*Full disclosure: I was given a review copy of this book for the sake of this review*
There really isn’t a more historically significant athletic institution in America than collegiate athletics. College sports, specifically football and basketball, have been stalwarts in American culture for centuries, and while their professional equivalents are slightly more popular in some cases, the history and tradition of college sports is far stronger than anything the NFL, NBA, MLB, WNBA, or any other professional sport can offer.
With a history that rich, there are millions of stories to be told about college sports. There are stories that have died with the people involved, stories told through sports writing, and stories told on national television. If there’s one thing that makes people continuously come back to college sports, it’s the rich history of just about every team. Every single program has a distinct personality, with stories and traits that endear it to its fans.
Of all the college athletics programs in the country, there may be just one or two, if any schools with a more interesting, more jam-packed history than Ohio State. From Howard Cassidy to Dwayne Haskins, Jerry Lucas to Keita Bates-Diop, Woody Hayes to Urban Meyer and Fred Taylor to Chris Holtmann, there’s more history and prestige at Ohio State than anyone could ever possibly tell. Ohio State’s history with athletics goes back more than a century, and is just loaded with stories of national champions, award winners, great coaches, and classic games.
There may be no one that knows that better than the man who has spent the last 20 years calling Ohio State football and basketball games from the press booth: Paul Keels. I learned this summer when interviewing him for a piece that he’s quite the historian when it comes to Buckeye athletics, and when pressed for stories of legendary teams that he’s more than willing to share incredible nuggets of information.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that when Paul got together with Zack Meisel of The Athletic to put together a book about Paul’s career, and the things he’s seen at Ohio State, they produced an excellent book for Buckeye fans and college sports fans in general to enjoy.
Keels’ knowledge and Meisel’s excellent writing skills make for a great pairing, as the duo retells some of Ohio State’s greatest football and basketball seasons of the last 20 years, with plenty of inside info from both Keels and a massive group of former plays that provide quotes throughout the book.
While each chapter is an interesting read, I think my favorite is probably the interlude about Keels’ love for Ohio Stadium, which sparked this fantastic quote:
While it’s easy to get caught up on individual chapters (I had to stop reading for a few hours after the chapter about the “Thad Five”, because the memories of that team and the way that season ended are still very much hard for me to get through without getting emotional), the book, as a whole, is just delightful. It’s comprehensive without being too massive, and sentimental without being too emotional. I highly recommend it for any Buckeye fans.
If you’re interested in buying ‘If These Walls Could Talk: Ohio State Buckeyes’ by Paul Keels and Zack Meisel, you can do so on Amazon or Triumph Books. As a strong proponent of local bookstores (and local stores in general), I really hope anyone considering buying this book, or any book, does so at their local bookstore. For those in Columbus, I’d recommend The Book Loft, because it kicks ass. Happy reading, Buckeye fans!