Two weeks ago, we put out the call to crown the greatest Ohioan. The 11W Heart of It All Classic would be a field of 64 sons and daughters of Ohio, all of whom have left their marks on the rich history of this country in the fields of business, science, the arts, politics, the military and anything else in which man or woman excels.
66,000 votes later, we're down to the Elite 8 and closer to settling the debate of which Ohioan was the greatest, once and for all.
If you thought voting in the Sweet 16 was tough, with Thomas Edison taking on Neil Armstrong and William Tecumseh Sherman going against John Glenn, the four bouts in this round are just brutal.
The polls for this round will close at 12 a.m. Friday, April 4, with voting for the final four set to open later that morning. Bob Hope or Paul Newman? Jesse Owens or Jack Nicklaus? Yeah, good luck with that.
Business & Science: #1 Edison vs. #3 Wright Bros.
Thomas Edison: Edison was born in tiny Milan near Lake Erie in 1847. With over a thousand patents to his name, he left his mark on music, film, utility power and many other industries. He was Steve Jobs without the black turtleneck.
Edison knocked off No. 16 Jack Hanna in the opening round by a 4-to-1 margin. In the second round, he topped No. 8 Jack Warner of Warner Bros. fame with 91% of the vote. In the Sweet 16, Edison pulled out a close win over No. 4 Neil Armstrong, advancing with just 54% of the vote.
The Wright Brothers: Thanks to these two brothers from Dayton, the state of Ohio can slap "Birthplace of Aviation" on anything it damn well pleases (and it does).
Working out of their bicycle shop, the Wright brothers designed and built the world's first successful airplane and later made the first controlled, powered and "sustained heavier-than-air human flight."
The Wright brothers have steamrolled everyone in their path on the way to the Elite 8. In the opener, they crushed No. 14 Roger Ailes, taking 97% of the vote. In the second round, they destroyed No. 11 William Procter, hauling in 94% of the vote. As an underdog in the Sweet 16, the Wright brothers upset No. 2 John D. Rockefeller by a 3-to-1 margin.
The Arts: #1 Hope vs. #3 Newman
Bob Hope: Bob Hope was born in London, England in 1903, but like so many others, soon made his way to the United States via Ellis Island in 1908.
His family would settle in Cleveland and Hope was already entertaining streetcar patrons by the age of 12. When his 60-year career came to an end, Hope had appeared in 70 films, hosted the Academy Awards 14 times and earned "honorary veteran" status in the U.S. military thanks to his extensive work with the USO.
Hope rolled No. 16 R.L. Stine, taking 86% of the vote in the opening round. He'd follow it up with easy wins over No. 8 Halle Berry (83%) in the second round and No. 4 Dean Martin (78%) in the Sweet 16.
Paul Newman: A three seed in The Arts region, Paul Newman was born in Shaker Heights, just east of Cleveland, in 1925. After completing a stint with the Navy in World War II and picking up his degree from Kenyon College, Newman broke in as an actor, appearing in dozens of movies, earning six Golden Globes and an Academy Award for Best Actor in Martin Scorcese's The Color of Money in 1986.
Newman's greatest work, however, may have been his humanitarian efforts. His food company, Newman's Own, has raised over $380 million in for charity.
Newman throttled No. 14 Bootsy Collins with 91% of the vote in the opening round, and then advanced with an easy win over No. 11 Drew Carey (71%) in the second round. In the Sweet 16, Newman upset No. 2 Steven Spielberg, moving on with 51% of the vote.
Sports: #1 Owens vs. #2 Nicklaus
Jesse Owens: The "Buckeye Bullet," as he was known, was the most dominant track and field athlete of the 20th century (sorry, Carl Lewis).
As a senior in high school, Owens tied the national record for the 100, famously set four world records in 45 minutes at a meet in Ann Arbor, won a record eight individual NCAA championships – four each in 1935 and '36 – and then topped it all by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
Owens has dominated this tournament, crushing No. 16 Branch Rickey (98%) in the opening round, No. 8 Jerry Lucas (95%) in the second round and then the patron saint of Ohio State football, No. 4 Woody Hayes (72%) in the Sweet 16.
Jack Nicklaus: Sports Illustrated's Male Athlete of the 20th Century, the "Golden Bear" won the first of five straight Ohio State Junior titles at the age of 12 and then kept winning and winning.
Nicklaus won the U.S. Amateur twice, an NCAA Championship and 18 majors – including six green jackets at Augusta. The 18 majors, in addition to the six victories at The Masters, are both records that appear to be safe for a long time.
In the opener, Jack knocked off No. 15 Buster Douglas, getting 97% of the vote. He followed that with a win over No. 7 Cy Young (85%) in the second round, and then topped No. 11 Archie Griffin (62%) in the Sweet 16.
Politics & Military: #1 Grant vs. #2 Sherman
Ulysses S. Grant: Former Supreme Commander of the United States Army, Ulysses S. Grant was instrumental in securing he B1G's first and only Civil War championship over the SEC.
Or to put it another way, Grant is the only man to ever force the surrender of an army of the United States (semantics).
Following his military career, Grant won election to the White House, becoming this nation's 18th president.
Grant rolled No. 9 Paul Tibbets of Enola Gay fame in the opener, with 95% of the vote. He followed that up with easy wins over No. 8 William Howard Taft (89%) in the second round and No. 4 Tecumseh (76%) in the Sweet 16.
William Tecumseh Sherman: A Big Ten and Ohio legend, Sherman replaced Grant as the Supreme Commander of the United States Army. A supreme tactician, it was Sherman who convinced Grant to let him deviate from the script and bring "total war" to Georgia. Georgia would later howl.
It was Sherman's scorched-earth "March to the Sea" that broke the Confederacy's back, ending the four-year-old Civil War and saving thousands of additional lives.
Sherman went total war on his first round opponent, No. 16 John Rankin to the tune of 91% of the vote. No. 7 George Custer, Sherman's second round foe, had it even worse, going down with just 9% of the vote. In the Sweet 16, Sherman topped fan favorite John Glenn, the three seed, pulling in 56% of the vote.