COLUMBUS, Ohio — “Ting! Ting! Ting! Ting!”
A man stands from his chair, wobbling a little as the afternoon libations flow, tapping his silverware on his glass.
He’s wearing a crimson and cream “OU” ballcap, clearly a fan of the University of Oklahoma football team. He’s among friends, although they’re not exactly in friendly territory.
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention,” the man begins. “I’d like to propose a toast: to the kick heard round the world, by Uwe von Schamann, 40 years ago!”
The man of the hour stands as the crowd begins chanting, “Block that kick! Block that kick!”
Naturally, Uwe von Schamann waves his arms, recreating an indelible moment of Sooner lore.
It’s Friday before the big game, and they’re inside the main dining room at the Varsity Club on the corner of Lane and Tuttle, across the street from the north gates to the Ohio State University campus, and maybe a handful of 41-yard field goals away from Ohio Stadium, where 40 years ago von Schamann became a legend.
And not just a Sooner legend.
“I love the Ohio State fans,” von Schamann said. “In fact, on Sunday night, they’re taking me out to dinner at my favorite place in Columbus, which is Schmidt’s (Sausage Haus and Restaurant).”
Believe it or not, he’s not worried about food poisoning or any other such retribution for his defiance four decades hence.
They love him in Columbus.
One Buckeyes fan dressed head-to-toe in Ohio State gear — a brazen white Cowboy hat, white sunglasses, an oversize white shirt and white pants — walks up to give von Schamann hugs, share stories and snap selfies.
“I love it,” von Schamann says.
Von Schamann is seated with a couple dozen friends from GROSS, the Greater Oklahoma Sooner Supporters, a fan organization based out of Lawton. Every year for the last 32 years they stage a massive party at the home of one of the members to celebrate the start of the season. Two of the current members were at the game in 1977, during which von Schamann kicked a 41-yard field goal with three seconds left to beat the Buckeyes 29-28.
When he was a young man, he never envisioned still being celebrated four decades later.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I thought I was just a one-time experience, but it’s been going on and on. It’s been a great run for 40 years. Still here. A lot of great stories. People tell me where they were and all that stuff.”
Ohio State fans don’t love von Schamann because he kicked a clutch field goal and beat their team and everybody’s older now and time heals all wounds and everything’s fine. Simply put, there aren’t a lot of other kickers who beat the Buckeyes that could hold court in Columbus like this — or walk out under their own power.
No, Buckeyes faithful still revere von Schamann because as he prepared to kick the game-winner, they all chanted “Block that kick! Block that kick!” — and von Schamann looked at the hostiles, stood his ground and incited even more venom by waving his arms like a conductor directing a symphony of hate.
They love him because he took their jeers and said, “Yeah? Watch this!” and then stuffed it in their face by kicking the ball right down the middle.
That attitude was teamwide, and it was born of its roguish head coach, Barry Switzer. Those Sooners oozed confidence on the edge of arrogance — even the kicker.
“Exactly. I felt really confident,” von Schamann said. “Something took over, I think. I just felt really, really confident. I prepared for a moment like that for many practices. You know, in practice, you prepare for these moments, just like any other play. So apparently I practiced good!”
He’ll watch Saturday night’s game from the sideline, a personal guest of new coach Lincoln Riley, he said, although this game probably wouldn’t even be played if von Schamann had never made that kick.
In that respect, Riley is von Schamann’s guest.
“I’m so excited to be back here in Columbus,” von Schamann said.
Still, Sunday night could get extremely interesting.
“We’ll see how the game goes, right?” he said. “If we beat ‘em, I don’t know if they’ll still want to do that.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.