Shrink To Greatness

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about a novel technique that Ohio State coaches used to prepare their defense for the game against Oregon.

The coaches recognized that Oregon was a fast finesse team that specializes in up-tempo offense that sprints to the line of scrimmage and runs plays faster than anybody else.  So, how to go about mentally and physically preparing your defense for that challenge?  The Ohio State coaches decided to approach the game by asking their defensive linemen to go on diets — reasoning that, by shedding a few pounds, the big boys on the defense would feel lighter and faster, and therefore better prepared mentally for the game.  The rest is history, as the Ohio State defense held the fast-paced, high-powered Oregon offense far below its normal point output.

So, should we all go on The Ohio State Football Team diet?  Will the Silver Bullet Regimen replace the Beverly Hills Diet as the weight-loss approach of choice?  Probably not, because it likely wouldn’t work for most of us.  As the Buckeye players learned, when you’re a 6′ 5″ 300-pound athlete who is running sprints and practicing every day, you can lose five pounds in 10 days just by cutting out honey buns and candy bars.

Good Karma

IMG_4604Sports fans know intuitively that concepts like karma are vitally important to the outcomes of key games.  Whether you are at the game or watching at home, life gives you little clues about whether things are going to go smoothly and whether the ball is going to bounce favorably . . . or not.  Most fans are superstitious because of this inner awareness — if they wear the same shirt and follow the same routine, they are less likely to invite occurrences that indicate that the balance is tilted against them.

On my trip to Dallas, the little signs were everywhere, and I was keenly sensitive to them.

IMG_4587The trip got off on a wrong foot when my flight to Atlanta was delayed and it looked like I would inevitably miss my connection to Oklahoma City, but I somehow made it anyway.  I drove from Oklahoma City to Dallas without mechanical problems, bad traffic, or speeding tickets.  Thanks to the Friendly Flynns, we had a great place to stay and a great Game Day southern breakfast.  We found a perfect parking spot at AT&T Stadium, enjoyed a laugh-filled lunch with buddies from Cleveland, and did some tailgating with an old friend at a location where there were some hilarious signs and antics by excited ticket holders.  And somehow, in the crush of humanity, we randomly ran into colleagues at one of many temporary souvenir shops set up in a tent along one of the roads around the stadium.

And then, when I finally sat my wind-chilled bones in my seat high in the upper deck of the House that Jerry Built, the first image I saw on the enormous Jumbotron above the field was a sweater vest-clad Jim Tressel, a great coach and even better man who was present at the game because he was being elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.  With the comforting presence of Coach Tressel hovering over the field, how could the Ohio State Buckeyes possibly lose?  And, of course, they didn’t.

It’s nice to go into an important game with good karma, and it’s even better when that good karma produces the desired result.  The fates were with us.