COLUMBUS - On Saturday afternoon, Urban Meyer coached The Ohio State University Buckeyes to a 40-20 triumph over the Buffalo Bulls in a season and home opener at The Horseshoe. The second-year OSU boss also made a friend and fan for life.
As Meyer strolled to the locker room after the game, he pointed to a security person to allow a youngster, about 10 or 11-years-old, to approach him with a football, which he proceeded to autograph. Mind you, he didn't have to do this, but did.
"Thanks, Coach," said the youngster's father.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer watches the action on the field during the Buckeyes’ season opening football game against Buffalo at Ohio Stadium Saturday. The Buckeyes won 40-20.
"No problem," said Meyer, smiling.
The Ohio State head football coach is one of the good guys.
Small world and a long walk
Anyone who's ever attended an Ohio State football game knows that parking can be a challenge on gameday - not just for fun-loving, scarlet and gray fans but for working scribes, too.
Anyway, Tuttle Garage, which is not far from Ohio Stadium, was full, making any parking pass, near noon kickoff time, worthless.
"You needed to get here earlier, about 9 a.m.," said one of Columbus' finest, who was helping direct traffic."You'll need to take it (parking) up with the Ohio State people."
When the officer realized I was from Marietta, he grinned.
"I married a Marietta girl (Leister)," he said, "and used to work for Larry Mincks in the Washington County Sheriff's Department."
Dylan Evans, his name, said he'd been a Columbus police officer for six years.
He said he also knew Dana Spencer of Spencer Motor Sports in Belpre.
Gee, it's a small world - but you wouldn't know it with 100,000-plus people at the game.
As for parking, well...if you know where Neil Avenue and Duncan is, it's a long, long walk to the stadium. Long enough to almost get you in shape, especially on a very hot, humid day like Saturday.
Flag at half-staff
At the start of the game, Ohio Stadium's flag was at half-staff in recognition of ex-Ohio governor John J. Gilligan, who died at age 92 on Aug. 26.
I once waited on the governor in a retail store in west Columbus.
Former Buckeye great Cris Carter, an NFL Hall of Fame inductee in Canton on Aug. 3, was honored on the Ohio Stadium Field at halftime, with OSU owning a 30-13 advantage over the Bulls.
That posed an interesting question.
"Who's your favorite all-time Buckeye player?" asked Natalie, a lady in a private booth next to press row.
I actually had to think about that for a second or two.
"Ohio State has had so many great players," I said. "But probably Archie Griffin."
"Mine's Eddie George," she said. "I once had a class with him at Ohio State, and he's so articulate."
It's MC not NC
Natalie was the only person at the game and in the press box who asked me what the "MC" on my baseball cap stood for. She actually thought it looked like "NC" as in North Carolina until I corrected her.
Not far from press row, former Ohio State head football coach John Cooper and his family watched the game from a private booth.
At halftime, in the press box, Cooper was observed conversing with former OSU president Gordan Gee and Columbus Dispatch sports writer Tim May.
Really no contest
While Buffalo did score 20 points, and cut it to 10 twice in the contest, it really wasn't that close. Ohio State was basically in command from start to finish.
The Buckeyes led 23-0 at the end of one.
"The first quarter was script; you can't play much harder than our guys did," Meyer said. "We were pushing the ball down the field, and guys were making plays."
On the Bulls' team....
"Give Buffalo a lot credit," Meyer said. "I have a lot of respect for their coach (Jeff Quinn). They played hard. They had a kid (Khalil Mack), the outside linebacker, who kicked our tails."
Overall, on the game in general....
"We're very satisfied to win a game," Meyer said. "But we also know we have to get a lot better, which is good."
Great exit song
Getting out of Columbus on gameday can also be a slow-moving adventure, especially when "touring" the Ohio State campus. Listening to Jason Derulo's "The Other Side," on the radio helped reduce the stress. It's a finger-snapping, good tune.
Hey, I was young once, too.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org