Ohio State University’s first home football game today against Oregon State starts another season of Buckeye tradition. And part of that tradition involves Script Ohio.
The spelling out of the state’s name by the Ohio State University Marching Band has been a staple of fall football in Columbus for more than 80 years, much longer than the playing of “Hang on Sloopy.”
And the performance’s signature punctuation of dotting the Ohio “i” – nearly always done by a sousaphone player – has long been seen as a high honor. Here are seven things know about Script Ohio:
•HOW IT EVOLVED: In 1932, the University of Michigan Marching Band was the first to spell “Ohio” on the field. It was not scripted, but instead formed as the band members ran out from the sidelines into their final positions.
•BUCKEYE BEGINNINGS: The Ohio State University Marching Band first performed Script Ohio on Oct. 10, 1936, during halftime of a game against the University of Pittsburgh.
•DESIGN ORIGINS: Band Director Eugene J. Weigel based the looped “Ohio” script design on the marquee sign of the Loew’s Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus, according to the university.
•FIRST ‘I” DOTTER: The person to start what has become coveted role was John Brungart, a cornet player.
•SOUSAPHONE SELECTION: In 1937, sousaphone player Glen Johnson was chosen by Weigel to dot the “i” and it has become the Script Ohio tradition. A fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player is chosen to stand as the dot in the “i” of “Ohio.”
•GUEST DOTTERS: Several non-marching band members have been honored with dotting the “I.”
They include: Buster Douglas, heavyweight boxing champion from Columbus; Dr. Paul Droste, former OSU Marching Band director; Novice Fawcett, former OSU president; E. Gordon Gee, former OSU president; John Glenn, astronaut and U.S. senator from New Concord; Bob Hope, comedian/actor who grew up in Cleveland; Robert Ries, former OSU ticket director; Woody Hayes, former OSU head football coach; Jack Nicklaus, OSU alum and golfer raised in Columbus; and Earle Bruce, former OSU head football coach.
•HOMECOMING SCRIPTS: Each year the OSU Alumni Marching Band also performs Script Ohio at Homecoming, which this year is Sept. 22. The popularity of the performance among alumni band members has increased the number of scripts in recent years.
Next month’s festivities will include four total scripts, three of them by alumni, said Sara Lawhon, reunion chair of the alumni marching band.