The first Spring Game that I attended, in April of 2005, was complete ass. I was a sophomore at Ohio State, living off campus on Summit near Hudson, and I (stupidly) thought that it'd be a fun idea to walk down to the stadium to take in a little spring football. After all, it's not every day that you get to watch Todd Boeckman hand the ball off to Erik Haw over and over and over and over in Werner Herzog weather.
"It definitely felt good out there," said Boeckman at the postgame press conference. ... "All spring it was in the 60s and 70s. (Today) we come out here and it's 35 degrees, rainy and windy. Sure is a big difference."
I wouldn't know, Todd, because the only thing that I remember from that really just godawful afternoon were the two miles that I trudged back from Ohio Stadium to my mouse-infested hovel as my shoes slowly filled up with ice and gross rainwater bilge. I got back, ate three handfuls of goldfish crackers (my go-to meal at that point in my life), and went to bed. It wasn't a great time.
Truthfully, Ohio State spring games are almost always bad in some way. The scoring is incomprehensible, and the players you want to see in action aren't ever going to be offered up as ritual sacrifice to said action, especially in a spring exhibition game that's untimed and kind of just ends whenever Urban gets bored. Even more annoying is the super irritating reality that players who go crazy in mid to late April tend to vanish into the land of wind and ghosts by September. Damn you, stylish Ray Small unis! I trusted you!
So if you're sitting at your desk or on your couch and wondering if you should go down to the 'Shoe tomorrow, the answer is... yes, you dingus. Of course you should.
First of all, the powers-that-be at Ohio State really, really, really, really, REALLY want you to go. Jerry Emig, Ohio State football's SID, is possibly wracked with some kind of virulent fungus that can only be cured by one hundred thousand people showing up on Saturday. Whoever runs Urban Meyer's Twitter account has gone all in with fancy graphics, and even Brutus is getting a little hype:
The possibility of 100k people showing up for a fake game is a dumb kind of fun on the face of it, but truthfully I love the spring game for a few legitimate reasons.
First, after dabbling with naked greed for a bit, the spring game is back to being five American dollars for general admission. For many people, this is the one affordable change that they ever get to see the Ohio State Buckeyes take the field in Ohio Stadium. We can complain about how bad the game is (and make no mistake, it is generally very very bad), but for a family of five diehard Buckeye fans living from paycheck to paycheck, I can think of no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. That has value beyond a halftime kicking competition and a free lacrosse game.
Secondly, it has cultural value. When Ohio State hits 100,000 fans on Saturday, people will inevitably say that this is a reflection of Columbus' cow town status, that of course these scarlet clad rubes would show up in droves; they're kind of right, but for the wrong reasons. Five thousand score people all coming together for the purposes of having fun sounds like the world's most kickass summer concert to me, but throw those same people in a football stadium and suddenly the "sportsball" crowd gets all smug about it.
I mean, yeah, you could hang out with the butterflies at Franklin Park Conservatory, you could check out which Ghibli film the Gateway is showing, you could do a little brunch and yoga, and cynical hipsters would consider that a weekend well spent. But screw those guys.
This is fun, dammit! The weather will be incredible, the tickets are cheap, and yeah, you really are that desperate for football of any shape or form. So go! Let's get that 100k and hang that achievement on our wall as another thing to rub in the faces of lesser football programs. It's a long, long offseason. It will sustain us.