Practice constituted the vast majority of Titus’s playing time, though, amassing only 20 minutes of on-court action during his freshman and sophomore seasons. After wasting away in anonymity on the end of the bench for two years, Titus decided to take advantage of his situation. He created Club Trillion, a reference to how the stat sheet reads when a walk-on gets in for one minute at the end of the game and records no stats – a 1, followed by rows of 0s. He then went public with his “Trillion Man March,” starting a blog so that his friends and family could follow along with his experiences.
“It was really a way for me to handle being a failure,” Titus chuckles. “I thought that if I make fun of myself first, then other people can’t make fun of me. No one really gave a shit, but that was just the allusion I had painted in my head.”
It was Titus’s creativity and sense of humor that started the blog, but it was the personality of head coach Thad Matta and Mark’s strong relationship with him that allowed the blog to hang around. Boals and Madsen both point to Matta’s sense of humor and the strong relationship he had with Titus as reason for letting the blog exist, mostly unfettered.
“I wasn’t playing, and I realized I was never going to play, so I just wanted to have fun,” says Titus. “It never even crossed my mind that it would be a problem. And honestly, I didn’t think that anyone would read it anyways.”
He was only half right.
“I remember him sitting next to me once and telling me that it’s already got five thousand hits or ten thousand hits,” says Madsen about the blog. “So I was like, ‘I guess I’ll check it out.’”
The story of the Club Trillion blog is well known. Once it caught on around Ohio State’s massive campus and infinite fanbase, word got out. Local papers and newscasts led to bigger and bigger media outlets mentioning the blog, and before long, Club Trillion was a part of the mainstream sports media.
“When he went on Bill Simmons’ podcast, that’s when everything just took off in terms of views and everything else,” says Ryan.
In March of 2009, Mark received an email from Simmons, a popular writer/podcaster for ESPN.com at the time. Simmons invited Titus to come on as a guest on the B.S. Report, one of the top downloaded sports podcasts on iTunes. The interview sparked thousands of hits for the Club Trillion blog, leading to coverage on Yahoo! and the New York Times and helping launch Titus to viral fame.
“After two years of having to convince people I was on the team, now all the sudden people are asking for pictures with me and stuff,” says Titus, still in awe of how quickly things changed.
The evidence his popularity had hit ridiculous levels came when the OSU student section started booing anytime he recorded a stat, ruining his “trillion.” Opposing fans at road games actually began chanting his name at the end of contests. Titus had become a star, virtually overnight, but for different reasons than he had ever anticipated.
“He was notorious,” says Coach Boals. “Evan Turner was on the team and won the National Player of Year (in 2010), and Titus had more media requests than Evan did that year.”
The response resulted in what Titus considers the most meaningful moment of his life: Senior Night. The outpouring of support shown by his Buckeye family – from Turner wearing a customized “Club Tril” t-shirt to the student section chanting his name and wearing his shirts – showed just how big an impact Club Trillion truly had on college basketball. And it was Titus’s reaction that showed how much it meant to him personally.
“Everyone thought I was joking because I bawled my eyes out,” says Mark. “The reason I cried so hard was because I was just overwhelmed by how many people were chanting my name and wearing my shirt. My entire life I had dreamed of being a Big 10 basketball star, and it obviously didn’t work out as I had hoped, but the end result was the same. In a weird way, I had accomplished my dream.”
“When he came out and they had all of those “Club Tril” shirts…whew,” says Mark’s father Bill, getting chocked up just thinking about it. “Tough to talk about. Just so neat. It was incredible.”