Matt Edwards / Asst. Multimedia editor
While Ohio State is usually in contention for a National Championship, the 2011 OSU football season has had a rocky start. Still, many students and visitors are eager to attend Saturday’s game, the first at home since classes started on Wednesday.
Attending his first-ever home game this Saturday, James Prather, a first-year in engineering, said the team’s struggles have not diminished his interest in the team and he is excited for the game.
Megan Miller, a second-year in early-childhood education, is also as interested as ever, saying “I don’t care if we lose, I’m just glad to go (to the game).”
Others were less optimistic about the season, but still excited for the home football games this season.
Ben Koziol, a first-year in psychology, said he is “hoping for a win, but at this point I can’t expect anything.”
Annually, OSU football is expected to be a contender in the Big Ten. This year, however, is not a typical year for the program. The team was a constant feature on ESPN and in news nationwide this summer, but for all the wrong reasons, as the program came under fire for a major scandal. Consequentially, four OSU football players — DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas — were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season after selling Buckeye football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Linebacker Jordan Whiting received a one-game ban.
After initially agreeing to a suspension for the first five games of OSU’s upcoming season, former Buckeyes’ quarterback Terrelle Pryor departed the university on June 7 to pursue a professional football career. His departure came just days after former head coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign from his position.
The Buckeyes’ troubles off the field have carried over onto the field as well. The team has struggled in the first three weeks of the season. After struggling to a victory at home versus Toledo, the Buckeyes fell to Miami during a hard-to-watch game that ended in a 24-6 defeat. The loss to Miami also resulted in a fall from the AP Top 25 poll for the first time in nearly seven years.
As of 3 p.m. on Thursday, approximately 101,000 tickets had been sold for Saturday’s game, Brett Scarbrough, senior director of ticketing for Ohio State athletics, said in an email. However, Scarbrough said there were still approximately 1,000 tickets available. The official capacity of Ohio Stadium is 102,329. The record for attendance in Ohio Stadium is 106,033 set on Sept. 12, 2009.
Scarbrough said in the email that the 1,000 tickets were available because Colorado returned the tickets they hadn’t sold from their allotment.
Some experts say the available tickets are a sign that the interest level in OSU football might be waning slightly as a result of their early-season struggles.
Former OSU cornerback, Dustin Fox, and cohost of the radio show The Fan in Cleveland, said ticket sales are related to team performance.
“When the team’s winning, people will show up,” Fox said. “If Ohio State had won against Miami, I doubt there would be any tickets available for Colorado. That’s just the nature of the business.”
Jack Park, OSU football historian, said a decline of ticket sales is a combination of last week’s loss to Miami, Tressel’s resignation and Saturday’s opponent.
“I think [last week’s game] discouraged a lot of people,” Park said. “And Colorado is not a very good opponent. They have not won a road game since 2007.”
Park compared the loss to Miami to the defeat against Purdue in 2009.
“It may take the rest of the season to see if this Miami game was just one of those games that happens every once in a while,” Park said.
Despite the roller coaster year that OSU football has endured, the allure of attending a football game in Ohio Stadium exists among students.
Fox said he does not think the issues at hand are affecting the players on the field, but that “it’s a down year for Ohio State.”
The Buckeyes’ are set to take on the Colorado Buffaloes at Ohio Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
Correction: A previous version of the article stated that Brett Scarbrough said it was unusual to have 1,000 tickets available just 48 hours prior to game time. In fact, Scarbrough said that the tickets were available because Colorado returned tickets they had not sold from their allotment.