In Columbus, inaugural gala, Ohio State game set to coincide

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Columbus’ two favorite pastimes — politics and Ohio State football — are headed for a collision on Monday, as Gov. John Kasich’s inaugural gala coincides with the Buckeyes’ national championship game against Oregon.

For politics lovers, an inaugural ball is a luxury to be savored only once every four years, if you’re lucky. Drinks flow as operatives and staff celebrate the culmination of a successful campaign.

For fans of Buckeye football, it’s been an even longer stretch since a national championship was in their sights. It was the 2007 season when the Buckeyes last competed for the national title and not since their 2002 season that they last won one.

Kasich, a proud Ohio State graduate, has made contingencies. He declared early that he would not cancel the event for the game, but he has arranged for big-screen TVs to be on site Monday evening for game-watchers.

"As Buckeye fans and alumni, we would never want to miss seeing our team play for the National Championship!" his New Day Committee announced on inaugural stationery.

Still, his inaugural party — which will follow a formal swearing-in at midnight Sunday and a ceremonial one during the day Monday — will be attended by many people from across the state who may care little about Ohio State or Buckeye football. Think graduates of other universities, or those whose hearts lie with Ohio’s professional teams, the Browns and Bengals.

But the Buckeyes are still in many ways Ohio’s team and, besides being an alum, Kasich is a savvy enough politician to recognize that it’s smart to join fans in the fun.

He wagered beer from Columbus Brewing Company, a tray of his favorite lasagna (from Monte Carlo Italian Kitchen in Westerville) and a tray of buckeyes candies in a bet with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, who is putting up a six-pack of Total Domination IPA from Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, a box of filberts and five pounds of Tillamook cheese. Kasich also posted a celebratory video on Instagram.

On Friday, Kasich capped the afternoon with a tweet: "Got off the phone earlier with (at)OhioState Pres. Drake. Wished him and the team my best in the fight for a National Championship. (hash)GoBucks"