Last Saturday the "Ginn Tour" rolled into Cincinnati. What's the Ginn Tour? It's a charter bus rolling across the Midwest with 37 high school seniors and 5 coaches led by Ted Ginn Sr., the head football coach at powerful Glenville High School in Cleveland.
This tour is the brainchild of Coach Ginn. The idea is to expose as many high school players as possible to ten different universities and their football staffs in the hope that all will eventually receive scholarship offers and the chance for a better life. The Tour came to Cincinnati's football camp from Ball State's and will include stops at Bowling Green, Iowa, Notre Dame, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State, but it isn't only about athletic exposure. Saturday the kids spent the day at King's Island for some fun, but that fun also came with some responsibility-a curfew. Three of the group were 15 seconds late getting back to the hotel so Coach Ginn administered some extra conditioning to the offenders. The life lessons don't stop there either. Some of the lessons are as simple as removing hats when inside a restaurant. Coach Ginn is interested in developing the total man, not just the athlete.
Coach Ginn explained his novel "Tour" idea. "I've always driven around for the last five years trying to help kids and help my own kids. I can't wait for schools to come to me. I need to take kids to the schools for the exposure. I wanted to do something different so I started the Ginn Tour." Of the 37 athletes on the Tour, only 16 are from Glenville High School. The others go to a variety of schools ranging from rural Washington Courthouse to a private school like Cleveland St. Ed's.
One of Coach Ginn's products (Curtis Smith) will be joining the Bearcats next year. Coach Ginn was lavish with his praise of Smith. "Curtis Smith is probably the best athlete in the state of Ohio. He can do anything whether it's throwing the shot putt, playing basketball or playing football. He can do anything he wants."
With Cleveland being at the other end of the state, Coach Ginn was asked how the Bearcats can better capitalize on the rich high school talent up north. "I think Ohio has the best high school football in the country, and our kids should know they can stay home and get it done in the state. I also think it helps if the schools can make their programs a family atmosphere. They're doing a good job of that here. Dino (Coach Dantonio) knows what it takes to be a winner. I've known him a long time."
Since Coach Ginn produced an All-American in his son Ted Ginn Jr., he was asked if he alters his high school schedule to watch his son play at Ohio State. "No. I take care of what I need to do, and he takes care of what he needs to do. If it works out that I can watch him play, that's great, but I need to take care of my other kids at Glenville."
Talking to Coach Ginn is like talking to a cross between Jesse Jackson and John Thompson. He's much more than a football coach. He's an innovator with a number of ideas for improving the situation for his inner-city kids. The "Ginn Tour" won't eradicate all the problems his kids face, but it's clearly a step in the right direction.