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Ohio State Football Traditions: Out With The Old, In With the New

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Some traditions are best left in the past

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

I have followed Ohio State for 30+ years, and have seen traditions come and go. Some were great, like Patrick J’s on High Street, some were terrible, like Mirror Lake. The most telling was the couch burning after beating Notre Dame. Ohio State had sucked so bad for so long, a win over the perennially overrated Fighting Irish resulted in near riots on campus.

In actuality those wins signified another era in Ohio State’s history.

Let’s back up for a minute and take a look at the good ole traditions.

In the beginning, Ohio State was trash. Michigan was the top dog in the “West”. The quintessential big brother vs. little brother. Francis Schmidt said, “They put their pants on one leg at a time!” when he was hired as coach, and proceeded to kick the crap out of them. Thus the gold pants tradition was born.

Ironically enough around the same time, my personal favorite tradition was started when Michigan’s marching band first performed script Ohio. Eventually Ohio State’s band picked up on it, and it’s been a tradition ever sense. Many of my actual memories of local weddings stopped when the wedding party entered with the “Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse” as the booze was kicking in.

I included the non Ohio State version for our Buckeye hating readers.

After the early years of Ohio State football, first Paul Brown and then Woody Hayes took Ohio State to the place they currently hold in the national pantheon of college football powers. At this point in history, the legendary Hayes coined the phrase, “The best damn band in the land.” Rarely does a football coach offer such praise on an entity that doesn’t actually play or coach in the game.

Then, one of my favorite traditions occurred. As Ohio State was cementing themselves as a true national power in the late 60s, “Hang on Sloopy” became part of the routine. Fans would do their O H I O chant at various times, and it became one of my own personal favorite memories in New Orleans during the build up to the 1998 Sugar Bowl.

I am find with all those particular old traditions, and have been known to get a little misty with the dotting of the i. I remember telling my dad about a broadcast I had watched, where the ESPN announcer watched it for the first time. The level of reverence he had for it, while describing the tuba player blasting the camera man that got too close brought a little mist to my father’s eyes. I cried when Earle dotted the i, I am not going to lie.

Now onto the bad traditions, like “O H” always being answered with “I O”. I fucking hate it. Maybe I have some sort of ODD where I don’t like being forced into answering. Maybe I think it’s obnoxious to yell “O H” in the local Walmart in June and have two or three people answer.

Mirror Lake was ended because of a tragedy, and Patrick J’s was ended because of scandal. I’ll miss both, but it’s understandable.

A tradition missed.

While I love Coop, trying to cash in on waving the towels to start his tenure was the death of what could have been a great tradition. I also love Earle, “I got to dot the i” Bruce, and one of my favorite memories of his tenure was wearing the fedora against Texas A&M. The media knocked him for wearing simple coach friendly clothes, much like they harass Harbaugh about his khakis. In the Cotton Bowl, he wore a fedora with feathers, and OSU basically stole the tradition of the Aggies after the win, waving white towels.

Back to the couch burning.

The 80s sucked. The 90s weren’t much better, but they showed promise. It’s very telling on just how down Ohio State was when the students, or more specifically people at parties held by the students decided to set a bunch of couches on fire because of a non-conference win. I am also glad that is dead.

On came the Jim Tressel era. Arguably one of the 10 best year stretches in Ohio State history, and the addition of another great tradition. He decided to have the team sing the Alma Mater after each game, a great song, Carmen Ohio. When Cie Grant sang it back in Columbus after winning the national championship, it cemented it as a permanent fixture in Ohio State lore.

I know most of you hate Ohio State, but if this one performance doesn’t define Midwest football, I don’t know what does.

Grant’s performance starts at the 4 minute mark.

So that brings us to the Urban Meyer era. In his 5 years at the helm, Ohio State is 61-6 overall, and 39-2 in Big Ten regular season games. Let those numbers sink in the next time you want to talk trash about him or Ohio State. However, there is a knock on his tenure. There isn’t a lasting “tradition” associated with it, except kicking the shit out of Michigan the last 5 years.

Wait, that’s good enough. GO BUCKS!