Are the Bobcats turning some Buckeye fans?
Eighty-eight miles of asphalt physically separate Ohio University in Athens from The Ohio State University in Columbus, but their athletic programs couldn’t be further apart. Ohio State is a national behemoth—competing annually for the Big Ten and, many times, national championships—while Ohio is a budding mid-major.
Consequently, the Sweet Sixteen runs by the universities’ men’s basketball squads represents two distinct outlooks: a Buckeyes win is expected while the Bobcats ride a Cinderella wave into their Friday match-up with North Carolina’s Tarheels.
On a given year, fans’ loyalty at both schools would be set—cheering Ohio State to victory. But the Bobcats’ success in this year’s tournament has complicated fandom for many in-state students who grew up as Buckeyes.
Andrew Stout’s work day couldn’t get any better than when the Ohio University men’s basketball team unexpectedly walked into the College Book Store in Athens Monday.
Stout is the shop’s license products buyer and has been looking out for new t-shirts since the Bobcats started the NCAA tournament.
One of the shirts says “Brackets Busted.” On the back it says: “Hoops, we did it again.”
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“(Ohio’s DJ) Cooper and his high school coach, Brandon Thomas, declined to name the programs trying to poach him. Recruiting a player before he is released from his current program is against N.C.A.A. rules. Cooper’s mother, Dionne, identified Baylor Coach Scott Drew as someone who attempted to lure her son from Ohio.
“He wasn’t necessarily calling and saying, ‘Come on over,’ ” she said. “He would say: ‘Oh, this is great. I knew you could do it. The exposure you’re getting now, you’re not getting it in the MAC because you’re not on TV.’ He was really trying to sell to me. ‘We know you can do these things, but because of where you are, you’re not getting the attention you deserve.’ ” (Drew did not return a text message seeking comment.)”