For the better part of seven months, there has been almost nothing but negative headlines when it comes to the Ohio State football program.
Some former Buckeye football players, however, are looking to make a very public display to the current ones that they still have their backs.
Speaking to the Columbus Dispatch and regarding a tradition normally reserved for the game against Michigan, former OSU All-American John Hicks (pictured) said that the negativity swirling around the program has prompted him and others to organize a “tunnel of pride” before the season opener against Akron. Hicks said it’s expected they’re “going to have 1,500 to 2,000 out there” as a show of support to the current players and coaches.
While acknowledging that “embarrassment is the right term” for what’s transpired over the past several months, former OSU running back Jeff Logan hammered home the show-of-support angle to the gesture.
“Former players feel we still have a tremendous amount of pride and tradition that makes us still feel good about the program,” Logan said. “And we want not so much the stadium or the nation to know, but for the players and coaches who are standing on that sideline getting ready to start another season to understand that regardless of what has happened in the last 12 months or so, that we support them wholeheartedly.
“I mean, this program is much bigger than what has happened in the last 12 months.”
One of the things that’s happened was Jim Tressel being forced to step down/retire earlier this year. That fact doesn’t sit well with some of the former Buckeyes, but, again, that won’t stop them from supporting the current members of the program.
“I feel very badly that we treated Tressel in the manner that we’ve treated him,” said Pandel Savic, quarterback of the 1949 Rose Bowl-winning team who added that Tressel called him on his 86th birthday earlier this year. “There’s no doubt the program has suffered indirectly, though I hope not too much with our recruiting. But everybody who has played there is always 100 percent behind the program, and that’s what we’re going to show. …
“[W]e all love (former coach Jim) Tressel, and as far as I’m concerned, he got shafted because of the actions of (former quarterback Terrelle) Pryor, for one, and a few others. I just don’t like the idea of him being let go. I think the world of the man, and he did a hell of a job for us.
“As far as the group, though, we’re definitely going to back (new coach) Luke Fickell and the current coaching staff 100 percent. I think they’re qualified.”
While we respectfully disagree with Savic on one of his points — Tressel was the one that shafted Tressel — there’s little doubt that the octogenarian is one of a majority of former players who will continue to stand behind their former school, regardless of what happens off the field.