For most fans, football season is a time to pull out their warmest Ohio State garb and dust off their buckeye necklaces. But for Orlas King, an OSU alumnus, it is a time to grab his scarlet-and-gray cabby hat and put on his dancing shoes.
King, otherwise known as the Neutron Man, attends every football game and is seated in the southeast corner of Ohio Stadium. Despite the crowd of scarlet and gray, King can always be found when the band begins playing “The Neutron Dance” – his musical cue.
On cue, fans usually look to King to see his newest dance steps, which also are featured on the Horseshoe’s big screen. Dancing usually comes at a time when the stadium is on the quiet side, King said. The dancing stimulates the crowd, causing them to cheer and support the team, he said.
“I am as amused as everyone else is,” said Debbi King, the Neutron Man’s wife. “He enjoys it, the fans enjoy watching him and I enjoy watching the fans watch him.”
Both King and his wife are avid Buckeye football fans who love to cheer.
“The only thing I don’t do is dance,” Debbi King said. “That’s his thing. I wouldn’t want to show him up.”
King has always had his own dance moves and is a natural dancer, Debbi King said.
One of his main attractions is his dancing ability, she said. While the two were dating, dancing was a regular event. They have now been married 16 years.
King, 60, has always been a Buckeye fan. In his younger years, King’s father took him to a game each year, which he said was the highlight of his childhood.
After school, King continued to attend OSU games as an alumnus. He would show his school spirit through his dance moves, which grew in popularity among the fans. In 1973, after King danced to the marching band’s rendition of the “Neutron Dance” by the Pointer Sisters, the crowd began to chant “Neutron Man” and the name has stuck, he said.
The new Neutron Man, who had always worn scarlet and gray, later received a makeover and now wears the same outfit every game. His uniform, specially made by Beltea, consists of scarlet and gray camouflage pants, a replica OSU jersey reading “Neutron Man,” a buckeye necklace, red tennis shoes, OSU socks and a scarlet and gray cabby hat.
Although his outfit and dance moves are anything but forgettable, King prefers to stay out of the spotlight when he is out of the Horseshoe, said Tim Pike, a senior in criminology and sociology and former OSU cheerleader.
“He was everywhere the cheerleaders were, and whenever he got attention, he would re-direct it to the cheerleaders and the band,” Pike said. “Even a portion of the money made from the Beanie Baby of him is put toward the cheerleading scholarship. He is so giving and absolutely in love with Ohio State.”
King is very appreciative of what students do for the university, especially the cheerleaders, said Judy Bunting, OSU cheerleading coach. He is the kind of person who is always there to chat about anything from the Buckeyes to life in general. His interest is in OSU and its students and he uses his personality to help them in any way, she said.
Earlier in the year, King held a party at Beekman Park for the cheerleaders and marching band members, Bunting said. It was a huge commitment and a large cost, but he did not expect anything in return. It was his way of thanking the cheerleaders and band members for their hard work, while also allowing them to relax, she said.
“I took them out to lunch,” King said. “It was my way of showing appreciation for all that they do.”
Along with understanding the hard work put in by athletes, King goes out of his way to build relationships with students. For some students whose parents are not around, he is like a father figure, said Pike, who calls him “Big Daddy.” King helps students network in the business world, investing in their future, he said.
King supports all of OSU’s athletic programs and the university’s students in general, Debbi King said. There is always something going on that will benefit OSU or other charities, and he feels he has to be there, she said.
King owns two Ponderosas and End Zone, a sports bar in Newark, Ohio. The sports bar is not completely OSU-driven, but does hold the remaining part of the Buckeye memorabilia that does not fit in the house, he said.
Home or away, King always supports the Buckeyes and has no problem giving credit to a better team.
King himself goes out of the way to congratulate both teams. Athletics are not just about winning, but about preparing students for life, he said.
“We are so very lucky here at Ohio State in the last 10 years,” King said. “We are not only the finest university in all the land – we have built new facilities and brought in coaches to support the new facilities. And once we got the coaches in there, now the players are coming, and all of the programs are winning programs. Hats off to Andy Geiger and staff to be able to accomplish that.”