Remembering Marv Homan
Enjoy this appreciation for Marv Homan, an Ohio State athletics stalwart and longtime broadcasting voice of the Buckeyes, who died earlier this year.
Growing up in rural north-central Ohio, Miller and his four brothers spent Saturday afternoons in the fall listening to Homan broadcast Ohio State football games throughout the 1960s. This was decades before the emergence of high-definition television and sports bars. Across the state, Buckeyes fans gathered around radios to hear Homan call games.
The bespectacled announcer was an extension of the Ohio State teams he covered. Homan met almost daily with legendary coaches such as Woody Hayes and Fred Taylor during their respective tenures and described to his listeners the glories of three Heisman Trophy winners and two future NBA stars.
But what resonates to this day among those who worked in his orbit was Homan’s humility and kindness. He was an omnipresent figure for nearly 40 years around the university’s sports programs, yet he never carried himself like a man of importance.
Homan, who helped transform the university’s sports information department, died June 2, 2021, at the age of 94.
“He was a wonderful person,” says Miller, who rose from sports editor of the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum to cover Ohio State athletics for 30 years with the Associated Press. “You can spend two hours with some people and they will never talk about you or your family. They will only talk about themselves and what they have done and where they have been. Marv lived that life, but he would never make the conversation about him.”
Homan served as the eyes for his listeners as Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek led the Buckeyes to a 1960 NCAA basketball title. He was at the Rose Bowl eight years later describing the action as the football team — the one with 11 All-Americans and six future NFL first-round draft picks — put an exclamation point on a perfect season and national championship with a win over the University of Southern California.
His radio calls were distinct and clear, free of jargon, rarely a word out of place. That’s fitting, as Homan had graduated from Ohio State in 1948 with a degree in English, and his college roommate was Jack Buck, the iconic sportscaster best known as the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“There would be no greater joy than to listen to Marv and Jack tell stories somewhere about their careers over a couple of bourbons,” says former sports information intern Rick Van Brimmer ’81 ’83 MA, now the university’s assistant vice president for trademark and licensing services.
Homan broadcast Ohio State football games for 30 years and called men’s basketball games for 20 seasons. He assisted in the university’s sports information department from the time he graduated until he became its director in 1973. He continued in that lead role for 14 years.
There was no such thing as digital media, Twitter or even the internet during this era. Homan’s staff of four full-timers and interns, operating out of a cramped first-floor office in St. John Arena, gathered on Sundays in the fall to write press releases recapping the latest football game and previewing the next one. Interns hand-delivered mimeographed releases to Columbus-area media outlets, while the rest were dispatched through the mail.
“I can’t remember if we had a folding machine or not, but we would stuff over 1,000 envelopes,” says former sports information intern and staffer Bob Goldring ’81, ’82 MA, an executive with the Ohio High School Athletic Association. “We would take most of them to the main post office that night.”
“He was polite. He was humble. He was quiet. You would never know the kind of role he played at Ohio State for all those years.” Tim May, longtime Buckeyes football writer
For example, it wasn’t enough for a reporter to write that Lucas had a photographic memory. Homan supplied Miller with a remarkable story to illustrate it: In the early 1960s, Homan and the basketball star sat at a table over breakfast for about 10 minutes in West Lafayette, Indiana, the morning of a game. They had been discussing ancient Rome, with Lucas occasionally glancing up at the hotel restaurant’s wallpaper.
As Lucas excused himself, he muttered “1,529” under his breath. The endlessly curious Homan inquired about the random comment. “Jerry tells Marv, ‘Oh, there’s a pattern in the wallpaper back there and it appears 1,529 times,’” Miller says, recalling the tale years later.