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Ohio State’s history with Tulsa (and the AAC)

There is a Golden Hurricane connection with the Buckeyes.

Tulsa v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Last week, I discussed Ohio State’s history with the Bowling Green Falcons. This week, it’s the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes’ history that gets the treatment of online real estate on Land-Grant Holy Land.

While the Buckeyes haven’t played the Golden Hurricanes on the football field, there are some connections between the two programs.

Ya boy, John Cooper

While John Cooper strolled into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008, his illustrious career weaved through Tulsa, Okla. From 1977 to 1984, the main man on the Golden Hurricane sideline was Cooper.

Even though Tulsa didn’t get a chance to go to a bowl game, Cooper found success; he had four years in which he guided the Golden Hurricanes to a record of 8-4 or better. For real: Tulsa could compete with the big boys of college football with Coop. In 1982, Oklahoma State, who was part of the Big 8 (the predecessor to the Big 12), lost to Tulsa, 25-15. The following year, the gold and blue squad held close to the Oklahoma Sooners, but fell by 10.

When he left Tulsa for Arizona State, Cooper compiled a 56-32 record. Not too bad considering he was in the Missouri Valley Conference and was playing Big 8 programs throughout his time in charge.

Fun Fact: the current co-defensive coordinator for Tulsa, Bill Young, was an assistant under Cooper at Tulsa, and was a coordinator in Columbus when Cooper was head coach.

"Those fellows put their pants on one leg at a time, the same as everyone else."

Francis Schmidt, the man who said the quote above, was the forerunner to the coach-Tulsa-then-Ohio State-club. Going way back to 1919, Schmidt took control of the Golden Hurricanes after a 1-2 year from Arthur Smith. While he was only in charge for three seasons, Schmidt collected 24 wins, with only three losses and two ties.

After bouncing around to TCU and Arkansas, Schmidt found his way to Columbus, Ohio to coach the Buckeyes. At the time, Ohio State was coming off back-to-back seasons in which they lost to Michigan – to add insult to injury, both those losses to the Wolverines were shutouts.

When Schmidt took the job in Columbus, local press asked how the Buckeyes would defeat The Team Up North? His response was that "those fellows put their pants on one leg at a time, the same as everyone else." The quote must’ve inspired his squad, as Ohio State shutout Michigan in the first four years of the Schmidt era. Also, this is where the Gold Pants trinket originates from.

Gold Pants

In a way, you can indirectly link Tulsa to the creation of the most prized possession for The Game.

Whoa, that’s a big ‘Shoe you have there...

Delving a little deeper into Tulsa’s history, there were some pretty neat oddities found within the game week press release from the Golden Hurricanes communication staff.

The first of which is that this week’s game with Ohio State will be the largest stadium Tulsa has played in. Ohio Stadium has a capacity just shy of 105,000; the largest stadium Tulsa was at prior to the showdown with the Buckeyes was 85,657 – last year’s contest with Oklahoma.

If you were to put the Golden Hurricanes student body inside The ‘Shoe, they would take a just a fraction of the South endzone stands. Tulsa has a student enrollment of 3,473; Ohio State has an enrollment that is well over 50,000. Ohio State also has the third highest student enrollment in the country for a public institution, while Tulsa has the lowest among FBS programs.

Ohio State and Tulsa also started football around the same time. In 1890, the Buckeyes kicked off their first season with a win against Ohio Wesleyan. Five years later, Henry Kendall College (now Tulsa University), started their football program with a fellow named Norman Leard as coach.

Conference collision

Over time, Tulsa has bounced around from different conferences: from the Missouri Valley, to being an Independent, to the Western Athletic Conference in the mid-2000s and now the American Athletic Conference.

Ohio State has had run ins with a handful of the Golden Hurricanes’ conference compadres. The Buckeyes carry a 28-3-1 record against current AAC members. Half of Ohio State’s wins against the AAC are against the Bearcats. Two years ago, the scarlet and gray defeated Navy, now in the AAC, in Baltimore en route to a national championship.