Even within the ultimate of team sports there are moments in a career - a season - or one cold night in Columbus, OH - where the pressure of an entire fan base rests solely on the shoulders of one man.
On Saturday night November 14th, 2009, only three games after taking over for the injured Aaron Pettrey, Devin Barclay lined up from just left of center with the ball placed on the 29 yard line in overtime at Ohio Stadium, stared directly into the face of a B1G Championship and a trip to Pasadena, and split the uprights to close out a 27-24 overtime win over the tenth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. A few seconds later the 26-year old Barclay was being mobbed by his teammates - along with tens of thousands of Ohio State fans who had rushed onto the turf of the Horseshoe - all celebrating a kick that Buckeye Nation won't soon forget.
Barclay's overtime field goal clinched at least a share of Ohio State's fifth consecutive conference title and earned them a one-way ticket to a Rose Bowl the program hadn't seen in thirteen years, where they would later knock off the Oregon Ducks in impressive fashion.
While that night in Ohio Stadium didn't go exactly as Buckeye fans had envisioned - watching Iowa's backup quarterback James Vandenberg leading the Hawkeyes up and down the field from the outset - there's no doubt that the victory was a special one for head coach Jim Tressel, lover of all things foot and ball. Coach often referred to the punt as, 'the most important play in football.' He also wasn't afraid to kick field goals on 4th and inches from the opponent's red zone, no matter how loudly 106,000 fans packed into the Horseshoe disagreed at times. But his recipe for success worked 106 times in ten years.
That night in Columbus was vintage Tresselball. After Ohio State's defense stood up and forced Iowa into three plays for -16 yards on their first and only overtime possession, Tress chose to run Boom Herron straight up the middle on three consecutive plays for a net three yards, putting every ounce of his faith into the right foot of his 26-year old former professional soccer player, and the rest was history.
With the one year anniversary of coach Tressel's resignation quickly approaching we were fortunate enough to catch up with Devin Barclay to talk about overtimes, pressure kicks and his former head coach.
BHC: Your 48-yard FG against #20 Iowa in 2010 to draw within 4 turned out to be a HUGE kick in that 20-17 win, but was the overtime FG against those same Hawkeyes a year prior - in the Horseshoe - your greatest college football moment?
Devin: Absolutely. Hands down the biggest, most unforgettable moment of my football career. Both kicks were very important to the outcome of those games, but the implications of the OT kick were huge. Every kicker hopes to have an opportunity like that!
BHC: Can you remember a single word your teammates or coaches said before or after that OT kick, or was it all a blur?
BHC: At which point did you feel the most pressure before/during a kick?
Devin: Definitely the OT kick.
BHC: How in the world do you go from professional soccer to kicking for the Scarlet and Gray?
Devin: With the help and guidance of a lot of amazing people that believed in me. It was not an easy transition by any means, and took a lot of hard work and dedication. Three people in particular outside of my family that that I will never forget - Jim Schmidtke, Dan Stultz and Vlade Janakievski. Thanks guys!
BHC: What was your single favorite Ohio State Tradition? Had to be Carmen Ohio, no?
Devin: Carmen Ohio was an excellent tradition, but I'd have to say the walk from the hotel to St. Johns every Saturday home game. I still get chills thinking about it.
BHC: What is your single fondest memory of JT the man, not the coach?
Devin: His leadership. He was and is a tremendous leader! He always knows how to get the best out of people, and understands what it takes to do so without being negative. He meets people once and remembers their names, it's unreal. You know how many people Tress met? Haha
BHC: What was the biggest thing you learned, football or otherwise, playing for Jim Tressel?
Devin: Hard work, sacrifice and taking advantage of your opportunities.
BHC: Do you still keep in touch with Coach Tressel?
Devin: Yes I talk to him from time to time. I will always hope to keep in touch with him.
BHC: What do you miss about having Tress in your life on a daily basis?
Devin: His wisdom. Just day to day wisdom and leadership.
BHC: What do you miss most about tOSU Football?
Devin: The traditions and game days. Also, all the hard work getting ready for the season.
BHC: With your Ohio State chapters now in the rear view mirror, what would you have to say to Buckeye Nation?
Devin: Thank you for the love and support.
BHC: Given just one word to describe Jim Tressel, which would you choose?
Editor's Note: We would like to extend a much-deserved Thank You to Devin Barclay for taking time out to catch up with us, and - considering I lived an hour outside of Iowa City at the time - for knocking out the Hawkeyes two years in a row. It came as no surprise that Devin quickly jumped on the opportunity to talk about coach Tressel.