As The Ohio State University Men’s Basketball team prepares for their last home game of the season against Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers, they are also preparing to celebrate Senior Day …. Or as it will be known this year: William Buford Day. The lone senior has taken quite a bit of heat this season from Buckeye Nation, and I am no exception to that. But as he prepares to step onto the court for his last game at the Schott, he deserves a proper tribute. I am not just talking about a tribute to a four-year starter but a lifelong Buckeye.
When he came to The Ohio State University as a freshman, he was a McDonald’s All-American and an Ohio Mr. Basketball. He was already being compared to Buckeye great Jim Jackson and had a ton of potential. Just nine games into his freshman season, Buford was added to the starting line-up; he has started all but one game since, and on his Senior Day, he will break the all-time record number of career starts. He has played in 134 games, averaging 32.4 minutes per game. In total, he has sported a Scarlet and Gray jersey for 4,337 minutes over the last four years, not including the remaining games of the 2011-12 season. Think about that total for a minute. That is incredible!
To put that into perspective, let’s compare his playing time to the average playing time of a NFL player. Sixty minutes of game clock in football translates to about 12.5 minutes of average playing time, which means that the average NFL player sees approximately 6 minutes and 15 seconds of action during a single game. So in four years, the average NFL player suits up for 600 minutes. Now let me repeat: William Buford has worn an Ohio State jersey for 4,337 minutes of playing time.
In that time, Buford has received many accolades of which he should be proud. Currently, he sits at #6 on the all-time career scorers list at The Ohio State, which is one position above Jackson; and he could very well pass Michael Redd before his time as a Buckeye is over, being amongst the top five scorers in the history of our great University. And in the coming months, he will become a member of another elite group of Buckeyes. As of the spring of 2011, the graduation rate for The Ohio State men’s basketball program was a dismal 64%, which was an improvement from 2010. Buford will be one of few professional basketball players with a degree. To me, that deserves recognition.
But of all his basketball statistics, there is one intangible quality that supersedes all others. It is a quality that all of us share … something that binds all of us together and pulls us through tough times. It’s a love … it’s a passion … it’s beyond words … it’s Buckeye Pride! “[Buckeye Pride] comes from the people before us. We just try to keep that thing going. It’s not about us. It’s about the school. The school is bigger than us.” Now THAT is spoken like a true Buckeye! It is easy for us as fans to get caught up in the performance of one or two games, but on this weekend, let us honor a true Buckeye as he wears our school’s colors for the last time at home. He has earned the respect of all of Buckeye Nation.
And to William ….
… as you transition from the largest campus in the country to the largest alumni base in the world, always carry Buckeye Pride with you. As you lace up for your final game at the Schott and listen to Matta’s pregame pep talk, remember the feeling. As you step on the court in front of 19,000+ fans cheering for and honoring you on your Senior Day, remember the feeling. As you look in the eyes of your teammates and see the admiration they have for you, remember the feeling. As Sully gets ready for the tip-off and you feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins, remember the feeling. As you sink your first basket of your last home game as a Buckeye, remember the feeling. And when Matta calls his final timeout so you can get a standing ovation by Buckeye Nation as we give you one final show of love and gratitude before the last seconds tick away, remember the feeling. “This has been some of the greatest times of my life.”
Remember that feeling.