When Urban Meyer hosted Coach Meyer’s Spring Kickoff on the indoor field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on April 3, Ohio State’s head coach continued to carry on a tradition that started in the early 1990s by former head coach John Cooper.
This year’s Spring Kickoff, however, had a new twist. The event not only raised funds for the Earle and Jean Bruce Alzheimer’s Research Fund in Neurology at The Ohio State University, but it also served as a fundraiser for the Urban and Shelley Meyer Cancer Research Fund.
Cooper’s wife, Helen, originally founded the event to honor her mother-in-law, Minnie Thompson, who lost her life to Alzheimer’s. Former coach Earle Bruce, who helped host the fundraiser, lost is father and his sister to the disease.
This year’s Spring Kickoff, which featured live and silent auctions for the nearly 800 fans in attendance, has raised over $1 million dollars for Alzheimer’s since its inception, and it made more financial strides during the latest version of the event.
Though the total amount earned this year has yet to be calculated, it is expected through the live and silent auctions that the event could come close to matching the $156,000 it rose a year ago.
“I think that people are here (to support the causes), but I think the bonus is that they get to hear Urban and some of the players talk,” said Lynn Bruce, the daughter of Earle and Jean Bruce. “That’s the best feature about this – we have the actual players who will be on the field talking, and you get their personalities and what they do.
“It’s just a lot of fun for everyone. It is a combination because people get to support something that’s really important, but at the same time get a glimpse into the Buckeye football program.”
Along with the silent auction – which included a vast selection of memorabilia pieces that included items from Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, the PGA Tour and of course, Ohio State – the 70 tables set up in front of a large stage got to hear Meyer, his assistants and a collection of the players address the crowd.
Though there were serious moments, which included Meyer reflecting on the pure emotion expressed by former captain John Simon a year ago, some light-hearted instances made the headlines for the crowd.
When offensive coordinator Tom Herman escorted quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton to the stage, Meyer said Herman and Miller are starting to look alike due to the vast amount of time the two spend together.
Herman quipped that it was the best compliment Miller could ever receive. Moments later, Herman and Miller couldn’t have looked any more different when the quarterback revealed his new hairstyle – a bleached Mohawk.
“Back in the day when I had hair, I always wanted to dye my hair,” said Miller, who just took off his hat before explaining he was motivated to make the change because Herman asked him what he was doing next with his hair. “So I did it like this.”
Herman, however, did take a moment to be serious by asserting that he expects big things out of his still-growing offense. In his first season a year ago, the Buckeyes didn’t run Meyer’s offense to its full capacity. This year, OSU expects that to change.
“What we are planning on doing offensively is being the best fundamental offensive unit in the country,” Herman said. “We felt like last year we were just trying to get lined up and understand the schemes and what to do.
“We are going from maybe a kindergarten or first-grade level, if you will, to the high school level and hopefully in the fall we are getting into the college level and then the graduate level of this offense. It is very refreshing this spring to go through that.”
News and Notes
• Placekicker Drew Basil said he found out that he’d be Ohio State’s punter this season the day after National Signing Day after 2013 prospect Johnny Townsend backed out of his verbal commitment and signed with Florida. Basil said he’s been concentrating on punting and his duties as the team’s kickoff and field goal specialist.
• After putting the burden of leadership and anchoring the offensive line on Jack Mewhort’s shoulders, offensive line coach Ed Warriner joked by saying he’d ask one more thing of his of his left tackle: “To stay away from the Memorial golf tournament.” Last year’s tournament, Mewhort and former tight end Jake Stoneburner had run-ins with the police for urinating in public and fleeing at the Memorial.
• As an April Fool's joke, Jeff Heuerman and some of the staff pranked tight ends coach Tim Hinton by pretending Heuerman was arrested on High St. this weekend for beating up someone trying to rob his car.
• Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel just said the waitress at dinner last night recognized him and knew OSU hasn't had to replace four DL starters in 25 years. Vrabel used that as a way to cite how football hungry the Columbus community is, and the pressure the Buckeyes have on the defensive front this season.
• Cornerback Doran Grant did a very good impression of co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers to the crowd, which drew plenty of laughs and applause.
• Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell points out that Josh Perry is wearing different color socks today. Perry: "That's my good luck charm." Fickell said the defense is expecting big things from Perry in his second year on the team.
• Meyer began his speech by acknowledging the expectations in 2013, and said Ohio State’s program is elite because those expectations are always there. Cited last year’s team’s success as the reason the banquet was going nicely, but later added that if OSU would have lost that people would be throwing dinner roles at him. Meyer said, "You come to Ohio State for the high expectations. There are plenty of places you can go that don't have them.”
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