I'll never forget the first time I heard someone put the now ubiquitous emphasis on the The in The Ohio State University: during freshman orientation the summer I enrolled at OSU.
My folks and I had come up for the event, and after walking across the man bridge from West Campus toward the Towers, we were herded into an auditorium at Drake Union (truthfully, that was the only time I think I was ever in that building). President William English "Brit" Kirwan gave the opening speech... I don't remember anything at all about what he said (it was probably something about the Academic Plan or the Diversity Plan, which were really big topics during my years on campus), but I remember vividly that he really punched the The as though it were a personal point of pride rather than a mere definite article.
I wasn't the only one who noticed, as it turns out. As we walked out of the session, Mom leaned over and asked, "What's with all the Thee-s?" Good question, Mom, I really have no clue, I thought.
Growing up a Buckeye fan, I don't recall people placing so much emphasis on the definite article in the name of our university, but obviously over the past decade, we've all more or less done it, and other people have noticed. While I've heard multiple explanations for the origin of the emphasis, several of which are outlined in the pieces linked previously, we know that the proper name of the university is The Ohio State University, and has been since it was renamed from the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College.
When do you remember the emphatic The going mainstream? Is it a relatively new piece of our collective lexicon, or does the practice predate me (and President Kirwan)?