It's never about the game itself. It's never about the X's and O's. It's ALWAYS about the Jim's and Joe's and next Saturday will be no different. Bud, Lefty, Aaron and crew will prepare and dress 72 of the best available Hokies for their first ever meeting against THE Ohio State University. The greatest challenge that every VT player and coach will face will the be 6 inches between their ears during the 48 hour tour of the Buckeye state. Yes, I've lived in Columbus - Upper Arlington to be exact where you can hear the deafening roar of the crowd on a crisp fall afternoon while enjoying a beer during Germanfest. In Dublin, where golf was more my speed back then as the sidewalks rolled up all over the city and surrounding areas by 10am so one could take in the Skull Session in St. John Arena. I remember how many despised Earl Bruce taking over for the legend that was Woody Hayes, for John Cooper who followed Bruce until 2000 and for a young politician from Central Pennsylvania who grew up to be Governor, John Kasich.
This state is as old school as it gets PERIOD! Even as a temporary transplant, I too, would feel sucked in and come to despise that school from the north all dressed in maize and blue - those rat $%^#*@ (I still hate Pac-12 refs).
Why will it be so difficult for our 18-20 something's? Because in a hugely massive traditional Ohio Stadium that seats 105,000 you feel claustrophobic - it's the damndest feeling ever! And, if our guys can adapt and overcome this feeling they'll be fine. If not, then that eight-letter word PRESSURE will rear its ugly head causing improbable "things" to occur over the sixty minutes at Woody Hayes Drive.
Here's what you need to know peeps:
- Originally built in the early '20's from the limestone mined from the Marble Cliff Co, The Horseshoe
of the Kauffman family's design has a Hokie-stone feel to it.
- Throughout the years and the numerous renovations from its original 66,000 seat horseshoe design, the cathedral that is what college football is all about has lost a bit of its aesthetic tradition. It's still massive and beautiful in its grandeur.
- Along the southwest corner is the Buckeye Grove which was moved after the 2001 renovation where every spring a new Buckeye tree is planted—each one honoring an OSU All American— to join the other 190 trees during a pregame ceremony. Sounds similar to our love of hundred year old trees...
- The Skull Session is another time-honored tradition featuring the OSU Band. It's a pep rally two hours before game time originally began in the early 40's and later grew to a formally-attired affair as the "cheer group" of TDBDITL performs a song specifically for that week's opponent.
- The band, yes I've mentioned it 3 times, and right now alums and students alike want to crucify me for calling "them" a band. TBDBITL IS the best damn band in the land and certainly rivals the Million Dollar Band in my backyard without question—again READ tradition here! The precision, the percussion and the volume is unmistakable.
- The ramp entrance is the first moment, as a visitor, you begin to feel the stir of echoes, the butterflies and the pageantry that is Ohio State Football, and remember this stuff happens every home game! This tradition hasn't changed in 90 years as the percussion section descends to the field level first while each section of TBDBITL follows suit lockstep with the next, two steps apart, as if they were a military regiment.
- Once everyone is settled in their respective position the drum major dressed in his two foot high shako (hat) races down the ramp onto the field, leans back until the tip touches the ground to the roar of the assembled masses in scarlet and gray as the band plays Buckeye Battle Cry.
- Next comes the Script Ohio and Dotting the I, another tradition dating back to the 30's where a 4th-year sousaphone player is selected to perform another time honored tradition that some 800 people have done before them.
- The Chant - anywhere in the country, and yes even down here, you can hear it if you say "O-H" you'll get a return "I-O." It's freaking annoying...as if you can't tell I don't like yankees! In all honesty the chant grew because yankees were too stupid to spell out O-H-I-O without saying all nine letters. The chant was shortened due to their ineptitude or enthusiasm or however you want to spin the damn thing.
- Then there's the logo..."where's the weed, man?" It's not cannabis it's a leafy plant, cough cough. Started by the trainer and Woody Hayes in the late 60's, it was placed on the side of the helmets along with the Buckeye stripe and names on the back of their jerseys.
- Block O student section sitting in the end zone is another (getting tired of it yet) tradition dating back eighty years where the largest student organization cheers with cards and capes for their beloved scarlet and gray.
- Finally, the last two things we'd rather not hear - The Victory Bell which sits high atop the southeast tower of the stadium and "Carmen Ohio."