Five years into Urban Meyer's tenure, I think it's time we address this – Quick Cals need to go.
If you're unaware that this was even a tradition, or what "Quick Cals" even are, you're probably not alone. Though the routine has been done by the team before every game of Urban Meyer's tenure, it somehow hasn't stuck with fans. Meyer even found it necessary to remind students how to do Quick Cals before the start of the 2015 season, which is odd considering they had been done before every game for four years at that point.
Basically, Quick Cals are a 20 second combination of hand movements and clapping done by the football team and (theoretically) the students in the south stands. They look like this:
Despite their perceived simplicity (they're literally just three different hand movements combined with clapping), students and fans still seem to have a hard time learning them. I mean, I have personally done them every game for three years and if you asked me to perform them without a leader, I could not do it.
"Literally zero people have memorized Quick Cals," said Cameron Duffner, a fifth year pre-med student. And if you take a gander through the student section while the pregame routine is taking place, Duffner does not sound far off.
The purpose of the routine is to engage and energize the student body before every game, serving as a sort of hype up ritual. However, if the students (and regular fans too; lets not forget, most of the stands are filled with those who don't have a valid BuckID) aren't pumped about doing Quick Cals in the first place (and also haven't successfully memorized them in four years), they probably aren't going to fulfill their purpose of engaging and energizing the crowd.
With that, I wanted to know what students and fans other than myself thought of the pregame ritual.
As a former statistics major and current marketing major, I performed a series of incredibly scientific surveys (I asked my friends, "How do you feel about Quick Cals?" and posted a Twitter poll) to determine exactly what the student population thinks about the new tradition. I expected strong opinions, one way or the other, but that's really not at all what I got.
BUCKEYE FANS (especially students): How do you feel about Ohio State's pregame "Quick Cals?"— Kevin Harrish (@Kevinish) July 17, 2016
"Meh," responded Eric Arnold, a fifth year economics major. "I'm trying to think of something real to say about them and I honestly cannot think of anything that expresses my feelings better than 'meh.'"
"They're meh," said Sarah Klein, a fourth year marketing major. "I don't hate them but I don't like them very much."
"They're alright," (noticing a trend here?) said Rob Barbush. "I feel like it's a lot of buildup, but then it's kinda anticlimactic. It's a lot of hype and then not really a strong finish."
"Quick Cals are fine," said Cameron Duffner, a fifth year pre-med student. "I like having a fan-inclusive tradition that has defined my time here as a student during Urban Meyer's time here as a coach, but I don't like that that tradition is Quick Cals."
The Eleven Warriors community seems to be on the same page as the students I randomly surveyed. Here's the poll, followed by some selected comments.
- "I don't see what they hurt" -Grangel
- "Needs to be a "Neutral" answer...they aren't a negative, but they aren't really adding anything either" -_Patches
- "I'm a fan more of the concept than of the execution. I think it's a really nifty idea that just feels "meh" in the actual doing." -AndyVance
- "I apologize for my ignorance... but what is 'Quick Cals'??" -OSU_EDU
- "Its kinda meh." -Urbz4President
- "I mean, they're not a bad thing, but they're not that good, either." -Byaaaahhh
- "The idea is great. The movements are terrible. I especially hate the one I call 'cat unrolling toilet paper'" -SteelBuckeye
- "There's a good idea somewhere in there but, no, Quick Cals definitely miss the mark. Don't think anyone would notice if we did away with them." -Blue Eyed Buckeye
I noticed two main trends among the responses:
- Quick Cals are "meh." Fans are quite neutral and indifferent towards them.
- The concept of Quick Cals is a good one, but the execution and actual result is sub-par.
Full disclosure, I was shocked at how few people strongly disliked Quick Cals. I expected far more than 10 percent to vote "very bad." And the responses to the ultra scientific survey as well as the comments on the poll seem to back up those numbers.
It seems very few people really hate Quick Cals and most people seem to be at least sort of okay with them being a thing, but that shouldn't be the standard. If "meh" is the consensus takeaway from a pregame ritual designed and implemented for the purpose of energizing the crowd and hyping up the team, you've got a problem on your hands.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that "meh" is probably the most dangerous response to have. A consensus love of Quick Cals means they'll probably be great; the crowd will participate and they'll fulfill their purpose. A general distain for the ritual would mean it would be stopped and replaced with something better. Indifference, however, means the routine neither serves its purpose nor is replaced by something that does, because nobody cares enough to complain about it.
The other response – that the concept of Quick Cals is good, but the result is not – is also a fair one. The routine is almost unbelievably underwhelming. It looks cool in pictures and short video shots, allowing for good promo material, but in real life it's actually incredibly sub-par. I remember doing them for the first time as a freshman and thinking "that's it?" after we finished. They're so underwhelming, I think I might be less pumped after doing them than I was before.
Here is an example of a pregame routine that is the opposite of underwhelming. While Ohio State was doing its Quick Cals, Hawai'i was doing this on the other side of the field:
Now, I'm not advocating Ohio State start performing an ancient Māori war dance before every game, as awesome as that would be. I simply presented the Haka as proof that pregame rituals can be awesome and not "meh."
I'm not exactly sure what Quick Cals should be replaced with, but something has to be done. Some have suggested bringing back The Hive, which was the pregame routine used during the Tressel era. One argument in favor of this from a leader in Block "O" (Ohio State's official student section) is that The Hive energizes the entire stadium while the Quick Cals are really only for the south stands.
Maybe Ohio State needs something entirely new that maximizes fan engagement while still being exciting and energizing. It seems clear that Quick Cals simply are not cutting it.
For the time being, though, they're what we've got. So it's probably best to end on a positive note about them.
"I do kinda like to watch thousands of drunk fans trying to follow what is essentially a live workout video," continued Duffner, after giving his initial thoughts on Quick Cals. "That is my official statement on the issue."