Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Admit It - You Thought I Was Done Blogging, Didn't You?

We won the Big Ten Tournament this past weekend in exciting and impressive fashion by beating Michigan, Illinois, and eventually Minnesota in the championship game. Speaking of exciting and impressive fashion, I managed to wear the exact same pair of scarlet sweatpants to all three games without getting anything on them. This was particularly surprising because on at least two occasions I had the same pair of pants on while eating french fries that were doused with ketchup. Since they were the only pair of pants I packed for the trip, it was almost guaranteed that I'd get them dirty somehow, so I'm pretty pumped that I managed to keep them clean for an entire weekend. Especially considering the fact that our game against Michigan was so intense that I thought I was going to wet myself and our game with Illinois was so close that I literally almost soiled the rear of my pants.

I'm guessing most of you either saw or heard by now, but our game against Michigan was a complete blowout, provided you think a complete blowout is a game that is won by a single point after a 35 foot shot is made by The Villain as the final buzzer sounds. The Villain's heroics (it feels so dirty to type those three words) provided me with my first opportunity to rush onto the court in a very long time, which is something that is exactly as much fun as it looks like. If you didn't click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph, I highly suggest that you do because it captures my awesome celebration, almost in its entirety. Go watch it if you haven't already and I'll meet you at the next paragraph.

Before you criticize my celebration (seriously, though, why would you criticize that?), let me first explain what was going through my mind during that entire sequence. Immediately after the ball went through the basket, the first thing that I thought of was, surprisingly (read: not surprisingly), professional wrestling. More specifically, upon realizing what just happened, I felt like our entire team was DX (with me being Shawn Michaels, obviously) and Michigan represented the rest of the WWE. The 35 foot shot that The Villain (playing the role of Chyna, obviously) hit was like a Pedigree and Sweet Chin Music all rolled into one. Because of this, my first inclination was to do a crotch chop at all of the Michigan players who were standing under our basket. As I went for the first crotch chop, though, I realized that I only had one arm, as my left arm was restrained in a sling because of the recent shoulder surgery I had to repair my torn labia. On top of this, the famous towel that I wear around my neck during all games had now found its way into my non-restrained hand. What resulted was a one armed crotch chop (not to be confused with a one armed embrace) that turned out looking like the underhanded towel wave that Larry Bird perfected so many years ago. Ultimately, it was probably a good thing that my left arm was restrained, because doing a DX crotch chop in a guy's face right after his season had been ended might have been the most unsportsmanlike thing in the history of sports. I meant for it to be more of a celebration and an homage to DX rather than a taunt, but I doubt the NCAA would have seen it that way, as they probably would have suspended me for being just a little too badass for their liking.

After a few would-be crotch chops, I saw that most of my teammates were running toward The Villain and jumping on him, presumably because they wanted to get on TV. I liked their strategy but the fact that I had shoulder surgery a week earlier meant taking part in a mosh pit just wasn't going to happen. Instead, I decided to include other people who, like me, are part of the Ohio State team but have absolutely no impact on the game, so I ran to the media table to high five our radio team of Paul Keels, Ron Stokes, and Skip Mosic and then ran toward the cheerleaders and slapped hands with them a little bit. Apparently, my behavior made me look like I was a random fan who made his way past security and had his sights set on murdering everyone by high fiving them to death, because (as you can clearly see in the video after it gets done panning to the Michigan student section) some lady in a red track jacket lost her Michigan when she saw me putting everyone's life in danger with my fierce high fives. I told her to calm the Michigan down because I was on the team and we just won in an incredibly improbable way. I then proceeded to crotch chop all in her face, even if it was only in my mind. Not being able to crotch chop during the postgame celebration was the first tough mental test for me and my adjustment to life with one arm. If Friday is any indication, this road to recovery is going to be a little longer than I originally anticipated.

In our second game, we beat Illinois in double overtime, mostly because Illinois gave The Villain a noogie and they honestly expected to get away with it. The Villain scored 31 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, and ripped out the collective heart of Illinois in what ended up being a game that was heavy on the trash talk. Apparently we made our move early in the second overtime and jumped out to a lead that we wouldn't relinquish. I say apparently because I missed the first three minutes of the second overtime (there are only five minutes in an overtime period) due to a bout with diarrhea, or as I like to eloquently put it, "barfing out of the wrong end". I originally felt the need to relieve my bowels with about seven minutes left in regulation, but because the game was so close, I thought I'd hold it in until the end. Then, fate kicked me right in my rumbling stomach by making the game go into overtime. I decided to try to hold it for an extra five minutes but when the game went into double overtime my bowels let me know that if they weren't freed from their duties quickly, things were going to get ugly and I was going to defecate at a rather inopportune time ("Give me liberty or give me def"). I managed to make it to the locker room and do the dirty work before any real damage was done, but I ended up missing the beginning of the second overtime, when the game was hanging in the balance, all because I had my own battle going on that was hanging in the balance more than any of you ever cared to know.

As it turns out, my stomach problem was not a unique happenstance with our team. On our return trip to Columbus following our championship game, Kyle Madsen puked onto the bus floor so badly that I could have sworn someone told him that Finkle is Einhorn. Not only did Kyle spew, rumor has it that PJ Hill, Jeremie Simmons, Nikola Kecman, and Zisis Sarikopolous all felt sick to their stomachs and would have also puked if Kyle hadn't beaten them to it (nobody wants to be a copycat). I'm convinced that we were all victims of food poisoning and disgruntled Michigan fans are to blame. If that's the case, I wouldn't even be upset because the thought of me being poisoned seems like it's somehow straight out of a Shakespeare play, which is flattering because I just so happen to be a fan of his work (I'm not a fan, however, of Michigan fans plagiarizing Shakespeare's ideas).

In the championship game, we pulled away from a good Minnesota team in the second half to win by a comfortable margin. When I say comfortable margin, what I really mean is that we won by enough for me to play. The only problem is that my labia surgery has put me out for the season, unless we can somehow make a (really) deep run in the NCAA tournament and play until July. It was a little depressing to know that I could have played in my second Big Ten Championship game of my career (I played against Wisconsin in the tournament final as a freshman), but I think my postgame antics more than made up for inability to play on Sunday.

Because this wasn't my first Big Ten Tournament championship, I knew that following our victory there would be a prime opportunity for me to get some face time on CBS and represent the Trillion Man March. I remembered from my first championship that we huddled around Coach Matta while Jim Nantz interviewed him and Billy Packer waited off to the side to interview Greg Oden. The Nantz-Matta dynamic remained unchanged this time around, but a couple of new faces presented themselves as Clark Kellogg was set to interview The Villain. Because Clark and The Villain are both much taller than me, I decided that if I were going to get on TV, my only hope was to set up shop directly over Coach Matta's shoulder. So I did. And it was fantastic. My combination of creepy smile, wink, and creepy stare was enough for the CBS cameras to adjust their shot and try to keep me out of frame. I can't say for sure whether or not this is why they decided to suddenly change camera angles so frequently, but my gut is telling me that I played a big role in it. Either way, I'm almost positive this footage will become the Zapruder film for the Trillion Man March as you all try to figure out whether or not CBS was trying to cut me out of the picture. In the end, none of it really matters, because I got my revenge during the selection show for the NCAA Tournament, when they put a camera on our team and I did a one armed raising of the roof for 30 seconds, which is at least 25 seconds more than your customary roof raisings. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video of my selection show performance. I'm guessing it has something to do with the CBS conspiracy against me. I'll let you be the judge.

Up next for us is the first round of the NCAA Tournament and the UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos, whose logo kind of looks like Snoop Dogg wearing a pimp hat while lurking in the shadows. I'm pretty confident that most of you reading this blog don't know too much about UCSB, so I thought I'd take a second to give you some inside info and tell you what our scouting report says about them. UCSB is the alma mater of ESPN personalities Jim Rome and Josh Elliott, as well as everyone's favorite Big Ten Network sideline reporter, Charissa Thompson (true story - Charissa worked one of our games this year when I had a stache and she told me at least three times that she was digging it). I assume that UCSB is also the alma mater of my favorite television duo, Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like Shawn and his free spirited personality wouldn't be the type to go to college. Finally, UC-Santa Barbara is also an animation studio that brought us some of the most famous cartoons of all-time including the Flintstones, Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, and Yogi Bear. Who knew that UCSB had so much going on? Clearly we are going to have our work cut out for us, but I personally believe that Charissa Thompson swooning over my mustache is a sign that we currently have the upper hand.
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Our game with Michigan produced three one armed embraces from Stu Douglass, Matt Vogrich, and Josh Bartelstein, one of which I know for sure was one of the guys who was afraid to pull the trigger for the one armed embrace the last time we played them. Illinois had two repeat embracers in Tyler Griffey and Bubba Chisholm. Minnesota also had the same repeat embracers in Director of Basketball Operations, Joe Esposito, and Blake Hoffarber.

One Armed Embraces: 46 to date (7 in postseason, 2 last game) ___________________________________________________

Don’t forget that Club Trillion t-shirts are now available by clicking here. 100% of the proceeds benefit A Kid Again, a local charity aimed at enhancing the quality of life for children with life-threatening illnesses.
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Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Drew F. There’s your shout-out, Drew. And here's your video.



I'm making it my mission to find Carter on Facebook.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No Crying Shame

When I was in fifth grade, my creative writing teacher, Mrs. Boles, asked everyone in my class to write about what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. Looking back, this seems like a pretty big assignment for fifth graders to tackle. After all, this is the same group of people who rubbed dandelions on our bodies because we thought it was funny that our skin turned yellow (naive racism always makes for a good laugh). I'm guessing that most of my classmates hadn't given much thought to their future, which is why they probably wrote about how their only goal in life was to go on GUTS and become the first person in the show's history to not get completely manhandled by the "whitewater rapids" in the rafting challenge (actually, they probably gave that a ton of thought). As for me, this particular writing assignment would be the easiest assignment I had to do all year. I had known exactly what I wanted to do with my life for awhile, even though my life plan only extended until I was 22-years-old. I quickly scribbled down what I planned on doing and thought that there was no way in the world my dream wouldn't someday come true. I wanted so badly to play basketball in the Big Ten and lead my team to the Final Four. I wanted so badly for thousands of people to chant my name because I was one of the best players in the country. I wanted so badly to be great. But a strange thing happened between fifth grade and my senior year of high school—a movie starring Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini was made. Not only that, but reality dealt a sincere blow to my manhood by telling me that I wasn't good enough to play in the Big Ten.

If I could somehow go back in time and tell the fifth grade version of me what I would do with my life up to this point, there's a good chance that little me would be more disappointed than an Eddie Murphy fan in the early 1990s. No fifth grader would ever dream of being a benchwarmer, let alone dream of benchwarming becoming their defining characteristic. The fifth grade version of me would have thought I was just some excessively hairy loser who never got to play. The fifth grade version of me would have declared himself to be Evan "The Villain" Turner and labeled the biggest dweeb on the court as Mark Titus in pick-up games during recess. The fifth grade version of me would have relentlessly mocked today's version of me. But I'm totally fine with it, because it's obvious that the fifth grade version of me had no idea what he was talking about. Plus, I'd beat the living crap out of that punk.

As I grew older and made my way through junior high and high school, it became clear to me that my dream of becoming a Big Ten star had as good of a chance of surviving as Michael Richards would have if he took a late night walk through Harlem. My lack of athleticism made me the consummate mid-major recruit, but my ambitious dreams made me too stubborn to accept reality. Because of this, I ended up at Ohio State as a math major pre-med student who spent my free time as a basketball manager, wiping Greg Oden's sweat off the floor and chasing down Ivan Harris' errant shots. It was during this time, somewhere in between David Lighty hitting me in the face with a sweaty towel and Ron Lewis smacking his lips at me for not putting Kool-Aid in his water bottle, that I realized I needed to set my sights a little lower. I decided in that moment that I needed to let go of the only thing I had really ever wanted in my life and shift my focus towards reality. I stopped dreaming of thousands of fans chanting my name and instead just dreamed that somebody would even know my name.

I have often used this blog as a tool to paint a self-portrait of how big of a man I am, which is why my sobbing last Tuesday night (my senior night) may have been a surprise to a lot of you. Most people who saw me crying assumed that I was faking and my tears were just another example of my sarcastic personality. On the contrary, my tears were 100% genuine and completely unscripted. My intent was to simply wave to the crowd with a smile on my face after I was introduced. Instead, I couldn't even hear my introduction because I was sobbing so much and every time I tried to smile it felt like I was making the bitter beer face. Looking back on the night, I still can't envision how I could have fought back the tears. The entire experience was surreal and emotionally overwhelming for me. Even though many of you e-mailed me and told me that I need to turn in my "man card", the fact is that there was no way I could have not cried. This doesn't make it any less embarrassing to cry in front of thousands of people, but at least I can take comfort in knowing that I'm not the first mustache aficionado with a silky smooth J to cry on national television.

As I was being introduced for the senior night festivities, it finally sank (sunk? sunked? sanked?) in that I'm living the most improbable life in the history of walk-on athletes. I've always assumed that my walk-on experience has been different than anyone else's, but when I saw our entire student section wearing CLUB TRIL shirts, I realized that I'm the luckiest guy in the world. The best player in college basketball is a teammate of mine, yet some people suggest that I'm the most popular guy on our team. I disagree with this notion, but the fact that it's debatable whether or not I'm more popular than the best player in the country shows just how crazy of an experience I've had. Growing up, I thought that I wanted to be a superstar basketball player, if for no other reason than superstar basketball players get the babes. But as I was standing in the middle of the court on senior night and I saw thousands of people wearing my shirts and chanting my name, I realized that I wouldn't trade places with any other basketball player in history.

Now that my career at Ohio State is over and I look back on what I had dreamed of doing with my life, I can say with absolute certainty that being a benchwarming blogger never once entered into the equation. Throughout my childhood, as my reality continued to be redefined, my goals and aspirations continued to change. The things that meant the most to me at 11 didn't mean anything to me at 19, which is why I stopped caring about being an All-American and started caring about being an American. But even as my life aspirations continually changed, at the core of each of my goals was the desire to have a positive impact on people around me. Whether I achieved this by being a basketball star or by being a human punching bag in practice, the one constant throughout my life has always been that I want to make a difference. All I've ever really wanted is to matter. On senior night, for the first time in my life, I felt like I mattered. And so I cried.

I'm extremely blessed to have had the college basketball experience that I've had in my four years at Ohio State and absolutely none of it would have been possible without the Trillion Man March. I started this blog as a way to share stories with family and friends, but because of you it turned into so much more than that. This blog has become the voice of benchwarmers everywhere (past and present), as well as comedic relief for everyone who has ever been told that they're not good enough at something. It was meant to be a place for me to screw around and tell funny stories (and in a lot of ways it still is), but when I get e-mails from high school kids telling me they were depressed about riding the bench until they saw my blog, it makes this so much more than a forum for my subpar jokes.

I have no idea what the future holds for me or, more importantly, my blog. I plan on writing a book after I graduate that will be a more in-depth look at my life as a walk-on, but beyond that the future is wide open. What I do know for sure is that I'll greatly miss writing about my experiences at Ohio State and the interactions I've had with the Trillion Man March. Together, we have changed the perception of benchwarming to the point that basketball players all over the world actually get excited about playing only one minute because they can go for the trillion. I doubt that this blog will have much of a lasting legacy, as chances are that five years from now order will be restored and benchwarmers will once again be losers. Until then, I hope this blog serves as proof that benchwarmers are the coolest guys on the team and always have the most fun. I've enjoyed every aspect of maintaining this blog and will be forever indebted to all of you for making me feel like I've made a positive impact somewhere along the line. Four years ago, I thought I was a nobody. Now, after experiencing senior night, I feel a sense of accomplishment and belonging. I feel like I matter. And that is, after all, the only thing I've ever really wanted.
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My computer got a virus shortly after I finished the last blog, which is why I haven't blogged in awhile. This explains why I've received a ton of one armed embraces since our last game. Michigan State produced three embraces from Chris Allen, Isaiah Dahlman, and Jon Crandell. The Penn State game produced embraces from Steve Kirkpatrick and Adam Highberger. Nobody on Michigan reciprocated any one armed embraces, although I was informed that a few of them read my blog and were going to try for the embrace, but got cold feet at the last second and didn't pull the trigger. Show some sportsmanship next time, guys, and go for the one armed embrace. Finally, our latest game against Illinois delivered two embraces from repeat embracers, Tyler Griffey and Bubba Chisholm.

One Armed Embraces: 39 to date (2 last game)
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Don’t forget that Club Trillion t-shirts are now available by clicking here. 100% of the proceeds benefit A Kid Again, a local charity aimed at enhancing the quality of life for children with life-threatening illnesses.
___________________________________________________

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Joseph D. There’s your shout-out, Joseph. And here's your video.



Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder