Thirty years and a cloud of dust
As his last day with Ohio State's alumni association nears, football legend Archie Griffin looks back on his fondest memories as a Buckeye for life.
It’s real simple: The Ohio State University has meant everything to me.
From the first breath I took at University Hospital on Aug. 21, 1954, to my days playing in Ohio Stadium to the more than three decades I've spent working for the university, Ohio State has been a huge part of my life.
When I walk out the doors of the Longaberger Alumni House next week, I will be walking into a new chapter of my life. Turning the page will give me a chance to step away from the daily grind of running a complex, dynamic organization like The Ohio State University Alumni Association. It will allow me the opportunity to spend more time with family, especially doting a little more on my three grandkids. And I’ll be breaking out the golf clubs more often — I really enjoy the game and know I will like trying to get better. (You’ll notice that I said trying to get better.)
To be clear, by no means am I leaving Ohio State — we mean it when we tell our new graduates each semester that they are now Buckeyes for life — but I am leaving behind the everyday work of being the head of the alumni association.
I remember the first day I reported for work at the university in 1984. I was fresh out of an eight-year NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals, and I remember thinking to myself as I walked into the human resources offices at Archer House, “Well, Archie, now you’re doing your life’s work. Let’s do the best job we can.”
I didn’t know where that work would take me, but I knew I would work hard. For the last 11-and-a-half years, I have prided myself on doing the best job I can leading the alumni association, the engagement arm for the university. Earlier in my career, I worked in Ohio State's athletic department in different capacities, as well as getting my initial start in human resources.
While my roles have changed over the years, there are some things that have stayed the same about my time at the university. I’ve always worked with great people, we’ve always had a great time doing it and my experiences here have shaped me into a better person, co-worker and leader.
Deep down, I knew that Ohio State meant a lot to me, but it was really driven home this May. That’s when I got to run with the ball one last time in Ohio Stadium — an opportunity I never dreamed I would have — to address the graduates and their friends and family as the spring commencement speaker. My own son, Adam, was graduating, and after my speech I got to hand him his diploma from my university — and right on the field where we both had played for the scarlet and gray.
That day also brought me full circle, back to the man who had the most to do with my lifelong involvement with Ohio State — my coach and mentor, Woody Hayes.
I remember how emotional it was for Woody to address the graduates at commencement in 1986, and I have to say that when I was invited to speak by President Drake, I finally knew how Woody felt.
I would put the commencement ceremony this May right alongside the day I graduated from Ohio State as my two favorite days of being a Buckeye. It was that special.
After a life as a University Hospital baby, Ohio State student and athlete, and 30-plus years as a university employee, I simply want to say thank you to everyone who has crossed my path on this campus. Thank you for all you have given me and trust me when I say it has far surpassed whatever I have given you.
Until I see you again, Go Bucks!