After watching the above video, I found myself thinking: What does it mean to be an Ohio State Buckeye? I apologize in advance if this article/opinion piece takes you outside the normal 11W realm, but ever since watching this I cannot stop thinking about how lucky we all are to be a part of the Ohio State family.
My path to becoming a Buckeye was a little different than most. While many of you on this site grew up in Ohio and always dreamed of walking across the Oval to get to class, my journey didn't start like that. Born in Connecticut and raised in New Jersey I wasn't quite sure where I wanted to go to school. Growing up I was a UNC fan because my father brought me up that way, but once I found out the academic standards needed to go to Chapel Hill my attention quickly turned elsewhere.
Wanting to be a sports agent and being the huge sports fan that I was, I wanted a "rah rah" school. Unfortunately in Jersey the only real state school that is anything like that is Rutgers, and let's be real, it's not anywhere close to a place like OSU. Deciding I would go out of state like most of the people in my area, I decided to take a college tour before my senior year that would consist of trips to various schools to see which ones I liked best and would aim to get in to. Compiling this list was tough, but after getting told by my mom that I wasn't allowed to go west of the Mississippi River, I was able to narrow the search a little. Among the schools on my list were UConn, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Maryland, Indiana, and Michigan State. I was all ready to make those my final options when that same nagging mother had one last word.
After doing her research, she suggested I take a look at Ohio State. My first words were "Are you kidding me it's all cows and farmland there?". She insisted I take a look at the virtual campus tour online and after I did I was quite surprised at what I saw. I decided to add Columbus to the list of schools to hit up that coming summer and I'm sure glad I did.
After "falling in love" with Michigan State and enjoying visits to Indiana and UConn as well, I truly realized what it was to get "that feeling" when you know something is right. From the minute I walked through the South Oval up to Orton Hall, across the Oval to University Hall and down to the Horseshoe, I knew Ohio State was the place for me. Standing in front of the cathedral that was Ohio Stadium, I had to take a minute to slow down. The feeling that overcame me was breath taking and for the first time in my life, everything felt right in the world.
I applied to OSU a few months later and received my letter of acceptance on November 20, 2004 as I watched the Buckeyes upset #7 Michigan by a score of 37-21, as Troy Smith began his road to national prominence and Ted Ginn Jr. had Buckeye fans everywhere starting his Heisman campaign for the 2005 season. I didn't even know what "Dotting the I" was or what to say when someone yelled "OH", yet I wanted to be a part of the Buckeye Nation and being the sports nerd that I am, started consuming everything I could revolving around Ohio State sports.
Stepping on campus in the fall of 2005, my life completely changed. There was just something about the feeling of walking on a cold fall morning across the Oval that just set the world still. Something about seeing that sea of Scarlet on game day down on Lane Avenue that made you feel a sense of pride. Something about the hatred I felt for the entire state of Michigan that made me want to jump in a freezing cold lake on a Thursday night in late November, despite being exposed to the greatest rivalry in sports for just seven weeks. I was crazy about my new home-and yes Ohio State and Columbus was my new home.
Six years later I sit here, with a B.S. and M.A. from The Ohio State University, writing for an Ohio State blog while I work my day job in New York City. I still feel the same way I did in September of 2005 when I drove 8 hours to and from New Jersey just to see the Buckeyes take on Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns at Ohio Stadium for my first game as a student. I still get the chills when I hear Carmen Ohio played on TV after a big OSU football win. I still get a feeling of excitement when walking down the street in my Buckeye gear and I get a random "O-H" thrown at me from the guy walking across the street. And yes, I still love every minute of rubbing it in to my two friends who graduated from that school up north.
Woody Hayes said it best when he said OSU was about "the people, the tradition, and the excellence". The people I met while spending five years in Columbus have changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I am even fortunate enough to have that "people" segment reach to my immediate family and personal life, as I met my girlfriend of four years at college, my brother joined me at OSU two years after I started, and both my parents have become "adopted Buckeyes", joining the Alumni Association and running various college fair booths in New Jersey for the university. The tradition that comes with being a member of the Ohio State family is unrivaled. It is our duty as Buckeyes to carry out that tradition from generation to generation and ensure life for future Buckeyes is as good as ours. Finally excellence defines The Ohio State University perfectly. We pride ourselves on excellence in all facets of our lives at Ohio State and aiming to reach excellence every year is what makes OSU the special place that it is.
Quoting Woody again, he always said to "Pay Forward". I never really knew what that meant until my time at Ohio State was up. The university and Buckeye Nation has given me so much, that it is only right and now my duty that I pay forward to those that will follow in my footsteps. I hope my contributions on this blog can help pay back to the community that has given me so much and I hope that all of you can get the same joy from reading my work here at 11W that I get from providing it to all of you.
With that being said, I think it's only appropriate I end this post with an O-H