Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Oregon, Ohio State diverge in team tradition
By ESPN.com staff
LOS ANGELES -- Oregon players aren't into revisionist history.
They're fully aware their program is best known for its Nike connection, its superior facilities, its ever-changing uniforms and its dynamic offense. When it comes to comparing team tradition with Rose Bowl opponent Ohio State, the Ducks plead no contest.
"One of the jokes our O-line's always had is our tradition is no tradition," Ducks left tackle Bo Thran said. "We're always changing things up, new uniforms. I don't know really what that means. It doesn't mean we're less of a program.
"We want to make our own [tradition]. Coach [Chip] Kelly's preached that the season is the 2009-2010 chapter, and we're writing it."
And where would a Rose Bowl victory fit into Oregon's story?
"It's huge," Thran said. "It's how you tie up the whole chapter."
Ohio State finds itself in a totally different position when it comes to tradition.
The Buckeyes own 34 Big Ten titles (outright or shared) and 13 national championships. Though they haven't been to the Rose Bowl since 1997, they've won in Pasadena six times. While Oregon players talked uniform combos Tuesday, Ohio State defensive tackle Doug Worthington name-dropped team legends when asked about the Buckeye tradition.
Worthington also respects where Oregon players are coming from.
"Everybody has to start their tradition," Worthington said. "[At Ohio State] there was [Howard] Hopalong Cassady, Archie Griffin, Eddie George laid this foundation. Who's to say that [Jeremiah] Masoli and [LaMichael] James and [LeGarrette] Blount are not going to be the guys who make Oregon's program skyrocket? Those guys want to be the first to etch [their names] in stone. Those guys are writing their tradition right now.
"Their tradition is in the making."
Players on both sides grasp the differences in tradition, which shows up during the recruiting process.
"We do attract a lot of young recruits by seeing our facilities," Masoli said. "We're just showing them the truth, where we train and the jerseys we wear. That's why we get a lot of recruits. Ohio State gets their recruits because their kids like the tradition and what kind of school they have."
At Ohio State, football tradition has been molded for decades. And after three consecutive BCS bowl losses, these Buckeyes know they need to restore it Friday.
So while Ohio State players admire Oregon's wardrobe, the fun atmosphere that surrounds the Ducks program and the tremendous athletes Oregon has, they're serious about the task at hand.
"We're young adults," Worthington said. "We see Oregon and we like their jerseys, we like what they do over there and we respect it. But we understand the guys before us are setting this foundation, and what we need to uphold for our fans.
"This is bigger than us. This is The Ohio State University, and we're very proud to wear that Scarlet and Gray."