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Ohio State Football Traditions

Buckeye Leaves
The practice was started in 1968 by longtime trainer Ernie Biggs, when in that season Woody Hayes changed the look of the Ohio State uniforms. The new look included names on the back of the jerseys and a wide “Buckeye stripe” on the sleeves of the jersey believed to be the first of its kind in the sport of football. Players earn buckeye leaf stickers for their play on the field, but only if the team wins. Aside from the leaves shown on the helmets of players, a chart in the Woody Hayes facility keeps track of the leaves earned by each player, for each game.

Walk to the 'Shoe'
Each home game, the football team walks as a single group to the Skull Session to address the fans. After the Skull Session, the team proceeds through a tunnel of fans to Ohio Stadium to begin their final preparation for the game at-hand.

Urban Meyer's 1st September 1, 2012

Skull Session
The warm-up routine of the Ohio State University Marching Band takes place in St. John Arena, right across the street from Ohio Stadium, two hours before kickoff of home games. In 1932, band director Eugene Weigel began having his marching band memorize the music they would be playing that week. Before game-time, the band would go through its routine as a final rehearsal. For 24 years it went on in the band's rehearsal hall, before moving inside St. John Arena in 1957. Along the way, the format was tweaked to make it more of a pep-rally atmosphere, and crowds have responded, often to the tune of over 10,000 people. In 2001, Coach Tressel began bringing the football team by the skull session on their way into the stadium for the game. Now, Coach Tressel and a senior address the crowd as well, adding to the frenzied environment.

Senior Tackle
A last practice of the year tradition since 1913 where the seniors hit the blocking sled one final time. For many years it was held following the last practice prior to the season finale with Michigan. But depending upon the Buckeyes’ bowl obligation, it has sometimes been moved to the last home practice before the team departs for its bowl obligation.

Tunnel of Pride
The brainchild of ex-OSU quarterback Rex Kern and former Director of Athletics Andy Geiger, the Tunnel of Pride actually started in 1995, when Notre Dame visited Ohio Stadium for the first meeting between the two teams in nearly 50 years. In an effort to generate even more emotion, excitement and enthusiasm than already existed, Kern and Geiger reached out to former Buckeye football players who were attending the game and asked them to form a tunnel for the team to run through as it came onto the field. Thus a tradition was born, which is now continued every other year when Michigan visits Ohio Stadium.

The Michigan Game
The annual Ohio State-Michigan football game was No. 1 on a list of the 10 Greatest Rivalries In Sports compiled by the editorial staff at ESPN.com in 1999. There simply is no greater rivalry in college athletics.

Gold Pants
A gold charm replica of a pair of football pants is given to players and coaches following wins over Michigan. The tradition started in 1934 when first-year coach Francis Schmidt told those wondering how OSU would fare with its nemesis from Ann Arbor: “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else.” Schmidt’s Buckeyes then went and defeated Michigan four-consecutive times by a combined 114-0 margin. The charms contain the recipient's initials as well as the year and score of "The Game".

Victory Bell
Following each Ohio State win at Ohio Stadium members of Alpha Phi Omega fraternity ring the victory bell, located in the southeast tower of Ohio Stadium, for 15 minutes or up to a half-hour for wins over Michigan. That practice has been occurring for the past 50 years, with the first victory celebrated with it on October 2nd 1954 against California. The bell, which weighs 2,420 pounds and cost $2,535 to install, was a gift of the classes of 1943, 1944 and 1945. On a calm day, it is said the bell can be heard five miles away.

Scarlet and Gray
Ohio State’s official school colors since 1878, Scarlet and Gray were chosen by a group of three students in a lecture room in University Hall because “it was a pleasing combination...and had not been adopted by any other college,” noted selection committee member Alice Townshend Wing.

Buckeye Grove
Since 1934, a Buckeye tree has been planted in honor of each of Ohio State’s All-American. Trees are usually planted in a pregame ceremony at the spring game. With the renovation of Ohio Stadium in 2001, the Buckeye Grove is now located at the southwest corner of the stadium.

Captain’s Breakfast
Homecoming is always a special event for those returning to Columbus in the fall. However, for one select group it's an annual opportunity to continue to provide leadership to the Ohio State program. The weekend of Homecoming, every former Buckeye captain is invited back to take part in the captain's breakfast. The current captains are welcomed into the club, and given mugs with their names and season engraved on it. Columbus businessmen Walter Jeffery, who believed past captains should be honored, started this tradition at Scioto Country Club back in 1934.

Pay Forward
Woody Hayes used to have a saying. He would drop it into conversations all the time. “You can never pay back,” he would say. “So you should always try to pay forward.” Paying Forward Today: Athletes from all of the varsity sports at The Ohio University take time to give back to the community and "pay forward" in a number of different ways with a number of organizations. Each Friday before OSU home football games, members of the team take some time to visit with patients at both Children’s Hospital in Columbus and the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital. These hospital visits date back to the days when Woody Hayes roamed the sidelines.

Ohio Stadium
Nicknamed The 'Shoe', this cathedral of college football was opened in 1922. It now seats 101,568 and the total capacity is larger. For 84 of its 116-year history, Ohio State football has been played in venerable Ohio Stadium, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The stadium was originally built to seat 66,210. That figure itself was considered outlandish. At the time, overflow crowds at Ohio Field would barely reach 20,000. Thanks to the popularity of Charles "Chic" Harley in the late 1910's - and the school's first Big Ten championships - Ohio State football was reaching unprecedented heights. Director of Athletics, Lynn W. St. John, and Thomas French, a professor and member of the athletic board, were the visionaries that saw a need for a new stadium. The "Horseshoe" was given a massive face lift from 1999-2001, making it one of the finest facilities in all of college football. Ohio Stadium is as vital to the Buckeye experience as the game itself. Since 1949, Ohio State has never finished lower than fourth nationally in average home attendance. From 1951 through 1973, OSU led the nation in attendance 21 times, including 14 straight from 1958 to 1971. That support has transitioned to the Buckeyes play on the field as well. All-time OSU has won nearly 77% of its games played in the "'Shoe", including 89% since 2001

Brutus Buckeye
One of the more visible symbols of Ohio State athletics is Brutus Buckeye, the school’s mascot. In 1965, an art student designed and introduced the first Brutus, while the name was chosen in a contest. The mascot began as a hardened papier mache affair that looked like a bowling ball with legs. In 1975, a radical new Brutus was designed with a prune-like head and a man’s body. That attempt was booed off the field and was re-worked, giving way to a mascot comparable to the beloved present-day Brutus.

The original choices for Ohio State’s mascot included a ram, an elk, a moose and the leading candidate, a male deer. Due to the skittish nature of deer, the idea of a mascot was tabled until January 1941 when “Chris,” a German police dog owned by an assistant cheerleader, made an appearance at a basketball game. The dog’s career was short-lived and OSU remained without an official mascot until the 1960s.

To some, they are referred to simply as "The pride of the Buckeyes". Others prefer the more vigorous title of TBDBITL (The Best Damn Band in the Land). By far Ohio State's longest running tradition, the band's roots date back to 1879. Ohio Stadium fans know that kickoff is just moments away when the band makes it entrance, paced by the drum major, down the ramp at the north end of the field. The entrance, the brainchild of band members Bill Knepper and Elvin Donaldson, started in 1928. 78 years later, virtually the same entrance is still used. Eugene Weigel, OSU band director from 1929-1938 changed the instrumentation to all-brass in 1934. The current band lists 225 members, still sans woodwinds. The incomparable Script Ohio is a band formation that takes three and a half minutes to execute. It begins with a triple "Block O" formation, which unwinds at the direction of the drum major, into the word Ohio, literally written by marching band members. It's capped off with the dotting of the "i", in which a sousaphone player high steps, from the second "o" to properly complete the "i", much to the delight of the crowd. To be eligible for the honor, a sousaphone player must be in his or her fourth year. Fifth-year members of the band may do so, but only after all four-year students have been chosen. Only eight non-band members have ever dotted the "i".

Down goes TSUN...no literally, down goes TSUN! #TBDBITL O-H and Go Bucks!

The Ohio State University Marching Band performs their "Still Bad, Michael Jackson" halftime show during the Ohio State vs. Iowa football game 10/19/2013. Featuring a Moonwalking Michael Jackson, the Band plays a "Thriller" fanfare, "Bad", "Wanna Be Startin' Something", Billie Jean", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man In The Mirror", and "Thriller" reprise. Altogether a thrilling show. Arranged by McDaniel, show design by Jon Waters.

Buckeye cheerleaders are a constant source of support at all athletics events. The squad took second at the 2001 College Cheerleading National Championship, its highest finish since winning the 1993 title, and has placed first in the east region in 13 of the last 16 years. The cheerleaders make appearances all over the state throughout the year.

Block O
An Ohio State University and Ohio Stadium tradition, Block “O” is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. Known for spreading spirit, starting cheers and performing card stunts, Block “O” was founded in 1938 by Clancy Isaac. After seeing a cheering section at the University of Southern California, Isaac decided that it was something Ohio State needed. Sixty-five years later, Block “O” is Ohio State’s largest student organization on campus and has gained local and national recognition.

Carmen Ohio
October 25, 1902 is a dubious day in OSU football history. The Buckeyes lost their fourth-ever meeting to Michigan by an 86-0 count, still to this day the worst loss in school history. From great despair, though, dogged determination arose that continues to define Ohio State football 103 years later. On the train back from Ann Arbor, team member Fred Cornell put pen to paper. The result: We know it now as Carmen Ohio, which was published in 1906, and later adopted as the school's official alma mater. The first part of the title is derived from the Latin / Spanish word "Carmen", meaning "song" or "poem". A new tradition with Carmen Ohio was established in 2001. Upon completion of home games-win or lose-Buckeye players and coaches congregate with the cheerleaders to sing, with accompaniment from the marching band, Carmen Ohio. This tradition has created unforgettable scenes following the victories over Michigan in 2002 and 2004.

Ohio State Football Players Sing Carmen Ohio after Buckeyes defeat Badgers 31-24 on September 28, 2013

Retired Jerseys
You won't see any Buckeyes wearing the numbers 22, 27, 31, 40, 45, 47 or 99 on the field, but those digits can be easily spotted inside Ohio Stadium. Seven Ohio State players have had the ultimate honor of having their numbers retired. To have a number retired, a player must have graduated from Ohio State, or have been in good academic standing upon departure from OSU, in the case of leaving early for a professional career. He also must have won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Associated Press Player of the Year Award, the Football Writers Player of the Year Award, or the American Football Coaches Player of the Year Award.

Start Date: October 30, 1999
Jerseys Retired:
#45 Archie Griffin (10/30/99)
#31 Vic Janowicz (9/23/00)
#40 "Hop" Cassady (11/18/00)
#22 Les Horvath (10/6/01)
#27 Eddie George (11/10/01)
#47 "Chic" Harley (10/30/04)
WH Woody Hayes (9/10/05)
#99 Bill Willis (11/03/07)

Archie Griffin #45
Vic Janowicz #31
Howard Cassady #40
Les Horvath #22
Eddie George #27
Chic Harley #47
Bill Willis #99

Wall of Fame
In the OSU football team meeting room within the Woody Hayes Athletic Center (WHAC) is the "Wall of Fame", which contains letters from former Buckeye players who have summed up their feelings of what it means to be a Buckeye. Current players can take the opportunity to digest those words at any time by simply reading the letters.

First recognized in 1912, Homecoming began as “Ohio State Day.” It was initiated by Professor (and later OSU President) George W. Rightmire. Homecoming was designed to bring the alumni back to the university and celebrate. The parade is another tradition Buckeyes’ hold high. The parade did not become a time-honored tradition until it joined the schedule permanently in 1965. In 1926, student supporters wishing to pull a practical joke on the university, convinced the community that Maudine Ormsby was to be honored as queen. She was so popular on campus, she won the vote. Maudine, pictured at the right, actually turned out to be a cow, the only cow ever elected as homecoming queen.

The IlliBuck Trophy
The winner of the Ohio State – Illinois game has received the Illibuck trophy since the tradition began in 1925. Illibuck was a live turtle, but has been a wooden replica since 1927. Also representative of the rivalry is the peace pipe. Members of two junior honorary societies, Bucket and Dipper of Ohio State and Sachem of Illinois, annually meet at halftime of the Fighting Illini-Buckeye game to smoke the peace pipe and present the “Illibuck” trophy to the winning school from the previous year.

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