The Ohio State University Football Traditions

Emily ThompsonCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2008

The Ohio State University has an array of long held football traditions, but how many do you know?

1. Buckeye Leaves

This tradition started in 1968 with Woody Hayes and Ernie Biggs. The following is how you receive the leaves.

Entire Team:

Win - every team member will receive a Buckeye leaf after a victory

Big 10 - every team member will receive an additional Buckeye Leaf for a Big 10 win

Win T.O. Margin

Big Play in Football Game as designated by Coach Tressel

Winning Performance – each individual that meets the film grade standard as set by the staff receives a Buckeye Leaf. 

Kick Off Team:

Result inside 25-yd line every time

No Penalties

No missed tackles

11 hustling in proper lanes

Recover onside kick

Cause fumble and recovery

Tackle inside 20 yd line

Punt Team:

Net Punt 35 yds

No rushed or blocked punts

No penalties

No missed tackles

11 hustling in proper lanes

Successful fake punt for 1st down

Down punt inside 10 yd line

Cause fumble/recovery

Kick Off Return Team:

All returnable kicks past 25 yd line

No fumbles

No penalties

Never lose an onside kick

Kick off returned past 40 yd line


Average 5 yds or more per return

Catch in air all catchable punts

No fumbles

No penalties

Punt returned over 20 yds

Block or force a poor punt

Field Goal/Extra Point Team:

100% PAT Success & 40 yd FG or less

75% FG success outside 40 yds

No penalties

100% mechanics

No rushed or blocked kicks or penetration

Successful fake field goal attempt

45+ field goal

Field Goal/Extra Point Block Team:

Block attempt or pressure forcing miss

Preventing fake attempt


Defensive Unit:

Hold opponents to 13 pts or less (if sufficient for an OSU victory)

Defensive score

Five "3 and outs"

Stop opponents in all sudden change situations

Stop opponent in their own 10 yd line so that OSU obtains the ball in "plus territory"

Stop opponent in all 2 minute situations

Force three turnovers

Offensive Unit:

Score 24 pts (when sufficient for an OSU victory)

No turnovers and all possession changes must occur across 50 yd line so that our opponent begins their drive with more than 50 yard to go

Ten plays of 12+ yds

Convert all short yardage situations

Four drives of 8+ plays

54% first down consistency

2. Victory Bell

Located in the southeast tower of Ohio Stadium, the Victory Bell is rung after every Ohio State victory. It was a gift of the classes of 1943, 1944 and 1945. Members of Alpha Phi Omega ring the bell after victories. The tradition began after OSU beat California Oct. 2, 1954. On a calm day, it is said the bell can be heard five miles away. The bell weighs 2,420 pounds and cost $2,535 to install.

3. Scarlet and Gray

Ohio State's official school colors since 1878.

4. Brutus Buckeye

One of the more visible symbols of Ohio State athletics is Brutus Buckeye, the school’s mascot. In 1965, an art student designed and introduced the first Brutus, while the name was chosen in a contest.

5. Cheerleaders

Buckeye cheerleaders are a constant source of support at all athletics events. The squad took second at the 2001 College Cheerleading National Championship, its highest finish since winning the 1993 title, and has placed first in the east region in 13 of the last 16 years.

6. Gold Pants

A gold charm replica of a pair of football pants is given to players and coaches following wins over Michigan. The tradition started in 1934 when first-year coach Francis Schmidt told those wondering how OSU would fare with its nemesis from Ann Arbor: “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else.” Schmidt’s Buckeyes then went and defeated Michigan four-consecutive times, all by shutout.

7. Buckeye Grove

Since 1934, a Buckeye tree has been planted in honor of each of Ohio State’s All-American.

8. Senior Tackle

A last practice of the year tradition since 1913 where the seniors hit the blocking sled one final time.

9. Tunnel of Pride

The Tunnel of Pride actually started in 1995, when Notre Dame visited Ohio Stadium for the first meeting between the two teams in nearly 50 years. In an effort to generate even more emotion, excitement and enthusiasm than already existed, Kern and Geiger reached out to former Buckeye football players who were attending the game and asked them to form a tunnel for the team to run through as it came onto the field. Thus a tradition was born, which is now continued every other year when Michigan visits Ohio Stadium.

10. Captain's Breakfast

Started in 1934, this annual event is held on homecoming weekend. All past captains are invited back for a breakfast and to welcome in the new captains.

11. The Illibuck Trophy

The winner of the Ohio State – Illinois game has received the Illibuck trophy since the tradition began in 1925. Illibuck was a live turtle, but has been a wooden replica since 1927.

12. The Michigan Game

The annual Ohio State-Michigan football game was No. 1 on a list of the 10 Greatest Rivalries In Sports compiled by the editorial staff at in 1999. There simply is no greater rivalry in college athletics.

13. Homecoming

First recognized in 1912, Homecoming began as “Ohio State Day.” It was initiated by Professor (and later OSU President) George W. Rightmire. Homecoming was designed to bring the alumni back to the university and celebrate.

14. Block O

Known for spreading spirit, starting cheers and performing card stunts, Block “O” was founded in 1938 by Clancy Isaac. After seeing a cheering section at the University of Southern California, Isaac decided that it was something Ohio State needed. Sixty-five years later, Block “O” is Ohio State’s largest student organization on campus and has gained local and national recognition.


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