Tonight's Hoops Homecomings, Featuring Jason Green
So the TV people tonight will all be talking about Mike Lonergan's homecoming, Lonergan being the former Catholic head coach and Maryland assistant who now heads up Vermont, which faces Maryland tonight. If they have extra time, the TV people will also mention former Terps walk-on Matt Hahn, now a Vermont assistant. If they're really searching for material, they might also mention Vermont assistant and Bog friend Hajj Turner, who used to work in academic support at Maryland.
The thing I didn't know about Jason until last night is that his dad, Cornelius Green, is considered one of the all time legends in D.C. schoolboy sports, a man who was The Post's football player of the year in the early '70s, who threw for 28 TDs and ran for 12 more in his senior year at Dunbar High, who was also all-Interhigh in basketball and baseball, and who then quarterbacked Ohio State to three Rose Bowls and won a Rose Bowl MVP while teammate Archie Griffin was winning two Heisman trophies. The elder Green was sitting courtside last night, so we talked about Jason and Archie Griffin and this year's Buckeyes.
Cornelius Green, it turns out, has talked frequently with current Ohio State QB Troy Smith, and actually says they had comparable talents. But Green wasn't asked to win games at Ohio State, although he won a bunch, 30 of 34 in three years as a starter, according to an old Post story. Instead, he was asked to hand the ball to Griffin.
"I could have done some of the stuff Troy Smith does, but Archie was our bread and butter," Green said. "I could have thrown for more yards, Pete Johnson could have ran for more yards, but we knew our offense went through Archie. That's what Woody believed in. We put the offense on Archie's shoulders."
But Green is fond of telling how in his senior year, he was voted the team's MVP. He said he won by one vote over Griffin (his roommate), and that Griffin's vote for Green wound up being the deciding tally. (Cornelius says he voted for Griffin.) He said that mattered to him more than the Heisman or the national recognition, that he'd rather have the votes of his teammates.
Griffin is Jason Green's godfather, and Jason Green grew up among former Buckeyes, traveling to Columbus for games and reunions and watching his father's highlight tapes. Plus, hearing a lot of this: "Ohhh, I remember your dad." But Jason Green was always 10-15 pounds too heavy to play with his peers in youth football games, and instead he concentrated on basketball, leading his 8th grade team at Jefferson Junior High in Southwest to an undefeated season and a city championship before heading to DeMatha. He played just one year of football at DeMatha. And although he still sometimes wonders whether he should have followed his dad's path, he said he was never pressured one way or the other.
"I always wanted to play football but he never pushed me, he didn't want me to live after his name. He always gave me the option to play whatever I wanted," Jason said last night. "He didn't want me to have his name, he didn't want people to say he's gonna be the next Cornelius Green. That's why he didn't name me after him, that's why he didn't force me to play football."
Cornelius Green said he spent about two and a half years bouncing around the NFL as a receiver but it never really worked out. He now works for youth athletic programs and follows the Buckeyes religiously. For the record, he says they're about seven points better than Michigan.
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