History lesson: Ohio State and the Cincinnati Bengals go way back


The Cincinnati Bengals did more than buck a recent trend when they selected two Ohio State players in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

Southwest Ohio’s pro football franchise also got back to its roots. 

Given the perceived animosity between the Queen City and the Scarlet and Gray over the years, that probably comes as a surprise to at least some folks. 

Let’s set the record straight: 

1. No college has sent more players to the Bengals than Ohio State, and it’s not close. 

Twenty-eight Buckeyes played for the Bengals in the franchise’s first 50 seasons.

That’s 10 more than any other school (Florida and West Virginia both have 18 Bengals alumni, one more than Arizona State, Alabama, Cincinnati and Michigan). 

2. There’s a pretty good explanation for this. 

The Bengals were founded by Paul Brown, who won a national championship as coach at Ohio State before leaving to serve in World War II. 

He built the original Browns with some big-name former Buckeyes, and did much the same while getting the Bengals off the ground decades later. 

In their first 11 years, the Bengals drafted 10 players from Ohio State. They also snagged two former Buckeyes in the expansion draft.  

3. “Buckeyes” could have been the franchise’s name, too. 

The Bengals media guide notes Buckeyes was the popular choice of fans for the name of the expansion franchise after it was awarded. 

Brown went a different direction, though, reasoning that “Buckeyes” belonged to OSU and “Bengals” would be a good name because an earlier pro franchise in the city had gone by that name. 

His success coaching the Massillon Tigers in the high school ranks might have had something to do with his choice, too. 

4. No team has drafted more Buckeyes than Cincinnati since the Bengals were formed. 

Billy Price and Sam Hubbard are the 18th and 19th Ohio State players drafted by the Bengals. 

That is more Buckeyes than any other NFL team has taken since the Bengals were founded in 1968. 

While the Browns still have the most Ohio State draft picks (34) overall, more than half of them were taken under Paul Brown’s watch.

Since he was fired after the 1962 season, the Browns have only drafted 15 Ohio State players, including 10 since the Bengals were founded. 

6. Recent history has been different for the Bengals. 

After Ray Griffin was taken in the second round in 1978, Ohio State Bengals draft picks became much more rare. 

(They also took Ray’s brother, Archie, two years earlier in the first round, in case you were wondering.)

There were only two in the ‘80s, three in the ‘90s and none in the first decade of the 21st century. 

Price was the first Buckeye drafted by the Bengals since Reid Fragel in the seventh round in 2013. He was chosen one year after they nabbed Dan Herron in the sixth round. 

7. Several local players have been Buckeyes and Bengals. 

Perhaps most notable player to graduate from an are high school then play for Ohio State and the Bengals is Dunbar’s Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson. He was the first overall pick in the 1994 draft. 

Others to grow up in Southwest Ohio and later don both Scarlet and Gray and Orange and Black include Jeff Cothran and Sonny Gordon of Middletown, Centerville’s A.J. Hawk and Mike Nugent, Gary Williams of Wilmington and Doug Adams of Xenia. 


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