There's a lot of reasons someone might be cynical about the current state of college sports in general and college football specifically. For a long time, it was easy to see it as a refuge from the overly corporatized, money-driven reality that dominates sports and life in every other facet of our lives. While I'm not sure when that actually stopped being the case (probably sometime during the Carter administration), in 2023 it's hard to avoid the seeing the of billions upon billions of dollars that underpins almost every decision made by everyone involved.
But there's still gotta be at least one part of the the game that's innocent and pure and good, and in my humble opinion that's Senior Day.
The thing is, despite all the distractions and money, being a student-athlete in a major college sport is hard. Being a student-athlete playing college football at Ohio State is unbelievably hard. The very literal blood and sweat and tears that go into entertaining the hell out of millions of Midwesterners every Saturday has meaning: to us, but more importantly to the players and families who go through 5 am workouts, painful injuries and subsequent rehab, being pulled in a million different directions by school and sport, and all the other insane and incredible stuff guys like Xavier Johnson, Cody Simon, Tommy Eichenberg, Cade Stover, Miyan Williams, and over a dozen more Ohio State players experienced with each other over the past 4-5 years.
Senior Day is still meaningful because it's not about advertising dollars, or NIL, or goofy scandals involving vacuum cleaner repairmen, or even the fans' relationship with the team. It's about the players' relationships with each other, and with the families that supported them on their journey. We can't really be a part of that journey, not really. But we can applaud as we get to see a small peek into the love and support that got these seniors to where they are now.
One last thing: this was Gene Smith's Senior Day, too. One of the most important and respected athletic administrators in the history of the Big Ten just saw his last home game at Ohio Stadium as Athletic Director, and while there's a lot of retrospectives that'll be written in the summer when he officially retires, I don't want to forget the impact that Smith has made in his time at OSU. He's championed athletics and athletes in a way that many of his predecessors never could and his successor might find difficult to live up to.
Respect to Gene, and everything he's done for Ohio State.
2007.. pic.twitter.com/xAzjX38ghi— Jaes Laurinaitis (@JLaurinaitis55) November 19, 2023
Last one in the shoe. Had to https://t.co/1fQKxGUAF7— Jordan Hancock (@jordanhancock_) November 19, 2023
To God be the Glory! 11-0!— Mark Pantoni (@markpantoni) November 19, 2023
BUCKEYE NATION https://t.co/b8qprgAiBk— Marvin Harrison Jr. (@MarvHarrisonJr) November 19, 2023
Yall know what week it is.— Adam Griffin (@yunggriffsays) November 19, 2023
THE best week of the year -H— Demetrius Knox (@Meech_Dream14) November 19, 2023
Remember me saying.. RUN— Maurice Clarett (@ReeseClarett13) November 18, 2023
Michigan was the first team to hit 1000 wins? Cant wait till they get 2 years worth of wins vacated by big bro NCAA.— Michael Bennett IV (@mike96bennett) November 18, 2023
Trey been on a different planet when healthy— Johnnie L. Dixon III (@YoungKing_JD5) November 18, 2023
ANOTHER THING I'VE ALWAYS LIKED ABOUT GENE IS HIS ABILITY TO LOOK COMPLETELY BADASS
Eternally grateful for this special place. Words cant describe what Ohio Stadium means to me. pic.twitter.com/Gm2ZLWSwKO— Gene Smith (@OSU_AD) November 19, 2023
Script Ohio. pic.twitter.com/v8QBlE0bi2— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) November 18, 2023
Want a good recruiting tool? Ive got an idea. pic.twitter.com/MRGCvX41qP— Adam King (@AdamKing10TV) November 18, 2023
Captains.pic.twitter.com/cCLgHodKp9— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 18, 2023
Flying pic.twitter.com/vDYSdz408U— Brutus Buckeye (@Brutus_Buckeye) November 18, 2023
TreVeyon Henderson is a home-run hitter. pic.twitter.com/CSLpSmMmNy— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 18, 2023
The Jack Sawyer Game pic.twitter.com/2Lxa4VENP0— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 18, 2023
Big dogs gotta eat— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) November 18, 2023
Shoutout the Buckeye defense pic.twitter.com/KwMXnOEK5d
Ohio State's defense comes in clutch AGAIN. pic.twitter.com/cKhrCJabjX— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 18, 2023
Cade Stover touchdown on Senior Day pic.twitter.com/hXi6ufyffF— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 18, 2023
Weve all been there pic.twitter.com/R9epJbo1Id— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) November 19, 2023
VICTORY CAREN pic.twitter.com/HFPAKFi89Q— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) November 19, 2023
Senior Day celebration pic.twitter.com/jW2C1na6GT— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) November 18, 2023
My last ride. pic.twitter.com/HpCCO6lBGW— Gene Smith (@OSU_AD) November 19, 2023
And that's it! You already know what week it is, and we're at DEFCON 1. See you next time.