Tonight, my Alma-mater, The Ohio University Bobcats, take on that little school in North Carolina, called the Tar Heels! (insert sarcasm here!) I am so proud of OU for making it this far!
I chose OU for one specific reason as a graduating high school senior from West Virginia…the world class E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. It still ranks as one of the top ten journalism schools in the nation and the professors at that school are the reason I easily walked out of college with an on-air anchor job at the age of 21.
OU is located in Athens, Ohio…that’s in Southeast Ohio and is only about 45 mins from my hometown. (there’s a new highway now, though and I guess you can now make the trip in about 30 mins!) As a freshman at OU, when I would tell people I was from WV, they would always say, “Oh wow, you are a long way from home!”. I would laugh. My fellow co-eds, mostly from the Cleveland or Columbus area, weren’t very good at geography outside of Ohio! (ha, I’m kidding guys).
Before you read it, I’d like to add, OU is a fairly large school with about 17,000 undergraduate students. I think the most famous alum is Matt Lauer. Roger Ailes, President of Fox News, also attended OU, as did numerous broadcast professionals and print journalists.
Terry Anderson, best known as the longest held American hostage in Lebanon, became a professor of Journalism during my sophomore year at OU.
My other small issues with this list. Number 3 is not true. Please! I drank out of a keg at least twice a week at OU! (maybe the author was being sarcastic)
Also, Number 12. As a West Virginian, we love Huggy Bear! He took us to the final four just two years ago.
And lastly…Number 14. I have no idea what he’s talking about. All of us OU alums say we went to “OU”…and always refer to our school at OU. Not sure what that is about.
Now read and enjoy. This is a great list of some of what is great about OU!
16 SWEET THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT OHIO UNIVERSITY
“As exemplified in the past week, OU has proven itself as a school capable of fun, jack-in-the-box surprises.
As in “Oh…You!”
Now, with the Bobcats about to take the national stage Friday night against top-seeded North Carolina looking to pull off yet another shocker, most fans are eager to learn more about this plucky institution straddling Appalachia.
So as a graduate, I feel it my duty to present a list of 16 sweet things you didn’t know about this Sweet Sixteen party-crasher:
1. Athens is one of the most haunted places in America
The legend – passed along over plastic beer cups for years now – is that five cemeteries around the city form a pentagram with the OU campus right in the middle, resulting in all kinds of haunting shenanigans and spooky goings-on.
Those on the fence about the university’s claim as a paranormal playground are usually swung by one look at The Ridges – a creepy former lunatic asylum (yeah, a freaking lunatic asylum) that overlooks uptown Athens and makes the Amityville Horror house look like Bath & Body Works.
2. There are a lot more human Ohio Bobcats than actual Ohio bobcats
The Division of Wildlife estimates there are currently only about 1,000 bobcats in the state. Which doesn’t sound like much until you take into account that the bobcat – like the Confederate flag – was incorrectly considered to be wiped out in the 19th century.
For every bobcat in Ohio, there are roughly 100 people who graduated from Ohio University and still live here. And every one of them has been obnoxious on Facebook this week.
3. Paul Newman is OU’s most famous dropout
Pretty much everybody knows somebody who dropped out of OU, so it’s not that elite of a club. But the chairman happens to be one of the iconic actors of the 20th century.
Word around the campfire is that Newman was expelled after rolling a beer keg down Jeff Hill and crashing it into the university president’s car.
But that’s preposterous. Kegs aren’t allowed at Ohio University
4. An Ohio University basketball player was once on the cover of Sports Illustrated (and it wasn’t Gary Trent)
The Shaq of the MAC may still be the best-known basketball player ever to come out of OU, but he never graced the cover of SI. That honor goes to Walter Luckett, who you’ve never heard of, and – as a freshman in 1972 – was slapped on Sports Illustrated’s college basketball preview issue.
Inside, SI describes OU as the school “…of the pleasantly different Mid-American Conference that upsets all of those Big Ten teams early each season before being rudely slammed back to Athens by some NCAA tournament opponent in March.”
Now, 40 years later, they’re rudely slamming Big Ten teams out of the NCAA tournament.
5. Ohio offers a class on baseball history
Two, actually: HIS 319B-American Baseball Before 1930 and HIS 319C-American Baseball Since 1930. More than 3,000 students have taken these classes, created by legendary history professor and baseball historian Dr. Charles C. Alexander.
Joke all you want, but Andy Katzenmoyer couldn’t have passed either one of these classes.
6. Bart Simpson, Al Bundy, and MacGyver are all OU alums
In other words, without Bobcats Nancy Cartwright, Ed O’Neill, and Richard Dean Anderson, The Simpsons, Married…With Children, and making grenades out of pencil erasers never would have been the same.
7. Ohio University was founded 66 years before Ohio State
Hard to believe, especially since OSU has branded itself as literally the only existing college in the state.
8. This is not the farthest the Bobcats have ever gone in the NCAA tournament
In the same year a Cleveland professional sports team won its last world championship, the 1964 Bobcats capped a 21-6 season with back-to-back stunning upsets in the then-25-team NCAA tournament.
First OU took down Louisville, then upset fourth-ranked Kentucky to reach a regional final, where No. 2 Michigan stopped them one win short of a Final Four match with John Wooden’s first championship UCLA team.
Cleveland fans can’t help but like the precedent this sets.
9. Ohio University is nicknamed “Harvard on the Hocking”
Keeping in mind that when Ohio University was founded in 1804, it was one of maybe five colleges open for business in North America. So while valid at the time, the Harvard comparison probably hasn’t endured that well over the last two centuries.
Incidentally, the Hocking is a river running through southeastern Ohio that overflows each time it rains longer than 15 minutes, prompting enough boil orders to make Louis Pasteur horny.
10. Of all those arrested at OU’s infamous Halloween bash every year, 2/3 are visiting Ohio State students
11. Austin Carr once scored 61 points against OU in an NCAA tournament game
Still a tournament record, future Mr. Cavalier Austin Carr went bananas in 1970, hitting 25 of 44 shots (long before the three-point era) and leading Notre Dame to an easy 112-82 first-round win over the Bobcats.
But after Carr then lit up Kentucky for 52 two days later, they couldn’t feel too bad.
12. Bob Huggins couldn’t cut it at Ohio University
It was big news when Huggy Bear went back to his roots and returned to coach his alma mater at West Virginia. But what nobody talked about at the time was that Huggins, a stud of a high school hoops player, originally was a Bobcat, then transferred to WVU after his freshman year.
Had he stayed, he might have actually lived up to his potential as a coach.
13. OU’s Winter Break is longer than its Winter Quarter
OK, that’s not really true, but it sure feels like it. OU’s legendary month-and-a-half vacation between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is still four weeks shorter than any of its academic quarters.
For what it’s worth, it goes away next year when the school switches to semesters, allowing Miami and Ohio State students to have just as good a chance at getting the sweet part-time Christmas jobs at Banana Republic.
14. Officially, they don’t like to be called “OU”
Which they need to get over.
15. The Princeton Review named OU the nation’s No. 1 party school for 2012
For starters, how the hell do you quantify something like that?
While many – ahem – more conservative alums are outraged at the Jimmy Buffett reputation the school has generated in recent years, let’s not put too much emphasis on one opinion.
Playboy only ranks it the fifth-best party school. (And you get the feeling they’d have better insight than The Princeton Review.)
And frankly, would you rather be a graduate of the top party school or the one with the 14th-best osteopathic medicine program?
16. OU’s mascot beat the living shit out of Brutus Buckeye
It was a moment that made every OU administrator cringe but made every alumnus smile and pull up You Tube: Rufus the Bobcat physically assaulting the oddly proportioned Brutus before the football Buckeyes’ blowout victory over the Bobcats in 2010.
Making the story even better, the guy in the Rufus suit wasn’t even an OU student and had secretly planned the beatdown for an entire year.
That’s the way they do things in the 740 area code, baby.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more to know about Ohio University: its gorgeous campus, its kick-ass journalism school, its thousands of successful alumni.
And of course, its students also tend to reenact the Russian Revolution when the clocks spring forward an hour and the bars close early.
It’s a school of ironic contradictions sprinkled with modest midwestern charm, and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves if OU’s awareness continues to emerge on a national level.
But that’s for another day. For now, as sure as the morning sun will rise on the catwalks criss-crossing South Green and the Burrito Buggy will stay open late, there will be good times in Athens over the next few days and nights.
Go get ‘em, Bobcats. Keep making us proud.