For four years, Mark Titus sat the bench for the Ohio State men's basketball team. In that time, it appears he was paying attention, honing his powers of observation (and a sense of humor), and starting a blog about his experiences that would eventually become a book. We asked him a few questions on the eve of the Final Four:
Omni: Do you know anyone out there on the court this year?
Mark Titus: I know all of the guys on the team pretty well, but the only current player who I played with is William Buford.
Omni: Did any of them hurt you in practice?
Mark Titus: Will never hurt me in practice, but Dallas Lauderdale, who was a senior on last year's team, fractured my foot my junior season (which put me out for 12 weeks) and tore up my shoulder my senior season (which ended my career and I had to get surgery to fix).
Omni: What's the response to your book been like from the Ohio State community?
Mark Titus: Pretty much every Ohio State fan that I've heard from has enjoyed it because it gives them an inside look at some of the best OSU teams and players in the history of the program. My goal in writing the book was to give readers an honest idea of what it's like to be on a top-notch Division I basketball program, and for the most part I think I accomplished that. I wrote the book solely for 18-34 year old guys, so some people who don't fit that demographic aren't fond of my crude sense of humor. But that's primarily the only criticism the book is getting, which is perfectly fine by me.
Omni: Did sitting on the bench make you funnier?
Mark Titus: Yes and no. I've always been the class clown and the guy who screwed around at practice, even when I was the best player on my high school team. But being a benchwarmer created a lot more opportunities for me to goof off because I didn't have to take things as seriously as I did when I was the best player. Also, because it was so hard for me to earn my teammates' respect on the court since I wasn't as good at basketball as they were, I thought that being funny would make it easier for them to accept me, so I was always thinking of jokes and funny things I could do to gain their respect that way.
Omni: You were drafted by the Harlem Globe Trotters. Did you play for them? If so, what was that like? If not, why not?
Mark Titus: I didn't actually play for them, but I did go to a 3 day mini-camp on Long Island and got to train with the team a little bit. It ended up not working out for a variety of reasons that I fully explain in the book, but the gist of it is that they weren't exactly as glamorous or professional of an organization as I had thought they were.
Omni: If Ohio State doesn't win on Monday, who will it be and why?
Mark Titus: Kentucky, because they've been head-and-shoulders better than every other team in the country this year.