men's basketball

Shark attack: Cohen goes 1-on-1 with walk-on blogger Titus

For those unfamiliar with you, who is Mark “The Shark” Titus?

I’m a benchwarmer on the Ohio State basketball team that has a blog that’s more successful than it ever should have been. There’s nothing all that special about me, other than the fact that I have inside access to a high caliber college basketball team and I write about my experiences.  Any of you really could have been me if you would have known the people I knew when I was in high school.

Where did you get the idea to do Club Trillion? Did you ever envision attracting so many readers?

I got the idea for Club Trillion after my sophomore year at Ohio State, when I realized that I had done a lot of cool things that few people ever get the chance to do. I had no idea what a blog was at the time, but when I found out that there was a way to basically just write about anything you want, I Googled “starting a blog” and spent an hour of one night setting the thing up.  When I reached 500 total hits, I called all my friends and bragged about how crazy it was, so I guess it’s safe to say that I never envisioned over 2 million views.

Are you surprised that OSU athletics and compliance has let you do all of this?

I am actually a little surprised that I’ve gotten away with it.  When I started the blog, nobody really read it, so I don’t think our compliance office took it all that seriously (maybe I’m wrong).  Then, I went on Bill Simmons’ podcast and the blog blew up pretty much overnight.  After that, compliance saw that my blog was a great way to communicate with Buckeye fans all over the world, as well as a great career opportunity for me, so I think they were pretty cool with it all (again, maybe I’m wrong).

Backing up, you grew up in Brownsburg, Ind. What was it like being raised in the basketball-crazed state of Indiana? Any special memories or favorite teams?

I grew up a huge fan of the Hoosiers and loved Bob Knight like pretty much everyone else in the state.  I actually got the chance to meet Coach Knight and talk with him a little bit a few weekends ago when Ohio State had the 1960 National Championship team back for a 50 year reunion.  Needless to say, I was star struck being able to talk with Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek, but for me nothing compared to talking to Coach Knight.  

My favorite Hoosier team has got to be the 2002 team that lost to Maryland in the National Championship. I was at the Duke game in Lexington during their tournament run and went crazy like every other Hoosier fan when Moye blocked Boozer’s shot.  Since I’ve been at Ohio State, I obviously don’t cheer for Indiana like I used to, but I still get chills hearing the IU fight song when we play in Bloomington and I still cheer for the Hoosiers when we don’t play them.

How did you end up at Ohio State?

I applied to Ohio State solely because Greg Oden jokingly suggested that I should come to OSU and room with him.  I applied to Harvard (who was recruiting me for basketball), Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and Ohio State as my safety school. The Harvard thing fell through and I didn’t get in at Northwestern. Vanderbilt accepted me, which in retrospect would have been fun considering how much I love country music.  

In the end, I went to Ohio State because the more I looked here, the more I realized that it was the place for me.  I had been recruited by mid-major schools for basketball, but I always wanted to go to a big school, whether basketball was an option or not.  Ohio State seemed perfect at the time and has lived up to everything I expected it to be.
Describe your game / any player comparisons?

I play like a typical Hoosier. I’m a pretty good shooter, I love diving on the floor (even when it’s unnecessary), I’m not afraid to take the charge, and I always make the extra pass.  I model my game after Larry Bird, even though some people have said that he’s a little better than me.  I take criticism like that and use it as fuel to make me work harder to become better.

Proudest moment of your 47- minute playing career in Columbus? Funniest moment?

My proudest moment came when I threw a lob to Dave Lighty my freshman year and he dunked it and got fouled.  I’m not much of an “alley-oop” thrower, but I decided to roll the dice and see what happened.  I put the pass right on the money and Dave did the rest.  Without that pass and dunk, we would have only won by 30, so it was a pretty big play.  

My funniest moment was undoubtedly when I got a rebound in the first game my junior year and the crowd started booing because I ruined my trillion.  I tried not to laugh as I ran down the court.
After having an MRI on your shoulder, you wrote that your career is likely done. How fitting is it that in your final game (Northwestern) you recorded 1 minute and no other stats?

It’s poetic, really. Especially considering that Northwestern didn’t accept me when I applied there in high school.  I put up a trillion on the school that shunned me and then I rode off into the sunset as a champion.

Your official game bio says you are “one of the best long-range threats in the Ohio State program,”  yet you hit just 2-of-6 in four years? Was Coach Matta holding you back?

Absolutely.  It’s hard to sit for 39 minutes and be expected to contribute in the last minute. Just ask former Hoosier, Ryan Tapak.  He went 0-for-6 in 2002-2003 and then went 1-for-11 in 2004-2005 (that’s right, I did some research), but I guarantee he never missed in practice.  Being productive in one minute with ice cold legs is harder than it looks.

Jon Diebler or Mark Titus – if I were a betting man, who would I want to put my money on in a 3-point shooting contest

Me. Next question.

Talk about the YouTube sensation “Mr. Rainmaker.” Your outside shooting abilities were on display, as were a collection of fundamental skills. What is your go-to move on the court?

My go-to move is a step-back going to my left.  Any time we play one-on-one in practice, I either shoot the ball immediately after it is checked or I take one dribble to my left, push off my right foot, and shoot a fade-away 3 falling to my left.  I probably hit it 75% of the time.  It’s remarkable.

Guys who guard me know exactly what I’m going to do but they can’t stop it.  

One time I got the ball stripped from me as I was shooting my step-back, I bobbled it as I was going up, and then basically threw up a shot-put with one arm.  Obviously, it went in.  It’s almost to the point that even if I’m wide open, I might try a step-back just because I can hit those easier than a regular shot.  

Do you see any future in making basketball fundamental videos (a la Tom Emanski’s Defensive Drill Videos)?

I could make all sorts of videos on how to score over a much better defender using only one move. I might have to look into this.

In the end credits of “Mr. Rainmaker,” you give a special thank you to “Bob Knight’s Sweater.” To which sweater are you referring (surely it wasn’t the “comfortable red sweater” from Texas Tech) and explain its significance?

Bob Knight is really the only reason I ever cared about basketball when I was growing up.  All I wanted to do was play at Indiana for Coach Knight (just like everyone reading this).  In fact, when he was fired, I got progressively worse at basketball somehow.  I was destined for greatness in 6th grade, but by the time I made it to high school, I was only somewhere in between “above average” and “pretty good”.  

As for why I credited his sweater, it’s pretty simple.  The sweaters Bob Knight wore were iconic. They represented his mindset.  Most coaches wore ties, but he did things his way and if you didn’t like it, well, that sucked for you. I loved that he never tried to please people and I always thought that wearing sweaters was just another way of showing this mindset.  

I didn’t have a particular sweater in mind, but I can assure you that if I did, it wouldn’t have been the “comfortable red sweater” from Texas Tech.

Finish these lines
Coach Thad Matta is:
the most likable coach in America.
Guard Evan Turner is:
The Villain, duh.
Forward Dallas Lauderdale is:
the only guy on our team that dresses worse than me.
Former teammate Greg Oden is:
the reason I’ve been constantly laughing the past couple weeks.
Mark Titus is:
probably the only player in the history of Ohio State basketball to get up on the catwalks at the top of our arena and throw
basketballs back down at the goal (I was 0-for-2).

What does the future hold for both you as a person and as a blogger?

I plan on writing a book in the immediate future that will feature stories from my Final Four year at Ohio State that I haven’t had the chance to talk about, as well as stories from the past two years that I haven’t been able to tell because of NCAA rules or the fact that I would probably get kicked off the team.  

From there, hopefully I can land a spot on some reality show, be a complete jerk to everyone on the show, and have all of America hate me.  I will then parlay that into a gig as a professional wrestler, where I play to the audience as a “heel”, or someone they are supposed to hate.  

After a few years of that, I’ll develop a drug addiction of some sort and go back on a reality show, only this time I’ll be devoted to “changing my ways” and “becoming a better person”.  

Once I’m clean and I’ve changed, America will fall in love with me because I’ll talk about how sorry I am for everything and I’ll be one of those celebrities that everyone likes, even though they have never actually done anything of merit.  

Kind of like Paris Hilton. Or how Purdue fans feel about Gene Keady.

OSU’s student newspaper, The Lantern, recently published a story on Evan Turner’s relationship with women’s basketball player Samantha Prahalis? Is there any Mrs. Club Tril in the picture?

There currently is a significant other in the picture, but calling her “Mrs. Club Tril” might be a little premature at this point.  I will say, though, that she doesn’t have a problem with me telling her I have to write instead of hang out with her, which is why she’s so great.  Plus, she buys me ice cream cakes when I reach a certain number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers, which is an unprecedented move in the history of relationships.  

Throw in the fact that she’s a former OSU cheerleader (looks) who is working on her doctorate (smarts), and it’s easy to see that I landed a girl that is completely out of my league.

Any last words for IU fans and the people of Indiana?

I just want all the Hoosier fans to know that the only goal I have in my life at this point is to become one of those giant heads that are held up during free throws. I’ve noticed that you don’t exactly have to be an A-list celebrity to become a giant head, which is why I think that I might have a shot, seeing as how I plan on doing the reality show thing a couple of times so I can become a D-lister at the very least. 

This is really the only motivation I have in life.  Everything I do from this point forward is geared toward helping me become famous enough to get my own giant head at an Indiana basketball game.  

I know that I’d probably be the first non-Indiana basketball player to get a big head, but I’m hoping that since I’m from Indiana and since I grew up a Hoosier fan, an exception can be made.  Plus, I have a disproportionately large head to begin with, so that’s got to count for something.

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