Good morning Hivers and welcome to Tuesday morning! I hope everyone enjoyed the cheese Danishes I brought in. Coffee is brewing and as you settle in for the long day in your cube, guard shack, or lifeguard tower, let the smooth stylings of Our Honor Defend ring in the day. As I write this, The Best Damn Band In The Land is playing Carmen Ohio to an audience of one. The song makes me think of all the great men and women that have graced the halls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and have left their mark on the school that they loved so dearly.
From Archie Griffin and Eddie George on the gridiron, to Jim Jackson and Jerry Lucas on the hardwood, from Jesse Owens to Paul Pooley, countless legends have donned the Scarlet and Gray and worn it with honor, prestige, and class. Perhaps none have done it more with less recognition from the University itself than Dennis Hopson, all time leading scorer in men’s basketball history.
I’ll be completely honest with you. Up until about a month ago, if you had said “Dennis Hopson” to me, I would have looked at you with a quizzical dog look and wondered who you were talking about. That’s extremely indicative of two things: how little I followed OSU basketball until just a few years ago, and how little the University has done to honor him. Sure, Hop has a picture up in the halls of the VCA. Yes, he’s a member of the Varsity O Hall of Fame. But when you walk into the Schott and look up at the lone championship banner and #5, #11, #22, #30, and #35 the one thing that you don’t see is #32.
That’s because while Dennis became the all time leading scorer in school history with 2,096 points, he never won a National Player of the Year award. Some might ask, “Well, why does that matter?” The simple reason is that Ohio State requires a player to win the award in order for their number to be retired. With the exception of Havlicek (#5), all of those numbers in the rafters at the VCA have won NPOY awards. Evan Turner’s #21 will likely be joining the revered four men and one woman within a few years, and no one can say that Turner doesn’t deserve it.
It was almost like Dennis never had a chance. He played in David Robinson’s era. Hop had his best season the same year that The Admiral was the prohibitive favorite for the Wooden Award. Did Dennis complain as he went on a tear en route to being the #3 pick in the NBA Draft? No. He suited up, came out with his teammates, and simply played ball. He did it without being flashy. He did it without being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He did it knowing that he would never be called the National Player of the Year. And so he did it with the knowledge that his number would likely never be lifted above the court for all to see and revere.
Does this bother Dennis? As our friends over at Buckeye House Call note, it doesn’t bother him one bit. As he told Grant
“…if mine never is (retired) it’s not going to change me. I’m going to continue living my life the same way I do now as a blessed, humble guy.”
That’s not to say that he wouldn’t be honored if the University and the Athletic Department changed their policy, as the University of Texas has done in recent years.
“It would be such a special moment for me. To walk into the arena and see your own number in the rafters would mean everything…So what would it mean for them to retire my number? It would be a very special moment for me.”
It is for these reasons that the Buckeye Blogger Network has joined forces to attempt to convince the University and the Athletic Department to change their, quite frankly, draconian policy. In this era of one and done players, the odds that there will be another like Dennis Hopson is extremely slim. William Buford was looking to close in on the scoring record, but will ultimately fall short. To grab that record, you’ve got to stick it out 4 years, be a prolific scorer, and be consistent. All the things that Dennis Hopson did in his tenure at the University.
It is high time that Dennis gets the recognition he deserves. It is with this goal in mind that I ask you to sign the petition at Change.org. Donate if you can. I’m throwing down close to $600 to outfit the NutHouse in #Hop2TheRafters t-shirts for an upcoming game. The least that you, or anyone who purports to bleed Scarlet and Gray, can do is to throw your support behind a living Buckeye legend.