Time and Change is a weekly series highlighting the history of some of Ohio State's storied traditions.
Clarence “Clancy” Isaac, the head Ohio State cheerleader, attended a football game at USC and set out to bring card stunts and an official student section to Ohio State. In 1938, he spearheaded a plan to institute a formal student cheering section at Ohio State football games.
There were multiple failed attempts years prior to start an official student section, but after Isaac received the green light from the Athletic Department, he circulated a petition among the students, pledging their participation in the program. It was well received by the students and thus, Block O made its official debut when the Buckeyes faced off against Indiana on October 1, 1938.
Block O continued to grow, with the students clad in scarlet and grey capes to form a Block O design in between card stunts. Seated in the east side of the stadium, they performed as many as ten card stunts at each home football game.
The iconic card stunts were a labor of love, taking months to plan and design the cards by hand.
The cards were labeled based on the stunt and announced to the section by the director. The director communicated with another member in the west side of the stadium if changes to the stunt needed to be made. In 1940, it was estimated that over 3,000 cards were used over the course of each season.
Block O was disbanded twice in the 1940’s, during World War II, but was restarted by Ohio Staters, Inc. and gradually became an individual organization again.
As of 1959, the section was designed for 736 card stunt participants with 200 others available to fill in as needed. Members paid one dollar extra to sit in the official Block O section and were required to attend every home game or send a substitute.
In 1967, Block O moved to the north end zone and in 1969, the card stunts were designed and created using an IBM computer.
Clancy Isaac remained involved with Block O and is credited with starting the traditional Stadium O-H-I-O and OH-IO cheers that Block O often leads.
In 2003, the Block O flag that is passed up the south endzone replaced the capes worn by members in the section.
Block O remains one of the oldest and largest student organization on campus and has expanded its presence to other Ohio State sports such as: hockey, baseball, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball, wrestling and basketball.
Block O football tickets are in high demand and usually sell-out within 15 minutes of student ticket windows opening. Besides the intricate card stunts, students in Block O are often seen covered head to toe in paint, with their shoes held high at kickoff and are responsible for leading the O-H-I-O cheer around the stadium.
Over the course of 81 years, Block O has promoted the tradition of spirit and enthusiasm that fills Ohio Stadium between the months of September and November.