Lt. Eric Grubbs is a longtime Norman resident and OU employee. However, he will not be cheering for the Sooners when they face Ohio State at home Sept. 17.
A lifelong Ohio State Buckeyes fan, Grubbs was born and raised in Ohio. He was in Norman the last time Ohio State and OU clashed in 1983, showing his support for his hometown team with a Buckeyes hat on his dashboard.
But this Saturday, just as on Sept. 17, 1983, Grubbs will not be in the stadium watching the game with the thousands of other fans. Instead, he will be patrolling the rest of OU’s campus, making sure it is safe as the game goes on.
Now a lieutenant with the OU police department, Grubbs has worked every home game in Norman since the early 1980s, when he first arrived at OU.
Grubbs remembers the last time Ohio State came to Norman, which resulted in a 24-14 Buckeye win.
“I would beat my horn and try to give a thumbs up to the Ohio State fans while they were walking into the stadium, but I don’t think they understood my motive,” Grubbs said.
Grubbs arrived at OUPD after serving six years in the Army, complete with a tour in Europe and a stint at Fort Sill. He lived in Ohio until joining the Army, growing up in a family of loyal Ohio State fans.
His son, however, chose a path far from any of his family’s loyalties. He chose the United States Military Academy — and the Sooners.
“My only son said he wasn’t gonna go to OU, and I think it had more to do with me working here than anything else, and him living here in Norman,” Grubbs said. “He follows the Sooners. He knows how they’re doing.”
Grubbs said he expects a long workday on Saturday, since the game starts at 6:30 p.m. and the OUPD will be dealing with fans arriving all day. However, he said he hopes to be able to experience some of the game if the night goes well.
Grubbs said he expects several family members at this year's game, though none were present in 1983. If Ohio State wins, the officer says he will most likely meet up with his family to celebrate later on Saturday night.
He will also try to represent his team with some kind of Ohio State gear.
“It’s kind of hard to wear the bright red block ‘O,’ but the nice thing about that is, most people in Oklahoma think I’m an Oklahoma fan when I wear just the big block ‘O’ and it doesn’t say Ohio on it,” Grubbs said.
Grubbs' proud display of his loyalties has sparked some incidents with his co-workers over the years.
“I get constant flak from my fellow officers for being an Ohio State fan,” Grubbs said. “My chief is from Purdue, a graduate from Purdue University, so she hates Ohio State and she’s always harassing me about it.”
Once, Grubbs said, he replaced the OU flag that hung outside the OUPD with an Ohio State flag and waited to see who would notice.
“Every day I’d come in and check the flagpole, and it was still up there for about a week and a half,” Grubbs said. “I came in one morning and the flag wasn’t up there. I walked in the door and I got a message from a dispatcher up front that Chief Stone wanted to see me in his office immediately.
“I walked into his office and my Ohio State flag is sitting on the desk, neatly folded," Grubbs said. "And he said, ‘The only question I have for you, Grubbs, is how long has it been up there?'"
Saturday’s battle will be a win-win situation for Grubbs, he says. After spending about 35 years in Norman, Grubbs also roots for the Sooners — most of the time.
“I’m a Sooner fan. I kind of like to see them win all their games,” Grubbs said. “They don’t play Ohio State very often, so when it comes up, I’m gonna win one way or the other. I’ll catch grief if I go back home to Ohio and OU wins, and if Ohio State wins, I’ll be catching grief here at the police department.”
For OU vs. Ohio State weekend, we’re devoting our whole staff to coverage of the game and the events surrounding it. For all you need to know: oudaily.com/ohiostate.