Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No. 1 party boy from America's No. 1 party school

It’s probably because of my years at Ohio University I drink responsibly whenever I should and irresponsibly whenever I can.

It’s a vast over-simplification to say, but the only thing I can recall learning with any clarity there from 1981-1985 was never mix Ouzo and beer. In the same glass.

We used to do that all the time and, guaranteed, whenever we did someone was bound to lose their pants.

You can’t spell bourbon or ouzo without OU.

It was a fountain of knowledge where I went to drink.

Those were some of the T-shirts they sold on campus when I was there. I still see variations of them when I go back once every year or so to see the old gang.

We fly or drive in from all over the country and get two or three rooms at the diviest hotel down near the Hocking River. In a town where big guys are called “Tiny,” the hotel on the lowest point in southeastern Ohio is called The Highlander.

Tell someone who attended most any other college a group of 40 somethings are going to go back to the university they all attended in the 1980s and many assume lecherous activities will ensue.

They think the guys will slip off their wedding rings and spend their nights chasing around the comely innocents.

This is wrong on multiple levels. First: I never met an innocent at OU, not to be confused, please, with Ohio State University in Columbus.

Second: most of us are too fatigued and too wise to chase anything anymore.

Third -- and this is key: there’s not a soul within a 50-mile radius more important to us than the dozen or so people clustered around those tables tilting from too many pitchers of beer.

It was after leaving Athens I began to understand games were for people who were inept at the art of conversation.

Why would you engage in any distraction that kept you from learning more about the people sitting right next to you?

Those were some of the things that crossed my mind when I learned Ohio University was named by the Princeton Review as the No. 1 Party School in America.

It’s a chicken and egg sort of question, but I didn’t go to Athens because it was a party school. But I did go there because at the time the Ohio drinking age was 18.

I learned later on -- surprise! -- it had a great school for journalism. Hey, I liked to journalize!

If anything exceeds its reputation for being a party school, it is its reputation for grooming dynamic journalists.

Media big shots Roger Ailes and Matt Lauer graduated from there. Legendary actor Paul Newman dropped out of there.

My academic achievements fall somewhere deep in the middle of that spectrum.

I remember when I went for one of my first post-graduate interviews. It was at the Nashville Banner. The managing editor, a fine southern gentleman, saw Ohio University on my resume and asked if that’s where Woody Hayes coached.

No, sir, that was Zero State in Columbus.

“How long were you on the school paper?” he asked.

One year, I told him.

“What’d you do the other three years, drink beer?”

Yes, sir.

“Good. I did it for four.”

In a world where crabby tight asses seem to make all the rules and then more rules regarding the original rules, convivial folk will always have a way of finding one another.

I got that job and it was instrumental in launching a career that has led me to friendships with some of the world’s most fascinating individuals.

Athens was where I became who I am.

So cheers, Ohio University. I’ve been under your influence for 30 years now.

And gloriously under the influence for many of those years.

And it’s all just been one hell of a good time.


Nancy M said...

You're too funny....Lauer didn't GRADUATE from OU!

Chris Rodell said...

Ah, maybe that's my mistake. If only I'd have dropped out I'd have Lauer power. Thanks, Nancy!

Anonymous said...


WOW that may be the best way to describe OU, Snupalooza and the effect Athens has on most people who go there and spend a few years or even graduate.

Your blog is now on my favorites list

Pat Shea
ZM 636

Bryan said...

Yes! It is all true, I think.
I feel like that place and our gang showed me what life was all about.
I can't imagine a better place for growing and developing humans to start to try to figure out what we know and don't about this world than camp OU
Bryan Druid zm557

Chris Rodell said...

Praise like that from veterans like you, Bryan and Pat, means the world to me. Quinn wrote a song about it based on the line I told him of the awe I felt when I stood in front of the house a couple of years ago.

This is where I became who I am.

Good song!

Three cords (I think) and the truth.

Jyoders19 said...

Chris, great post, from a fellow Bobcat and former Tribune-Review reporter!

Anonymous said...


Lauer did graduate from OU. He was one class short when he left for his first job in WV. I believe he finally received his degree in 1998.

Great memories. Hope to see you soon in Athens.

Matt Lowell
ZM 634

Chris Rodell said...

Thanks, Jeff and Matt. Wish we could be in Athens by Happy Hour today. Lots to laugh about, my friends.



Mary Lou said...

Speaking of stellar journalism student graduates; how about Clarence Page? We read his columns in the post and drank beers at the Union. They got wittier the more we drank.

Chris Rodell said...

A fellow Postie! I was there in the sports department from '84-85. Loved it!

Thanks for writing, Mary Lou. Let me know when you were there.

And have a great weekend!


Tom Maynor said...

Rocket Fuel! Great post and I am now only discovering it. Cheers CR!
ZM 567

Chris Rodell said...

Oh, the fun we had. Thanks, buddy! Happy New Year!

Doug R said...

Matt Lauer actually got his diploma in 1997. He spoke at the morning commencement ceremony that day. Unfortunately, my daughter was in the afternoon group. Hillary Clinton spoke and gave a very political speech, nothing like you would expect at a commencement. There was news footage that evening of the professors in the front row sleeping through her speech.

Unknown said...

To my fellow Bobcat. my time there from 80 to 84 included much time at the Broadcast Journalism school, 6am sportscast for WOUB radio, 10pm tv sportscasts for same but many more nights forging relationships with friends who liked 3-2 beer. Never heard of it before I went there and haven't heard of it since. As a native of Latrobe treating Rolling Rock like mothers milk, this watery concoction left much to be desired for taste but at age of 18, it got the job done.