COLUMBUS, Ohio — Spring football practice began Wednesday as Ohio State’s basketball team prepared for its second trip to the Final Four in the past six years.
Perfect symmetry there.
The basketball team is usually playing in the shadow of goal posts on the Ohio State campus.
In the past few months, the city has been consumed by the hiring of Urban Meyer to resurrect a program that’s banned from bowl eligibility for 2012.
All-America forward Jared Sullinger knows that even during March, most Ohio State fans would rather talk about TDs than 3s.
“We’re never going to beat coach Urban Meyer,” Sullinger said. “He brought the most buzz to Columbus, Ohio, in a long time.”
Even so, the basketball team is generating a little of its own.
The Buckeyes will play Kansas in the national semifinals Saturday night. They won their only national basketball title in 1960, starting a run of three consecutive trips to the title game.
For at least one week, hoops is grabbing its share of the attention around town, even though Buckeyes sports Web sites still count down the number of days until the annual football game against Michigan.
“The buzz we brought, being known not only as a football school but as a basketball school, is great,” Sullinger said. “But at the same time, we don’t want the train to stop at this particular moment. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”
The Final Four timing is perfect for a school still recovering from last fall.
The football program brought the school notoriety of the worst kind last season. Coach Jim Tressel was forced out in May for lying about his players breaking NCAA rules. The team went 6-7 and dropped its last four games, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl. The program was banned from a bowl in 2012.
Even when the Buckeyes were on top of college basketball in the early 1960s, the basketball team took a seat in the second row.
“Maybe during our period we elevated it a little bit, but I think everybody knows the case is that football is predominant there,” said former Buckeyes star Jerry Lucas, a member of the Ohio State teams that won the national championship in 1960 and lost in the 1961 and 1962 title games.