Thursday, July 23, 2009

An then there were three. Another league change story

But it's not 2009 that I am referring to. Not even close. It's the late 1940's and early 1950's. During some recent research for the upcoming football season I stumbled upon some interesting articles concerning teams leaving the Buckeye League. During that time period the Buckeye League consisted of the following schools...

Bowling Green
Fremont Ross
Marion Harding
Tiffin Columbian

Fremont Ross was a football powerhouse in the late 40's. Head Coach Lester "Legs" Binkleys teams piled up win after win. Soon after the Little Giants decimated Tiffin Columbian 78-0 in 1949 the folks in Tiffin announced that they would be leaving the league. The Tornadoes wanted to find a league where they thought they could better compete. As my research went on I discovered as the 1940's dissolved into the early 1950's not only Columbian, but Fostoria and Bowling Green made their intentions clear. They too, would be leaving the Buckeye League. This would leave just Findlay, Fremont Ross and Marion Harding....sound familiar? Adding to the league-change scenario was the fact that News-Messenger sports editor Al Coxon was reporting in his sports columns around this same time that Toledo Libbey wanted to join the Buckeye. At that point in time Libbey was a good football school and was looking to play in a league that they felt would make them stronger. Coxon reported that Libbeys AD had told him several times via phone conversations that the Cowboys were interested in possibly joining the Buckeye. Later a Blade reporter disputed the Coxon story saying Libbey had no intention of leaving the Toledo City League. Nothing ever came of the Libbey story and the Cowboys remained in the CL.

Meantime the Buckeye League was falling apart and Ross, Findlay and Marion had to do someting or they would be playing an independent schedule. As time went on Columbian replaced Crestline as a member of the Northern Ohio League. Fostoria and BG went their own ways as well. This all spurred the creation of the Buckeye Conference. Al Coxon, Ross AD John Titsworth, Coach Mackey, along with folks from Findlay and Marion got on the ball and worked hard to bring Elyria, Lorain Senior and Sandusky into what would become one of Ohios strongest athletic leagues. Lorain Admiral King and Mansfield Senior joined in the early 1960's to create the powerhouse eight team Buckeye Conference that many of us remember fondly.

What does all of this have to do with our current situation? Maybe not much, other than a reminder that we have previously been here and we survived. I realize that 2009 is not 1949 and gas prices, the ecomony, among other factors make things different. What happened then is that some folks who cared got involved and helped push the process along. The situation was not just left in the lap of the athletic director to handle. The result was 30 years of league stability.

What I know is this. Fremont Ross will survive this latest league-change drama. We've been here before and made it through. Will we eventually become a member of the Northern Ohio League? The Northern Lakes League? The Toledo City League? A new conference that currently doesn't exist? Or will we be independent? No matter what happens, Ross athletes will continue to compete, and win.


  1. Thanks for getting us this great info - something I didn't know about. Small kernal of hope has now surfaced for the continuation of great football stories for Fremont Ross in the coming years.

  2. Yes, Today, I live in Toledo, but graduated from Mansfield Senior in the 1960s.

    The Buckeye Conference was one of the best in the state. A tremendous number of great athletes went on to compete at the collegiate level. I was sorry to see the league dissolve.

    I think that Findlay, Marion Harding, and Lima Senior should look to the Ohio Cardinal Conference for membership. Let the trio join and then split the conference into East and West divisions to reduce travel. Include a couple of division cross-over games on each team's schedule.