Ohio students pack the bars for first ever College Football Championship in support of Ohio State
On the first day of Ohio University’s spring semester, it was scarlet red — not green — peeking out from underneath students’ winter coats.
In wake of the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship, the streets from Columbus to Athens ran red in support of Ohio State. As the game between Ohio State and the University of Oregon kicked off from Arlington, Texas, Athens’ uptown bars were packed with fans who ditched their Bobcat green in favor of the Buckeyes’ scarlet and grey.
Many OU students support Ohio State — and sport Buckeyes apparel on campus — simply because they grew up rooting for the university’s successful athletic teams. Some say they don’t need specific ties to Ohio State in order to root for its teams, as growing up in the Buckeye State is plenty reason alone.
“I’ve basically been a fan since birth,” said Mira Kuhar, a junior studying strategic communications. “My mom went to OSU, so (I was) born and raised a Buckeye fan.”
Despite Oregon being picked to win by six points, Ohio State finished the night as champions after a 42-20 victory.
Some of Athens’ uptown bars catered to the gametime crowds on Monday, offering specials. One establishment, The Pigskin Bar and Grille, 38 N. Court St., served Buckeye wings and was busy throughout the game.
“Our kitchen is usually open until 9 p.m., but ... we’re keeping our kitchen open until 10,” Pigskin server Olivia Wallace said before the game. “We have specials of Miller Lite and Coors Light. We have jenga set up in the back and cornhole at halftime. We’re even passing out prizes at halftime.”
Among the swath of Buckeyes fans, some fans of the opposing Oregon Ducks patronized the uptown bars.
“We’re going to start watching the game and once Oregon starts winning everyone will start looking at me to make a comment,” Brendan Cope, a redshirt freshman wide receiver for the Bobcats’ football team, said before the game.
Cope’s reason for liking a team that plays its home games 2,500 miles away is simple.
“As a football player, I respect good football players, and Oregon has a lot of them,” he said.
Students are told from the minute they step on campus in Athens that the Bobcats, not the Buckeyes, should be their priority on Saturdays (or during mid-week conference play, for that matter). It was easy to find OU students supporting the Buckeyes on Monday, but some students choose to root for the Bobcats and the Bobcats alone, no matter what the higher-profile Buckeyes are up to.
“It’s understandable because we do share the same state,” said Xavier Veccia, a junior studying journalism, of OU students’ Buckeyes fandom.
“At the same time, I feel like you should be more excited about Ohio University sports than just Ohio State sports.”