Monday Cleveland-Glenville High School defeated Dwyer (FL) High School in the Kirk Herbstreit Classic at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
The game was marred by a controversial conclusion that saw what appeared to be a last-second, game-winning Dwyer touchdown go for naught. Instead, Glenville claimed a 26-22 victory in front of a national television audience.
In the aftermath of the game, Dwyer receiving star Nick O’Leary, the grandson of Jack Nicklaus, made an obscene gesture from the Dwyer bench that was aired on the telecast and ultimately led to his suspension by the Florida High School Athletic Association.
The FHSAA ruling, which prevents O’Leary from suiting up for the Panthers next two games, is currently under appeal.
Today I was sent some locker room video of Glenville Coach Ted Ginn, Sr., talking to his players after their dramatic yet perplexing triumph. Video and transcript of his comments are below.
We just represented the state of Ohio, we just represented the high school district, we represented our community, we represented every public high school in the country.
We represented that. That weight was on our back. So we killed that giant. That giant was in our face, we couldn’t go around it, we couldn’t fake it out, we couldn’t do nothing because it had to be defeated.
In order to kill a giant, you got to have faith. You can never underestimate the power of faith when you’re in the battle. You all questioned that, you questioned that in the first two quarters of the game. You questioned every thing that we tell you every day. We got to stop that because you got a war to fight, a battle to fight.
I don’t care about x’s and o’s, I don’t care about that. That don’t mean anything … it don’t matter, that’s on the board.
(Raises voice) But one thing you can not beat, when you got the man on your side, you know who the man is, Jesus Christ! You got him on your side. I don’t care what the referees say, I don’t care what the x’s and o’s say, I don’t care what the next coach say. Cause it don’t matter.
We was never worried. For what? You got to keep some faith in the man above. That’s the man. It’s not you, it’s not me. It’s not the greatest coach in the country, it’s not the smartest man in the room. You know what it is. If you keep that base in your life, you’re going to have a great life. Great things will happen for you.
With Glenville a public school, I’m sure the ACLU would be thrilled to hear Ginn invoking Jesus Christ in that context.
Personally, I’m not too keen on it either. Especially positioning Christ as being on “our side” and seemingly having a role in athletic success.
That said, Ginn has a dramatic challenge in not only maintaining his team’s focus on the game, but also keeping their priorities straight off the field. If grounding a high school athlete in that situation in religion is what keeps him out of trouble and leads to him being a productive citizen - and a good football player - I’m all for it.