If you were to ask the average fan to name some Ohio State football traditions, they’d probably correctly guess the “Dotting of the I” or the Buckeye decals on the helmet or the insufferable way its fans emphasize “THE” in front of the school’s name.
However, there’s another lesser-known tradition that should garner some attention.
The “Captains’ Breakfast” started in 1934 at Ohio State, and is held during homecoming week each year. Every former Ohio State football player who had been named team captain during their time in Columbus is invited back to have breakfast and welcome the new team captains.
The new captains receive commemorative mugs, as per the tradition, and get to meet with some of the greatest players in the program’s history.
This tradition was brought up at a recent meeting of the Little Rock Touchdown Club, where former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit was the guest speaker.
The “Captains’ Breakfast” is mentioned by Herbstreit in his new book, Out of the Pocket: Football Fatherhood, and College Gameday Saturdays, and caught the eye of former Arkansas linebacker and Touchdown Club founder, David Bazzel.
“I’ll tell you, at Arkansas we’ve done nothing for team captains,” Bazzel said. “When I read the book, I reached out to Coach Pittman and Kyle Parkinson (Associate AD/Communications at Arkansas) and I want to start a tradition, like they’ve been doing at Ohio State for decades, where any past team captains can come up and meet the new team captains one morning or night before a game. I pitched that to coach (Pittman), and I hope he does it.”
Bazzel’s Impact on Arkansas Football
This wouldn’t be Bazzel’s first time trying to help start a tradition in Fayetteville. In fact, he’s spearheaded a few since his playing days ended.
In 1996, Bazzel created the iconic 24-karat, 175-pound gold trophy known as “The Boot” for the rivalry game between Arkansas and LSU each season.
In 2015, Bazzel was again tasked with creating a trophy for an Arkansas rivalry game, this time for their annual game against Missouri dubbed “The Battle Line Rivalry.”
Though this trophy (and rivalry) were met with much less fanfare than the LSU trophy (and rivalry), the annual match-up has provided its share of good games.
Bazzel also created the Broyles Award that is annually given to the nation’s best assistant coach, founded the Little Rock Touchdown Club and can be heard daily on 103.7 FM the Buzz, the state’s most popular sports radio station.
This makes him a very influential and respected figure when it comes to football in Arkansas, and the successful track record means the program should welcome his ideas.
Why Borrowing from Ohio State Football Makes Sense
Some fans may question the idea of Arkansas “borrowing” another program’s tradition and say something along the lines of “we need to create our own” or “we already have traditions.”
If you need convincing, let Bazzel explain it to you a little bit.
“I was a team captain (in 1985) and it was one of the proudest things I’ve ever done, being voted team captain for the Razorbacks,” Bazzel said.
It’s highly unlikely that he’s the only former captain who feels that way.
The prestige that the Ohio State football program has doesn’t come from just winning conference championships and national championships or being in the mix almost every other year.
Another part of that prestige comes from legendary former players who were able to pave a path of success while in college. Ohio State’s history is filled with players who have been stars on Saturdays in Columbus and became household names.
Ohio State’s traditions seem to honor those legendary players in a much more meaningful way than other programs, including Arkansas.
Having a tradition like the “Captains’ Breakfast” can build continuity and cohesiveness among players past and present, with new captains joining an “elite club” of the program’s best players in history.
It could lead to former players feeling even more welcomed to return and visit the current program. This has improved a lot since Sam Pittman was hired, as we’ve seen guys like Darren McFadden and Steve Atwater return to games and meet with the current team.
Being able to get legends of that caliber around your program regularly can only help you build an even stronger “family” culture like what Pittman is trying to establish.
“It is really cool to have all of the old captains come back, it makes you feel more connected than you realize,” Herbstreit said at the Touchdown Club. “It’s neat to meet the next group of players coming through.”
It doesn’t have to be a large, extravagant event to encapsulate the essence of what Ohio State has done since 1934.
The title of team captain is an honor and accomplishment that deserves recognition.
It’s a part of the legacy that is left behind after a captain’s playing days are over, and Bazzel’s idea is the perfect way to do so.
Watch Kirk Herbstreit’s appearance at the Little Rock Touchdown Club here:
Arkansas Football Captains in 2022
Two of the four captains – KJ Jefferson and Jalen Catalon – also served as captains in 2021. The other two, Bumper Pool and Dalton Wagner, are super seniors who get to play for a fifth season.
Jefferson discussed the honor of captaining during Wednesday’s press conference: “It’s a real big deal here at the University of Arkansas. Just to gain the trust from my teammates and the confidence from my teammates to vote me captain and to actually become a second-time captain here at the University of Arkansas is an extremely big deal. I take pride in it. I don’t take it lightly. I just thank those guys, my teammates.”
Jalen Catalon added: “It’s a blessing for sure, to know that my teammates think of me that way, as their captain, it’s an honor. There’s a lot of guys that could have been named captain but to be chosen as one it’s definitely an honor that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
“It means a lot to have Bumper,” Catalon added. “I’ve said it so many times and I’m going to stand on it, having him in the linebacker room and having him run things in that room and run things on the field as far as the box, it doesn’t get any better to know you have someone you can trust and know they’re going to do their assignments and bring that juice and leadership every single day.”
“Now that we’ve got the captain situation figured out, now it’s time to play football.”
Indeed, that starts on Saturday in Fayetteville when the Razorbacks host the Cincinnati Bearcats, a game in which they are widely favored according to 1xBet – use casino affiliate programs.
“It’s an exciting time, first game of the year against a worthy ranked opponent like Cincinnati with a great coaching staff and great players,” Catalon said. “We’ve been riding for this moment since the offseason started and we’ve had great leadership on the team. We’ve had a lot of good practices put together from fall camp to the Cincinnati practices this week. We’ve just got to keep the string going along, and when September 3rd comes around, we’ll be ready to go.”
Later, he followed up that point: “There’s going to be a sold-out crowd and there’s going to be millions of people watching from their home. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Hear from Sam Pittman on the four players voted team captains by their teammates:
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