NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 15, 2015) – A project manager recently garnered Buckeye notoriety when several reporters from ABC Channel 6 from Columbus, Ohio featured the Ohio State University football fanatic in their “Drive to the Championship” report.
Reporters Ben Garbarek and Maria Durant met with Jeff Linkinhoker as they passed through Music City Jan. 8, 2015 on the way to Dallas, Texas for the national championship game. He proudly exhibited his vintage 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, which he restored and painted like an OSU helmet, and talked about the reaction he gets on the road.
“Cars will be coming up the Interstate from Ohio, and they’re leaning out the window taking pictures of it, and giving me the O-H-I-O,” Linkinhoker said in the report in describing his experience driving the car.
Linkinhoker works in the Project Management Section of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and has lived in Nashville for more than 30 years. But his roots are in Big 10 country. He was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio and graduated from OSU in 1972.
One of his fondest memories from his days on campus is the 1969 Rose Bowl when the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 and defeated the second ranked University of Southern California Trojans 27-16 to claim the 1968 national championship. That victory stands out for Linkinhoker because the Heisman Trophy winner that year was O.J. Simpson, who starred for USC.
“I was a Buckeye football fan for life,” he said.
Today he lives in the heart of the Southeastern Conference. He said he enjoys camaraderie and friendships with coworkers and friends who have other allegiances for their favorite teams. Nonetheless, he remains true to his Alma matter and is heavily involved in the Ohio State Club of Middle Tennessee.
He has held several posts in the organization over the past several decades and currently serves as communications director, coordinator of football events, and sits on its scholarship committee. He said the primary mission of the club is to provide scholarships to young people in Middle Tennessee that want to attend OSU.
“We have sent some super students up there that have ACTs of like 35 that have GPAs of 4.0,” he said. “We had $6,800 in scholarships last year.”
Members of the local club set up the interview with the Ohio news crew. Linkinhoker said it was fun showing off his Buckeye Beetle for their feature report, although it was like 8 degrees and freezing outside during the interview.
“They wanted an enthusiastic fan of which I am,” he said. “I was like, you know, the car would make a great photo op for them, so I said sure, I’ll do it.”
Linkinhoker credits his friend Bill Gallagher for suggesting he paint his Beetle like an OSU helmet. He put about 1,000 hours restoring it in 2011, including the paint job. He turned his garage into a paint booth, so it wasn’t the most professional job, he said.
Another interesting fact about the car is its origin. Linkinhoker bought the car in Portland, Tenn., in 1997. He sent off for the certificate of origin and discovered that the very first place it was sold was Columbus, Ohio. So it’s kind of circled back and came home, he said.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are national champions after beating the Oregon Ducks 42-20 Jan. 12. Linkinhoker is ecstatic about the result and said more people will probably recognize his car given the victory.
“I think Ohio State is a Cinderella story,” he said.
Ohio State’s first-and second-string quarterbacks were hurt during the season, and the third-string redshirt freshman led the team to the Big-10 championship win over Wisconsin, the playoff victory over Alabama, and the national championship.
“Now we will have all three of those quarterbacks coming back for the 2015-2016 season. I’d say we have a luxury, a wealth of quarterbacks,” Linkinhoker said. “It will be interesting to see how it turns out.”
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