Tradition is an important part of college football, especially in the Big Ten. From the Ohio State Marching Band playing “Script Ohio” to Michigan football players running out of the tunnel and jumping up to touch the “Go Blue” banner, traditions make every school unique.
Saturday, the No. 9 OSU football team will play at the University of Iowa, where players will encounter another unique tradition. The visitors’ locker room is painted pink.
“I honestly don’t know anything about Iowa, the state or just anything to be honest. I know that they have a pink locker room, that’s about it,” OSU senior kicker Devin Barclay said.
The pink locker room for visiting opponents is a tradition started by former Iowa coach Hayden Fry in his first season in 1979.
“Our facilities were a little bit dilapidated when I arrived, and every place I’d gone to that had a losing program, we tried to change the image,” Fry said in an interview with Iowa TV station KWWL.
Fry put linebackers coach Howard Sissel in charge of changing everything from the equipment to the facilities. When it came time to improve the locker rooms, Fry said, “The only paint that Howard could find was pink paint. So we applied that to the visiting team’s locker room.”
Fry graduated from Baylor University with a degree in psychology, so he knew the pink color scheme could provide a small advantage for his football team.
“Me, being an old psychology professor, knew that would be relaxing, cool, calm,” Fry said. “If I wanted to fire the opposing team up, I would have painted it red.”
OSU coach Jim Tressel will be making his third trip to Kinnick Stadium, where he holds a 1-1 record. In Tressel’s first trip to Iowa City in 2004, the Hawkeyes dominated OSU 33-7. The Buckeyes’ last game at Iowa in 2006 had a much better result for Tressel — OSU won 38-17. Tressel doesn’t think the pink locker room will be too much of a distraction for his team Saturday.
“They’ve renovated their stadium, and the locker rooms are nice but they are a different shade, and that’s one of the old tradition things that was done so long ago,” Tressel said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “Last time we were there, I didn’t notice it as a problem. Now, maybe two times ago that was the problem, I don’t know, but I’d like to think that won’t be the problem.”