NOrth CANTON: Cie Grant is attending Penn State.
Of all the things Mike Doss has learned about his teammates since he stepped to the forefront in planning Ohio State’s 2002 national championship reunion, Doss, a three-time All-American safety from Canton McKinley, can’t wrap his arms around that. He’s struggling to comprehend how the linebacker known for his memorable rendition of Carmen Ohio at the freezing title celebration in Ohio Stadium is doing post-graduate work at a rival university, even if he does live near there.
“That shocked me,” Doss said Tuesday before an autograph signing at Giant Eagle in North Canton. “He should be finishing … I don’t know if he got an MBA or an engineering degree, one of the two.
“He doesn’t have a record deal, but he’s this big energy guy. I’m proud of him.”
Former Buckeyes Doss, quarterback Craig Krenzel, safety Donnie Nickey and cornerback Dustin Fox have taken the lead on the 2002 reunion. The idea of introducing the team during the Nov. 24 game against Michigan was proposed by Ohio State. But the four have expanded the plan to include a Friday night reception, a pregame tailgate and a postgame reception at Eddie George’s Grille, Doss said.
“Most importantly, support a big win against Michigan” Doss said, closely after coach Urban Meyer’s first season in Columbus. “Urban’s first game against Michigan and it’s at home, that will be something special.”
Because 10 team members are still playing in the NFL, the 2002 Buckeyes hope to get together again after the pro season ends. Doss said they might relive their special night at the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., perhaps renting a movie theater to watch the double-overtime victory over the University of Miami.
The 10-year anniversary has been commemorated with a box of “Buckeye HerOes” cereal, now available at Giant Eagle. Krenzel and Doss, the offensive and defensive MVPs of the BCS title game, are pictured. A portion of the proceeds goes to OSU’s Wexner Medical Center for heart disease treatment and research.
Doss said he and the other players were adamant that Tressel, forced to resign last May in the wake of a scandal that brought NCAA sanctions, and running back Maurice Clarett, who served 3½ years in a Toledo prison for armed robbery and carrying concealed weapons, be included in the on-field introductions. Clarett tweeted that he would not participate without Tressel.
“That was something that as captains, me and Donnie, communicated. No matter if it was at halftime or at a basketball game they wanted to recognize our team, if those two individuals weren’t invited, then we wouldn’t partake,” Doss said.
“The things that happened after 2002 had nothing to do with what we did in 2002. The university recognized that. Coach Tressel I believe will be available; Maurice Clarett will be available.”
Krenzel agreed that Clarett and Tressel should be on the field with them.
“I think it’s the right thing,” Krenzel said by telephone last week. “This is a team celebration of something that was achieved together. I think it’s foolish for anybody to sit there and think that any of us is perfect and didn’t do anything wrong. There’s going to be some individuals there who have made mistakes. I guarantee they’re going to regret some of the decisions they made.”
It’s unsure whether the reunion will include Grant singing Carmen Ohio, which he performed on last year’s Buckeye Cruise for Cancer and at a public appearance in November in Carnegie, Pa. Both are now posted on YouTube.
“I don’t think Cie Grant will be signing Carmen Ohio Friday evening,” Doss said.
Krenzel thinks Grant might be convinced.
“If they can’t work something out at the game, we might have to make him sing the night before,” Krenzel said.
Now married and living in Columbus, Doss sells medical devices. He and his wife are expecting their first child, a girl, in about seven weeks. Doss is also raising his 10-year-old brother, A.J. Kirk, who lost his mother at age 6 and his father this summer at age 9.
Doss realizes more than ever how special championships are. He won two state titles at Canton McKinley, the national title at OSU and a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. None of his teams have accomplished that goal since.
“That team in 2002, we sacrificed for one another, we played our best when it was crunch time and when we needed a play, someone decided to step up and make it,” Doss said. “Either our defense was playing well against Penn State and Chris Gamble gets an interception and runs it back. Or it’s fourth-and-1 against Purdue and Craig hits Michael Jenkins for the winning touchdown. Or a reserve, Maurice Hall, comes in against Illinois and scores the winning touchdown.
“To go 14-0, to win the championship, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of discipline and heart and determination to persevere when all the chips are leaning against you. Most importantly it takes some luck. To beat Miami in double overtime in Arizona, I consider (it) the best national championship ever played.”
Krenzel said the Buckeyes realized the challenge of going 14-0 at the time, but that he has gained a greater appreciation since.
“When you’re going through that experience, you’re 19, 20, 21 years old. You don’t have the broad outlook on life,” said Krenzel, a Columbus insurance broker who also does local radio work. “Ten years later my wife and I are expecting our fourth child. You have a whole different perspective on life and it really makes you appreciate some of the blessings you have.”
Doss still gets grief from Miami fans over the controversial pass-interference call on fourth down in the first overtime.
“I know a State Farm agent in Columbus, Justin Giger, he’s a big Miami fan,” Doss said. “All he talks about is that pass interference. But it’s a lot of fun.”
Doss sees members of the 2002 Buckeyes who live in Columbus, like Andy Groom and Branden Joe, at tailgate parties and golf outings. But he’s excited about a weekend of fellowship with those he hasn’t spent much time with.
“You realize there’s life after athletics,” Doss said. “You hope your experiences prepare you for life. All these ups and downs prepared us to be successful citizens.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at https://ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.