DELAWARE, Ohio– This year marks the 150th anniversary of college football, and no conversation about the sport would be complete without a mention of Ohio State. But did you know there is a special, historical connection between Ohio’s biggest football program and one of its smallest?
Despite their separation in size and division, Ohio Wesleyan athletic director Doug Zipp says the school’s football program has deep ties to Ohio State’s. The teams played for the first time in 1890, and Wesleyan was the Buckeyes’ first opponent in Ohio Stadium.
“We played the first game at Ohio Stadium ever back in 1922,” Zipp said.
Wesleyan’s current stadium, Selby Stadium, was modeled after Ohio stadium. It holds 10,000 people compared to Ohio stadium’s 100,000.
“With Selby built in 1929 – it makes it one of the most historic stadiums in the state of Ohio,” football coach Tom Watts said. “It was modeled after Ohio stadium. We, to this day, we actually take our players down to OSU and try to practice once a year just to kind of relive that tradition; to relive the history to make our kids understand the history that’s behind them.”
A history that Mark Shipps - a third generation of Ohio Wesleyan alum - says starts with former athletic director George Gauthier, who led the school’s athletics department from 1921 to 1955.
“George Gauthier was the athletic director here and was aware of what was going on in planning for Ohio Stadium and was able to essentially leverage off the work that was going on down there because the stadiums both have the same basic design,” Shipps said.
Now, nine decades after the stadium was built, the Battling Bishops look to take down their current conference rival – Dennison - this weekend, just in time for the 150th anniversary of college football.
“Obviously we’re excited,” Watts said. “Kids are excited. It’s a great game. It’s always a really good competition against Dennison and us. They’re a very good football team but so are we. So it’s obviously even more special to be home for our seniors. We say goodbye to 23 seniors in what could potentially be the last game they play in Selby Stadium.”