Fan Helps OSU Take On Doubters

One fan's frustration with the negative press around the Ohio State football team has led to a new gameday tradition this season. As the team walks to Ohio Stadium each football Saturday, they pass under a banner that reads "Silence the doubters," which was made by one fan and serves as a final rallying cry for the squad.

Like many Ohio State fans, Eric Hanscel was frustrated when the Buckeyes became the target of national slings and arrows after back-to-back losses in the BCS National Championship Game.

Unlike many fans, Hanscel decided to do something about it.

Sensing a new era with such stars as Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey and the "Brew Crew" of offensive linemen coming to Ohio State for the 2008 season, Hanscel decided to make a sign that said "Silence the doubters" that he held outside the Skull Session at St. John Arena before each game.

Now, two years later, that sign has evolved into an impossible-to-miss 26-by-3-foot banner that the team walks under on its way from the Skull Session to Ohio Stadium to get ready for the game.

It's safe to say the players have taken notice.

"I think it's a good sign to have and a good quote to put up there," Tyler Moeller said. "You know, there's a lot of people out there that in years past, Ohio State hasn't done the best in bowl games and we had a lot of hype around us and haven't really gone out and showed people what we could really do. I think it is time to silence people and go out there and win every game and make a statement every game, not just win it."

That's exactly the mind-set Hanscel, a 33-year-old native of Dublin, Ohio, had in mind when he created the first poster board sign in 2008.

"We just wanted to create a slogan for the team," he said. "There's a lot of naysayers in the media and things like that, so we created ‘Silence the Doubters.' This year, we thought it would be cool to do a larger banner so it's the last thing they see before they enter the stadium to put that in their mind.

"Hopefully it's a slogan they can think about when they're out on the field."

Hanscel holds up the sign at Penn State in 2009 (Jeff Svoboda/BSB)
Hanscel hangs the red sign with white letters above the entrance to the parking lot at the corners of Woody Hayes Drive and Cannon Drive before each contest. He also holds that original orange poster board sign – which many might have seen held high in the OSU section after the Buckeyes' win at Penn State last season – that started it all as the team walks from the Blackwell Hotel to St. John Arena before each Skull Session.

Hanscel, who trips to road games as well, has become a noticeable presence both at home and on the road.

"They've been looking for it the past couple of years," he said of the players. "Hanging a 26-foot banner at the away games is probably a little tough, but we usually go to the team bus entrance when they come in two hours before kickoff so we'll bring some sort of sign, it just won't be this extreme."

Through his dedication, Hanscel has become friends with the family of junior center Michael Brewster, which helps him put the banner up and take it down at each home game. He's also created a "Silence the doubters" T-shirt that he said drew interest from the players when he wore it to the team's preseason picnic fundraiser.

"It's been really nice," he said. "Everybody's a big Buckeye family no matter who you are, if you have a connection to the team or not. It's really nice just to meet some more fans, and it's been a fun season so far so hopefully we just keep the ball rolling."

Brewster, meanwhile, said the players have appreciated how the message has grown over the years.

"I think a lot of guys look forward to seeing him at all the games," he said. "It's pretty cool because I think all the guys recognize who he is. It's become a pretty regular thing. It's getting bigger so I wonder what's going to happen next year – fireworks or something?"

Of course, such a banner might not be needed in 2011 if No. 1 Ohio State, which is 6-0 at the halfway point of the slate, completes the regular season unbeaten and then captures the national title.

"Hopefully after January 10th, all the doubters will be silenced and we won't have to worry about it anymore," Hanscel said.

If that ends up being the case, one simple motivational sign made by one fan might play an impact in the proceedings.

"It just gets you in the right mind-set," senior defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said. "Everybody has doubters. When you're on top, you have doubters. We're not on top yet, but we have people that say we're not going to do it. We have to keep improving. We can't listen to them."

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