Former Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel was once quoted as saying that “the two most important people in Ohio are the Governor and the Quarterback for The Ohio State University. And the quarterback is number 1.” Of course, this came from Captain Buttfumble, so we’ll take it with a grain of salt, even though it absolutely sounds like something The Senator would say to a recruit sitting in his office.
The thing is, from August to January, he is 100% correct. From the very day that fall football camp opens until the day that all the bowl games are played and trophies handed out, the signal caller for the Buckeyes is a certifiable deity in the State of Ohio. (He is merely a demi-god the other months) Every year, for as long as I can remember, the expectation has been that the team will do great things.
The success of the Buckeye football team ultimately starts with the man under Center. As he goes, so goes the rest of the team. The natural leader on the field, he sets the example for all others to follow. Which is why most of Buckeye Nation is beyond exuberant at having such a mild mannered, soft spoken, results driven young man wearing #5. He isn’t out at frat parties wearing a Tim Tebow jersey at age 20. He isn’t driving around in a tricked out Nissan 350Z. He isn’t throwing laptops out of college dorm windows.
The worst thing that happened with Braxton Miller in the offseason is an ill-advised blonde Mohawk that disappeared just as fast as it came on the scene. He takes his role as the leader of an extremely storied program very seriously. His laser like focus on his goals for the 2013 season are unparalleled. He knows what this team is capable of given the talent and the schedule that lies ahead. There is but one goal in mind and it’s not in New York. It resides in Pasadena, and not on January 1st. It is crystalline and football shaped. It’s a chance to have another snow driven celebration in The ‘Shoe 11 years after Cie Grant ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It’s a shot at redemption. It’s a chance to prove that magic can still happen even in the face of insurmountable, elephant shaped odds.
Miller showed us just how important he was last season as the Buckeyes chased perfection and ultimately obtained it. But it wasn’t just Miller who shouldered the role of most important man in Ohio. When he went down against Purdue, Kenny Guiton put down his alto sax and came in to deliver Holy Buckeye Redux to keep the streak alive. And for that moment, Low Key was on top of the heap. He was the Jonathan Moxon to Braxton’s Lance Harbor. He was trusted to do the things designed for Miller and to deliver the same result. And he delivered like UPS. It may not have been pretty, but the win ended up on the Ohio State doorstep with just seconds to spare.
Guiton got a taste of what it meant to be the most important man in Ohio that day. Braxton Miller must live each day with that burden on his shoulder pads. He has shown that he can weather the storm in classy fashion and bring home the results that the entire Empire has come to expect. Now, with the expectations even higher as anything but a National Championship berth might be considered a failure, Miller has a chance to show that he can weather the same storm, but with the added stress and pressure of a postseason to play for.