As I was struggling to make my way through an impossibly crowded interview room following Ohio State's season-opening victory over Youngstown State, I suddenly found myself basically face-to-face with Chris Wells – or "Beanie" as I guess I should refer to him.
Having already gotten head coach Jim Tressel and senior offensive lineman Kirk Barton's take on OSU's often ineffective running attack, I figured there would be nothing better than going directly to the source. As most Buckeye fans know, Wells burst into the scene as a true freshman last season as the primary backup for Antonio Pittman. When Pittman jumped ship for the NFL, Wells was there for his press conference back in Akron, Ohio.
On that date, it was official: The starting role was Wells' for the taking. Sitting in the bleachers of Buchtel High School's gymnasium, he expressed every bit of confidence in his abilities.
"With all the main players gone, I feel as if it's my duty to step up," he said at the time. "I need to work a lot harder. It's time for me to be stepping up big time."
Things have not gone all that smoothly since that day, however. After missing nearly all of spring football and the jersey scrimmage during fall camp, Beanie should have been itching to get on the field and hit someone.
During his weekly press conference, Tressel said Wells was so ready to play he "would play today if you let him."
Unfortunately for Wells, then, that sentiment apparently did not lend itself to Saturday's contest. From the press box, it was a puzzling sight: Wells trying to slam himself through the line of scrimmage like he did last season but this time finding nowhere to go.
The question was there: Why? Tressel said he wanted to go back and watch the film, while Barton said the line made "too many mistakes."
It turns out that correcting all the mistakes in the world would not have mattered for one reason: Wells did not come to play, and he freely admitted that fact.
"I wasn't focused at all," he said. "My mind wasn't in the game. Our guys did an OK job, but I didn't do my best today. In the first half, my brain just wasn't in the game. I really can't tell you what was going on.
"I feel like everybody deserves to see the best from me and I deserve to give my best. I should've given my best today and I didn't do that today."
Ohio State's top tailback freely was admitting that he did not show up for the Buckeyes' first game of the season. Apparently having a game in front of 105,000-plus fans was not reason enough to get fired up.
Wells said it had nothing to do with being slowed by injuries, it had nothing to do with finally being the clear-cut starter and it had nothing to do with the exciting performance put on by true freshman Brandon Saine.
His head just wasn't in the game, plain and simple.
What will be interesting is to see what happens now to Beanie. Does Jim Tressel stick with who he is counting on to be his go-to back? Does friction build between an offensive line second-guessing itself after the game and a running back who admitted to helping make them look bad by not caring enough?
Does Tressel bench Beanie to send a message that everyone must play their hardest, regardless of the opponent? I'd think Michigan's last game should send that message home loud and clear.
The bottom line is that this is now Beanie's turn to shine. He needs to start acting like it – and soon.