Winning. A catchphrase that Charlie Sheen used three years ago for publicity. Winner. A one word description of who Matt Finkes is. Finkes is blessed with natural athleticism, a freakish body and a great work ethic. That winning combination made him a premier high school athlete, a collegiate football All-American and an NFL Draft pick. He played in the league from 1997-2001.
Today, Matt Finkes is winning at work. You can listen to him on The Big Show from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays on 95.5 The Game in Central Ohio. When he's not on the radio you can see him on television during the football season. Finkes is a co-host on The Football Fever aired on ABC 6. To stay busy, Matt is also a color analyst for Time Warner Cable Sports Channel and is a co-owner of Finkes Building and Properties LLC and Kenridge Storage.
Matt is winning at life. He is married, has a growing family and has multiple jobs. Matt was gracious enough to take time out of his busy life for Eleven* Questions for an Eleven Warrior.
Growing up in Piqua, what was your childhood like?
Pretty normal. Piqua is a small town (around 22 thousand residents) and everyone knows everyone there. I played 3 sports and wrestled in the summer so all my time was dedicated to sports.
What was your recruiting experience like?
A lot different than it is today!! Calls didn't start until June or July going into your senior year. You got letters in the mail but when the actual calls started rolling in it got crazy. I didn't attend camps because of summer freestyle wrestling and competing on Junior World Team. Even visits were limited by playoff games and my wrestling schedule. I took visits to ND and OSU and committed on my visit to the Buckeyes. Then I canceled my visit to UM.
Why did you choose Ohio State?
Coach Cooper, Proximity to home and Fickell, Vrabel & the Hoying brothers. Just felt like the right fit and honestly was a bit of a shock I got the offer. I jumped all over it!
What do you remember about your first start?
Fresno St. in the Disney Kickoff Classic. I had played a lot as a true freshman so I just remember the start of the season and that first game being a relief to get going and prove what I could do than being nervous or pressure. Probably the most memorable thing that happened in that game was Joey Galloway taking an end around and running about 150 yards to score a 4 yard TD. He was good.
When was the moment you knew you belonged on the field?
Really it was '93 against Washington at home. First night game in the 'Shoe in a long time and the fact that the coaching staff had me playing right from the beginning with our normal rotation with Luke Fickell, told me they had confidence in my play and I belonged. It's one thing getting playing time vs Rice, it's another being part of the game plan for a game like that.
What was your most memorable play / game? Why?
4th & 7 with two minutes left versus Mich in '94. Was able to get my second sack of the game and finish them off. Do I really need to explain why?
What game, or play, would you like a second chance at?
'96 Michigan game. I believe we win that game 99 times out of 100. As happened a lot in the '90s, they found a way to get that 1 out of 100. We win that and we are National Champs. Probably still deserved a piece of that title, no team was undefeated.
Do you have a locker room story you can share?
Haha, NO. What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.
Who was your roommate? Closest teammate(s)?
I'd have to say the same guys who were instrumental in getting me to OSU. Vrabes, Luke and the Hoyings. We didn't spend much time apart in those years.
Outside of that team up north, what team did you dislike the most?
Close one here with Wisconsin and Penn State.
Is there a story, or memory, of Coach Cooper, you would like to share?
There are no shortage of Coop stories, but when we won the Rose Bowl in '97, he shut down a sports bar by the hotel for the seniors and all our families. Picked up the tab for everybody. Great guy.
While in school did you have a favorite place to eat or hangout?
Panini's and Jimmy's place upstairs (now G. Michael's) in German Village.
Besides yourself, who do you think of as the player to wear No. 92 for Ohio State?
I have high hopes for Adolphous Washington.
How important is Ohio State to you today? How do you stay involved?
Ohio State has been integral in my life and continues to be. The relationships made while there transcend to today. Everyday you are away from your playing days, brings you closer to the true meaning of "Buckeye Family". I stay involved with the University by working for the advancement office doing development for the medical center in the area of Integrative Medicine.
You are a person who is very concerned about kids and the community, what charities are you involved with?
I try to be as available as my schedule allows to participate in any charitable ventures in the community and especially the charitable ventures of other Buckeyes who are "paying forward". I am also on the board of Friends of Firefighters in NYC.
Anything you would like to share about your life/family today?
I am unbelievably blessed to have a beautiful wife Meridith, son Mitchell and another son on the way.
Anything you would like to share about working at 95.5 on The Big Show? Working on Buckeye Football Fever? Time Warner Cable Sports Channel?
Being able to give fans an insight into what goes on in a players head during prep, games and post game situations has been a great privilege. I try to be as brutally honest as I can when I make commentary.
I will be brutally honest. Matt Finkes, winner.
*11 or more questions.