It’s no surprise that recent polls have shown that Ohio State has the best and biggest fan base in the country; with the deep traditions that the football program has and the loyal following, scarlet and grey runs through Buckeye Nation’s veins. Some of the threads that bind all of Buckeye Nation are the experiences through these traditions.
I know that there are dozens of customs at Ohio State, and every fan, student, or staff member have their favorites, but here is a short list of the ones I find the most inspiring and important as a Buckeye fan.
JUMPING INTO MIRROR LAKE
Everyone knows that one of the most intense games on the Ohio State football schedule each and every year is against the team up north (Michigan). Ohio State students and fans participate in events all week following up to the big game, and this includes one of the coldest and wettest traditions on campus. The Thursday night before the big game, which historically was the last game of the season in NOVEMBER, thousands of students would descend through the Oval and make way for the freezing cold Mirror Lake.
This tradition, which started in 1990 with only 100 students, has been threatened the past few years, with the dates of the OSU v Michigan games being pushed back to Thanksgiving weekend. When the Big Ten schedule added a bye week in 2010, Buckeye fans had to alter the tradition, but were still able to get a dedicated 6,000 people to do the jump on Tuesday before the holiday and before the game.
There is nothing quite like preparing for battle with your closest 10,000 friends, donned in scarlet and grey, tolerating freezing cold water all in the name of Ohio State tradition.
The fact that there is an entire page on the Ohio State website devoted to pictures of Buckeye Nation doing O-H-I-O says a lot. There are thousands of images from all around the world of Ohio State fans showing their support.
Shouting an “O-H” anywhere in Columbus and immediately hearing several “I-O”s in response, makes the Buckeye fan base seem more like a family than thousands of random strangers. The tradition of O-H-I-O goes back to 1947 and is one of the most notable football chants in the country.
It’s pretty common knowledge that Ohio State has The Best Damn Band In The Land; the band plays an important role in the traditions of the football program, as well as energizing and motivating Buckeye fans. In 1936 the longstanding tradition of “Script Ohio” was born. Hearing the Buckeye battle cry while the band slowly starts spelling out “Ohio” can give anyone goose bumps, but then the cherry on top is the “dotting of the i”.
I have to imagine that throughout Ohio State’s history, more than a few dozen parent have made their kids take sousaphone lessons so one day they might be the lucky senior that gets to dot the “i”. The honor that comes with this is one that many people would love to have, but if you’re not in the band or a sousaphone player your chances are slim to none. There have been honorary “i”-dotters who were non-band members (though rare), some of these included Woody Hayes, Jack Nicklaus, John Glenn, Bob Hope, and current OSU President Gordon Gee.
There is something special about all Ohio State football players, coaches, fans and band members standing together singing “Carmen Ohio” after a game. Granted it’s always sweeter after a victory, but win or lose, the Horseshoe erupts in this long standing college tradition. Linked arm and arm, swaying side-to-side, singing the Alma Mater is a way of saying we made it through the battle, now on to next week.
For those Buckeye fans who don’t know the Alma Mater: Carmen Ohio, I took it upon myself to post the lyrics as well, as all of Buckeye Nation should know it.
Oh! Come let’s sing Ohio’s praise,
And songs to Alma Mater raise;
While our hearts rebounding thrill,
With joy which death alone can still.
Summer’s heat or Winter’s cold,
The seasons pass, the years will roll;
Time and change will surely show
How firm thy friendship O-hi-o.
These jolly days of priceless worth,
By far the gladest days of earth,
Soon will pass and we not know,
How dearly we love O-hi-o.
We should strive to keep the name,
Of fair repute and spotless fame,
So, in college halls we’ll grow,
To love the better, O-hi-o.
Tho’ age may dim our mem’ry’s store,
We’ll think of happy days of yore,
True to friend and frank to foe,
As sturdy sons of O-hi-o.
If on seas of care we roll,
‘Neath blackened sky, o’er barren shoal,
Tho’ts of thee bid darkness go,
Dear Alma Mater O-hi-o.