Since when did the college football season begin Labor Day weekend? Once distinctive events are now starting earlier and intertwining more.
Forget that it is only the beginning of September. The local Sam’s Club warehouse has Halloween candy displayed next to a life-size decorative Christmas nutcracker, while brown wicker white-lighted pumpkins, presumably for Thanksgiving, glow nearby. The holidays have now officially merged into one big year-round seasonal blob. Possibly Valentine’s Day candy will emerge to join the fracas next week.
It seemed odd to watch Ohio State play football Labor Day evening. Which TV sports-ratings guru decided that having an 8 p.m. kick-off the night before we all return to work from a hectic holiday weekend was a good idea?
Just as the “morning after” the national championship win against Oregon was brutal for millions of sleep-deprived Buckeye fans — who trudged into work early on Jan. 12 — Tuesday morning this week was not much better.
My post-game fatigue, however, was not due to over-celebrating the Ohio State win. It was more from the unsettled apprehension of whether Ohio State would have claimed victory if Michael Brewer, the grenade-launching Virginia Tech quarterback, had not been injured. Who would have predicted that the Buckeyes would trail Virginia Tech at halftime after Cardale Jones seemed to go flat, while Brewer was nearly unstoppable?
The brutality of football is undeniable. My late father, Max Main, lost his left ring finger while playing college football. The third-quarter flattening of Brewer by Ohio State lineman Adolphus Washington was disconcerting and gut-wrenching to watch.
Washington — 100 pounds heavier and several inches taller — resembled Goliath crushing the underdog and mere mortal David. After witnessing Washington’s smackdown of Brewer, I understand why parents divert their sons’ athletic prowess toward lacrosse or soccer versus the bone-crushing, concussion-causing brutality of football — even though lacrosse and soccer are not immune to concussions and injuries.
Meanwhile, OSU team leader Joey Bosa and three other suspended players were obviously absent during the Virginia Tech encounter. When asked of his whereabouts during the Monday night game, Bosa explained that he was back in Columbus “puppy-sitting” Ezekiel Elliott’s new addition, a 4-month-old puppy named “Ace.”
After reading several online articles about Bosa’s absence, I wondered: Since when did Ohio State dormitories start allowing four-legged pets? Or are team members no longer required to live on-campus? As a Delta Delta Delta sorority member at Ohio State, I was familiar with the off-campus residency exploits of several football players, which merited a change in policy regarding where players could live. That rule must no longer be in effect.
And how does a star football player, such as Elliott, have the time to attend both rigorous football practices and academic classes, in combination with traveling for away games, while housebreaking a puppy? Is mixing all of this possible without the player’s schoolwork and football dedication being compromised? Or the demands of puppy-raising being compromised? Several factors of the Monday Buckeye victory still are bothersome to me.
Overall, the Labor Day weekend college football kick-off was not favorable to Big Ten teams. The University of Michigan, despite a coaching change, was a loser, as was Wisconsin and, of course, Nebraska in a Cinderella finish for Brigham Young University. The last second “Hail Mary” pass by freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum to Mitch Mathews resulted in a 33-28 victory for BYU, witnessed by about 90,000 speechless Cornhusker fans.
This unlikely ending oddly parallels the Nov. 23, 1984, last-moment “Hail Mary” pass by Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie to wide receiver Gerard Phelan, stunning a home crowd at the University of Miami. The unlikely win negated former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar’s one-day record of 447 passing yards while quarterbacking the Hurricanes.
Mangum’s back story is equally as unlikely, as it was his first college football appearance since January 2012. The last time he had suited up for a game was in the Under Armour All-American Game, before to exiting college to fulfill a two-year commitment as a Mormon missionary.
Mangum’s Saturday debut, after just returning three months ago from his work in Tocopilla, Chile, resulted in an outcome that would change his life forever within just four short quarters. As starting BYU quarterback Taysom Hill was felled by a foot injury, Mangum became the unlikely replacement.
Considering the BYU head coach is Bronco Mendenhall — with the equally football-appropriate names of Mangum, Hill and Houk — an equally entertaining season is expected if Saturday’s game is a preview. Ohio State’s next opponent is the University of Hawaii.
Mariann Main is a Delaware native and journalism graduate of The Ohio State University. She has a master’s degree in counseling from Georgia State University, and is licensed as a counselor in both Ohio and Georgia. She can be reached at MariannMain@gmail.com.