Unveiling the Enigma: Discover the Fascinating Tale Behind the Legendary Moniker, ‘The Ohio State University’!


The Quirk Behind “The” Ohio State University: Unpacking the History

You’ve probably been there before. On a Sunday—or Thursday, or Monday—you’re watching an NFL game and the player introductions scroll across the screen. When an Ohio State Buckeye arrives, they don’t just announce that they attended classes in Columbus. There’s a stress on one particular word: “THE Ohio State University.”

Have you ever wondered what’s behind that quirk?

While “the” is a pretty ordinary word in day-to-day life, it matters to Buckeyes everywhere. Let’s take a look at the school’s history to unpack the context.

The Ohio State Buckeyes take the field prior to a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes are power players on the NCAA and NFL scene.
Ben Jackson/Getty Images

‘The’ Ohio State Dates to the Late 1800s

Given that many football fans hear the phrase “The Ohio State University” during player introductions, you might think that the article is a recent phenomenon springing from an inside joke and being repeated over the years. Terrell Suggs, for example, always said his alma mater was “Ball So Hard University” rather than Arizona State.

In reality, though, Ohio State’s specific name can be traced to the institution’s early days.

While the school was founded as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, things quickly changed to a more general approach. When the name was officially changed to reflect that new scope, the now-famous “The” was present.

As documented by Ohio State’s library, the board of trustees’ minutes officially recorded that “the educational institution heretofore known as the ‘Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College,’ shall be known and designated hereafter as ‘The Ohio State University.'”

And, from a marketing perspective, “The” Ohio State certainly stands out as a unique title. The school’s library also noted that a move away from the OSU logo was designed to “reflect the national stature of the institution” and differentiate the school from other OSU abbreviations. Through that lens, highlighting “The” certainly makes sense.

“A” (or “an”) by definition, can refer to one of any noun. “The,” however, means you’re talking about something specific. If you’re a fan of The Ohio State University, there is no option.

The Ohio State is a Presence on NFL Sundays

The Buckeyes usually take the field on Saturday, but the football program’s reach extends far beyond NCAA football. Not only has Ohio State produced plenty of players, but some of the NFL’s best have passed through the stadium known as the Horseshoe.

As noted by Sports Illustrated, the 2023 NFL Top 100 list featured seven Buckeyes (Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders; Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints; Justin Fields, Chicago Bears; Garrett Wilson, New York Jets; Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers; Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers; and Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers). Only Alabama had more alums in the Top 100.

Beyond that list, Ohio State boasts more first-round draft picks (90 through 2023) than any other school.

So, while the individual numbers may change year-over-year, there’s no doubting The Ohio State University’s impact on the football scene. If there’s a high-level game going on, it’s likely there will be at least one Buckeye involved.

And you’ll probably hear an emphatic “the” during player introductions.


Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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