By malibob on 16:10:42 12/30/03
I received two books for Christmas. One "The Da Vinci Code" a 440+ page mystery I read in one day...excellent! The other I still haven't finished. I can only read a section every few days...for the memories it brings.
It's like savoring a superb French onion soup, a great wine, a nutbrown ale, or a pint 0' Guinness. "What It Means To Be A Buckeye" edited by Jeff Snook is exceptional!
I breezed through the first few chapters covering the Buckeye legends of yesterday, then I hit the "sixties". This is where I slowed down. The first few entries were guys I remembered as my first OSU game as a fan was Illinois in 1962. My Dad took me as a kid. We tied. Think it was 20-20.
Then the "super sophs" are featured. Memories flowed when Rex Kern started naming teammates. I was a skinny kid fan living in Smith Hall (67 & 68 seasons... got to live in The Stadium Scholarship Dormitory my first year, 1966, but lost my scholarship .. the Varsity Club was too close). This turned out to be another wonderful experience for a fan.
The first and second teams were housed in Smith and Park Hall back then. There were not any "athletic dorms". I got to know many from that great 1968 team as they were around me everyday. Rex I think was in Park Hall, but he was over at Smith a lot. Woody used to come around a lot too.
When Jim Otis brought up "I was in the room with Teddy Provost, Alan Jack and Chuck Hutchinson", I came to a complete standstill. I was back in Smith Hall 1968.
Teddy, Alan, and Chuck had an end room of the long hallway. Three guys could live in the end rooms as they were the largest on the floor. Jim Otis used to be down there a lot.
These guys won't remember this skinny kid with glasses, but I remember them well to this very day. I was taking karate classes, trying to get some respect for my 125 pounds. Occasionally I'd break bricks in my dorm room, but I became an amusement for Otis.
One evening Jim was in that very room with the other 3 guys. Jim grabbed me by the neck, and had me up against the dorm door, "Let's see your karate get you out of this", he said. Struggling to breathe, I countered,"Jim, I'd just have to kill ya". Which broke them all up. Jim let me loose and I slid to the floor...all of them laughing, including me.
Alan Jack and Chuck Hutchinson don't get mentioned much in the 1968 stories, but they were part of it; and they were great guys. Alan wasn't too tall, but looked like a section of brickwall with legs to me.
"Hutch," if I remember, was a lineman. Big guy who liked to play poker. I lost many times to him, and had to pay by typing up a paper or two ( he wrote it himself... Norma!). One night Hutch was playing and eating a whole jar of pickled jalapeño peppers. He was hurtin' but he wouldn't stop until the jar was empty. Tears were streaming down his face, but he ate all of them. I was impressed at the time.
Being on the same floor with Hutch, Teddy and Alan had another side story. The season over, we had won it all, then if I remember correctly, a BB win by Iowa over scUM, put our Buckeye BB team in a post-season tournament. I went drinking with two other guys from the floor.
One guy, "Dufus", aptly named, and I were arm & arm singing "We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan" walking back from an off-campus bar. Dufus was punching telephone poles with his fist. Not to be out-done, I was karate kicking signs along the way. One sign turned out to be wooden, and I put my foot right through it. Unfortunately it was in front of an all night gas station. Next thing I knew we were in the drunk tank, 0230 am Sunday morning in downtown Columbus ...and as the song goes ..."not a fine place to be!"
A cell 20 x 20 x 40 was filled with drunks. We met a friend of Hutch's who had also strayed off campus. We made a pack to get each other out. Who ever got out first would help the others. Calling the Smith Hall switchboard (at this time closed) referred us back to the Columbus Police Department, much to the amusement of the police desk jockey,
By 0430 our names were called and we were free. The third guy from the dorm crossed the street when he saw Dufus and me hitting/kicking signs. He wasn't involved and saw us carted away. What a stroke of luck.
He and Teddy Provost came down to the jail and bailed us out. They scraped together money from the guys on the floor, and got out butts out of a nasty situation. So Teddy Provost, All-America, became my bail bondsman! (Teddy if you are reading this thanks again!).
The 1969 Rose Bowl was a blast. 5 days, 4 nights, including round-trip airfare for $125.00. That's not a typo! The motel was behind Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and also was the home of the Los Angeles cast of "Hair". So it certainly wasn't the Ritz. It was however fun. I had told my high school classmates that I was "going to Ohio State for college, and they were going to win a National Championship" while I was there. When 1967 was Woody's second losing season, I didn't know what was happening. Who'd have guessed the 1968 team would turn it all around (...and who'd of guessed it would be another 34 years until it happened again?).
The summer of 1969 I roomed with another OSU football player, a tackle named Jim Opperman.
Jim, I remember, got in the first game with SMU in 1968 and sacked Hixson, the great SMU quarterback...he even made a highlight film. Jim tried being a kicker too. He kicked off a few times, but don't remember if he ever got a field goal, or extra point. Somehow he, how should I put it, got off of Woody's "A" list, but during the summer of 1969 he helped make it one of my most fun college experiences.
We lived all together in a townhouse that summer...5 guys in a townhouse. Seemed like it was one endless party. Jim would wake me up in the middle of the night, "Let's go kick some field goals." So would we go to a park? Not Jim. We went to Ohio Stadium at 0430. We'd find an open gate, and while he'd practice field goals, I'd shag balls for him. They never kicked us out.
Jim lent me his old Ford convertible for a date once. Only problem, the power steering was out. Jim called it "Steering by Armstrong". Worked ok for him, but my date was not impressed by this 125 pounder struggling to park that unruly vehicle. Jim had quite a temper back then. Reminded me of Woody. Maybe that's why they were occasionally at odds. Anyway that summer was one great time due to that OSU football player. I'm sorry to have lost contact with him over the years (so Jim if you're reading this email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
"What It Means To Be A Buckeye" stirred quite a few memories for me, especially of Woody. He was over to Smith Hall frequently. Checking up I suppose. He looked at my scrapbook of the 1968 season, and said,"Where'd you get that one?" I'd tell him, and he'd write that down. When I asked him why he was doing that he replied, "I'm looking for photos for my new book!"
After I graduated in 1971 I went into the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa for two and 1/2 years (hence my handle). A friend of Jim and mine got Woody's new book for me, "You Win With People", and sent it my way. Inside the cover was this inscription: "To Bob,
A great Buckeye fan and keen student of Ohio State football. During your work in Africa I hope you find time to read this book. Sincerely, Woody Hayes Nov. 29, 1973".
"What It Means To Be A Buckeye" means I miss Woody Hayes. Means I love Jim Tressell. Means I have two trucks, a gray Silverado that pulls my RV, and a beat-up old red Ford that I drive to work (it only lacks a piece of green artificial turf in the back). During the fall, when footballs start flying, when I'm driving to work, I’ll have TBDBITL blaring from my cassette player, and a black baseball cap with the big red "O" on my head, and no matter wherever I may be ... I'm in Columbus!