- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The royalty theme has been taken to another level.
After publicly calling Wisconsin the current "king" of the Big Ten early in the week, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has trumped that by welcoming another "King" to his sideline on Saturday night as the programs collide in a critical meeting of conference favorites.
The rivalry, the stakes and the recent history with the No. 23 Badgers were already enough to build the buzz for the divisional showdown, but now LeBron James has been thrown in the mix as a confirmed guest of the No. 3 Buckeyes, potentially throwing even more fuel on the fire with an NBA superstar in their corner.
"Give me all kinds of LeBrons," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said this summer. "He’s a great role model. The way he articulates, his look, the way he treats people, the focus -- those leadership videos we use, his face is plastered all over them.
"First of all, the guys all admire him. The head coach really, really admires him."
Meyer even once tried to recruit James to play football for him, at that time not realizing who he was or how bright the future was for the four-time NBA most valuable player.
And aside from that tie to Meyer, James is also an outspoken Buckeyes fan after growing up in Ohio and even has a locker in the newly renovated basketball complex that displays his line of shoes and the clothing the team wears.
Ohio State already had plans in place for a "Scarlet Out" for the anticipated crowd of around 106,000 while the team will be wearing special rivalry uniforms, which made it clear well before kickoff how much importance the program is placing on a chance to showcase itself on a national stage.
And in case all that stuff didn't have the Buckeyes fired up, Meyer calling the Badgers the reigning "king of the Big Ten" certainly got their attention as well.
"I mean, we know we’re the kings," cornerback Bradley Roby said. "We’re not worried about anybody else. Simple as that."
Ohio State has a chance to reclaim that crown on Saturday, and it will have the support of basketball royalty and a proven champion on its sideline.
21hBrian Bennett and Austin Ward