First, the good news of sorts.
The B1G TEN announced it had arranged its schedule with ABC/ESPN, allocating seven night games in the 2011 B1G TEN season. Of note for Ohio State fans, the Buckeyes will appear in three night games in 2011. It was long rumored that the trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, the first B1G TEN home game for the Cornhuskers and the first game back for the Tat Five and Jim Tressel, would be a night game. That was confirmed. Further, Ohio State fans will be happy to know that the game against Wisconsin will be a night game as well. Buckeye fans quietly bemoaned that the past three trips to Camp Randall were night games, activating what may be the conference’s hell on earth, just for the Buckeyes.1 Meanwhile, Ohio State usually plays host to Wisconsin in a blasé noon time kickoff. Ohio State fans will get their wish to rain holy hell on Wisconsin in what we hope will be the football version of the Deal With It game.
It will also add a nice wrinkle to Eleven Warriors’ second annual tailgate. “Eat Too Brutus” is far from a just simple pre-game mixer for Buckeye fans and bloggers looking for a reprieve from their respective scarlet and gray “man caves”. It will be organized with assistance from City Barbeque and will be held to benefit a cause very near and dear to all of our hearts: the Stefanie Spielman Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. Any charity is good charity, but this might be official charitable endeavor of Ohio State football and it is deserving. So, the fact this is a night game should make this occasion all the better. Make plans to show. I am about 95 percent certain I can make the trip. If I can, I will.
The third night game to note for Ohio State is also the first: against the Miami Hurricanes in Miami, Florida. The ACC confirmed that game will be played with a 7:30 or 8:00pm kickoff time.
On a sad note, Ohio State fans lost one of their own when Ron Springs (’76-78) passed away tonight. Springs, 54, had been in a coma since 2007. Springs got national attention for a heartwarming kidney transplant surgery, for which the donor kidney came from his good friend and Dallas Cowboys teammate Everson Walls. Sadly, another surgery just months after the kidney transplant for an elbow cyst went awry, resulting in a cardiac arrest and a terminal coma. Family members were hopeful that he could come out of his coma, but the bleak prognosis by doctors bore out.
Our younger fans might know Ron Springs more as the father of Shawn Springs, one of John Cooper’s best defensive backs from his tenure in Columbus. Let us not forget that Ron Springs was a quality player in his own right. He was not a native Ohioan. Rather, the Williamsburg, Virginia native played on the same high school team as Lawrence Taylor and spent a year of eligibility at Coffeyville Community College before getting the call from the legendary head coach for Ohio State. He was a scholarship player from the 1976 to 1978 and played almost immediately. Jeff Logan (aka: his man-prettiness) entered the 1976 season as a starting tailback, succeeding Archie Griffin. Springs started playing shortly when injuries mounted for senior fullback Pete Johnson. This moved Jeff Logan to fullback and the rookie Ron Springs to tailback.
Springs came into his own from there, sharing carries in 1977 with Jeff Logan and starting in 1978. Springs was a serviceable tailback for the Buckeyes. Though sharing carries with Jeff Logan, he lead the Buckeyes in rushing in 1977 with 1,166 yards. Injuries derailed a good portion of the 1978 season, for which Paul Campbell led the team in rushing with 591 yards. Regardless, Springs is currently 18th all-time in career rushing for Ohio State and he had a good career in the NFL. He is a little lost on most Buckeye fans for being at Ohio State during a fairly tumultuous time, coinciding with the firing of Woody Hayes in Ron Springs’ last game for the scarlet and gray. Springs did not immediately succeed Archie Griffin, but his name is connected to a time in Ohio State football where, we know now, it would never be as good as the Fab Four backfield of Baschnagel, Greene, Griffin and Johnson. Think of a Buckeye football game involving Ron Springs and it’s probably bad, perhaps the shutout loss to Michigan in 1976 or being held without a touchdown on senior day in 1978. The Buckeyes scored 9 points in Springs’ 3 years against Michigan, and these sad results exclude the stunning home loss to Missouri in 1976 and that kick by that [expletive deleted] Uwe von Schamann. Buckeye fans who remember Ron Springs will not connect his name with “glory days” for the program, but this is not the fault of one of the better tailbacks in our program’s tailback-rich history.
You may gather from my post about Jack Tatum’s passing and my tributes to Austin Spitler and Nader Abdallah that I take, seriously in fact, the idea that every player in the program’s history, from Chic Harley to Srecko Zizakovic, contributes to the great narrative that defines us as Ohioans (i.e., Buckeyes). They should all be celebrated. Springs had a good career for Ohio State, though greatness abounds at his position. No matter, Springs’ affiliation with Ohio State defined him going forward. Everson Walls, who donated his kidney to Springs in 2007, discussed how their interactions with one another during their playing days included the contrast between Springs’ big school affiliation (Ohio State) and Walls’ small school allegiance (Grambling State). He carried his allegiance into the professional ranks and eventually passed it on to Shawn Springs, who (arguably of course) may have had the better legacy of the two for the Buckeyes. Very, very few of us2 who obsess minute by minute about Ohio State will know what that’s like: playing for Ohio State and then watching your son continue the family name for the next generation of Buckeye fans. However, more than a few of us know what it’s like without the football element. Many alumni of The Ohio State University eventually enroll their kids at the university that defined their coming of age. I, myself, am a second generation Buckeye whose father (a native Clevelander) dropped off at Ohio State all the way from Los Angeles, California. Currently living in Alabama (though no interest in staying there), I strongly wish to do the same one day myself.
That’s where people like Ron Springs leave a unique legacy for Buckeye fans, by paying forward, by taking the alumnus tag seriously and by not pretending that The Ohio State University doesn’t define you. It does. It defines all of us, and Ron Springs (like Jim Herbstreit and Howard Cassady, among others) passed it along to the next generation. It’s why, among other reasons, he should be celebrated and mourned tonight.