We asked our SB Nation colleague Matt Brown from Land-Grant Holy Land to answer a few questions about Ohio State, Columbus, OSU fans and what to expect as #CHOPNation heads west.
OTB: What's the best thing about Columbus as a college town?
Matt Brown: Columbus is the perfect size to have something for everybody. If your tastes run a little more urban, the city has an excellent arena and entertainment district right downtown. If you like art galleries and live music, the city has plenty. The actual Ohio State campus is huge, and can be secluded enough for anybody to forget they're in a huge city as well. You're 10 minutes from skyscrapers or cows (we're an Ag campus, after all), depending on where you're standing. It isn't so big as to be overwhelming, but plenty large enough to have variety. And everything is about the Buckeyes.
OTB: What makes the fan base in Columbus so good?
MB: It helps to be the only game in town (sorry Blue Jackets, you've been good for like, one year). It helps to be an absolutely huge school, one laden with tradition. But mostly, its because Ohio State has been an excellent football program for decades, and most of Ohio's other teams have sucked. When one institution dominates the state and is so successful for a long time, you're going to get a lot of fans, and a lot of passionate ones at that.
OTB: What should Rutgers fans expect when they arrive in town and at the stadium?
MB: They shouldn't expect any outright hostility, but they should expect to be swallowed up by over a hundred thousand loud, passionate, and partisan Buckeye fans. Columbus is going to be loud, it's going to be full, and it's going to be exceptionally pro-Buckeye. Buckeye fans will probably take over your home stadium too. We're everywhere.
OTB: There's been a lot on the blogs about Rutgers and UMd joining the B1G. What's the true feeling among Buckeye fans about Rutgers?
MB: The true feeling is that most Ohio State fans are against it. That feeling is nearly uniform at LGHL. We understand the rationale, but OSU doesn't "need" the extra BTN money, and the Buckeyes already recruit the northeast, so they don't see a huge benefit. If Rutgers comes out and is a competitive football team early on, Buckeye fans may shut up about it, but if the team struggles, expect to hear a LOT of second guessing about the decision.
OTB: Rutgers has the grease trucks; where in Columbus can you go to get a heart attack-inducing meal?
MB: Glad you asked! Thurman's Cafe was featured on Man vs Food for the Thurmenator burger (picture a burger combined with a ham sammich), and Melt, a popular deluxe grilled cheese outfit based out of Cleveland, has one location open near Columbus and another on the way.
OTB: What other great attractions are there in and around Columbus?
MB: The Columbus Zoo really is excellent, if you're into animals. The downtown Arena District has great eats and drinks, and contains the AAA Cleveland Indians affiliate if you're into baseball (it's an awesome park). The Short North, which helps connect downtown to campus, is a crawl for arts, fancy bars and eclectic restaurants, and The Newport, just off of Ohio State's campus, is the nation's longest running rock club, and often has great shows.
OTB: What should Rutgers fans watch out for or be aware of in Columbus? And they're fans and are excited about football. But how should they act/behave around OSU fans?
MB: Don't be a dick, because you won't have numbers, and just like any large college football fanbase, when around booze, sometimes they can be a little rowdy. Depending on where you park, there are some neighborhoods near campus that aren't super great, so just be aware of your surroundings. It'll probably be fine though.
OTB: A Chicago writer put out a piece a while back on the most obnoxious B1G fans. Buckeye supporters ranked pretty high. Your reaction?
MB: Heh, I used to live in Chicago, and read Ernest's work on a regular basis. I don't think the stereotypes are totally without merit, the "blind" business about Ohio State is WAY worse with Penn State than it is with the Buckeyes. I won't pretend that our fan base's reputation for not being choir boys isn't without merit, but we aren't the most annoying in the conference.
OTB: Finally, why THE Ohio State University?
MB: Lots of schools are THE something or another. Part of it is to help us differentiate from Oregon or Oklahoma State. But yeah, it's also a pride thing. Ohio State is an excellent and massive research institution. It's a *big deal*, and we're proud of it. Smug is part of what being in the Big Ten is all about.
A big thank you to Matt Brown for his insights. If you're heading for Columbus, maybe keep Matt's points in mind and enjoy the game.