Officals Urge Buckeye Fans: Celebrate Michigan Win Appropriately

Columbus Mayor Coleman urges Buckeye fans to celebrate a victory over Michigan "with class"
Columbus Mayor Coleman urges Buckeye fans to celebrate a victory over Michigan "with class"

Officials hope Saturday’s game between top-ranked Ohio State and second-ranked Michigan won’t end in a night of rioting as it did four years ago. Beat Michigan Week got underway at OSU yesterday. At an afternoon press conference city and university leaders urged fans to celebrate appropriately. Even so, they say there will be an increased post-game police presence to deter any violence.

OSU students say they don’t know if there will be violence or not following this Saturday’s Ohio State – Michigan game.

“I hope it will be peace. I feel pretty safe.”

“I don’t think there will be riots because everybody knows there will be stiff penalties.”

“I hope it’s good. I don’t know whether it will be good or not. People will probably riot. Last year wasn’t bad, I don’t think.”

Officials hope to head off the kind of rioting that occurred in 2002 when fans overturned and set fire to cars and furniture in the streets near campus. Columbus public safety director Mitchell Brown says that sort of violence will not be tolerated again.

“I’m not going to go into all the details, but I can assure you that individuals that act inappropriately and chose to be disruptive, all you need to do is look around, look over your shoulder and there will be a Columbus police officer who will be prepared to deal with the problem.”

Mayor Coleman urged fans not to tarnish Columbus’s image. He asked them to celebrate “a victory with class.” OSU Vice President for Student Affairs Rich Hollingsworth said he’ll be emailing students this week reminding them to obey the law and the code of student conduct or face suspension from school. The university is also running a new “Best Fans in the Land” ad campaign. The spots include personalities like Archie Griffin urging a sportsman-like approach to the game.

Two-time Buckeye Heisman winner Archie Griffin: I’ve played a little football in the Shoe and I can tell you that a championship team needs championship fans. Screaming fan: O! H! Buckeye captain Troy Smith: Thanks for cheering us on. Screaming crowd: O! H! Former Buckeye track star Stephanie Hightower: Let’s make the team and city… Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman: … proud of us. Cheer loud. (Fans cheering) Men’s basketball coach Thad Matta: No matter what the sport… Griffin: Cheer for the team, not against the opponent Crowd: Go Bucks! Basketball player Stephanie Blanton: Make our guests feel welcome.”

Some students say they think authorities will have their hands full. Art majors Erin Kolsky and Alden Byrd.

“There will probably be riots regardless of whether they win or lose,” Kolsky said.

“Alcohol plays a huge part of that,” Byrd added.

Kolsky says she thinks the presence of police will be the most significant deterrent.

“The police in the riot gear, with the shields, and the horses, I think the riot gear police is going to be the most effective.”