Buckeyes Break From Spring Ball For A Good Cause
By Matt Natali
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State took a break from spring practice Wednesday afternoon to entertain fans and media in the name of cancer research.
In front of approximately 600 people at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, head coach Urban Meyer hosted the annual Buckeye Football Spring Kick-Off to raise money for Earle and Jean Bruce Alzheimer’s Research Fund, as well as the Urban and Shelley Meyer Cancer Research Fund at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.
The event, which has been held annually since the 1990s, featured a catered lunch, live trivia hosted by Ohio State historian Jack Park, silent and live auctions, and a video package portraying the strides the Wexner Medical Center has made in fighting Alzheimer’s.
According to the video presentation, the Wexner Medical Center pioneered a procedure in which a pacemaker was placed in the brain of an Alzheimer's patient and the results have been overwhelmingly positive in combating the disease.
Columbus sports anchor Dom Tiberi of WBNS-TV emceed the event. Other guests included Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith, Ohio State's two-time Heisman trophy winning running back Archie Griffin, former head coach Earle Bruce and his daughter Lynn, and several players and coaches.
Tiberi hosted the live auction, which raised approximately $15,000 and included tailgate packages, concert tickets, autographed items and tickets for the annual Buckeye Cruise for Cancer.
In a touching moment, Bruce held a special auction for the Maria’s Message Foundation, which is a charity founded by Tiberi focusing on eliminating distracted driving. The item on the block was a four-ticket package to the Buckeye Football Women’s Clinic in June and raised $3,000 for Tiberi’s cause.
Tiberi started the foundation last year following the death of his 21-year-old daughter last September in an automobile accident.
“We lost our daughter Maria in a tragic auto accident just over six months ago but, to us, it seems like six seconds ago,” Tiberi said. “I want to personally thank Gene Smith, Archie Griffin, coach Bruce, Lynn, and all the Buckeye Nation for being there for us during this trying time.
“I’ve told people that it is hell on earth, and it really is.”
Meyer then took the podium and started with an anecdote about his relationship with Bruce dating back to his days as Florida’s head coach. He said Bruce gave him some words of advice before he took center stage.
“He said, ‘Promise me one thing when you get up there: Don’t always concentrate on the bad and how it ended. Concentrate on the great things that happened the last two years,’” Meyer said. “I promise you, boss, I’m going to concentrate on the positives.”
Of course, Meyer was referring to the back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in his first two years at Ohio State before losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game last year and losing to Clemson in the Orange Bowl in January.
“We did have 24 straight wins and then we hit a speed bump,” Meyer said. “I have grown a little bit and matured. Several years ago, I would have tried to jump off the side of (Ohio Stadium) after a loss. But that’s not the way it is. We’re expected at Ohio State to win every game we play. I tell our recruits and our coaches there aren’t many places like that.
“I was told at one time just beat the ‘Team Up North,'” Meyer said, refusing to refer to Michigan by name. “It doesn’t matter if you lose the other 11 games. But that is not the case and I get that. Our staff and more importantly our players understand that.”
Meyer broke down the team position-by-position and recounted all the news from spring practice.
Offensive line coach Ed Warriner and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash also spoke and introduced about a dozen players, who took the mic and addressed the audience as well, to wrap up the three-hour event.
The Buckeyes return to the practice field Thursday and we will continue to preview each unit for Ohio State leading up to the spring game on Saturday, April 12.
Spring Preview Recap
We'll take a look at the Ohio State running backs and receivers later this week and the quarterback position next week before the spring game.