By Jeff Solari
Despite what people think, I actually do have a heart and I occasionally feel badly for people. For a while on Saturday afternoon this included Tyler Durbin who was having one of the worst days of his life.
On Saturday afternoon Columbus, Ohio was the scene of arguably the biggest, most anticipated, and most watched college football game of the regular season. Second ranked Ohio State was hosting their arch rival, third ranked Michigan. A Big Ten title, playoff berth and possible BCS Playoff appearance were all on the line at “the Horseshoe”. And Tyler Durbin found himself to be the center of attention not once, not twice, but three times.
You see Tyler Durbin is the Buckeye’s kicker and his story is quite amazing.
Tyler walked onto the team this season. He’s only been playing football for a couple years and never kicked in a game (at any level) before this season. Which makes the fact he was a perfect 16 for 16 on the season the stuff from which movies are made. (Think The Rookie meets Rudy.)
Picture the scene: a record setting 110,000 people in attendance. (That’s almost 10% of Maine’s population!) Don’t forget the millions of fans around the world watching on TV and listening radio. It was under these conditions that Durbin jogged out onto the field in the first half, set up, and missed his first field goal of the season.
That’s okay. Nobody’s perfect.
His second kick of the day was in the fourth quarter, Ohio State trailed by 3. The Buckeyes set him up for a chip shot. The snap was good, but the kick once again sailed wide left. Tyler Durbin was now 0 for 2 on the biggest stage of his life. He did the walk of shame back to the sideline feeling a level of public humiliation you and I will never experience. (At least I sure hope I never do.)
But the game wasn’t over. The Buckeyes got the ball back, drove up field, and with just a couple of seconds left, Ohio state needed a short 23-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
Urban Meyer does not tolerate mistakes and he had a scholarship kicker standing on the sidelines ready to give it a try.
But Meyer sent Durbin out, and he nails the kick! A young man’s life changed forever.
The game eventually goes on to double overtime and Ohio State pulls out a win. For Durbin, two bad misses were forgiven if not forgotten.
Had Ohio State not won, Durbin would have left the locker room one of most unwelcome folks in Ohio. Seriously, he probably would have lost his starting job and who knows, he might have even been booted from the team. I’m happy it didn’t end that way.
The whole afternoon reminds me of the plot of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, where Ray Finkle misses the big kick in the Super Bowl costing the Miami Dolphins. Finkle blames Dan Marino for a bad hold on the ball (laces out) and kidnaps him years later. I won’t tell you any more, in case you want haven’t seen it. It hit theaters in 1994, the same year Durbin was born.
I will say, thanks to that last kick, Tyler Durbin is no Ray Finkle and because of that I am very happy for him. Yup, I told you I do have a heart.
Jeff Solari (@SolariJeff) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.