Andy Gottesman / Lantern photographer
How will the Ohio State men’s basketball team replace its departed star? Who will take his spot? How can the team possibly succeed without him?
Those are the questions on everyone’s minds after Mark Titus’ departure.
It seems impossible for a program to move on after losing such an important piece to the puzzle. Senior David Lighty said it could take a while for someone to fill Titus’ shoes.
“Mark is crazy,” Lighty said. “It’ll be a while before someone replaces him.”
After four years at OSU — four years in which he transformed from a walk-on to an Internet sensation — Titus graduated last spring, leaving a gaping hole at the end of the Buckeyes’ bench. But for both Titus and OSU, life must go on.
Titus has taken a job working as a college basketball writer for ESPN.com, where he said he will write weekly articles throughout the season. And although he said he has no interest in writing as a long-term career, he is writing a book chronicling his time at OSU, which he said will be released in March 2012.
Despite plenty of work to keep himself occupied, Titus is still adapting to life without basketball, an adjustment he said takes getting used to. It’ll be even more difficult, he said, once the Buckeyes’ season begins next week.
“I kind of want to go to every game just because I won’t know what to do with myself,” Titus said in an interview with The Lantern. “It’s going to be weird because I did it for four years and I was really into it and I enjoyed it.
“I’m not going to have a front row seat anymore and I think that’s going to be the most disappointing part of the whole thing.”
One person who might notice Titus’ absence more than others is team spokeswoman Alissa Clendenen, who worked closely with Titus during the last several years. Clendenen handled what she referred to as a “plethora of media requests” for Titus, far from the norm for a player who played just 48 minutes during his entire college career.
Though many might think Titus and his rise to stardom made life hectic for those around him, Clendenen said he wasn’t the burden he might have seemed to be.
“I think there is probably a public perception that Mark was hard to deal with, but that wasn’t really the case,” she said. “Even though Mark’s skills and accomplishments were a little different from what we normally deal with, it was still just part of the job.”
Now that Titus no longer has an official affiliation with the team, he has made an effort to stay close with many of the current Buckeyes and even participated in several open gyms with the team during the summer.
He said he got to know many of the incoming freshmen and, after seeing the team practice this fall, expects big things in the year to come.
“They look really good,” Titus said. “They have the perfect combination of young guys, like (Jared) Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas, and veteran guys who have been there forever, like Dave Lighty, who, I’m pretty sure this is his 35th season or something.”
As for finding his potential replacement, Titus doesn’t think the team is too concerned.
“I don’t think they want to, honestly,” Titus said. “I like to think I brought something to the team, but I don’t know exactly what it was. The guys they have now take it seriously and work hard, so I don’t think there’s going to be a guy that’s just there screwing around.”
Regardless of whether he is replaced, Titus won’t soon be forgotten, Lighty said.
“That’s a legend right there,” he said. “Mark is going down as a legend.”