SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
8/16/2006 03:07:00 PM
Rolling With Troy
Troy Smith was named Fiesta Bowl MVP last January, throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
When I met up with Troy Smith in Columbus last month for the feature story that appears in this week's Sports Illustrated, I told him I wanted to experience a typical day in the life of a star quarterback. Three hours later, I found myself standing in a parking lot loading stacks of dry cleaning into the back of his car.
Ever read US Weekly? You know that section of photos they run at the front, "Stars: They're Just Like Us?" If I had a camera with me, I could have filled an entire section solely with Ohio State's quarterback. We spent the whole afternoon driving around the city (I never figured out if he was lost or just wandering) running errands -- the nutrition store to buy protein shakes, the Verizon store to fix an Internet account, the bank (this one took an especially long time, because Smith couldn't find a National City branch to save his life) and the dry cleaner. And while this may not sound particularly glamorous, all that time in the car made for some good conversation.
We talked about football, obviously. We talked about the tribulations of his childhood (he grew up in one of the poorest parts of Cleveland). We talked about his infamous misdeed with the booster. Smith, a comic-book fanatic, asked me about my job and admitted that what little understanding of journalism he had was gleaned from the Spider-Man movies. At that point I made the mistake of asking him if he'd seen the Superman movie. "C'mon, man -- Superman is overrated," he said. "He's the most athletic guy in the superhero world, by far. He's the fastest, he's the strongest -- but people beat him up. I don't understand it. And he has the worst anti-problem: kryptonite. Who can get kryptonite? Only one dang person can get kryptonite!"
Smith, whose grin rarely leaves his face, knows the national college football scene cold and loves to talk about other players and coaches. He is close friends with one of the Big Ten's other star quarterbacks, Michigan State's Drew Stanton, dating back to their time as roommates at the high school Elite 11 camp. They talk nearly every week during the season. At one point during the ride, another close friend, former OSU star and current Indianapolis Colt Mike Doss, called to say hi. Smith clamps up a little, however, when you bring up the subject of Vince Young, to whom he is constantly compared. "Different states, different teams, different quarterbacks," said Smith. In fact, despite his running prowess, he says he'd much rather pass 50 times a game than take off running for 150 yards. "What about designed runs?" I asked. "Don't you like those?" He smirked at me. "C'mon -- what do you think?" "I don't know, if I could run like that, I'd probably enjoy it," I replied. "Nah," he said. "That's the third option [behind throwing and handing off]."
The Buckeyes don't necessarily need him to run like Vince, but if they hope to live up to SI's billing as the nation's No. 1 team, they're certainly going to need him to lead like Vince. For all its talent, OSU will still be very much a work in progress early in the season, particularly on defense; they'll need Smith to pick up where he left off at the end of last season, when he torched Michigan and Notre Dame for a combined 745 yards of offense.
Smith has been extremely serious about the task at hand this offseason, so much so that our day of shopping -- which was to be followed by a PlayStation "date" with cornerback Donald Washington, then evening film study -- truly was representative of his decidedly unglamorous off-the-field life these days. No clubs. No parties. A big night out, he says, is a trip to the movies. "A doctor will go through eight years of [school] to reach their maximum potential. They don't play around," said Smith. "I have to do X, Y and Z to reach my maximum potential, to hopefully be in a situation where I can set my family straight [financially]. I've only got about [five] months left to finish on a positive note here." How positive? Check back Jan. 8.
SI is so enamored with "Super Troy" (or is that "Spider Troy") and his Buckeyes, that they seem to have forgotten a couple of things. Namely, the schedule and the lack of returning defensive starters. I'm not here to knock the talent on the Defense, but there are only two guys back that ever started a game, and their both DTackles. Call it rebuilding or reloading or whatever, but the lack of EXPERIENCE on the Defensive side of the ball will shake the pedestal upon which the preseason prognosticators have placed Ohio State. Early matchups at Texas, hosting Penn State, and at Iowa (all in September) will test the young linebackers and secondary, and could spoil the Buckeyes' chance of a National Title. Sorry to be so filled with doom and gloom...I'm just callin' 'em like I see 'em.
will writer's please stop obsessing over troy smith? he had 1 outstanding game last year in his bowl performance! he's a homeless man's michael robinson at best.
in addition, osu has a totally unproven defense and an offense that was absolutely shut down by penn state last year. whose to say tressel will figure out a way to use ginn like psu uses d-will. please stop the madness of hyping osu until they do something.
im not an osu hater; i just can't stand all these sportswriters and websites hyping these teams and players to death that havent done anything.
Next time you're in Columbus, your two most faithful MySpace posters and mailbag addicts, Basom and Zucker, want to take you out for a delicious Chipotle burrito. According to Troy Smith, we're in year eight of attempting to reach our maximum potential, so we'll show you another decidedly unglamorous side of Columbus!
devoted for certain, this is the guy that was organizing 11 0n 11 scrimmages in the offseason and he is certainly the representive of what a player is like who really latches on to the teachings of Sen. Tressel...the antithesis of the certain ak-47 weilding, stun-gun deflecting, high speed delinquent that we all know and love...
You gotta love the comment #2 from anonymous about Troy Smith's "1 outstanding game" last year.
Here's some stats for that fella. #4 NCAA Passing Efficiency 2005 (beating a couple of decent QBs named Quinn & Leinart.
Accounted for 408 yards against ND in last year's Fiesta Bowl.
In his last two performances against Michigan, he has accounted for a total of 723 yards (337 + 386).
If you just don't like Troy, that's your business, but at least put on the pretension of being an educated fan.
Yeh, I am a Buckeye fan, and believe me, we know how tough September is going to be with 9 new guys on defense and games at Texas & Iowa, plus Penn State at home. But if we have to go through that kind of month, this Buckeye fan is sure glad that Troy Smith is behind center.
If you don't believe me, why don't you ask Charlie Weis about it.
Nice post Mr. Mandel. However, as nice a young man as he may be, he is overrated. If he is so great why couldn't he win the starting job last year!!! People keep forgeting this! I think Buckeye nation is in for a huge disappointment.
Do some of you just not read the articles and just start posting negative things just becasue it isn't YOUR favorite team? Show a little intellect before making statements. OSU's defense is mentioned in this article and is highlighted by stating how Troy needs to step up bigger this year if his team wants to do well. Every team (maybe with the exception of WVU) has UNPROVEN players at very important positions (USC,TX,PSU,etc) Plus, I do not think SI is "enamored" with Troy, they are just looking forward to the college season at the possible standouts and he is for sure one of them.
Troy has definitely learned from that which made him stronger. The true reflection of a man is how they react to hardships in their life, and sounds like Troy has learned from his mistakes, and is determined not to repeat those.
In regards to Chad Tiller's comments, yes the defense is young, and yes, the schedule looks tough early, but don't forget Texas lost some key players that hoisted the tropy last year, and Penn State has to come to The Shoe (one of the most difficult places to play in the country). Agreed, at Iowa will be a challenge, but I'm sure Tressel will prepare his team accordingly.
I don't think you are taking into account the Tressel factor...
Look, what Troy Smith brings to the Buckeye's is LEADERSHIP. Yes, he can scramble for 3rd down conversions as well as anyone. But his "superpower" is what he does in the huddle. He motivates and synergizes (I maybe just made that word up)the players to bring the confidence out of them to perform as champions. He has that gift and it will lead them to a national championship.
Smith is definitely better than "Zwick" but he's no Vince Young. It will be interesting to see how he does without all the proven talent around him but we will know pretty quick when they have to face Texas, which will determine who is going to play Tennessee for the Nat'l championship!! Go vols
The media is in love with Troy Smith because the media is even more in love with Notre Dame. Troy Smith destroyed Notre Dame last year, therefore the sporting media believes that Smith is Superman in a world without kryptonite. I'm a Buckeye fan and I do admire Smith for what he's done so far, but the jury is out until he can put it together for an entire season.
Troy takes money from a booster and gets suspended for a game against the little sisters of the poor. Bomar takes money from a booster and gets kicked off the team. Tells you the difference between a class team and O$U.