With time running out in the Glenville game against St. Ignatius this past weekend and the Tarblooders in front 22-14 at Lakewood Stadium, Ted Ginn Jr. had a big smile on his face. Not long after the Ohio State victory over Michigan was history, Ginn (pictured, left), along with fellow Buckeye Curtis Terry, made the long drive north just to be standing there on the sideline rooting on their former high school teammates.
"We beat Michigan today and we're beating St. Ignatius," said Ginn with a big grin on his face. "I'm really happy right now."
The first "we" that Ginn was referring to, of course, was Ohio State and Ginn made an important contribution to that victory with a spectacular 82-yard punt return in the third quarter for a touchdown. The second "we" was Glenville High School and Ginn obviously thought it was important to let his former team know that he cared enough about them to make it to their biggest game ever when he just played a starring role in the biggest game of his young life.
Back at Ohio Stadium just a few hours earlier, former Tarblooders Ginn and Troy Smith were introduced to the members of the media at the post-game press conference after the Michigan victory even before Jim Tressel arrived. They were hoping to make it to the Glenville game that night so they were brought out extra early in order to get a head start on their drive.
"I'm a Glenville Tarblooder for life," said Ginn at the press conference. "We know how important it is to the kids back home to see us walk in the stadium and know that we've got their back just like they watched us on TV and we know that all their eyes were on us. So I just try to give back as much as possible and I know that by me going back and watching their football game is probably going to give them another step or that extra effort just to know that Ted Ginn or Troy Smith was in the stadium or Pierre Woods. So it's just great."
Ginn is obviously a chip off the old block. Already he's a walking and talking replica of his father, off the field that is, and no one knows that better than Tressel.
"Ted Ginn Sr. I've known for many, many years when young Ted was just knee high and he's a guy that you admire because of what he's done for that community," Tressel said. "He given all of those kids the guidance that if you go do things the right way, good things will happen for you. But it's going to be rough. That's why Troy and Teddy and Pierre and Curtis and the guys that were in that game today, that's why they're where they are doing what they're doing, because Ted Ginn Sr. was very demanding. He's made an impact where he is and to me it's a great thing for Glenville High School."
Ginn Sr. had a big weekend of his own and had to miss the one game that he's forever waited for to see his son play in. However his Tarblooder team was sailing on unchartered waters after beating St. Edward last week and he had to take care of business.
"I was playing for the regional championship at Glenville High School and we were the first team to ever go as far as a regional championship. So that was big for our school and big for our community," Ginn Sr. said. "But also my son was playing in his first big collegiate Ohio State-Michigan rivalry so that was something that I was very excited for and really wanted to see it. But I stayed in the hotel and watched it.
"So with all of that going on and wanting Ted to do good and Troy to do good and Donte (Whitner) to do good, and to see all of those guys on the field at one time, it was a big weekend. And I still want Pierre to be successful even though he's playing for Michigan."
Although Ginn Sr. would have loved to have been in both places at the same time, he said it wasn't really as difficult for him to miss the Michigan game as one might expect it to be.
"It wasn't really hard for me at all because in spirit I'm there," he said. "I was watching it on TV so it wasn't really hard but my biggest concern was just for them all to do well in the game. Playing in the Big Ten, at Ohio State or Michigan, you're only judged by how well you play in the Ohio State-Michigan game. It doesn't really matter what you do in the other games because the memories always go back to how well you played in that game there."
With that being said, it was a record-setting day for Ginn Jr. and Smith as well in this year's renewal of this epic rivalry.
Ginn's 82-yard punt return for a touchdown, the longest return of his young career and the fourth longest in OSU history, was the fourth one he returned for a score on the season. That mark established both an Ohio State and Big Ten record for most punt returns for TDs in a single season. He also tied the NCAA record for touchdowns on punt returns in a single season. And in addition to all of that, Ginn became just the third player in NCAA history with four punt returns for touchdowns.
And for even more historical significance, Ginn's record-setting punt return is the longest play allowed by Michigan this season and it was the first Ohio State punt return for a touchdown against Michigan since 1971 when Tom Campana reached pay dirt after returning a Wolverine punt back 85 yards.
And if that wasn't enough to accomplish in one game, Ginn established a career receiving mark for himself in the Michigan contest. He had five receptions for 87 yards, both career highs.
But from talking with Ginn Sr. about what his son did in the Michigan contest, one can easily get the false impression that he really thinks what his son did against the Wolverines was "no big-biggie."
"I still feel that there's a lot more that he can do," Ginn Sr. said. "Yeah I'm proud and I'm happy for the moment but like I know and he knows, it's only for a moment. You have to let that go and get busy for the next one."
They really do understand the magnitude of all of Ted Jr.'s prodigious accomplishments.
"He's blessed," said Ginn Sr. with a chuckle. "It's incredible to everybody else but he's just blessed and he's a chosen kid. He's a chosen child and he has to do that because it's not for him, it's for everybody else that's following him. It's for the people that needs to see that to make them see that they have an opportunity too.
"People have gifts and I have a gift of coaching and having the passion to understand and work with children. So I can never, ever get excited and say that I have arrived because I've got so many kids that's going to continue to come."
Routinely in the interview room, Ginn Jr. tells reporters that what he's been doing as a punt returner is "no big-biggie." He was asked after the Michigan game, after returning another punt for a touchdown, if what he makes look so simple on the field is still not a big-biggie to him.
"I say it's not a big-biggie and I just try to stay as humble as possible," he said. "So I just give the credit to God, my coaching staff and my players that help me do it."
It's an answer Ginn Sr. would expect his son to say and be very disappointed if he didn't address it that way. It's a mind set that's a result of the way he was raised and the things that he's witnessed since his childhood.
"When Ted does things on the football field or whatever he's doing, he's a servant," Ginn Sr said. "He's got to always know that he has to continue to serve because it's not about him, it's about the next guy that's coming behind him. It's about serving that university and being a soldier. And that's the way I look at it.
"And I look at it that way for Troy and all my kids that are down there. I mean that for Troy, Donte and Curtis Terry(pictured, right). That's just the way it is. For those kids have been blessed to have that opportunity and they have to do it that way. That's just the way it is."
And when young Ted showed up on the Tarblooder sideline late in the fourth quarter against St. Ignatius, everyone there knew that it was Glenville's special day.
"What he did down there was great and so he felt that he needed to give back so that the kids at Glenville can see his face and give them that extra push and give them that extra step," Ginn Sr. said. "It all goes back to everybody keeping the ball rolling together."
The victory over St. Ignatius was the perfect ending to a wonderful day for the people from Glenville as the Tarblooders kept rolling right along into the state semifinal round against Canton McKinley.
"I felt good for a moment," Ginn Sr. said. "But after a while that goes away and we've got to move on."
That's just the way it is. Be it a Michigan win, an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown or a first-ever regional championship, it's "no big-biggie."