Archie Griffin is an Ohio State football great, but his selection as Spring Commencement speaker has been met with mixed reactions.
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. Griffin earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial relations in 1976.
President Michael Drake asked Griffin to be the commencement speaker after he was endorsed by the OSU Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee.
“I’m thrilled that Archie has agreed to be our commencement speaker,” Drake said in a 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.”
But some of the more than 10,000 graduates aren’t so thrilled.
“I was kind of hoping for a bigger celebrity or something, just because I’m graduating, probably for the only time,” said Kelsey Lane, a graduating senior in anthropology. “I understand that it’s a national championship football year, but I was just hoping it was a little bit different.”
Lane added that she thought Griffin was a good and articulate speaker, but that there might be a little too much emphasis on football, rather than academics, this year.
“I feel like he’s more popular with people my parents’ age,” Lane said. “So it makes my parents feel like they’re more connected to my graduation.”
Walker Lowell, a second-year in finance, said even though he’s not graduating, he can see the sports aspect playing into the speaker decision.
“That’s Ohio State. If you think about it, that’s why people come here. When people visit Ohio State, they visit the stadium,” Lowell said.
President Barack Obama spoke two years ago at Spring Commencement and Chris Matthews, a pundit for MSNBC, spoke at least year’s ceremony.
Lowell said he thought some students were upset because of the caliber of speakers in past years.
“I can understand that people are upset, but at the same time, if you’re the university, you can’t follow up Obama,” he said. “There’s going to be somebody that’s let down.”
But not all students are disappointed in the choice.
Tim Cappel, a fourth-year in biology, said he thinks it’s more special that an OSU alumnus is giving the speech rather than someone from the outside.
“It’s really awesome to have someone who’s just the epitome of what it means to be a Buckeye to give us that final push as we leave to start real life,” he said.