It’s Saturday morning in Ohio (yes I live in that state; it pays the bills), there is dew on the ground and I’ve just finished my first cup of Joe. As I peer out the windows of the Love Shack, there is only one thing on my mind. How are we going to beat Ohio this year? No actually, I’m wondering how good 134 is really going to be.
I hear the rhetoric coming from Mecca that this is going to be a special year. My first reaction is to question the rhetoric, as I’m quite aware of the PR machine doing its job and I remember when that same PR machine was telling me that some coal miner was going to forever change the face of Big Ten football. I’ve been in the doubting mindset many times with this football program over the years. This is not new territory for me.
However, after much contemplation, which normally occurs at night while consuming truth serums of many sorts, I’ve deduced that this has the makings of a special year for 134 and I have officially declared myself a Southern Hoketist. After all, Ohio is considered the south, right?
I often refer to the man leading this program in many ways on a daily basis. Pick a nickname and at any given time you’ll hear them spewing from my mouth. You’ve got Fred, as in Flintsone. Boss, because I feel like everybody knows he’s the man, not because he told you but because he demonstrates it through his leadership skills.
Prior to being named the head coach, I called him the Great White Hoke, not because I was referring to his skin color, but because he was going to pull us out of the coal mining years. Those years in my house are commonly referred to as the Great Depression. These days he’s known as the Great Savior. That should be easy for you to figure out as he has rescued this program from the bowels of coal mines in the Big Ten. The Great Savior has brought us back to being relevant again and all nicknames and kidding aside, he’s done it with one primary change in philosophy.
Believing. It’s a simple as that. I believe in Fred the Great Savior because he believes in his team and coaching staff (Borges is a stretch for me – nicknames in future articles). It became apparent to me in his first year when the same players that forgot how to tie their shoes during the Great Depression years were able to win the Sugar Bowl. Whether he walked into Ann Arbor with a boom box with Journey blasting is unknown to me. What is known to me is that his entire being is built around trust and a belief system, from his coaches to his players. And because he shows them that he believes in them, they perform at a high level.
I’m ready for 134 to show me what their made of, they have their challenges as does any other program. But in my heart I believe that no matter what the record is at the end of the season there are a bunch of young men that have been taught a key leadership trait. Believe in your people and they will deliver, just ask Fred he will tell. Here’s to a great 2013, and to believing in Team 134!