The Ohio State Varsity “O” Association held its 29th Athletics Hall of Fame induction announcement inside Ohio Stadium on Thursday.
Among the 12 new members are football players Eddie George (1992-95) and Ted Provost (1967-69).
The Varsity “O” Association will officially induct the new members in two separate ceremonies on Sept.15. The class will then be introduced to the public at halftime of the Cincinnati-Ohio State football in Ohio Stadium on Sept. 16.
In all, 69 women have been inducted since 1993 and 224 men have been honored since 1977.
Provost was a three-year starter at defensive back for the Buckeyes and helped OSU win the 1968 national championship. He earned first team All-American honors in 1969 and was a two-time first team All-Big Ten selection (1968-69). His most memorable play was an interception that he returned for a touchdown for the first score in a 13-0 upset victory over Purdue in 1968.
“This is a great honor,” Provost said. “To be mentioned with some of the people that are in it is unbelievable. … I was hoping it would happen. It’s one of those things that has been mentioned over the last five or so years and I’m honored that it happened. Jan White, he’s one of the officers in the Varsity O and he was one of my teammates, he’s the one that notified me.”
Most defensive backs were under 6-feet tall during Provost’s playing days. But he stood out as a tall safety/cornerback.
“Well, I was tall for a defensive back at that time, but not big,” he said. “I am 6-3 and weighed about 185 in college.”
Provost played seven years of professional football following his OSU days.
“Yeah, I was drafted by the Rams and started with them and they traded me to Minnesota and I was there for a year and a half,” he said. “And then I went to Canada for five years.
“I got into the construction business when I got back and I’m still doing that. I build houses and remodel, stuff like that.”
Ask Provost about the ’68 national crown and you will put a smile on his face.
“Oh yeah, that was definitely the highlight of the whole thing,” he said. “A lot of my teammates are in this (OSU Hall of Fame) and there will probably be a lot more coming that will be in it. That was definitely the highlight, anytime you can go undefeated and walk off the field the last day and say you’re undefeated and national champions, that doesn’t happen very often.”
Provost talked about being the veteran among the Buckeyes’ talented defensive backs in ’68.
“I was a junior,” he said. “My sophomore year we had three seniors and myself. And then in 1968 I was a junior and I was the oldest because we had Jack Tatum, Mike Sensibaugh and Timmy Anderson starting. I had a year of experience, but those guys were definitely in a class by their own.
“Lou Holtz came in that year, so the whole thing changed around. Earle Bruce was our (secondary) coach the year before and Lou came in and changed everything around. I had a little bit of experience, but they were great athletes so they jumped right in.”
But Provost will never get over his final game in an Ohio State uniform – the loss to Michigan in 1969.
“I think what happened … if we would have won that last game we probably would have been recognized as the team of the century,” he said. “But you are always remembered by how you did in that last game and we lost to Michigan. I really think the season was too easy. We were supposed to have a tough game the week before against Purdue and we beat them 40-6. We had a letdown against Michigan. It was one of those things that you always regret because I was one of the few seniors on the team and didn’t get a chance to come back and redeem myself the following year. That was a tough one to take.”
Provost learned the hard way that the Michigan game is paramount.
“Yeah, pretty much,” he said. “John Cooper lost a lot of last games and that kind of dictated (his career). He had a lot of great seasons, but he never (beat Michigan consistently), and (Jim) Tressel has been winning them. That kind of dictates how your season goes by winning that last one.”
* As for George, the 1995 Heisman Trophy winner, his induction into the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame was merely a formality. Unfortunately, the restaurateur could not make it to the announcement on Thursday at Ohio Stadium. But his career accomplishments were still a hot topic of conversation.
In addition to winning the Heisman in ’95, the 6-3, 227-pound bruising tailback won the Doak Walker Award, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year and Big Ten MVP. He ended his career as the second-leading rusher in OSU history (3,668 yards). He also set a program record with 1,927 rushing yards in 1995, and set a single-game rushing record with 314 yards against Illinois in 1995. His 24 rushing touchdowns in 1995 ranks second in program history and he ended his career third in rushing TDs (44). George enjoyed a tremendous nine-year career in the NFL, eight of which were spent with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans organization. The first-round draft pick was the 1996 NFL Rookie of the Year, a four time Pro Bowl selection and led the Titans to the Super Bowl following the 1999 season.
Here are the rest of the 2006 Hall of Fame inductees:
Ohio State Men
Kevin Akins - Track (1979-82)
Four-time letterwinner ... indoor All-America in 1982 ... named Big Ten Athlete of the Championship (outdoor) in 1982 ... set Ohio State outdoor shot put record 68-8.5 in 1982 ... won Big Ten Conference outdoor individual shot put championships in both 1981 and '82.
Adam DiSabato - Wrestling (1989-91, 1993)
Four-time letterwinner ... team captain in 1990, 1991 and 1993 ... third in career wins with 138 ... second in career takedowns with 646 ... fourth in career team points with 419.75 ... 1989-90 had the most wins with 30 on the team ... 10th in season wins with 41 ... second in takedowns in a season with 223 (1991) ... 15th in team points in a season with 131.75 (1991).
Alex Eckelman - Baseball (1994-97)
Four-time letterwinner ... two-time first team All-Big Ten selection (1996, '97) ... member of two Big Ten regular-season championship teams (1994, '95) and three Big Ten playoff winners (1994, '95, '97) ... served as team co-captain in 1997 ... ended career in the Top 10 in program history in career batting average (.367), runs batted in (156), at-bats (657), hits (241), doubles (43), home runs (34) and runs scored (172) ... led the Buckeyes in batting average, hits, at-bats and runs scored in 1996 ... batted .439 in 1996, the highest OSU batting average in 36 years, to rank second in program history.
Ron Nischwitz - Baseball (1957-58)
Second team All-American as a pitcher in 1958 ... earned All-Big Ten accolades in 1958 ... two-time letterwinner (1957-58) for the Buckeyes ... led Ohio State in strikeouts in both 1957 (57) and 1958 (82) ... also had a team-high innings pitched in 1957 (47.0) and 1958 (81.1) ... ranks in the Top 15 for wins in a season and season earned-run average … Longtime head coach at Wright State, where the baseball stadium is named after him.
Kip Simons - Gymnastics (1991-94)
Winner of the 1994 Nissen-Emery Award, presented to the top senior male gymnast in the nation ... four-time All-Big Ten honoree (1991-94) ... earned All-America honors in the all-around in both 1993 and '94 ... 1991 Big Ten Freshman of the Year ... won Big Ten titles on both parallel bars and still rings in 1992 ... claimed conference high bar title in both 1993 (co) and 1994 (co) ... member of Big Ten championship squads in 1993 and '94 ... participated in Olympic Games in 1996 in Atlanta ...two-time member of the U.S. World Championships team (1994, '95).
Ohio State Women
Kate Hedman - Swimming (1992-95)
Earned five All-America honors ... named a first team All-American in 1995 ... two-time All-Big Ten selection ... four-year letterwinner ... Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor winner in 1995 ... four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete ... set Ohio State record in the 100-breaststroke in 1992 ... served as team co-captain ... represented the United States in the 1991 World University Games, winning both gold and bronze medals.
Annette Kraml - Rifle (1984-87)
Three-time recipient of the Lake Erie Intercollegiate Rifle Conference (LEIRC) Nancy Worsencroft High Woman Award (1985-87) ... served as team captain in both 1986 and '87 ... competed in NCAA air rifle championships in 1986 and 1987 ... claimed LEIRC air rifle titles in 1984 and '85, conference smallbore and air rifle championships in 1986 and earned first-place individual honors in 1987 ... earned All-Western Intercollegiate Rifle Conference (WIRC) accolades ... WIRC air rifle winner in 1985 ... member of four WIRC “Big Ten championship” squads ... won 1985 Walsh International rifle match title, 1987 air rifle and smallbore crowns and was 1987 high standing score winner.
Donica Merriman - Track (1998-01)
Three-time All-Big Ten selection (1998-00) ... two-time NCAA Indoor All-American (2000-01) ... four-time NCAA Outdoor All-American (1998-01) ... Ohio State's only women's outdoor national champion (100-meter hurdles/2001) ... indoor national champion (60-meter hurdles/2001) ... 2000 Big Ten Outdoor Athlete of the Year ... 2000 and '01 Big Ten Indoor Athlete of the Year ... Big Ten athlete of the championship at 2000 outdoor meet and 2000 and '01 indoor meet ... individual conference champion in outdoor 200-meter dash (1999), 100 hurdles, 100- and 200-meter dashes (2000) and 4x400-meter relay (2000) ... indoor individual champion in 60-meter hurdles (1999-01) and 200-meter dash (2000-01).
Patricia Szelle - Fencing (1995-98)
Four-time All-American in foil, earning first team honors three times (1995, '96, '97) and a second-team nod in 1998 ... member of Midwestern Collegiate Conference Champion foil team in 1998 ... won conference individual title in 1997 ... three-time Academic All-Big Ten (1996-99) and four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete ...remained involved with the sport as a referee ... ranked as one of the Top 3 female referees in the nation and was voted Midwest Referee of the Year.
Lindsey Vagedes - Gymnastics (1997-01)
Earned All-America honors on both vault and all-around in 1997 ... first Buckeye gymnast to earn the distinction on two events ... won Big Ten titles on vault in both 1998 and '99 and claimed the balance beam title in 1999 ... four-time All-Big Ten selection ... three-time NCAA championships qualifier ... tied Ohio State record on balance beam with a 9.975 vs. Pittsburgh in 1999 ... four-time letterwinner.
* In addition, the Varsity O awarded former Ohio State cross country head coach and track and field distance coach Jim McDonough an honorary letter. He served as cross country head coach and assisted with the track team from 1976 until his death Jan. 21, 1984. A former professional baseball player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, McDonough produced seven cross country All-Americans in his eight seasons with Ohio State.