The Top Five Legends at Ohio State
Ohio State is without a doubt the biggest producer of legendary sports figures in college sports history. To rank them into a top five list is almost impossible, so please do not get mad at me if I left one of your favorites off the list. This top five could have been put in any order.
1. 1. Jesse Owens - Participated in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Germany. He walked away with four gold medals. He won medals in the 100 and 200 meter dash, the long jump and the 4X100 meter relay team. These gold medals put Jesse on an international pedestal because these Olympics were supposed to be Adolf Hitler's showing off of his Aryan race. The Germans were supposed to win every event that Jesse took first.
"I let my feet spend as little time on the ground as possible. From the air, fast down, and from the ground, fast up" Owens said.
At Ohio State Jesse was known as the "Buckeye Bullet". He won eight NCAA championships in his time in Columbus. Most Buckeyes love the story that he set three world records and tied a fourth in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1935.
2. 2. Jack Nicklaus - "The Golden Bear" was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and could think of no better place to go to school than The Ohio State University. As a Buckeye Jack won the U.S. Amateur in 1959 and 1961. He won an NCAA championship in 1961. Jack still hosts a tournament in Columbus every year simply known around Columbus as "Jack's tournament" or "The Memorial". The tournament is hosted at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
As a professional I think many of you know the statistics. He won 18 majors in a span of 25 years and won the Masters at 46 years old, a feat in my opinion that will never be broken. He finished his career with over 110 victories around the world, with 73 coming on the PGA tour. Jack was a five-time PGA player of the year. My favorite statistic when talking about Jack Nicklaus is that he was a runner up finisher in 19 majors. He holds the record for most victories at The Masters (6), U.S. Open (4) and PGA Championships (5).
The Jack Nicklaus Museum is located next to the Schottenstein Center on campus and is available to tour to the public. If you are ever in Columbus I suggest you check it out.
3. 3. Jerry Lucas - Jerry is without a doubt the greatest basketball player to ever wear the Scarlet and Gray. He played in the golden age of Ohio State basketball, taking the Buckeyes to three straight national championship games and winning one in 1960. He was voted a two-time AP Player of the year and a three-time NCAA First Team All-American. He is also the only player in Big Ten history to win the Big Ten Player of the Year in three consecutive years.
While in the NBA Jerry averaged 17 points and 15 rebounds a game for the Cincinnati Royals. He was the rookie of the year in 1964. A seven-time NBA All-Star, and one time NBA champion (1973 for the New York Knicks). Jerry made St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio into a basketball cathedral. He was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980.
4. Archie Griffin- "Archie" has no nickname in Columbus because when you hear that name you know that he is the ONLY (sorry Tim Tebow) two-time Heisman trophy winner in the history of college football. The astounding running back played for the Buckeyes from 1972-1975. He was the first freshman to ever start for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Archie is one of two players to ever start four Rose Bowl games. This is back when the Rose Bowl was as far as the Buckeyes could go in achievements for a season. Woody Hayes' famous quote sums up Archie for all Ohio State football fans:
"He's a better young man than he is a football player, and he's the best football player I've ever seen." Woody said.
Archie is still very active at The Ohio State University; he is the President and CEO of the Alumni Association.
5. 5. Woody Hayes - Most members of my generation do not understand what Woody meant to this university. All we remember is that he went out in flames much like our version of Woody Hayes. But Woody Hayes was arguably the greatest coach in college football history, and easily the greatest coach in Ohio State history. He was at the helm of the Buckeyes for 28 years, capturing three national championships and 13 Big Ten titles. He guided the Buckeyes to eight Rose Bowl appearances and was a three-time NCAA coach of the year. He also is responsible for the hatred that goes along with "that school up north". This is why most Buckeyes would take a bullet just so that nobody steps on Woody's grave.
Upon running low on gas in southern Michigan returning from a recruiting trip "Stop for gas?! We'll push the damn car all the way to the Ohio state line before I contribute one penny to any business in the state of Michigan!" Hayes said.
His coaching tree consists of many legends of college football most notably Lou Holtz, Bill Arnsparger, Bill Mallory, Dick Crun, Bo Schembechler and Ara Parseghian.
Legend has it that when we jump in Mirror lake the Thursday before the Michigan game that we are "waking up Woody." But his name will forever be linked to our hatred for the maize and blue.
Close but not quite Top Five (Alphabetical Order)
Paul Brown, Chris Carter, Howard Cassady, Eddie George, Chic Harley, John Havlicek, A.J. Hawk, John Hicks, Les Horvath, Jim Jackson, Clark Kellogg, Bobby Knight, James Laurinaitis Orlando Pace, Troy Smith, George Steinbrenner, Jim Stillwagon, Jim Tressel, Evan Turner, Tom Weiskopf, Bill Willis