Sports put in perspective as new year begins

Sports put in perspective as new year begins

A few thoughts from the week in sports …

No one in Ohio saw the ball drop. Instead it went wide left.

OK, that’s an exaggeration, but I’d love to know what percentage of Ohioans were watching the Buckeyes vs. Georgia in the Peach Bowl/College Football Playoff semifinal at midnight instead of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve or some similar show.

It was probably the first time I haven’t partaken in a New Year’s countdown since I was a grade-schooler.

I’ve always loved New Year’s Eve, and it’s also my wedding anniversary, but instead my family was anxiously counting down the final seconds in the Buckeyes’ game. We grimaced mightily when Noah Ruggles’ 50-yard field goal went wide left about the time the clock struck midnight, allowing Georgia to escape with a 42-41 win after an incredible game.

The game had allowed my family a respite from worrying about my father-in-law, Hans Tannhof, who was in hospice care and would die on the morning of Jan. 2 at age 80.

After a highly emotional start to that Jan. 2 day, that night I sat down with my family to watch the end of the Cavaliers’ game, in which Donovan Mitchell would wind up scoring a franchise-record 71 points in a 145-134 overtime victory over the Bulls.

We were interrupted with a phone call late in the Cavs’ game, telling us to turn on the Bills vs. Bengals contest. As most readers are well aware, 24-year-old Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest after making a tackle and received CPR as horrified teammates and fans looked on. (Hamlin was hospitalized in critical condition as of Jan. 3.)

These were all lessons in how fast life can change.

Sure, sports are important, fun and teach lots of lessons, whether we’re a fan, participant or even parent of a youth athlete.

However, we were reminded again that sports are not the most important thing, not even close. They never will be.

It felt awful to see the Buckeyes start 2023 with such a tough loss. I was extremely disappointed but never would have considered putting the sole blame on Ruggles.

One play doesn’t decide a game, and there were lots of other big moments that preceded the missed kick. Primarily, Ohio State hasn’t figured out its defense the last two years.

It’s pathetic some fans would send Ruggles death threats on social media or that they did the same to quarterback C.J. Stroud after the Michigan loss. These are college kids who have worked tirelessly to be “the man in the arena,” as Stroud put it.

“Incredible” isn’t a strong enough word to describe how well Stroud rebounded from the Michigan game.

Do "fans" remember Ruggles won the Rose Bowl with a 19-yard field goal last year with nine seconds left to beat Utah 48-45? Do they know Ruggles made 37-of-41 field goal attempts in his Ohio State career, giving him the school record for the best career field goal percentage (90.2%)? Or that he went 148-of-149 on PAT kicks?

Continuing with the emotional roller-coaster of losing my highly respected father-in-law, then the ups and downs watching the Cavs and Bills later that night, it really put sports and life in perspective.

They were reminders that faith and family should always come first.

Politicians have contributed to the decay of our country by taking prayer out of schools but couldn’t stop the Bills and Bengals players from joining to pray on the field.

In the midst of heartache, there are always good people who step up.

It was amazing to see people support Hamlin’s toy drive fundraiser by donating nearly $4 million within a few hours after he collapsed. Much closer to home, our family greatly appreciates all the kind words and messages we’ve received after Hans’ passing.

Life can be equally awesome or tough, depending on the day or even hour. My wife, Angela, reminded me what her dad, Hans, used to always say with his German accent: “Just keep on going.”

Geiser gets Ashland job

Congrats to Doug Geiser on being named as the 15th head coach in Ashland University football program history.

Geiser, a 1986 Triway graduate, will replace the retired Lee Owens after being on his staff since 2004. Owens compiled a 137-61 record as the Eagles made six Div. II playoff appearances with Geiser as his top assistant.

Ashland reportedly also looked at several big names including former Cleveland Browns and University of Akron quarterback Charlie Frye, former Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, and a couple current head coaches within a 1 1/2-hour drive of Ashland.

Frye accepted an offer to become the offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic University in late December. The Willard, Ohio native was on the Penn State staff this season, working as the offensive analyst and analytics coordinator with the Nittany Lions.

In the end the 54-year-old Geiser looks to be an excellent choice. Geiser is well-respected, the returning players and fans will know what to expect, and he has strong recruiting ties in the region.

Parting shots

The Triway football job is open after Eric Brenner stepped down following five years at the helm.

This should be a very appealing job. Triway is building a new high school, has outstanding athletic facilities and has competed well in the Principals Athletic Conference.

—It was a lot of fun to watch The College of Wooster men’s basketball team defeat team Heidelberg 68-65 in the Mose Hole/Wooster Kiwanis Classic on Dec. 30.

I’ve said it before and will say it again, Scots basketball is the best sports ticket in town. Wooster has continued to play basketball the right way since Doug Cline took over as head coach, and Timken Gym is an excellent venue.

—Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all the best in 2023.

Aaron Dorksen can be emailed at aarondorksen24@gmail.com.