Columbus couple recalls Cotton Bowl appearance

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LEWIS CENTER -- For many Ohio State football fans, the sentiment about making a Cotton Bowl appearance may feel a little bittersweet. After all, the team is not in contention for a national title.

But ask 83-year old Jim McLane what he thinks, and he'll tell you about his soft spot for cotton.

"What does this game mean to me now? It’s interesting. I still like the Buckeyes," he said. "It’s a big game. It’s a postseason game."

Jim McClane has a kitchen table full of memories. He's kept photographs and newspaper clippings of the Ohio State Buckeyes' first appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic. The year was 1987.

"It was special just to be able to sit at the table at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes with Sonny Gordon, and to play horseshoes with Archie Griffin. And to have the acquaintance with Chris Spielman and Chris Carter and the rest of the team, too. And the rest of the team went on to be quite prolific NFL stars still known today," he said. "I believe they were co-champs with Michigan and it was the very first time that any Big Ten team had went to the Cotton Bowl. So that made it kinda special for us. We stayed in a big 5-star hotel – the name was on there – I don’t remember the name. They had gourmet restaurants in the hotel and the whole-nine-yards so you didn’t have to leave the hotel to eat."

It was extra special for Jim and his wife Donna because they got to experience the team up close. Jim was a plant manager at Coca-Cola and the company was a scoreboard sponsor for the Buckeyes.

That meant Jim had access to game tickets and was asked to attend the game to entertain clients for the company, he said.

Donna summed it up this way: "(We were) spoiled," she said.

Jim knows there are plenty of Buckeye fans a little disappointed to not be in the hunt for a national title.

"There’s a whole bunch of teams across the country that wish they were as good as the Buckeyes that wished they had the opportunity to play in the Cotton Bowl with an opponent like USC. My glass is half full."