Today the Ohio State Buckeyes play their annual spring game. The football team has been practicing for weeks, and with the spring game they finally get to strut their stuff in full uniform in front of adoring fans.
The most interesting thing about this year’s game is that it’s not in Ohio Stadium. Because the old Horseshoe is undergoing maintenance, the game has been moved to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Fitting, because Paul Brown once coached the Buckeyes, before he went on to a legendary NFL career, and also fitting because Ohio State doesn’t dominate the sports conversation in Cincinnati like it does in other parts of the state.
The people of Cincinnati — the southernmost and westernmost of Ohio’s larger cities — have divided loyalties. Some follow the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, some are fans of the University of Kentucky, and some pledge their allegiance to old Notre Dame. By playing the spring game along the banks of the Ohio River, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State braintrust hope to increase their toehold and their visibility in one of the prime football cities in the state. They’ll be giving the Buckeye team a full taste of Cincinnati, too, complete with hometown favorites like Montgomery Inn ribs, Skyline Chili, and Graeter’s ice cream.
As for the game itself? The rules will make it a pass-happy affair, to try to cut down on the possibility of injury, so it won’t be like a real game. We’ll get a chance to evaluate QB Braxton Miller’s continuing progress, and see with our own eyes the new players who’ve been dominating the news reports on spring practice — players like defensive linemen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. Every spring game there is one player who has a flashy performance. Then we will put away the pads and wait until fall practice, when things get real with the Big Ten season looming on the horizon.