Monday, October 25, 2010

Swimming With the Shark

I have been reading for some time now this sports blog called Club Trillion. Co-founded and written by former Ohio State basketball player Mark “The Shark” Titus, Club Trillion chronicles the life that is a walk-on Division 1 player. I have been a huge fan of this guy, and cannot say enough nice things about him since he took a chance and decided to let me “interview” him. In case you haven’t noticed, I have about 35 fans (and growing!) so this is a huge deal. Imagine my surprise when I got a response back from an email I sent to him, inquiring about doing some kind of column. His response:

Let's do it. I've actually got a lot on my plate this weekend/upcoming week as I'm trying to finish up a bunch of freelance things I'm working on, but if you email me next weekend/Friday, we can make it happen.


In the midst of a Yankee October collapse, this was a bright spot. A chance to talk with one of the biggest names in sports blogging today is an opportunity I couldn’t miss. In Part I, me and Mark talk about Jersey Shore, Evan Turner, and becoming a national celebrity. Yes, I thought of the title myself.

The Attic Fan: I am going to start off with a pretty big first question. Just from reading your column, I know you reference Jersey Shore a lot and are a pretty big fan, so I have to get your opinions on a few things:
1) Your thoughts on Thursday's season finale.

2) Where do you think the show goes from here.

3) How dominant you think JWOWW is going to be as a professional wrestler: JWOWW Wrestling Debut. I mean apparently she won her first match, but do you think she just takes the sport of professional wrestling by storm? You have been a huge pro wrestling fan your entire life, so do you think this is good or bad for the sport? Or did pro wrestling jump the shark 25 years ago, and the fact that a wrestling league named TNA has signed JWOWW (a 2nd-tier Jersey Shore character), does not really matter in the whole spectrum of civilized life?

Mark Titus: 1) The finale was a pretty fitting conclusion to the season in that it featured a Ronnie and Sammi fight as well as a fight among the other cast members that made no sense to me. I rarely ever had any idea what the cast was fighting about during the entire season and this episode was no different. Plus, the finale reinforced the fact that Pauly and Vinny went soft by falling in love all season. By the end of the finale, I was left confused and hating myself for watching the show, which is pretty much a standard reaction for me after every episode, so I thought it was perfect.

2) I really don't know where the show can go from here. If I were running the show, my first move would be to get rid of Ronnie and Sammi ASAP and throw as much money as I can at Angelina to get her to come back. Ron and Sam have always been annoying, but they were at least entertaining in the past. Now they are just annoying, so I'd get rid of them. Angelina makes the show infinitely more entertaining to me. She's the scum of the house, which is amplified when you consider that the people in the house are the scum of society. So this makes her quite possibly the most worthless human being on the planet. In other words, she might be the greatest reality show star ever.

3) No, this doesn't matter one bit in the spectrum of civilized life, but if you watch Jersey Shore and professional wrestling you can't really consider yourself a part of civilized life anyway. I actually think she might struggle in pro wrestling, because I can't see her ever cooperating and being willing to lose. She's more suited for MMA or something that will let her just beat the snot out of other girls. Ya know, something like a reality show on MTV.

AF: Yeah, I would have to agree with the Angelina comment. Once she left the house, it really seemed like the producers were reaching into their Big Bag O' Plot Lines, and had to start revisiting the whole Ron & Sam issue, which started to get old after episode one. I think she just burned way too many bridges when she left the house. The only thing I wished the producers had touched on in the finale is why The Situation's face started to look like a catcher's mitt. When that random girl called him an "Old Man", I was almost taken by surprise, since no other cast members (especially Angelina) ever touched on this. Sitch is a almost 30 years old and hanging with kids who should be in their senior year of college.

As far as next season is considered, I think Jersey Shore has just had its "Cousin Oliver" moment, since they decided to sign (or however they get these people) Snooki's best friend onto the show. I think the show just goes off the deep end next year. I am from Jersey and I have friends who have seen the castmates at clubs and around Seaside. It is insane. They are not only being hounded by MTV cameras, but also the "fans". There is no sense of reality with this show, since they are, as much as this pains me to say it, celebrities.

And I can easily see JWOWW give Brock Lesnar a run for his money. Okay, not really, but she would go five rounds.

Speaking of highly-talked about prospects who have fallen on their face as of late, how much joy are you getting out of the fact that Evan "The Villain" Turner is already being called a "bust" by some NBA insiders?

MT: The character version of me that's portrayed on my blog is obviously loving that The Villain might have to go through a benchwarming phase because he spent three years at Ohio State talking down to benchwarmers. But the real me thinks that the "bust" label is a little premature. The Villain has never been very good at adapting to change, which is why him and I got into scuffles in practice so often during his freshman year. He goes into new surroundings with a chip on his shoulder and it takes him awhile to settle in. My guess is that he'll struggle a little bit this year (kinda like his freshman year), will play much better next year and start to come into his own, and then will have a huge breakout year where he becomes the face of the 76ers in his third year. Then again, that might not happen at all. What do I know? I'm just basing this pattern solely on the fact that a similar thing happened with his three years at Ohio State.

AF: I like the use of saying you have a "character" version of yourself. Kind of makes you sound like a basketball playing Stephen Colbert.

I would have to agree with you when you talk about Turner's inability to change immediately. When you heard reports from the Vegas Summer League and the beginning of the NBA Preseason, they were filled with things like "Turner is a step slow" and "Turner is turning the ball over profusely". I am not sure about the first one, but he was turning the ball over too much, and that seems like he is having a little trouble adapting to the NBA. Just the other day, he had a double-double, so maybe things are beginning to change. It is hard for me to see a guy who almost averaged a triple double in college struggling this mightly in the pros.

I also think Philly is using him wrong. Wouldn't Turner's size and knack for rebounding the ball have him better suited for a small forward? Instead, Philly is using him as a backup shooting guard to Andre Iguodala. Jason Kapono (6 teams in 7 years, 5.5 40 speed) is playing small forward. It just doesn't make sense.

When you speak of yourself as a benchwarmer in college, did you ever think to yourself, "Man, I should be out there", because in your blog, it seemed like playing basketball wasn't of an enormous deal to you. One just has to watch the Mr. Rainmaker video to see that you have some shooting props. You were a great high school player. Did you ever feel angry that you weren't getting playing time? You were getting great writing material out of not playing, but did the basketball player in you ever wish that wasn't the case?

MT: The Villain definitely needs the ball in his hands and with a 24 second shot clock in the league, if he's not playing PG, he's going to have a tendency to force things when he does get his touches. SF is probably his natural position, but after last season when he played PG and ran the show, I really think he's got his heart set on sticking with that and trying to take what he did last year in college and make a similar thing happen in the NBA.

As for the playing time thing, starting my blog was my way of kinda saying that I gave up on the dream. I busted my balls for two years to become as good of a player as I possibly could, and once I realized that there just wasn't any way I was going to get playing time, I decided to completely change my approach and just try to have as much fun as possible with my last two years. Don't get me wrong, I still tried hard in practice and wanted to be good at basketball, but I realized that Coach Matta isn't fond of playing walk-ons so instead of beating myself up over not being good enough, I decided to have fun with it because I was doing something that tons of people wish they had the opportunity to do. Once I figured that out, I felt like I owed it to myself to just enjoy the experience as much as possible because it would be selfish of me to get upset when I'm on one of the best college basketball teams in the country.

AF:That probably is the best thing that you could have done in your position. When I was in 5th grade, nothing frustrated me more than playing for one minute on my travel team. I would come in, drain a shot from the top of the key, then walk back to the bench. I went 1000% in practice, but I never seemed to have any fun from it. In retrospect, I wish that your blog was around 6 years ago, so I would have had more fun and not think that not playing in a game against Montgomery Township in a smelly middle school gym was the end of the world. I would have learned to love basketball and all it throws at players.

Speaking of your blog, what was the moment when you knew that it was going to be a huge success? What was your big breakthrough moment, the moment(s) that got you attention on a national level?

MT: I never really cared how many people read my blog or how much attention it got by the media. When I started doing it, it was just a way for me to tell my family and friends what was going on with the basketball team. But after Bill Simmons emailed me to come on his podcast, I knew things were about to blow up.

It's funny looking back because I actually didn't get all that much local media attention before I went on Simmons podcast. I think one writer in Columbus just mentioned in his blog that I had started a blog of my own and other than that, there was nothing. But after I went on the podcast, I got all sorts of interview requests from all over the country. I went from having something like 250 page hits per day to something like 45,000 page hits per day for about two weeks after going on Simmons' podcast. That was unquestionably the moment that I knew that my blog was something special and unique for college basketball fans.

Come Back for Part II tomorrow, where me and Mark talk about the future of Club Trillion, LOST and who was hotter on it: Kate or Juliet, Seinfeld, his possible book deal, and why Oprah is being treated unfairly.

Preview From Tomorrow:

From: Mark Titus
To: Brendan OHare
Sent: Sun, October 24, 2010 6:32:29 PM
Subject: Re: Possible Column
I'm sticking with my guns here. Juliet was smoking. Kate had her moments, but if I'm stuck on a deserted island that isn't quite as deserted as I originally thought and has some sort of weird magnetic properties, I'm making a play for Juliet.

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