URBANA — Urbana’s Larry Lokai, better known as “Buckeyeman,” had a dramatic shift in his fall plans this week.
The Ohio State football superfan said he’s only missed two home games in Ohio Stadium since 1999. But due to the Big Ten Conference’s announcement Tuesday postponing fall sports, neither he, nor anyone else, will be seeing a game in The ’Shoe in 2020.
Lokai begins planning for the fall football season in December, just days after the Big Ten regular season normally comes to an end. However this year, his investment in game and plane tickets had to be put on hold for another time.
Lokai said he’s “disappointed but relieved” with the Big Ten’s announcement made earlier this week. Disappointment for not doing what he loves and for the players and coaches not having a season, but relieved as he looks out for his own health.
Lokai, 78, falls into a higher risk category if he was infected with COVID-19. Before games he takes between 150 to 200 pictures with fans, putting dozens of people physically close to him.
Lokai said he doesn’t want to risk catching the virus, and would hate for anyone else to suffer the same.
“I’m just gonna have to bite the bullet and be normal I guess is the best way. I’m gonna have to be a normal fan and watch other teams play,” Lokai told News Center 7′s Jenna Lawson.
So for the first time in over 20 years, Buckeyeman’s spot in the front row at Ohio Stadium will be empty, but he has chosen to remain positive.
“There’s always something bright to happen on the other side of a coin, so I’m going to say OK, this is a little set back this year.”
Big Ten officials said they are working on a possible plan to play football in the spring, a plan that many in the conference including Ohio State Head Coach Ryan Day hope is finalized and announced quickly.