A Bench with a View

A former Buckeyes walk-on takes a humorous look at big-time college hoops
March 26, 2012

In his four years as a basketball walk-on at Ohio State, playing alongside such stars as Greg Oden and Evan Turner, Mark Titus didn't put up a memorable stat line: nine points, five rebounds and three assists in 48 minutes. But he did accomplish something none of the more celebrated Buckeyes did: He became the school's four-year wins co-leader (with fellow walk-on Danny Peters). "I like to hold that above my teammates," says Titus. And with last week's release of Don't Put Me In, Coach (Doubleday), Titus has added another title none of the others can claim: published author.

Titus says he wrote his lighthearted memoir—which grew out of the Club Trillion blog (named after the one-minute, 12-zeroes box score of a classic walk-on) that he launched in his junior year—as if he were telling stories at a bar. That explains the book's conversational tone, scatological detours and candid tales about Oden the Nerf-gun enthusiast and Thad Matta the salty, Wedding Crashers-quoting comedian-coach. More eyebrow-raising might be the accounts of intrasquad fisticuffs and Titus's complex relationship with Turner, a.k.a. the Villain, whom he calls "an insecure, socially feebleminded, possibly bipolar, and often callous perfectionist" but also "one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet when he wanted to be."

Such a tell-all approach might draw criticism from locker room traditionalists, but Titus, who had Ohio State coaches read the manuscript and remains friends with Turner, is philosophical about it. "Either you're not honest enough, or you're too open and throwing your teammates under the bus," he says.

As a good-humored book about what Titus calls "normal kids who do stupid things" while playing big-time basketball, Don't Put Me In, Coach should appeal not just to Buckeyes fans but also to anyone looking for a frank, humanizing peek into the locker room. Titus enrolled in college six years ago, thinking that his playing days were done and that by now he would be studying orthopedic medicine. "It still doesn't make any sense to me," he says. What it does make is a funny read.

THEY SAID IT

"If Pelé thinks he's the Beethoven of football, then I'm Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards and Bono."

DIEGO MARADONA Argentine soccer icon, after the Brazilian star compared himself to the composer

PHOTOKARIM SAHIB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (MARADONA) PHOTOERICK W. RASCO (BOOK)
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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
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