The Gift of Bowls

By Johnny Ginter on December 27, 2013 at 2:30p
Ohio State's first Orange Bowl

Once upon a time, Ohio State was not super excited about a bowl. Not necessarily because they felt that they should be in a better one, or because they thought that the team was going to get killed, or because the BCS system was inherently flawed attempt to make sense out of something fundamentally insane like college football.

No, the larger issue was that it was 1920 and the student population was more concerned about the rising cost of pomade and preoccupied with daring each other to swallow goldfish and sit on top of flagpoles while investing heavily in a stock market that they didn't understand the actual workings of.

I'm not joking about that pomade thing, either. On December 17th, 1920, Ohio State President William Thompson (who the library is named after), stood in front of a small and skeptical crowd of football fans to convince them that playing a football game thousands of miles away was in fact in the best interests of the school and not a silly distraction from the important business of smuggling hooch though Columbus to Cleveland.

"There is probably a no more beautiful event in the world today, and it is an honor that Ohio State should be asked to participate as a representative of the people of the Middle West," [Thompson] said. "Whether we win or lose, it is an honor that has been well won by the members of our team."

This year, almost 100 years later, Ohio State is not going to the Rose Bowl. Or the National Championship. We have been consigned to the apparently lowly Orange Bowl, and some seem to be struggling with the indignity.

One thing that might be important to point out is that after that 1921 destruction at the hands of the Cal Bears, Ohio State didn't participate in another bowl game until 1950. We've been clutching at our pearls because we were forced to sit out an entire season because of the bowl ban, but there were people who were too young to read the box score in the newspaper the next day, lived through the Depression, fought in World War II, came back home, got married, had kids, bought a house, and still hadn't seen the Ohio State Buckeyes participate in another bowl game.

Now, of course, bowl games are a given. Pat of that is because there are a billion of them, part of that is because the logistics of getting a team thousands of miles away in short order is a lot easier, and part of that is because Ohio State football is so consistently good.

SWAGCoach Wilce, right before the Rose Bowl in 1921

Of course, that's the double edged sword that I want to address today.

As of the 23rd, Ohio State had only managed to sell about 7,000 of its 17,500 allotted tickets for the Orange Bowl, which is, uh, bad. And also doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I'm no big fan of Florida in general, what with the venomous mosquitoes and the alligators that can open doors and the anacondas that con people into pyramid schemes, but for a lot of people Miami in January beats Columbus in January.

Or not:

“We have a large population of alums down in [South Florida] that are slowly starting to buy tickets through us,” (Ohio State AD Gene) Smith told The Blade this week. “We’re starting to see a little more activity. It’s a hard hard sell every single year.”

Really? It's odd to me that one of the largest, most rabid fanbases in the country would have trouble selling out their tickets for a BCS bowl game. So what is it, Ohio State fans? Yeah, flights are expensive, but does anyone really think we'd have a hard time selling out the National Championship? Are people really that disappointed with having to go to the Orange Bowl (as if we're kids being forced to take a bath after rolling around in the mud of failure at the B1G championship)?

The first time Ohio State played in a non-Rose Bowl bowl was actually in the Orange Bowl on January 1st, 1977, and by all accounts it was awesome. The Buckeyes beat Colorado 27-10, and The Lantern documented some of the fun that the players had:

  • A tour through the Everglades
  • A fishing boat trip
  • A Jai Alai match
  • Gambling?? ("'I almost won an $800 trifecta,' said sophomore quarterback Rod Gerald.")
  • Chartered buses that took players to discos and bars???
  • Aaannddd "The Buckeyes were also invited to the Bath Club, a private club in Miami Beach, by John W. Galbreath, a Columbus financier and sportsman."
  • Hahaha WHAT

Okay, so I really hope that Braxton Miller and company don't do like... 2/3rds of the things on that list. Especially that last one, that sounds like an automatic NCAA violation for even being within 500 feet of the place.

But you can! And should, because there's nothing sadder in bowl season than a fanbase so spoiled by success that we can't even enjoy a game that 95% of the rest of the country would absolutely kill to be able to attend. Bowl season, for all its bloated excess and unnecessary matchups between two teams that couldn't care less about each other, still shines when a team has fans so devoted that they turn places like Memphis or nowhere New Mexico into seething cauldrons of fury, even just for a few hours in late December.

The 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes deserve a good show of fan support on the 3rd, not just because they had a great season, but because this is great event and a chance to legitimize a team that we think is generally as good as any in the country. Sometimes. I mean, ignoring our secondary and most of our linebackers. Look, shut up and go to the damn game.

On December 17th, 1920, after President Thompson gave his speech, one man was very unhappy. Cheer leader (you know, the guy officially designated to lead the cheers, duh) John Creps "...expressed disappointment in the turnout. He asked that better spirit be shown during the basketball season, just beginning." At the very least, let's not let Mr. Creps down.


Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeChief's picture

Welp, if I had the cash on hand i'd go. I do plan on having people over though.

"2014 National with it!!!"

doodah_man's picture

People think the interest of Ohio State in bowl games has stayed the same over the years. In the pre-BCS era, the coach, team, and fans had four major goals: 1) beat TTUN; 2) win the Big Ten Championship;  3) go to the Rose Bowl; and, 4) beat whoever we played in the Rose Bowl. That was pretty much it.
As bowls started to proliferate, it was always nice to award a lesser season to fun in the sun somewhere, usually in Florida. But as a Big Ten team, you had failed. I don't think many folks now days have experienced the overall lackluster attitudes of tOSU teams (and their fans) on their way to or from the various non-Rose Bowls. I know the SEC likes to bash our tOUS vs the SEC record but, once we lost out on a trip to Pasadena, who really cared?  I don't see this as sour grapes, it was just the way the system was set up. Games against even the best other conferences had to offer did not rise to the Rose Bowl. 

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

Michael Citro's picture

Do you need a ride from the airport, Johnny?

GOOMBAY's picture

Solid points, but I'm going with the "old crank" angle: Any bowl games after January 1, including the NCG, are tiresome.

BuckeyeEd's picture

The Team will be well represented......Us fans are smarter than you give us credit for....We have something called the internet and can find tickets cheaper (As can all the Clemson fans) than offered from the 17,500 allotted to tOSU coffers. Might want to investigate who is unfairly profiting off our Love for our Buckeyes. I tried, but when I can get a ticket for half the price I will buy that one. SO, Lay that guilt trip on someone else.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Could the '77 Orange Bowl have been the trip that started Art Schichter's bad gambling habits?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Hovenaut's picture

He was still in h.s. - was at OSU from '78-'81.
I bet he watched the game.

JLBNYC's picture

I think Art claimed it was Earle Bruce taking him to the track that started him off on his gambling addiction

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Sounds about right

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

faux_maestro's picture

An older friend of mine claims to have seen Earle and Art at the track together many times FWIW.

Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

Blackbeards Delight's picture

I've been to bowl games in Az, La, Ca, and Fl. By far The Rose Bowl was was the best atmosphere. Perhaps people are tired of spending so much cash, traveling 14 plus hours, and burning vacation time to watch a bowl game. What really sucks is that it's usually four hours from the opposing teams site or in their state? Basically it would be nice to have a quality bowl game, perhaps one day a playoff somewhere in the Midwest? Indoors, outdoors, I don't care. It would be nice for some of these other fan bases to shell out a bit of cheddar, burn a few more vacation days, and feel what it's like to be inundated by Buckeye fans in and out of the stadium. I know we travel well but if you've been to a bowl game in the south you know how flooded the streets are with the opposing teams fans. And let's not kid anybody by saying how great the weather is. It's not the Caiman Island Bowl. Go Bucks.  I'll be enjoying this one in the man cave.

"Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 23yr, it's what's for breakfast"

- Me


AltaBuck's picture

I am Groot - Groot

Calgarybuck's picture

Every ticket minus the alotment probably has been spoken for, its the above face value the bowls charge the schools is what screws everything up! 
How these schools and conferences even support this model is beyond me, espcially the bowls being labelled as non=profit when they pay more of their board members 6 figures

bucksfan92's picture

I got about a half-dozen emails from OSU for ticket purchases.  I looked into their offers and they were terrible.  The seats they made available to the public are awful, way up high, and not cheap. The other option is to do a trip package.  I did that once and will never do it again.  It is overpriced and I didn't want half of what they had planned on those trips.  I always do bowl games on my own and spend a LOT less than any package.  I bought tickets directly from the Orange bowl site.  Instead of being way up in the upper deck through OSU, my tickets are in the lower bowl section.  

Go1Bucks's picture

yeah, saw those packages... they were an insult to the fans.

Go Bucks!

WC Buckeye's picture

I wonder if, because of the +1 B1G CG (and 2 week later finish to the season because of it and the second bye week), people just don't feel like they had enough time to plan the trip to Miami? We found out which bowl we'd be going to on, what, the 8th of December? That's not much time for people to plan, save money, etc. as compared to previously, when we had sometimes 5+ weeks.
I don't know. Just a theory.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

Go1Bucks's picture

I agree with what you said.
I personally however, have not really appreciated the bowls since they added so many, which dilutes the achievement of being in one, and the ridiculous extension of when they are played.  The 5 big bowls should all be on New Years Day and the rest prior.  Greed and NCAA bs have made the money and march up to the games more important.  
I only want to see good football, and I imagine the players would like an experience that can last a lifetime. Lets hope that some future changes will make less bowls and more relevance again.

Go Bucks!

RuGettinIt's picture

You have to remember folks had to shell out money for the BIG Championship game a couple of weeks ago.  I live in Indy and couldn't afford a ticket to the BIG Championship, let alone the cost of the tickets and other trip costs for the bowl game.  Ticket prices for games, including regular home games, are out of control in my opinion.  

Poison nuts's picture

It's a 2 hour drive for me, so - I'm going. I thought it was nearly sold out & bought on Stub Hub. I'd never have even thought to go to the school to buy. Maybe that's the case with a lot of people.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

45has2's picture

Another reason to expand the playoff system and tell the bowl organizations to go screw a rolling donut. The fact is, most schools lose money on bowl trips because the bowls make each school commit to so many tickets. Go with 16 bowls, 32 teams and let either the NCAA or whatever the new alignment is going to be called, run it. That way the schools and their own organization keeps ALL the cheddar. Just like anything else, when you cut out the middle man you make more money.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

dcviper's picture

So, after reading the post, I slid over to the athletics site to look at tickets. There seems to be no way to even see where the seats are at without making a ticketma$ter account. $50 ain't bad, and I'm already in Florida visiting family, but fuck Ticketma$ter. And fuck Gene Smith with a rusty rake for using them.