As OSU falters, Ohioans try to stay positive

Paul E. Kostyu

Willie Stringer wasn’t happy on two accounts Monday night.

Ohio State was losing badly to Louisiana State by the end of the first half of the BCS National Championship football game. And the point spread he picked in a football pool wasn’t looking very good either.

Stringer, who moved to Ohio from Mississippi seven years ago, was one of several hundred Ohio State fans who came to the landmark Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe near campus to watch the game.

The evening started festive enough with TV screens showing a replay of the team’s national championship five years ago. A quartet of alumni band members played favorites for the receptive crowd planted in front of three jumbo TV screens and a half a dozen smaller ones.

By 6:45 p.m., patrons were having a hard time finding a seat. Some who came early perused a menu that included jambalaya pasta, bayou chicken pasta and southern fried chicken salad. If they couldn’t be in Louisiana, they could at least eat some southern food.

“O-H,” someone would yell out. “I-O” the crowd responded in unison. Over and over.

People in the crowd clapped as they watched the Buckeye Band do script Ohio during the pregame. And the place got down right raucous when the Buckeyes got their first first down, and the noise was deafening when they scored soon after.

David Browning of Columbus said he was “pleasantly surprised” with how the game was going at that point. He said the pressure was on the Ohio State team because of the pre-game hype that said he Big Ten Conference was not as good as the Southeast Conference.

“They will have to slow LSU down,” the former Marine said later as LSU scored.

“I’m going to be very, very upset if (the Buckeyes) don’t pull this out,” said Stringer, who watched the game with his five sons.

As LSU took control of the game, the crowd fell so silent TV announcers could actually be understood.

One woman tried to pump up the crowd clapping and cheering, but to no avail.

The quartet tried as well, but few joined in the music. A weak “O-H” came from somewhere and got a barely audible “I-O” response.

An evening that started so well, suddenly looked and sounded depressing.

Reach Repository Columbus Bureau Chief Paul E. Kostyu at (614) 222-8901 or e-mail