Nov. 1, 2013
By Alex Marcheschi
During this past weekend's Miami game, the last team to bring a Mid-American Conference Championship to Ohio University was honored during the third quarter.
That team was the 1968 Bobcats, and they received an ovation as Bobcat fans were reminded of one of the best Ohio teams to ever take the field.
However, while the fans were proud to see the legends honored, the former champions were even more proud to see how the program has progressed, especially in recent history.
"The football program development that Coach Solich has accomplished has been nothing but dramatic," said Randy Wallake, a member of the 1968 team. "It's just been incredible, and we all are very proud of what's happened here."
Carson Crow, another member of the team who made it back last weekend, currently resides in Pomeroy, Ohio and works as a lawyer. He shares Wallake's pride in Ohio Football, and is happy with the leaps that the program has made.
"I am very proud to say that I'm part of Bobcat Nation. I think Coach Solich and his coaches have just really turned this thing around," he said. "I'm from Pomeroy and everything has changed there. It used to be Marshall territory, and now Ohio University is the big dog."
Many of the 1968 team members expressed their satisfaction with the job that Solich has done in his tenure at Ohio thus far. Jeff Robison also has a MAC Championship under his belt, and he just happened to be in Athens when Solich was hired.
"I was visiting the night Frank Solichwas named head coach, and I was one of the first ones to welcome him at the Ohio University Inn," Robison said. "I told him, you can win at Ohio University, and look what he's done now."
What he's done now includes establishing a winning attitude; taking the team to four straight bowl games; securing the program's first ever bowl win in 2011 at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl; and then winning another one last year at the Independence Bowl. The exposure that he has brought the program brings joy to the members of the '68 squad.
"I have the utmost respect for Coach Solich. I think he's a class act, and everything he's done has been great," Crow said. "I'm sure they'll win a MAC championship. I have season tickets, I go to all the bowl games, and it's been really fun."
And it's not just Solich that the former players appreciate.
"I'd like to think all this success speaks to the overall quality of the institution, that's really what the student athlete in high school should be looking at," Wallake said. "We have this here now thanks to President McDavis, (Athletic Director) Jim Schaus, and everything that they've done. The overall athletic program itself has progressed as well; it's been more than noticeable."
The men know how to win a MAC Championship, and even though the landscape of the conference has changed since their time on the field, they still have relevant advice for today's Bobcats.
"The MAC was smaller, but the Miamis, the Bowling Greens, the Kent States, and the Toldeos were all still there and the completion was stiff. Miami was always our fiercest rivalry," Robison said. "The mindset you need to win a championship is to do the best you can every play, every practice, and that's all it really comes down to."
Their experience molded them into the successful men that they are today, and it taught them invaluable life lessons.
"My time here made me learn to deal with adversity, that's what college football teaches you," Wallake. "Only one percent of players make it to the pros, so you learn to deal with life and come out ahead."
The former players still have immense Bobcat pride, and they will never forget their time at Ohio.
"Playing on this team has been a highlight of my life, and every one of these guys is very special to me," Robison said. "There are various guys that you don't see for 10 to 20 years and there's no relationship lost there."