MOUNT VERNON — The bellow of “O-H” coming from Knox County was loud enough for a two-time Heisman Trophy winner in Columbus to respond with, “I-O.”
Ohio State alum Archie Griffin was the keynote speaker at the annual OSU Alumni of Knox County Buckeye Spirit Event on Tuesday, held at the Glenn A. Gallagher Centre in Mount Vernon.
“Obviously, (Griffin) is very busy,” said incoming OSU-Knox County alumni president Terry Zeller. “We had to book him a year in advance. In prior years, it didn’t work out. We were fortunate that it fell the right way this time.”
The event raised thousands of dollars for the alumni club, which in turn gives scholarships to incoming and existing Buckeye students from Knox County.
Items auctioned at the event included signed jerseys by the living Buckeye Heisman Trophy winners, artist renderings and a bowtie signed by OSU president Gordon Gee. The live auction was conducted by former Buckeye quarterback Greg Frye.
But it was Griffin who many of the hundreds in attendance paid to see.
The 1976 graduate spoke for nearly half an hour, mostly on the state of the Ohio State campus, but he reserved some time for his favorite topic — football.
“You have to be excited with what this team has accomplished,” Griffin said, refering to the Buckeyes. “While my expectations are always high, I can’t say for certain that we’d be sitting here, 8-0. ... If we win out, you might as well call us Big Ten champions whether they call us Big Ten champions or not.”
On current OSU quarterback Braxton Miller:
“That was a hard hit he took (on Saturday against Purdue), but that’s the way he plays.”
On current head coach Urban Meyer:
“I have a great deal of excitement of what he brings to the table. ... While we won’t be in a bowl game this year, coach Meyer is putting down a strong foundation for success.”
On former coach Woody Hayes:
“As great as he was as a coach, he was an even greater person.”
Former Buckeye Maurice Clarett was on hand to sign memorabilia, as well as fellow alums Courtland Bullard and James Cotton. Members of the Ohio State Marching Band performed a brief concert as well, conducted at one point by OSU band director emeritus Dr. Jon Woods.
But the celebrity that had all the kids smiling was Brutus Buckeye.
“It’s the biggest kick for a lot of these kids: They want to see Brutus,” said current alumni president Brian Breece. “The younger ones don’t know the players, but they know Brutus.”
Attendance has climbed every year. So much so that the event was moved to the spacious Gallagher Centre, and even that was full by Griffin’s speech.
“We’re able to raise enough to pay for scholarships,” said Breece. “It’s really good to be able to do that.”
“It says a lot about how people here feel about Ohio State,” said Zeller. “People here want to give back.”Launch Image Gallery
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