The event, which was followed by a golf outing, included Ginn – the legendary Cleveland area high school coach known just as much for keeping kids away from the dangers of the city’s streets as he is for winning football games – and his son as well as Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and Buckeyes QB Cardale Jones, who played under Ginn in high school.
The roundtable discussion, which was moderated by Russ Mitchell of WKYC-TV in Cleveland, highlighted the efforts of the Ginn Academy, the all-male public school founded by Ginn Sr. in 2007. The Ginn Academy is one of the great success stories of public education in Ohio and has produced not just athletes who have made it to the pros but students who have excelled in the classroom.
BuckeyeSports.com was there and features some interesting quotes and notes from the discussion.
Meyer on what he sees from athletes that come through a Ted Ginn program: “Respect. I first met Coach Ginn in 1997 and was blown away with his vision. I think it’s very appropriate, the name of this event today, Walk the Talk, because there’s a lot of talk about it and very few that walk the walk. Immediately I saw with Coach that he had a heart for people, he had a heart for players, like myself. We want to help kids, and he’s done it and he’s done it over and over again.”
Ginn Sr. on what he learned from his battle with cancer a few years ago: “Where do you want me to start? God will put you through some things that you don’t really don’t know everything about. … What I learned is the fact that it shows things. It shows that I had the wrong people around me and was putting my kids at risk, and God was showing me that, ‘You are going to listen to what I say no matter what you say.’ In everybody else’s eyes I was doing a great job, but if I had the wrong people around His children, I’m not doing a great job.”
Ted Ginn Jr. on his father’s cancer fight: “It was very, very difficult for me to be on the West Coast and seeing my dad go through the things that he was going through for so many days, but I knew that I had to continue to fight. I guess the biggest thing that I could have done was to come home when I did, and just walking in there and watching him strive from that day to now is the biggest thing you can ask for. I came in and I remember it like it was yesterday. There were eight doctors in there and they asked him, ‘Who is that right there?’ He looked up and said, ‘That’s my boy.’ … Right there is just a life lesson. Keep pushing. Keep fighting the fight. You never know what could happen.”
Meyer on what he looks for most in players: “The thing over my 28, 29 year career is that the common characteristic of every great player I’ve ever been around, it’s not how high you jump or how fast they run, it’s the competitive spirit. Whether it’s checkers, whether it’s ping-pong or whether its football or the classroom, the kids that compete, that’s what we look for. We want to find the guy that plays the best in our rivalry game, the guy that plays best when it’s fourth down-and-1.
Jones on his motivation after becoming the starter at Ohio State: “I just didn’t want to let my team down. I didn’t want to let myself down, my community and my school. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I understood the chance that we had. I understood how special the season could have been and how hard we fought and worked all year from training camp, losing our starter. I didn’t want to let anyone down.”
Meyer on when he first fully trusted Jones in the postseason run: “The turning point to me with Cardale Jones – and I love Cardale, he’s a genuine guy – Cardale Jones showed his leadership training and leadership skill against Wisconsin. The whole game plan was, it was his first start, so keep the ball on the outside, never throw the ball between the hashmarks. That was our whole game plan. You remember that game, it was all shots on the outside. I think it was the third series of the game, we call an all-go and he tries to throw the ball down the middle of the field to Jalin Marshall and I told him not to do that. He comes over and I’m getting ready to dive right into that facemask and he comes over and he sticks his hand out and goes, “I got you coach. That was my fault. That won’t happen again.’ I said, ‘You turn around and go tell the offensive line that right now.’ I watched him go right over to the offensive linemen. He has incredible leadership skills.”
Meyer on OSU’s offseason conditioning program: “The way we do our weight room, it’s probably illegal in some states. I’m just kidding, but it’s very, very hard because we put them through the most difficult things. I want to see first of all how they respond to our strength coach and our coaches, and after we see how they respond, teach them how to respond. It’s a bad time to find out against Michigan State on third down-and-1 that someone isn’t going to respond well.”
Meyer on the Buckeyes overcoming adversity: “People forget that we lost to Michigan State, we lost to Clemson and then two games later we lost to Virginia Tech. At one point, we lost three of four games. You don’t do that in Columbus. You do that, there’s a different guy sitting up here. So we had an incredible group of families that worked together as a team. Players worked together, coaches, and when you’re hit in the face – and we’re all hit in the face by work situations, family situations, social situations, team situations – there’s only two choices. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution.
“Cardale Jones, he could have very well been part of the problem. Could you imagine right now if Cardale Jones would have been complaining, bitching about everything, not staying focused on being the backup quarterback? Can you imagine how the season would’ve ended? But thanks to Michelle, his mother, and Ted Ginn, he stayed focused. He kept working, kept working, and at some point, it was his job to go do it. That’s called being part of the solution. That’s why we won. We had a lot of players and families that were solutions."
Jones on his future after Ohio State: “I would love to pursue my career in the NFL, but if God doesn’t bless me in that way, I’d love to be a financial planner. Coach Meyer stresses with us that we always have to have a plan B. I got here when Coach Meyer first got here, and we started Plan B that following spring – Real Life Wednesdays and getting our name out there to the companies that would love to support Ohio State players. Five years from now, hopefully I’ll have a master’s degree and be setting my life up.”
Meyer on growing up a Buckeye fan: “I wore No. 45 in high school for Archie Griffin and grew up during the Ten-Year War. When I see Cornelius Green, Pete Johnson, some of the great Buckeyes walk down the hallways, I have to keep myself from asking for an autograph because I don’t think I’m supposed to do that.”
Meyer on the program’s focus on academics: “If you’ve been in our program for two years and we still have to tell you to go to class, you’re probably in the wrong place.”
Meyer on his favorite Ohio State tradition: “Because it relates to victory, it’s hearing the darn victory bell when we leave. That’s my favorite. It means we won the game.”