COLLEGE FOOTBALL After 34 years, OSU gets new set of heroes
Friday's Fiesta Bowl win will never be forgotten by Buckeyes fans.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Over the 34 years that had passed since Ohio State last won a national championship in football, the names and accomplishments of the players on that team have never been forgotten.
Now an entirely new set of characters will join them.
The Buckeyes' breathtaking 31-24 double-overtime victory over Miami in Friday's Fiesta Bowl will become legend in Ohio.
"It's just terrific because Ohio State football is very special to the people who live in Ohio and those who live throughout the country," said Archie Griffin, a football icon who won two Heisman Trophies, played in the pros and then returned to become the No. 2 man in the university's athletic department. "I can just imagine the number of people who were watching on television. You know they couldn't pull away from it. Just look at the crowd that was here [Friday]. That was just an awesome, awesome display."
Griffin is still stopped for autographs and makes personal appearances a full 27 years after his career ended. He has an idea that the current Buckeyes will have a similar life ahead of them.
"Those who follow Ohio State will never forget it," Griffin said outside the Ohio State locker room at Sun Devil Stadium.
Brockington, Tatum, Kern, White, Otis, Stillwagon, Provost, Mayes, Foley -- the names from the 1968 national championship team are still said in reverent tones in the state.
Joining them now will be Krenzel, Doss, Clarett, Gamble, Wilhelm, Stepanovich, Jenkins, Groom and Grant.
Fresh from the biggest game of his life and surrounded by celebrating teammates, free safety Donnie Nickey fought back tears as he considered how important the victory was to so many people.
"It's overwhelming, man. I mean, so many people live and die by Ohio State football," said Nickey, a senior from rural Plain City. "To win the last game and win the national championship, to know that a lot of the stuff that you hoped for is going to happen, that's overwhelming. All that sweat, how you bleed all year to play in the Horseshoe. To play 14 games and win them all and for it to mean so much to all these people, it's just very gratifying."
Linebacker Matt Wilhelm said after the game that the Buckeyes always knew what the Fiesta Bowl game meant.
"We all had that in the back of our minds going into the game that we'd be a part of Ohio State history for a very long time," the Lorain native said.
Just as in the movie "Hoosiers," this is one championship season that is assured of being remembered for years and years.
Saturday's Columbus Dispatch -- with the Pearl Harbor-sized headline "CHAMPS!" on the front page -- sold out. The newspaper was printing more copies to meet the demand.
Fans were lined up an hour before the doors opened Saturday morning at specialty shops around the city that sell T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts with the Ohio State logo on them.
Tight end Ben Hartsock said he was humbled by his role in the event.
"It's something I'm extremely proud of. I'm going to have a ring -- I'm not a ring kind of guy -- but it's something that shows how fortunate you are," said Hartsock, a farm boy from outside Chillicothe. "You're just a fraction of a percent of the population that's a part of a team like this, to play collegiate sports and be a part of this great university that we have, to have those great traditions.
"Now to be one of those teams at this great university that has written a chapter of history. It's going to be talked about for years and years. It's an amazing feeling."