Sorry, Ohio State. It’s Nothing Personal.

Never have I ever cheered for Ohio State. Now, before I get the blog-equivalent of carried out on a rail, let me explain…

Head Coach Urban Meyer after the OSU vs. Cal game.

The Ohio State University just ended a perfect football season, going 12-0 this fall. I think that’s fantastic, and I’m happy for any university or college that can claim that sort of streak. It truly says something about the strength of the team and the wisdom of the coaches. Unfortunately, for the 2012 Buckeyes, this past weekend’s game against arch rivals, the University of Michigan Wolverines, brought the end of their undefeated season. During the 2010 and 2011 football seasons, while the team was under Head Coach Jim Tressel (the coach who led my alma mater, YSU, to 4 NCAA Division I-AA titles in the 1990s), several players were found to have traded tattoos for autographs or selling memorabilia, violating NCAA policies. The fallout from these and other scandals led to Coach Tressel retiring from football, wishing to remain a “Buckeye for life.” Urban Meyer was named as the new head coach for the team, but his first season at the helm would not include postseason activities due to the sanctions set in place by the NCAA.

 

This is ridiculously tame and the exact opposite of anything involving those two teams today.

A lot of people are quite angry that despite their perfect record this season, Ohio State will not be headed to any bowl games, including one where it was likely that they’d be matched up against the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish. Fans of the team, who are flung to all corners of these United States, attempted to petition the White House, seeking a pardon for the team and allowing them to participate in postseason games. This petition, however, was removed. (I would petition to have “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” brought back, but I think the President has bigger things on his plate.)


Welcome to ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’, the show where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. That’s right, the points are just like Angelina Jolie’s breakfast.

Getting back to why I can’t bring myself to root for the scarlet and gray… I just don’t have a reason to. I don’t have a personal connection to the university, so I guess I don’t understand fervently cheering for a school I’ve never attended. It doesn’t mean anything to me, really. Going by that standard, a lot of universities hold no meaning for me. You know who I will always cheer for? The Youngstown State Penguins. Since I called it home for six years, I always will. Even if they’re not not in the playoffs, they’re still my team. I’ll probably be a big fan of the football program of whatever university or college I get to work for in the future, too. (I will try to get excited about basketball and baseball, but that’s asking a lot.) If you didn’t have a personal connection to Youngstown State, I wouldn’t expect you to root for them. OSU has fans all over the country, if not all over the world, so I understand the “pride is nation-wide” thing. As a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m part of a similar nation, but more about that in a minute. However, my friends who are alumni of Ohio State can take comfort in the fact that I don’t cheer for the Wolverines, either. 

Alright, so I’m not a fan of Ohio State because I didn’t go there. Ok. What about the fact that they’re from Ohio? Eh… that doesn’t hold much for me, either. It’s not like they’re the only good university football program in the state — look at Cincinnati. This goes for my NFL allegiance, too. Just because I’m from Ohio, it doesn’t mean that you’ll ever catch me in orange on game day, for either the Bengals or the Browns. (Actually, never the Browns.) I live closer to Pittsburgh than I do Cleveland, and I guess you could say I’m Pittsburgh Steeler-born-and-bred. I can admit that we’re very likely not going to the Super Bowl this year, but no one can ever call me a bandwagon fan.

These guys know what’s up.

So there it is. It really isn’t personal, Ohio State. I have plenty of friends who have attended and loved their experiences at Ohio State and that’s great for them. I appreciate the strong traditions of the school, including the annual “baptism” in Mirror Lake and Script Ohio. But, I didn’t go there, so I just don’t have that connection. At the same time, I don’t actively root against them, or any team… unless they’re playing against YSU. They’re a good team, and if they have a lot of players returning next season, I don’t see why they can’t make it to the bowls next year. Coming off the postseason ban, I’m sure they’ll have the drive to do so. Besides, I know several other people who cheer for universities they never attended, including Duke, Alabama, WVU, and, yes, even Michigan.

Now I’m curious, and there’s no right or wrong answer. If you’re an Ohio State fan, did you go there? If you didn’t, what about the Buckeyes makes you cheer for them? Or, do you root for another school that you didn’t attend? Why? These are just my reasons, and I’d like to hear yours. Just keep it civil. 🙂

Our Ohio Success Stories, Revisited

Of all the fashion articles, in all the online women’s magazines, in all the Internet, I found another Youngstown blogger who wrote about Nanette Lepore this past fall. While perusing Glamour’s Slaves to Fashion blog last night, I found this article about Youngstown’s favorite fashionista and her “Made in the USA” values. It includes photos from inside her NYC Garment District studio and factory, where all of her pieces are designed and assembled.

I want this dress in my closet, stat.

I wish I knew how to wear these colors! (Photo from Glamour article.)

I posted a comment about how I’m sure Ms. Lepore’s work ethic is a reflection of her Rust Belt roots, and posted a link for Joni’s article featuring the fashion designer. This afternoon when I went to see if anyone had replied to my comment, I found two lovely surprises: 1. Nanette Lepore is bringing her line to JCPenney (although, it’s a junior’s line, which I read as, “Not so much for you, curvy girl” —  however, accessories like bags and necklaces are one size fits all!); and 2. Someone had responded to my comment! Natasha, another Youngstowner, posts about fashion on her blog, Cardigancouture. It turns out, she also wrote a post last fall about this hometown success story. What are the odds? Anyway, I highly suggest you check her out. Her most recent post about brightly colored denim is a a territory I’m not sure I could ever approach, but I love her creative suggestions!

Last fall, I also wrote a post about my personal favorite Ohio success story: a little rock and roll band from Columbus, Ohio, called Red Wanting Blue. Well, the day I’ve been waiting for since the start of last semester is just about here. Tomorrow, they will be performing at the first Penguin Pre-Party at YSU, and I have to try to not turn into a total fan girl.  Yesterday, the band released the first music video to accompany their new album. Their song, “Audition,” is a remade version of the same song which appeared several years ago on one of their early albums. The structure and sound are still generally the same, which just goes to show that this fan favorite is a solid tune. At live performances, they add in a throwback to Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” (do, do do, do do, do-do-do…). And speaking of those live performances, tomorrow also kicks off a 3 concerts in 9 days streak for myself, my sister, and her fiance. Though they can’t make it tomorrow night, we’re all going to Cedar’s this Saturday night for their show. I also bought Carmen and Josh tickets to their House of Blues show in Cleveland for next Saturday. Like I said in my original post, not all people can afford to go see their favorite band multiple times a year, and its even more unlikely that their favorite band makes multiple appearances in the same region in a year.

Here’s the video for “Audition,” filmed at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus. They asked for fans to send in the videos they took that night of the performance to be included in the video. I think it turned out pretty well.

Red Wanting Blue – Audition (Official Music Video) from Red Wanting Blue on Vimeo.

A Fashionable Youngstown Success Story

Youngstown, Ohio doesn’t have the best reputation. We’re the city you see on the national news for high murder rates, poverty, the closure of steel mills, and the (now thankfully gone — well, as far as I know) mafia.

The truth is, though, that Youngstown has a lot of positive things going for it. The cost of living is low, there are beautiful outdoor spaces (Mill Creek Park), we’ve got some wonderful museums — like the Butler Institute of American Art and the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor — and we have some great Youngstown success stories.

The Butler Institute of American Art, established in 1919, was the first museum devoted to American art. It is free and open to the public.

One of those success stories is fashion designer Nanette Lepore. Not only was Lepore born and bred in Youngstown, but she also attended Youngstown State University, us Dames’ dear collegiate alma mater.

Photo copyright nanettelepore.com - No infringement intended.

Lepore has been a fashion staple for over a decade, both in New York and around the world. Her designs, which are beautiful, feminine, and easy to wear, are worn by celebrities and non-celebrities alike — and you don’t need to be a millionaire to buy them. Her designs are what made her famous, but also noteworthy is the work she has done to help save New York City’s Garment District and keep fashion-related jobs in the United States. Lepore is a home-run for American fashion and for Youngstown.

Her Spring 2012 collection debuts tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 14th at 11am) during New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.