In the wake of the excitement surrounding the recruitment of Kwon and Dixon, I think it's necessary for some of us to take some time to understand the repercussions of this excitement. I understand entirely why we get excited about highly recruited kids picking our school. In a similar fashion to the NFL, it's simply the acquisition of talent. Talent breeds success at any level in any profession and for those of us on Eleven Warriors, that profession (per se) that we follow is Ohio State football. Success is a part of the reason why we watch and read and stress and analyze anything and everything Ohio State. And in those moments where we become fanatical, it is easy to view the product on the field as the sum of the parts of some great machine. But this is a game, and as Woody liked to say, "You win with people."
This amazing, wild, exhilirating, heart-breaking, euphoria-inducing game is ultimately played by a group of men that have little stake but a passion for football and the school they attend. Every year, a new group of kids comes to become a part of the greatest tradition in sports and to play in front of over 100,000 and for over a several million each and every Saturday in the fall. We follow high school seniors on Twitter and watch YouTube highlights in hopes of seeing the next great Buckeye. Every kid is analyzed, graded, evaluated for anyone with Google to read and accept. Every one of them is supposed to be the next great thing, for us the next great Buckeye. We decide this without ever having seen them play a snap in practice, let alone an actual game. Far too often we unfairly criticize a kid for not living up to some ethereal level of potential that a group of grown men with clipboards and stopwatches has described for us, the obsessive fan. The failure to realize this arbitrary potential pisses us off and we label them busts and sometimes attribute it to a lack of effort, as if a kid balancing school, lifting, practice, and interviews isn't trying hard enough. But being pissed off is short-lived and we continue to search Rivals, BuckNuts, and anywhere else for our next great Buckeye.
My ultimate point is this: the reason college football is the best sport we could ever hope to watch is because of the passion of those who play the game and the allegiance they feel to our school. Recruiting is certainly a part of the landscape of this game and there is nothing wrong with following Urban and the staff around the country to see who we will be pulling for for the next four years. But while we follow recruiting, I think it's important to remember that every kid who decides to come The Ohio State University will give his best effort and is more than the sum of his stars on Rivals. Don't forget those who may not be All-Americans and that next great Buckeye. Everyone contributes to the level of success that the Buckeyes enjoy and does not always deserve the heated criticism we want to pour on them. Pitt Brown never deserved the venom spewed his way, he gave his best effort as a backup and gave his heart and soul to a 12-1 Buckeye team, only to be constantly told by those on the outside that everything he did just wasn't good enough. As we welcome this next crop of Buckeyes, don't forget the ones we have in favor of "the next big thing" and don't lose sight of the fact that these are young men, not professionals.