OK...it's summertime. The basketballs have all been put away. Baseball is in full-swing, and football is right around the corner. It's these summer months that kind of lull you to sleep. Not a whole lot of coverage for NCAA athletics once the College World Series is over, except for your everyday recruiting scandals & whatnot. These are the months that try Buckeye fans souls...no one to cheer for, nothing to criticize, nobody is talking about us. But we know what's coming. "Aww, Ohio State ain't all that. They think they're so much better than they really are. They choke. They can beat the Big 10 but not the SEC. They're a bunch of whiners. Blah, blah, blahhhhhhhhhhh." Yeah, I'm starting to get a little pissed too. That's why I'm writing this piece, so you, my fellow Buckeye nut, can build up the rage that feeds us at a slow, steady rate until September 5th when all hell breaks loose upon the bows of the U.S. Naval Academy...leading up to the complete annihilation that will be so justly handed out to the smarmiest program in college football, USC. However, we're not all about just football at Ohio State. There's plenty more to be proud of...
10. Frank Howard. An All-American in both basketball & baseball at OSU, the 6'8" 275 lb. Howard still holds the OSU record for most rebounds in a game with 32 in 1956. Drafted in both sports, Howard chose baseball and was voted the 1960 NL Rookie Of The Year as a member of the Dodgers. He later starred as one of the most imposing sluggers in baseball for the Washington Senators. Howard finished his distinguished big league career with 382 homers, one of which went on to the left field roof at Detroit's Tiger Stadium, a feat only 3 players have accomplished.
9. Mark Coleman. One of the baddest men on the planet, Coleman was an NCAA champion wrestler & Olympian at Ohio State. "The Hammer" then went on to be one of the pioneers in Mixed Martial Arts, beating Don Frye & Dan Severn in his first two tournaments in 1996. Also a legend in Japan's Pride Fighting Championships, Coleman is still active now once again in the UFC.
8. Home of The Heisman. Ohio State is tied with Notre Dame & USC with 7 Heisman Trophy winners: Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard "Hop Along" Cassady, Archie Griffin (twice), Eddie George, & Troy Smith. 16 other players have finished in the Top 10 in voting during their careers as a Buckeye.
7. Chris Spielman. The ultimate Buckeye, through & through. Spielman simply played the game & lives his life with a passion. That's all you can ask from a mortal man. Class, integrity, and mental toughness personify the Buckeye spirit. Spielman picked up the torch from Randy Gradishar & Tom Cousineau, and has been the ideal for what has become the hallmark position at Ohio St. - Middle Linebacker. Tovar, Katzenmoyer, Diggs, Hawk, & Laurinitis all have followed in his footsteps as All-Americans.
6. The 1960 NCAA Champion Basketball Team. Led by Hall Of Fame coach Fred Taylor, this squad may go down as one of the greatest compilations of talent ever. The team featured two Hall Of Fame players in Jerry Lucas & John Havlicek, as well as some guy on the bench named Robert Montgomery Knight. The only thing that came between this team and 3 National Titles was a guy named Oscar Robertson.
5. Archie Griffin. Two-time Heisman Trophy winner, as well as one of the classiest men on the planet. Great story as to how Woody Hayes put him in his first game as a freshman. 9/30/72...Griffin was listed as the #5 tailback on the depth chart. Griffin had played one snap in the opener, & fumbled. Hayes gave in to Running Back's coach Rudy Hubbard & inserted the freshman against North Carolina and #45 was on his way. Griffin (5th) might have won 3 Heismans, beginning with his sophomore year in 1973, were it not for teammates John Hicks (2nd) & Randy Gradishar (6th) also garnering votes. Combined, the 3 Buckeyes tallied more than the actual winner, John Cappeletti of Penn St.
4. Jack Nicklaus. 18 major championships, & 19 runner-ups. The best ever golfer? For now maybe, but we may never have known were it not for Woody Hayes. Yes...Hayes told Nicklaus' father, who was a former pro football player, that his son was more suited for the links than the gridiron. Jack was a pretty decent quarterback, but Hayes told Charlie Nicklaus, "...you keep him as far away from that game as possible with the talent he has for golf." Jack had played in 3 U.s. Opens & 1 Masters before ever teeing it up as a Buckeye, "The Golden Bear" won one NCAA title in his two years as a Buckeye, & won the 1961 Big Ten title by 16 strokes.
3. Woody Hayes. 5 National Titles. 13 Big Ten Championships. 100's of broken facemasks, & countless broken egos. That's our Woody. Hayes was a military man, and brought the military to the football field. Stubborn, abrasive...yet gentle & caring, Hayes is THE icon for THE Ohio State University football team. "3 Yards & A Cloud Of Dust" is what Hayes' style was, and he was unabashedly just that complex. Hayes taught young men that the game was a test of wills, & made everyone that passed through his program a better man. That's what made Woody a success.
2. The Best Damn Band In The Land. If you don't get chills down your spine every time the OSU Marching Band marches onto the field, well...you're just not a true Buckeye fan. The Skull Session. The Ramp Entrance. The Back Bend. Across The Field. Script Ohio. Dotting The "I." Hang On Sloopy. Carmen Ohio. Buckeye Battle Cry. Buckeye fans know what all these terms mean, even if they've never picked up an instrument in their lives. It's the blood in our veins...
1. Jesse Owens. Perhaps the single most important athlete in history. Period. A gold medal winner in 4 events at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Owens single-handedly disposed of Hitler's pipe dream of the "the perfect race" and went on to pursue better treatment for blacks in his own country. As a Buckeye, Owens once broke 5 world records & tied another in just over an hour at the 1935 Big Ten Track & Field Championships. As Owens so eloquently stated, "In America, anybody can become somebody."
Happy Father's Day to all!!! GO BUCKS!!