Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Name Game

It’s no secret that the relationship I have with the compliance office at Ohio State could best be likened to that of a teenage girl and her mother. Compliance (acting as the mother, obviously) likes to give me orders and they aren’t afraid to scold me when I come home two hours after curfew because I was making out with Brent Carter in some cornfield just outside of town (if he wasn’t two years older than me and didn’t have like thirty varsity letters, maybe it would be easier for me to tell him no). On the other hand, I listen to compliance’s orders and follow every one of them, even if I do mumble insults under my breath as I walk away. I then go sulk in my room about the punishment that was handed out and call all my friends to complain about how I can’t go to the dance this Friday because my mom is “seriously the biggest jerk ever”. It’s not exactly the healthiest relationship in the world, but I know compliance still loves me and they know that I still love them. Except when they are seriously the biggest jerks ever.

As I’m sure you remember, at the end of the last post I wrote, I called on the Trillion Man March to follow me on Twitter. My chief reason for asking you to do so was that my girlfriend promised to buy me a Dairy Queen cake if I reached 20,000 followers, which is why she’s the coolest girlfriend in the world (Valentine’s Day is coming up—I have to suck up a little bit). But the other, more relevant reason I wanted you to follow me on Twitter is because I said that I was going to start a completely pointless contest that resulted in shout-outs for the Trillion Man March. I wrote about how I don’t sign my real name on our per diem sheets, but instead I write either quirky made up names or names of famous people throughout history. My idea was to prompt the TMM via Twitter to come up with creative names for me to use on the per diem sheet, because I didn’t think anybody fully appreciated what I was doing. As it turns out, I was exactly right. There was a particular group of people who didn’t appreciate what I was doing one bit.

Before I discuss the frustration I have with the compliance office at Ohio State, let me first say that I think they are all very fine people who truly do want what’s best for all Buckeye athletes. I have nothing against them personally and I completely understand (even though I disagree) where they are coming from in most cases. In fact, most of the problems we have aren’t because of their decisions, but rather because they are just enforcing the dumb rules laid out by the NCAA. Like most mother-daughter relationships that go through a rough patch, I’m sure compliance and I will look back on some of the headaches we’ve caused each other and we’ll just laugh. Ok, so maybe they won’t, but I definitely will. In fact, I don’t see why it has to wait. I think I should look back and laugh right now.

After publishing my post that included the tidbit about the Twitter contest with the fake names, a part of me wondered if admitting that I don’t sign my actual signature would come back to bite me. But then I realized that there was no way compliance would honestly care that much. After all, virtually nobody on the team signs their actual signature, but instead they all choose to scribble a couple times and collect their money (I understand that most autographs look like scribbles anyway, but I assure you that the per diem scribbles are much, much worse). Technically there should be no difference between a scribble and a completely fake name, seeing as how neither are actual signatures. Just like you can’t be “kind of pregnant”, you also can’t have varying degrees of authentic signatures. Either you sign your actual signature or you don’t. At least that was my thought process and it made total sense to me. If I was going to get in trouble for signing fake names, I knew that a large majority of the team would get in trouble for scribbling, and there was no way compliance was going to make most of the guys on the team re-sign all the per diem sheets. It was strength by numbers at it’s finest.

Unfortunately, I forgot to account for the “The Guy With The Blog Is Always The One At Fault And Under No Circumstances Should Anyone Else Ever Be Disciplined” Clause in the NCAA’s bylaws that states “the guy with the blog is always the one at fault and under no circumstances should anyone else ever be disciplined” (the title of the clause sort of gives away its meaning, in my opinion). Because of this clause, I was forced to make a special trip to our compliance office to re-sign all the per diem sheets with which I decided to have a little harmless fun. Meanwhile, my teammates weren’t reprimanded in any way for their illegible scribbling. I probably had it coming to me by publicly discussing my shenanigans on my blog. And I certainly didn’t help my cause when I printed the name of one of compliance officers on the per diem sheet in place of my signature, just a few short hours after finding out that compliance was upset about my fake names. Even so, because my teammates don’t exactly sign the sheets either, I felt like I was being treated unjustly. Especially when I showed up for my punishment and I was greeted with an enormous stack of per diem sheets dating back to at least two years ago. Even though I explained to the compliance office that I had only been signing fake names for a few weeks, they still made me sort through the giant stack and review every sheet.


Pictured: The glamorous life of a college basketball player

My gripe with how this all played out isn’t that I got caught, but rather that compliance went to such great lengths to see that everything was fixed. I’m guessing that because we get paid a substantial amount of money every time we sign the per diem sheet, our compliance office is forced to file all sorts of forms in case some NCAA accountant comes knocking on their door and starts spewing out fancy words like “audit” and “taxes”. Still, my fake signatures shouldn’t be a big deal. After all, the point of signing the per diem sheet is to verify that I did indeed get paid my per diem. Whether I sign it with my usual signature or whether I sign it as “Your Mom”, it shouldn’t really matter because I’m verifying that I got paid either way, even if one way happens to be incredibly juvenile.

I guess what I’m scratching my head about the most is that it seems like there should be more important things for compliance to investigate than the consistency of my signatures on per diem sheets from 2008. What’s crazy is that they wouldn’t even have to look at other athletes to find these more severe things. That’s because I know that I have personally committed a handful of NCAA violations that are much worse than fake signatures on a per diem sheet. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • When my dad bought me a car for my 17th birthday, he got the car dealer to drop the price by $100. I’m fully convinced the dealer did so because he knew I was a five star recruit and he wanted me to play for his alma mater.
  • During my sophomore year at Ohio State, I was relentlessly hitting on some chick at an on-campus party. I tried to ease into a conversation by making her laugh, so I said, “Doesn’t it annoy the crap out of you that those dumb little kids on Legends of The Hidden Temple could never put together the shrine of the silver monkey?” She didn’t budge. But then someone mentioned to her that I played basketball at OSU and she gave me her number as she whispered something in my ear that would surely make her dad want to kill me. I’m almost positive that’s an impermissible extra benefit, since she only gave me her number because I play basketball.
  • At the beginning of this season, when I had to run a mile in under 5:30, the ghost of Steve Prefontaine visited me while I was sleeping and gave me running tips. I probably should have told him to go away, since NCAA rules strictly prohibit athletes from talking with agents or “runners”.
  • I popped my collar for about a month while I was in high school. I realize this has nothing to do with NCAA violations, but since I’m confessing things from my past I thought I’d go ahead and get this off my chest too.
  • I ordered a medium soft drink during my last trip to Chipotle, but the guy working the register gave me a large. Sure it might have been because they were out of medium cups, but maybe he saw my letter jacket and knew that his parents were Ohio State boosters who wouldn’t mind covering the 79 cent cost for the upgrade.
  • My mom made me dinner the last time I visited my hometown. At the time, I thought it was because she loved me and wanted me to eat well. I later found out that she is an agent and she was trying to persuade me to sign with her after the season. That must explain why the food wasn’t burnt that time. (Just kidding, Mom! You know I love you and your meatloaf!)

Because I self-reported these violations, I’ve got my fingers crossed that I won’t get into trouble for them. At the very least, I hope I don’t get disciplined as badly as I did last time. I don’t think my writer’s cramp can handle any more punishment like that. ___________________________________________________

A lot of readers have suggested for awhile that there should be a “Club Tril Shirt Day” that prompts everyone in the Trillion Man March to wear their shirts for an entire day. I brushed this idea to the side, because I just assumed that everybody already wears their shirts every day anyway. Picking a day to wear a Club Tril shirt is like you and me picking a day to breathe or Evan “The Villain” Turner picking a day to be generally unpleasant to everybody he talks to. If something is already done on a daily basis, a special day kind of loses all its meaning. This is why I don’t celebrate National Chipotle Day.

After giving it more thought, though, I realized that your Club Tril shirt might get dirty from time to time, which might cause you to wear something else on a particular day (this wouldn’t be a problem if you bought two or three of them). This means that a “Club Tril Shirt Day” wouldn’t be all that bad of an idea. With that in mind, I’m declaring Tuesday, March 2nd as “Club Tril Shirt Day” throughout the Trillion Man March. I’m picking this day because it’s my senior night and it’s also the last time I will ever put on an Ohio State uniform (I’m waiting until March 4th to get surgery on my shoulder because I want to dress for senior night). This will be the last time many of you will see me make it rain in warm-ups or slap boards in the layup line. (Even though my arm will probably fall off, I’m going to make it rain like never before in warm-ups. It’s the last time I’ll ever have a chance to do so and since I’m getting surgery two days later, I really don’t care if I tear my labia any worse than it already is.)

Even if you aren’t coming to the game that night, you can still take part in “Club Trillion Shirt Day” wherever you may be. I know that there are a lot of readers from all over the world, and I encourage all of you to take part in this completely insignificant celebration. For those of you who have to dress up to work, wearing your Club Tril shirt underneath your suit is not a bad alternative. Get creative if you have some sort of dress code at your work/school. This is a day of celebration for the entire Trillion Man March.

If you are new to the party and haven’t bought a Club Tril shirt, I strongly encourage you to do so by clicking here. Not only will it become the most comfortable shirt you own, but all proceeds from your purchase will benefit A Kid Again, a local charity aimed at enhancing the quality of life for children with life-threatening illnesses. There’s really no reason to not get one. ___________________________________________________

Our game against Minnesota produced one armed embraces from two people that consistently deliver every time we play the Gophers. I’m talking of course about Minnesota’s Director of Basketball Operations, Joe Esposito, and their left-handed sharpshooter, Blake Hoffarber. I’m running out of compliments for these guys.

The Penn State game also produced a couple of one armed embraces from two guys that will be receiving their first shout-outs on my blog. Steve Kirkpatrick and Adam Highberger delivered on the embraces and I couldn’t be happier about it. I think I’ve now received embraces from players on every team in the Big Ten.

One Armed Embraces: 18 to date (2 last game) ___________________________________________________

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by “Sack”. There’s your shout-out, Sack. And here’s your video.

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

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder