For a game in late September, the stakes couldn’t be much higher for Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes are riding a nation’s best 16-game winning streak and positioning itself for a return to the BCS title game stage; the Badgers, aside from one controversial loss, is taking on the look of a team poised for a third consecutive trip to the Big Ten championship game.
Add in a primetime kickoff and 100 thousand-plus fans in the Horseshoe in Columbus, it should make for an electric college football atmosphere.
The Buckeyes, though, decided to add to that big-game atmosphere by inviting the best basketball player on the planet as its guest.
LeBron James, born in Akron and a dyed-in-the-wool Ohio State fan, will be on the OSU sidelines Saturday night at the request of head coach Urban Meyer. While he won’t give a pregame speech as previously reported, Meyer is still ecstatic that a player he tried to recruit while on the coaching staff at Notre Dame — James was an all-state wide receiver in high school — will be at the Columbus stadium for what’s easily his team’s biggest game of the season thus far.
“Give me all kinds of LeBrons,” Meyer said. “You just see the way he articulates, his look, the way he treats people, the focus. We use him in those leadership meetings we use, those videos, his face is plastered all over them. First of all, our guys all admire him. And the head coach really admires him.”
James’ connection to Ohio State runs deep. If he had not decided to go straight from high school as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft, he likely would’ve played basketball for the Buckeyes. Earlier this year, James was given a locker in OSU’s hoops locker room.
(Photo credit: Ohio State athletics)