficult position but I have never seen an OSU football player fail so miserably. I wish I could say I was a better person and be above ripping on his awful play. . . I wish I could say that.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Bolt's picture

I met and hung out with Joe a few times in the years prior to him getting playing time (my college roommate for a couple years was on the FB team). Joe did seem like a good guy. He also didn't come across at all as your pretty boy QB type. He seemed to be a tougher guy that would have more of a thick skin. I can't say I know him that well to know that he simply doesn't give a shit what people have to say, but he came across that way to me more so than thin skinned. Nice guy, though. I definitely don't really like a lot of the going out of the way to bash any Buckeyes...but there is a comical element to the "Bauserbomb".

Bolt's picture

*A comical element in hindsight

buck-I.8's picture

I'm sure he was/is a great guy, but if you're gonna try to compete at a high level and can't, you're gonna get a certain amount of backlash for it. 

buckz4evr's picture

I totally agree.  He was an Ohio State football player.  We had our fun with him, now lets move on.

AJW_16's picture

Eh. Most of the comments I have heard about Joe strike me more as light-hearted teasing (although certainly some cross the line). On a serious note, I do think that Bauserman was a decent-to-servicable QB who, of course, wasn't going to break any records; however, with our Bronze Age-era offense he was very much set up for failure.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

pynchon's picture

Can't believe Papa Jerry went to my hometown school!

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I don't go crazy ripping on college kids, but if you play for Ohio State and you throw a pass into the stands you have to know people are going to take jabs.  We can all agree he shouldn't have been in the game, but no one had to a gun to his head forcing him to be on the team or receive his free education.  A little good natured ribbing won't kill him.  I'd much rather be Bauserman reading this post than be our tight end (Hamby if I recall??) reading all the nasty things said after the Texas game (which did go way over the line in my opinion).

Yeti's have feelings too.

MN Buckeye's picture

Dear Rick,
Your story is powerful, a journey filled with talent, hope, success, nachos, failure, recovery, and redemption.  Please know that many of us are inspired.  I had my future ahead of me as a beach ball, but now I am hoping to end up as the plastic liner for wine boxes.
Bubba the bball

Dougger's picture

Ripping on Joe Bauserman is my defense mechanism for how awful the season ended those last several games.
However I really felt bad and was pissed at the fans (most likely >90% of students) that booed him on senior day.. that just ain't right.

I like football