If you have been to or watched a Buckeye basketball game on TV over the last five years, you undoubtedly have seen the kid in this photo, OSU senior Kyle Blizzard. Kyle is originally from Trenton, Ohio and will graduate in June with a communications degree and business minor, hopefully parlaying his education into a job within the sports realm.
I have marveled at Kyle's enthusiasm, cheering antics and of course his killer seats, I thought he would be an excellent person to talk Buckeye hoops with and he definitely did not let me down.
The atmosphere at the Schott has been a major disappointment since the facility opened in 1999 and if more people took on the attitude that Kyle does for every game, it could be one of the toughest places to play in the country. Kyle was kind enough to take some time out of his job search and school schedule to discuss a variety of topics about the Schott and Buckeye hoops.
11W is very appreciative of his time and I hope his insights will spark another lazy Thursday discussion on these topics.
Do you get special treatment to make sure you are in the front row?
The answer to this question is a little detailed because it depends on the policy of that particular game. Students can buy "splits" which are basically season ticket packages for the Big Ten games and all other games are sold separately. I had to approach the splits differently than the other games.
I'll talk about the season ticket packages. I originally started sitting in the front rows when I was a freshman. I was involved in Block "O" and its NutHouse committee. At that time there were very few students who actually came to basketball games. Those two things were what allowed me to get those seats. My sophomore and junior years, I was an officer in Block "O" (president during my junior year). Block "O" and the athletic department work together on a lot of things and that relationship allowed us to reward our hard working officers with good seats. Last year we had assigned seats which didn't work out as well as hoped and I bounced around from game to game.
This year, the athletic department tried a new policy for students in which they could buy general admission tickets that would allow them to sit in the lower bowl based on when they showed up to the arena. I and many other dedicated, (even in cold, snowy winter) absolutely crazy basketball fans would sit outside in line waiting for the doors to open so we could get as close to the action as possible.
Or for a less descriptive answer, being very involved in Block "O" helped me get seats up front for most of the years while this year I had to show up hours before the doors opened with all the other crazy Buckeye fans.
How or what is the process to get students to choreograph cheers/chants? Any meetings? Coaches involved?
Basically, just yell one out and get others to join in. There are some chants/cheers that we do that take some practice to learn. In the past, we would just do them a lot during the games and people would pick them up. Block "O" has always worked to find ways for students to join in on them and last year there was a big "tip-off meeting" to help teach everyone the tricks.
Again, itâ€™s just someone feeling the game and what's going on, knowing what would be good for that moment, and taking a leading role to get everyone to join in, kind of a lead by example method. Really, anyone can do it, and the more creative the better. Coach Matta has encouraged us all along to be loud and get into the game with chants and cheers. He even said he'd take a technical foul for us if he had to.
How long does it take to put the paint on? What inspired the hat and Dials jersey?
It takes around 20 minutes to paint my face. I use the same design for every game. Most people refer to it as the "hand" design because it looks like someone put red paint on their hands and stuck their hands on my face. Actually, I just use Q-tips to do it and itâ€™s not supposed to look like hands. It's a design that I randomly created for the big game against Illinois back in 2005 when the Illini were the #1 team in the country and undefeated coming into Columbus for the last game of the regular season. I'm sure you remember Gus Johnson's call... "Sylvester for threeeeee! OHHHHH!"... "They've got Illinois on the ropes in Columbus!" I still get chills. Anyway, I had changed the design every game until that one and it was a sign. I'd never change it again.
The hat was also a chance thing. I bought it when I went to San Antonio for the 2005 Alamo Bowl when the Buckeyes defeated Oklahoma State. I bought it as a joke. "Hey itâ€™s a big red cowboy hat. We're in Texas. It's funny. Why not?" So I wore it to the bowl game. Then I decided to add it to my look for basketball games and it took on a life of its own. Everything on it I've added since the bowl game and each piece on it has its own memory or special reason for being on the hat.
The jersey changes from game to game. It depends on the game or even the sport. I've worn the whole get-up to many different Ohio State sports over the years and I change up what jersey or t-shirt I wear. I originally bought the Dials jersey during my junior year because it was the only jersey they sold at the time. Terence will always have a place in my Buckeye heart though. I usually wear the jersey to remember the beginnings of this new chapter in Buckeye glory (i.e. pre-Oden and the Thad 5). It's kind of me saying, I was here for my basketball Buckeyes before it was cool and will be here long after. Of course, the other jersey's I own also have a special meaning to me and why I wear them.
Are you a life long Buckeye fan? How long have you attended games?
Well, I guess that's my dirty little secret. I actually wasn't a lifelong die-hard Buckeye basketball fan. I mean I've always been a Buckeye fan like most Ohioans. My family loved Buckeye football but I was raised to love UK basketball. My dad was born in Kentucky and he and my grandfather were the ones that I got such a passion for college basketball and, really, all sports from.
I decided to attend Ohio State and quickly fell in love with this place. I found other people who were crazy as I was, devoted to their team and hold a true passion for the Buckeyes, in Block "O". I found a home here at this university and immediately found a love for our basketball program as well as all of our varsity sports. I love this university and our teams so much that it comes out during every game I attend, if you couldnâ€™t already tell. There is no way to describe the feeling of being a Buckeye and expressing such a passion and love for your team at a game.
Iâ€™m a tour guide on campus and will actually share that story with prospective students to show them that you don't have to grow up in Columbus or in a Buckeye family to be a proud Buckeye or Buckeye fan. Buckeyes will welcome you with open arms then show you how to use those arms to distract a wolverine shooting a free throw!
Iâ€™ve attended basketball games for 5 years now. I started attending basketball games my freshman year and have attended almost every home game in the last 4 years with even a few road trips thrown in the mix (which are very difficult to do on a college kids' bank account I might add). That includes last yearâ€™s Final Four but thankfully that trip was free thanks to a contest I won through Coca-Cola.
Have you enjoyed the recent changes at the Schott? T-shirt throws, lighting, seating, carnival like setting.
I enjoy anything that will make the atmosphere better at the Schott. If it gets EVERYONE out of their seats and making noise for our Buckeyes, Iâ€™m for it. Iâ€™m going to be honest; I donâ€™t like the t-shirt throws. While theyâ€™re a great idea and get fans excited, the fans donâ€™t stay excited. Thatâ€™s what really bothers me. Itâ€™s not the throws themselves but the fact that many fans wonâ€™t get loud or stand up for the Buckeyes but they will for a free XL shirt that theyâ€™ll end up using as an oil rag.
The people at the Schott and the athletic department have done a wonderful job at working to make the games better for everyone and getting the atmosphere where it needs to be for our team. I love that they are continuously working. I still think thereâ€™s work to be done but itâ€™s at least on its way to do a lot of good and I think it has shown already. I think Coach has done a lot as well to push for changes to help us and his team do all of our jobs and its just another reason why heâ€™s the best.
What needs to be done to have a full student section for every game?
Thatâ€™s a great question. I and other Block â€œOâ€ officers and members have worked hard to find a way to make that happen for not only menâ€™s basketball but for many OSU sports. If I had the answer, I donâ€™t think weâ€™d be talking about this. I think Ohio State will always have to find a way to pull the dedication so many have for football and use it for basketball and other sports. There are a lot of factors. I think Coach and our athletic department is working towards making that happen. Theyâ€™ve done some good things to help but itâ€™s really up to the students to care enough and show that dedication, especially for the non-split games.
Is it time for a new player introduction music remix? Seems like we have had the same one for four or five years.
I see youâ€™ve also noticed weâ€™ve started the game to Michael Buffer and Jock Jams for, well, at least since Iâ€™ve been coming to games. I think we could use a new song and we even talked to students about it trying to get ideas for a new song. The athletic department was also in for making a change but we werenâ€™t able to come across something that was just right. Got any suggestions? Iâ€™m a big AC/DC fan and personally think any of their songs would do it! Ha-ha.
What would you tweak regarding the atmosphere at the Schott?
No seats in the house except for those fans that actually need them! Okay, I know thatâ€™s a little extreme but itâ€™s the principle behind it. The atmosphere can only get so big from 4,000 or so students. Itâ€™s really up to all of the other 15,000 people in the place to make the Schott really rock. If youâ€™ve been to a game when the crowd gets on their feet and stays in the game for more than one play or one minute, then you know what Iâ€™m talking about.
People have always criticized the Schott saying that a great basketball atmosphere just canâ€™t happen there but when you get 19,000 Buckeyes up and roaring, a building wonâ€™t matter. I think Iâ€™ve spent more time trying to get all of the other fans pumped up than I have trying to get the student section to do the same.
Would you rather see one and done players or four year "projects"? Essentially Thad's recruiting approach or O'Brien's?
Wow, well I was only around to see Oâ€™Brien coach one season and while that one season wasnâ€™t very successful, it was many of those players that helped give us the first of our back-to-back outright Big Ten Championships. All I know is Coach Matta has done some great things here that I never thought Iâ€™d see during my time as a student. Heâ€™s made me so proud to be a Buckeye. So whatever he does is working and whatever he does, Iâ€™m behind it!
Who has been your favorite player in your time at OSU?
Well I thought that would be an easy answer but the more I think about it the tougher it gets. My favorite player in my time would be Jeâ€™Kel Foster but itâ€™s hard not to mention players like J.J. Sullinger, Ron Lewis and Jamal Butler. Jeâ€™Kel only played for the Buckeyes for a short time but made a huge impact. He was a key player in our first of two outright Big Ten Championships. His hustle and heart is unmatched. He would play hard no matter what. His play seemed to live by â€œour honor defend, we will fight to the end, for O-HI-O.â€
How fine is Erin Andrews from less than three feet? (most important question!)
Hahaha. Well letâ€™s just say sheâ€™s works hard. You interpret that as you may. However, I will say that many times less than 3 feet isnâ€™t a good thing. She likes to walk back and forth in front of the section which for many guys would be a blessing but for this crazy Buckeye fan itâ€™s not. Iâ€™m trying to watch the game! Drooling over a cute sideline reporter can happen after the game. GO BUCKS!