Will It Be Too Much

From the Sidelines

As I sit here, the College Football season has officially started. Central State is playing Winston Salem in the HBCS game, and in about 25 minutes, Penn State and Purdue kick off the BCS series.  

Football season is my favorite, most of you know that, and has been since I was a little boy.  I was fortunate enough to play the game, so I have a few insights and ideas of what goes on in the game, and on the practice field and locker room.  It can be totally exhilarating, and get your blood pumping, or it can put pressure on you to perform.  That is why some teams thrive, others flounder, and a lot of it is the coaches fault!

I think everyone in Ohio is anxious to see Ohio State play. I know I am. I think they have as much talent as anybody. They will be good, but some disturbing things have popped up in the last month or so that bother me. I hope I am wrong, but this is one of those things that can go either way.  I am talking about pressure. 

For the last six months, Ohio State has been talked about on national and local t.v. as the team to beat for the National Championship because of all the talent. I agree that the talent is there, but when I heard Coach Ryan Day say in a press conference that they were good enough to win it all, and then talked about how no other team has this talent, that was a big NO-NO for me!  Talk about putting pressure on young men, nothing like expecting nothing less than a National Championship, or the season is lost!

What was he thinking? Not only is the expectation high for the guys, but all the coaches are now put under the microscope, and that can cause mistakes.  The same with the Athletes.  Instead of playing the game like they can, now they may overthink some situations and cost themselves a game.  

Pressure does funny things to an athlete.  Some love it, most just want to play the best they can.  This Saturday, September 3rd, Ohio State starts out with Notre Dame, the number 4 ranked team in the country at this point,  Ohio State is number 2.  Ohio State is expected to win by at least 14 the last I saw, and of course, everyone in Ohio thinks they should too.  

But, what if things start off badly for them?  What if Notre Dame, God forbid (I hate that team, have since I was a kid!) gets out front by 14 in the first quarter?  Then what? Do some of them start to press too much? Try to do everything on their own?  What happens when coaches start screaming at them because their squad is underperforming and the coaches are feeling the pressure too?  

I can give you a classic example: Appalachian State 34-Michigan 32, quite possibly the greatest upset in College football history.  Michigan was at home, 110,000 fans on their side, playing a much smaller school, and had to listen for months how they were going to kill App. State. They started to believe their own press, they were too good to lose, they could win the National Championship, their coaches talked their praises, and yada, yada, yada. The only thing wrong was App. State (as it was called) didn’t buy it: they outworked, outhit, outhustled a far superior team and won. 

Could the same thing happen to OSU?  I think it can. Now, Notre Dame is NOT App. State. They are much better, but Ohio State does have better talent, but talent doesn’t always win! Ohio State needs to stop the rhetoric, and Ryan Day needs to point out that they can get their butts kicked IF they don’t give everything they have and prove they are the better team. He must not tell them in the locker room before the game that they ARE superior, they ARE faster, and they ARE, tougher.  He needs to tell them they have to PROVE it to themselves and others the whole game.

Just go play your game, don’t get rattled, and things will be o.k.  Can Ryan Day do that?  I don’t know, I hope he can, if not he is in for one hell of a surprise come Saturday evening.

Football season is here finally, and I can’t wait to see what happens this year. I think Ohio State can win it all, but, and this is a big but, they can’t start thinking they will win it all; They have to PROVE IT, EVERY WEEK!  

I hope Ryan can get them fired up, and not put too much pressure on them and the other coaches.  I also hope they stop believing their press releases telling them how great they are.  If they do…….well, Notre Dame is coming to town as the underdog……we’ll see…….That’s the way I see it from the sidelines

Commissioner Mike Stegall

Mike Stegall / Correspondent

Mike Stegall is a GHS alum and played on the Green Wave's only undefeated football team. Served 27 years as an OHSAA football official and currently serves as a Darke County Commissioner

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