Fickell Embracing Tradition
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It is hard to say for certain exactly what it was that so endeared Jim Tressel to Buckeye fans around the country.
Certainly winning a national championship in his second season at Ohio State didn’t hurt his standing with the fan base. Neither did all the Big Ten titles or victories over archrival Michigan—nine in 10 tries as the OSU head coach.
But maybe the one thing that made Tressel a beloved icon in Columbus more than anything else was his willingness to embrace the great tradition at Ohio State. This wasn’t just a job for Tressel, it was THE job.
From his inaugural speech about beating Michigan and doing well in the classroom to his creation of an office for former head coaches Earle Bruce and John Cooper, Tressel welcomed the school’s history with open arms.
He was a Buckeye and not an outsider like Cooper, who never seemed to receive the same warmth Tressel enjoyed during his decade in Columbus.
Photo by Dan Harker
One of the most lasting images Tressel created at Ohio State was the singing of ‘Carmen Ohio’ after every home, which is something the team will continue under new head coach Luke Fickell.
“My favorite Buckeye tradition is singing ‘Carmen Ohio at the end of the game,’” said Fickell, who played defensive line at Ohio State from 1992-96.
“I told them I don’t think I knew any words to it when I was in school other than O-HI-O. Every one of my kids can sing it from probably the time they are 4 years old on.”
It will be a strange sight for fans to see the players huddled around Fickell in the south end zone, instead of diminutive Tressel. But in many ways, Fickell is cut from the very same cloth. He is more intense and direct than Tressel ever was, but his passion for Ohio State is the same, as is his fondness for the school’s tradition.
“It’s been one of my favorite traditions not only to be with the players but with my family as well,” Fickell said of singing Carmen Ohio.
He also plans to continue the tradition of visiting the marching band’s Skull Session prior to every home game. The team will continue to walk across from St. John Arena to Ohio Stadium.
A New No. 2
Regardless of how they feel about former quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State fans should not be quick to tuck their No. 2 jerseys away in storage.
Certainly the No. 2 has a long tradition at Ohio State that dates much farther back than Pryor’s three-year tenure in Columbus, but the number also seems to have a bright future.
Now that Pryor is wearing a new number—not to mention a new jersey with the Oakland Raiders—the door has been opened for a new No. 2 to create his legacy at Ohio State.
Sophomore defensive back Christian Bryant already wears No. 2 for the defense, but now tailback Rod Smith will join him. The redshirt freshman out of Indiana switched his number from 24 to 2 this week, presumably in order to play on the kick coverage team.
Sophomore kicker Drew Basil already wears No. 24, so Smith would have to pick a new number if both of them were going to be on the field at the same time.
Other famous Buckeyes to have worn No. 2 recently include wide receiver Cris Carter, defensive backs Ty Howard, Mike Doss and Malcolm Jenkins—and of course Pryor.
With Smith—who should see some carries Saturday in the running back rotation—and Bryant wearing No. 2 this fall, the number should be in good hands for the foreseeable future.
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