It is fitting that Ryan Miller’s last assignment as a sports reporter for WBNS-TV (Ch. 10) is on Ohio State football.
Miller, an OSU linebacker from 1992-96, was assigned to today’s press conference with the 10 graduating OSU football players as well as head football coach Jim Tressel and athletic director Gene Smith. Today is his last day working for the station as he prepares to begin a new chapter in his professional life.
On Sunday, he will receive his MBA degree from OSU’s Fisher College of Business. He is moving into private business as he and former OSU women’s basketball player Megan McCabe open their own firm, M-2 Marketing.
After nearly five years at Channel 10, Miller made this decision, in part, so his work schedule would give him the flexibility to work around the hectic schedule of his wife, former OSU women’s basketball player Lauren Shenk Miller, who is a third-year medical student at OSU.
“I am excited about it,” Ryan Miller said. “Lauren is in her third year of medical school. Looking down the road, I know it is going to be interesting to see where she ends up with her residency. She has some options to take some rotations in some different places. I just need to be flexible with my job and with my schedule so that in the event she has to leave – and we’re hoping she stays in Columbus – I can be able to move with her.
“I’m looking forward to this next chapter and it is very exciting because I know it’s going to keep me around sports.”
Miller discussed the plans he and McCabe have for their marketing firm and how it came about.
“This is a concept Megan and I dreamt up a few years ago when we started the MBA program at the Fisher College of Business,” Miller said. “She played basketball with Lauren. We had a lot of things in common and in a lot of the same groups in the classes we were in. We started to brainstorm different concepts for projects we were involved with in class.
“The more we got into it the more we thought it would be great to start our own company. Maybe it was just the entrepreneurial spirit that we both had. Literally, from that second quarter, we started to put together a business plan and M-2 marketing was born. Since that time, we’ve had a number of different clients.
“We have two different arms of our services. We have a sports marketing arm and a creative services arm. It’s been exciting and a lot of hard work, going to school and trying to start a business, plus working at 10-TV. It was really nuts, but now that it’s here and we’re up and running we’re trying to grow the business. It’s really exciting.”
Miller provided an update on his wife – he and Lauren have been married for two years -- and her path in medicine.
“I’m like her biggest fan and she has been so unbelievable,” Miller said. “People remember her as an undergrad. She was always an honors student. She graduated with a degree in molecular genetics. She was unbelievable as a student-athlete at The Ohio State University. She scored over 1,000 points as well.
“She’s finishing her third year of med school and she’s been an honors student. She’s been doing so many great things. She wants to go into radiology. She wants to stick around town here and do her residency. That will be a four-year program after this fourth year of med school coming up. At that point, hopefully she will hook on to a firm here in town or go somewhere.
“But the flexibility I have with my job allows me to be behind her wherever she wants to go.”
Going back to his playing days, Miller was a member of two Big Ten championship teams under coach John Cooper. His senior class, which also included the likes of Greg Bellisari, Matt Finkes and Mike Vrabel, helped OSU secure its first Rose Bowl win in 23 years with its dramatic 20-17 win over Arizona State. That 1996 team finished the year ranked No. 2 nationally.
Miller, a native of Allen Park, Mich., prides himself as being part of the group that helped bring the OSU program back into national prominence.
“I couldn’t be more proud, first and foremost, to say I wore the Scarlet and Gray and I ran out of that tunnel,” Miller said. “That was the most amazing experience of my life. The relationships I built with these guys … I’m still really close with them.
“I always look back and think that’s when Ohio State became cool again on a national level. I remember when I was being recruited by Ohio State from the high school level. Ohio State had kind of fallen off a little bit. I remember on my official visit John Cooper saying we could be a part of something special, and certainly we were during the four years I got a chance to play.
“That timeframe set the table for the years to follow – the 1998 team they had and, of course, the 2002 national championship season. Coach Tressel has done a great job of keeping that ball rolling.”
Miller reflected on that dramatic Rose Bowl win.
“Nowadays it’s a little different with the BCS,” Miller said. “But when I was growing up and when I was in school, that was it. If you were in the Midwest, you had to get to the Rose Bowl. When we beat Indiana to go to the Rose Bowl – the game where Andy Katzenmoyer stripped the ball and Matt Finkes picked it up and took it for a touchdown – I will never forget it. My sister was running on the field with a rose and my parents were there. It was just a great experience knowing you were going to the Rose Bowl.
“Then, to get to Pasadena, you had always seen it on TV. You get there and walk through the stadium. Looking back, to be a part of that great tradition, I know for a lot of the guys it just meant the world to them. The one thing that meant the most to me was playing in the Rose Bowl and the way it ended as it did.
“That senior class, we went through a lot of different things. We went through the death of Jayson Gwinn. We had the losses to Michigan to upset some undefeated seasons. You just have some of the ups and downs you go through in college. To end on that note, I thought was justice.”
Miller quickly moved from the football field to a career with WBNS-AM and, eventually, with Ohio News Network. He talked about that transition from player to pundit.
“That was the most difficult thing,” Miller said. “You’re an athlete and you’re behind those closed doors for so long. Then you try to be a member of the media and try to be critical. That can be a touchy subject.
“I remember in 1998 Ohio State was No. 1 in the country. I knew the guys well because I had played in 1996. The offensive line, at the time, in my opinion, wasn’t holding up their end of the bargain. I came on one morning and said, `Ohio State is not ranked No. 1 in the country because of their offensive line. It’s because of their defense.’
“Well, the offensive line coach was Mike Jacobs at the time and he took exception to that. The next game was at Indiana and they racked up some ridiculous number on the ground. I’m in the postgame interview room and Coach Jacobs comes in from the press box. He beelines right over to me, mad as can be. He’s saying, `You don’t know what you’re talking about,’ and he’s pointing at me.
“At that point, I thought, `Hey, we used to be buddies. We were hugging and kissing at the Rose Bowl and now he wants to rip my head off.’ That was my baptism into the world of media.
“I remember Kirk Herbstreit said, `Hey, you’ve got to do your job. If you really believe something and you say it and believe it to be true, that’s fine. It’s when you embellish or start to make up things, that’s when you should have apprehension. But if you call it like you see it, you can’t go wrong.’ That’s how I’ve always tried to take it.”
Miller moved on to WBNS-TV in September 2000. He won a pair of Midwest Emmys in his role as a sports reporter and anchor.
“It’s just been an amazing opportunity and an amazing experience,” Miller said. “To work at WBNS 10-TV with all of the resources they have. They have all of the bells and whistles here at the station. They give you an opportunity to have an hour of programming on evening. A half an hour on Saturday and Sunday for `Wall to Wall Sports.’ There’s no place in the country that has that much freedom to go out and do stories.
“Through the years, I have learned a lot and met a lot of great people. I know I’ll miss getting out there and reporting on some of the lesser known stories around the state of Ohio.”
The full interview with Ryan Miller will air in an upcoming edition of the Bucknuts Radio Hour.