This post was inspired by Uncle Crappy.
I was smitten after that first game against Washington State. I could not stop gushing about his agility, his apparent team-centeredness and his rumored 3.8 GPA in high school. I kept drunkenly muttering "Is this guy for real?"
Maurice Clarett's first game was also his first date with the Buckeye faithful. He portrayed himself to be the perfect running back and played into all of Buckeye Nation's hopes and dreams. Think of how you act on a first date. Do you belch? Scratch? Gush about unsavory topics? No, you don't. You shape your behavior to be as close to ideal as possible. Clarett acted no differently, cheering on the sideline for his teammates, racking up over 200 yards on the field. It was a first date most regale not only for their diaries, but for anyone who will listen.
We usually don't marry the first person we date, because most can't keep up the act started during the first date. Eventually, we all have to belch, scratch and confess to our love of certain unsavory topics. The true person always eventually shines through. I believe Clarett began to let down his guard during the Northwestern game. Even though Clarett rushed for 140 yards, he fumbled thrice, resulting in a temporary benching mid game. Assistant coach Tim Spencer reprimanded the back and Clarett threw a temper tantrum on the sideline for the world to see. Looking back, it is painfully apparent that Maurice was not "The One."
But, we continued dating him. Maybe he was charming (read: talented) enough to temporarily overlook his character flaws. Besides, we always had a great time during our dates. What could be more fun than watching a gifted back in a scarlet and gray jersey effortlessly trot into the end zone time and time again? What was more fun than being the first team to EVER win 14 games in a single season?
We were almost fooled into believing we were mistaken about his character. Clouded by the 2002 National Championship, we began dreaming again of a long future together complete with repeat titles and Heisman trophies. It wasn't until allegations of falsified police reports and Clarett's suspension from the entire 2003 season, that we woke up and realized he was not a long term kind of guy. Tressel essentially and thankfully ended our relationship before it could turn into some kind of messy divorce years down the road.
Since the relationship ended, we've heard about him around town. For some perverted reason, everyone likes to hear how poorly their ex is doing. Maybe it is to reinforce a hard but good decision, or to mock his bad karma for dumping you. Each bad story causes us to gloat that he's no longer with us. It also causes us to cringe, knowing that we will inevitably be tied to him because of our past relationship. That will never change. The wounds will be reopened each time.
Most of us Buckeye fans look back on our relationship with Maurice Clarett through jaded glasses. He seemed to promise so much, but did not deliver to his full potential. We shared many good times and have suffered much heart ache due to his poor choices. We celebrate the title while sheepishly acknowledging we once courted him. We will have to live with our combined past forever.