Since this story is making the rounds and as 2013 Beat M*ch*gan Week is well underway, I thought I would share the real story of how the Mirror Lake Jump came about.
I was a trumpet player in TBDBITL from 1988-1991 and was one of the 8-10 band members who started what became known as the “phantom pep band” in 1990. The original idea was conceived by a fellow trumpet player in the band who remains a friend of mine to this day.
Like most great ideas back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the concept of the “phantom pep band” was hashed out at the Varsity Club (VC). It was decided during the week leading up to The Game that we would meet Thursday night at the VC after band practice with our instruments in tow. While there, we would play school songs for the patrons at the VC and then begin the process hashing out the final “phantom pep band” game plan while drinking lots of pitchers of beer. For those that may not understand, we HAD to drink a lot during during this era. The late 80’s weren’t exactly the “glory years” of OSU football we live in now. That is unless you considered bowl trips to Memphis and playing along side Lee Greenwood in 38 degrees and freezing rain your idea of “fun”. Sorry Lee, but I would have been an even more “proud American” had I been at the Rose Bowl in sunny and warm California that year.
So, contrary to what you may read on the internet, it wasn’t started by then Athletic Director Jim Jones nor to my recollection was he with us. I can say with certainty that AD Jones wasn’t sitting next to me swilling pitchers of beer at the VC as the final plan took shape in between loudly singing the chorus of “Sweet Caroline” many times over on the VC jukebox (the definition of jukebox for younger Buckeyes can be found online). This idea also was not sanctioned by TBDBITL or Dr. Jon Woods. It was more like Animal House 101.
It was decided that we would start at the south campus dorms at Park/Stradley Hall, playing school songs and encouraging students to follow along with us as we made our way through campus. The end goal was that we would finish at the band’s practice field (used to be on the west side of the stadium at the time) where we would perform the Ramp Entrance for all of the students who were with us. Upon doing what can only be described as a very inebriated Ramp Entrance thanks to the bota bags of whiskey we were carrying with us to stay warm, we disbanded.
As 1990 was an absolute BLAST, we decided to do this again the following year in 1991, my final year in the band. However, this time students were expecting it. Hundreds of students at each dorm stop were already hanging out of their windows when they heard us coming playing the fight song and quickly started running out of the dorms to join us. The number of students was well into the thousands by the time we arrived at the stadium. Sadly, it was in 1991 that we started to notice campus property being damaged and cars being overturned as we rolled thru campus. We tried to stop students from damaging things but that turned out to be an impossible task. It was clear this thing we had created the prior year had taken on a life of its own that we could no longer control. Sadly, we had a feeling that 1991 would be the final year we would be able to do the “phantom pep band.”
It was during the second year that for the first time I heard students chanting “Mirror Lake” after we did the Ramp Entrance at the stadium. Shortly afterwards, off went the huge crowd to Mirror Lake. We followed and ended up playing there as well. I later heard that a few students had jumped into Mirror Lake in 1990 but nothing like 1991. It was insanity although certainly not by present day standards. As expected on Monday following The Game, we were told by Dr. Jon Woods and campus police that TBDBITL could no longer be involved and that the “phantom pep band” was not allowed to continue and the rule was reiterated that all TBDBITL pep bands needed to be approved. However, the tradition of the Mirror Lake Jump during Beat M*ch*gan Week did continue on.
And the rest is history...