Ohio State football has an unrivaled tradition and history. Now, it’s time to relive those epic moments once more. Each Monday over the next eight weeks, you can listen to Season 2 of I Want to Go Back — Land-Grant Holy Land’s exclusive podcast series that brings to life the greatest lost stories from Ohio State football history. This season, we’ll go back to OSU’s rise to power in the early days of the Big Ten Conference.
On this week’s season premiere
It was 1912 and OSU football was about to enter the big leagues. The Buckeyes had ambitions to take a major step up as a program. To do so, OSU wanted to switch conferences. As a current member of the Ohio Athletic Conference, Ohio State would regularly square off against the top teams from around the state. But OSU eyed joining another conference — one of the best conferences of the day: the mighty Western Conference.
The West was the forerunner of today’s Big Ten. The West approved the Buckeyes’ membership request in the spring of 1912. OSU would play their first Western Conference football games starting in 1913. That left Ohio State with a final tune-up season against the foes of the Ohio Athletic Conference before joining the big leagues of the West.
To make the transition from playing the powers of Ohio in the Ohio Athletic Conference to the powers of the country in the West, the Buckeyes needed to build the right team. But more than a team, they needed to move their athletic department from one that was skimping by to pay the bills to an entirely new infrastructure that could sustain a growing program. The series of moves Ohio State made next built the program we know today.