Big games pump up BG, UT fans
It was a David-versus-Goliath yesterday for the two northwest Ohio football programs in the Mid-American Conference, an opportunity to cut a little deeper into the perceived talent gap that exists between so-called mid-major universities like Toledo and Bowling Green and the sport's elite.
Yesterday - when Bowling Green represented itself admirably in a narrow 24-17 loss in front of 104,358 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus against the fifth-ranked, defending national-champion Ohio State Buckeyes, and Toledo shocked ninth-ranked Pittsburgh 35-31 before 31,711 in the Glass Bowl - was arguably the most important single day for this area's two Division I-A football programs.
Some BG and UT fans and school administrators in attendance at the games offered their thoughts on these games and here is what they had to say: “This is very exciting for our players and it's exposure for the university. It's name recognition, not just for football, but for all of your athletic programs. It's a chance to play against the best in the country. This gives you added visibility. [BG quarterback] Josh Harris was on the front page of the USA Today sports section, and there was also a major story about some of the research going on in our sociology department working with children and families. Once your name is out there, people are more open to giving you other kinds of exposure.” - Dr. Sidney Ribeau, BGSU president. “This is a great opportunity to have a team like Pittsburgh here. It's a nationally-ranked team and it gives us a chance to show what our team can do against a team like that. It's not only good for UT, it's great for the MAC. If you should happen to win, you can talk about it for years.” - Dr. Daniel Johnson, UT president. “It's my first time back at Ohio Stadium for a game and it's a little unusual being on the other side of the field, but the focus is on Bowling Green and what our team is trying to do. I feel great about our program and games like these are important as a measuring stick for our program and for the conference. I think our kids want to play the best, particularly when it's an in-state rivalry like this. With more exposure like this, it's a much easier sell to the people you're trying to recruit to BG.” - BG athletic director Paul Krebs, a former OSU associate AD. “It's really mixed emotions for me. You want to sing the Aye Ziggy Zoomba [BGSU song], but it's kind of tough with the Ohio State gear on. I'm pulling for the Buckeyes, but I hope Bowling Green has a nice game.” - Dan Steingraber, 46, BG graduate and OSU fan. “It's a wonderful opportunity. I was telling my wife [a 1973 BG grad] that 30 years ago I don't know if any of the students in the stands here would have even known who Bowling Green was. Now they darn well know who the MAC is as well as Bowling Green.” - Bob Tracy, 53, a Bowling Green resident and 1976 UT graduate. “I'm a big fan of the Big Ten, but I'm also a big fan of the MAC and I don't think the MAC has ever gotten the credit it should have. But they're gradually gaining on that credit year by year.” - Toledoan Denny Schwartz, whose t-shirt was split down the middle with BGSU on his right side and OSU on his left. “It's great for the institution and it's also terrific for the conference. Year after year we just keep getting better and get more national press. Tonight, this is kind of the place to be, as far as the city of Toledo. This afternoon it was down in Columbus.” - UT athletic director Mike O'Brien. “When we played [big teams] it was like you played with them and you hoped to win. I think the MAC now expects to win, and they can compete. That gap is so small right now. I heard Ohio State's recruiting guy say that if it were still 95 scholarships [per school], they'd probably have 10 Bowling Green football players with them.” - Pat Kennedy, 43, a former Toledoan who now lives in Delaware, Ohio. He chose the Glass Bowl yesterday over Ohio Stadium.