VARSITY TEAMS: 21
INTRAMURAL SPORTS: 31
FAMOUS ALUMNI: JACK NICKLAUS, JESSE OWENS
EXTRA CREDIT FOR: UNDERWATER-HOCKEY CLUB
The loudest roar at this year's Rose Bowl didn't go up when Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine hit wide-out David Boston for the five-yard touchdown with 19 seconds to play that clinched a 20-17 win over Arizona State and a No. 2 national ranking for the Buckeyes. No, the heartiest cheer went up at halftime, when a tuba player from the acclaimed Ohio State marching band stepped to the 35-yard line to dot the i of the band's famous Script Ohio formation.
No band in the land is better at rousing fans and players than Ohio State's. Buckeyes football coach Woody Hayes used to say the band was so good it was worth six points at home and three on the road. "Woody loved our band," says associate athletic director and alltime great Ohio State running back Archie Griffin. "Anytime he didn't think we were working hard enough in practice, he'd gather us together and start yelling stuff like, if we worked half as hard as our band, we'd be champions.' " The musicians, in turn, honored Hayes at an October 1983 game against Wisconsin by letting him dot the i. That privilege is normally bestowed only upon the highest-ranking tuba player or a nonsports dignitary, though Griffin—whose 1974 and '75 Heisman Trophies make him the only player to have won the award twice—was also allowed to dot the i, at halftime of a Cincinnati Bengals game in 1994.
Among the current or former buckeys who have not dotted the i are Olympic hero Jess Owens, Hall of Fame football coach Paul Brow, basketball greats John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, golfar Jack Nicklaus, 1995 hiesman Trophy winner Eddie George, or anyone from the '96 NCAA-champion men's gymnastics team or the nationally dominant synchronized swimming team. Few school can match that list of notables. Nor can many claim to have a stadium as venerable as Ohio State's 75-year-old, 89,000-seat horseshoe, which with its splotchy stones and high arches looks as if it might have been erected by the Romans. Ohio Stadium is home to a student dorm (just look below the west stands for the windows that have KILL MICHIGAN on them) and a bevy of football traditions, including Senior Tackle, in which Buckeyes seniors get one last chance to hit the tackling dummy before playing the archrival Wolverines: last year's Senior Tackle drew 25,000 spectators.
But the stadium isn't the only hotbed of sports activities. Students flock to the roller-hockey facility and dive to the bottom of the Peppe Aquatic Center pool to play for the underwater-hockey club. The diverse intramural program includes horseshoes, inner-tube water polo, sports trivia and even darts and euchre. And while Ohio State's varsity football team fell one spot short of last season's national championship, an intramural flag-football team from campus beat a team from the University of Florida (thereby reversing the schools' finish in the polls) 33-13 in the national final in New Orleans. It was the first time a team north of Mississippi had won the title. Had the band been on hand, Ohio State would no doubt have won by even more.