MADISON, Wis. — Mark Titus thought it was simply a one-time show of team solidarity when he examined pictures of Wisconsin’s basketball players on the pregame scouting report three years ago.
Titus, then a walk-on at Ohio State, noticed that every Badgers player seemingly had a freshly shaved head of hair in the style of a buzzcut. So he went through old scouting reports from previous seasons to see if this was more than a crazy coincidence.
What he found confirmed his suspicions.
“I went back and got my old scouting reports from the past couple years,” Titus said. “Every single one of the guys on Wisconsin had a buzzcut.
“Now as I watch Wisconsin, it seems like it’s true. I don’t know what the deal is. Does (Coach) Bo Ryan make his guys get buzzcuts? Is it you get there, and that’s the first thing you do? You step on campus and buzz your hair off?”
Thus, the Wisconsin Badgers forever morphed into the Wisconsin “Buzzcuts” in his mind.
That story is among the many that Titus shares about his playing days as a walk-on at Ohio State in a new book entitled: “Don’t Put Me In, Coach: My Incredible NCAA Journey from the End of the Bench to the End of the Bench.” The book is set to be released on March 6.
“It’s my autobiography, I guess you could say,” said Titus, who graduated from Ohio State in 2010. “I think it’s more stories about my teammates and coaches. It’s like I was a fly on the wall for this great four-year stretch of basketball, but I wasn’t really a fly on the wall because I was kind of involved.
“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that you don’t really think about when you’re watching a two-hour game on TV. You don’t really think about the other 22 hours of the day before the game and after the game. That’s kind of what the book is about.”
Titus likes to point out that during his four years at Ohio State, the Buckeyes won more games than during any stretch in program history. The team went 109-36 during that span and finished as the national runner-up in 2006-07 behind future NBA players Greg Oden and Mike Conley.
Of course, Titus is also quick to mention that he didn’t exactly contribute to many of those victories. Titus, a Brownsburg, Ind., native, played a total of 48 minutes and scored nine points in four seasons. He originally joined the program as a team manager before being added to the roster as a walk-on.
During his time in the program, Titus became particularly well known for starting a blog called “Club Trillion” as a junior in October 2008. The title is a reference to a player who enters a game for 1 minute and receives all zeroes in the box score, which looks like one trillion.
Titus offered his hilarious opinions on teammates and life as a college basketball walk-on, and the blog quickly gained steam.
“I never expected the blog to be anything,” said Titus, who even made his own video to prove he did, in fact, have some talent. “It kind of became popular. I think when I realized that people actually cared what I was saying on the blog was when I had people e-mail me that weren’t my family or friends. At that point I thought maybe I should write a book.”
Titus, who now contributes as a writer at Grantland.com, said he spent between six and seven months working on the book project, which chronicles his four years at Ohio State. He said he hoped to visit every Big Ten city in an effort to promote the book in the coming months.
Despite his distaste for the hairstyles among Wisconsin’s players, Titus said that, had he not gone to Ohio State, he would have wanted to play at Wisconsin — even if the slowdown style of play coming from its head coach can be less than scintillating.
“Some people want the shot clock in college to go to 24 like the NBA,” Titus said. “If that happened, Bo Ryan would never be able to coach college basketball again. He’d be out of a job immediately. He’d have to go find something else to do. It’s not like a criticism. It’s just like that’s their style and it works. If you’re not a Wisconsin fan, I wouldn’t say they’re entertaining to watch.”