Imagine this, football fans: Undefeated Ohio State battles its way to the biggest postseason game of the year. But before the revved-up athletes can go to the airport the university decides: You know, all things considered, we think it would be better if we just didn’t play.
It once happened. And as this year’s Buckeyes prepare to play Alabama for the national championship Monday night, what transpired at the end of the 1961 season remains one of the most bizarre episodes in college football history.
Ohio State, after tying its opener against Texas Christian, had run the table to finish 8-0-1. In the final game of the regular season, it trounced rival Michigan, 50-20. This was before the playoff system was instituted, so the traditional bowl games were how teams made their case to be voted national champions. Ohio State was invited to play in the most prestigious of those games: the Rose Bowl.
As the team prepared for the trip to Pasadena, Calif., to face UCLA, Ohio State’s Faculty Council met to take the required formal vote to accept the Rose Bowl invitation.
The faculty voted no.