Archie Griffin will return to his old stomping ground, Ohio Stadium, on May 10 as the Spring Commencement speaker.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be asked to do commencement, here at Ohio State University,” Griffin said. “To me, it’s a huge moment.”
Griffin, president and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association, is the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in college football history, and was a three-time All American in 1973, 1974 and 1975.
OSU President Michael Drake asked Griffin to speak at commencement after being endorsed by the OSU Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee, according to a press release provided by Amy Murray, a university spokeswoman.
“I’m thrilled that Archie has agreed to be our commencement speaker,” Drake said in the press release. “Our graduates will get a chance to hear from the ultimate Buckeye and a man whose hard work, generous spirit and philosophy of ‘paying forward’ has brought so much credit to this university.”
Griffin will address more than 10,000 graduates and their families at the event, the release said.
Griffin said he was overwhelmed with the invitation, and that the moment brought him back to one he shared with OSU football coach Woody Hayes, when Hayes was asked to speak at the OSU spring commencement in 1986.
“I’ll never forget how emotional and excited coach Hayes was about being asked to do that,” he said. “It was something that meant a tremendous amount to him. He called me and he told me that, and he got a little emotional over the phone, and I’ll never forget that. And when I got that call, it hit me. It made me understand how and why he felt that way.”
Griffin said he hasn’t mapped out the details of his speech yet, but does hope the speech carries with it a sense of Hayes’ “pay it forward” philosophy, which Hayes included in his 1986 speech.
“That’s something that obviously stuck with me, and it’s something that I try to keep going,” he said. “I know it’s a big part of my family and what we do. And it’s because of coach Hayes consistently talking about that.”
Griffin said he also plans to share a couple stories from his time playing in the ‘Shoe.
“I just feel I’d be remiss not to because I hadn’t been in front of that many people on that football field since the time that I played there,” he said.
Griffin said his favorite off-field memory from his time at OSU was his own graduation.
“Graduation was the most exciting moment for me,” he said. “My purpose in coming here was to graduate. Football meant a lot to me, no question about it, but in reality, football was the vehicle I used to get the college education that I wanted. I’ll always be very appreciative of the game because for that.”
Griffin earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial relations in 1976.
Griffin said his youngest son, Adam, will be graduating this spring and will most likely attend commencement.
“That makes it kind of special for me to have that opportunity to speak,” he said. “I know he’ll say, ‘Oh my goodness, my dad’s up there speaking.’ He’ll probably be nervous for me.”
Griffin has spoken previously at commencements as a representative of the Alumni Association, but he said this experience will be different.
“Being the keynote, that’s a different story,” he said.