A local former Ohio State football player had brushes of fame playing for legendary Coach Woody Hayes in the late 1970s. But in the decades since, his own unique paint strokes have earned him wide acclaim.
Tonight as football fans across America tune in for the widely anticipated Ohio State versus Notre Dame game, among those watching intently will be former Ohio State tight end Greg Storer, a Mason-based artist.
At halftime, when Ohio State’s 2002 national championship team and its coach, Jim Tressel, are honored, Storer will also be watching the famous head coach and some of the players whose portraits he has painted as part of their inductions into the Ohio State Athletics Hall Of Fame.
The Moeller High School graduate’s decades-long connection with Ohio State’s annual tradition of honoring former athletes through his hundreds of hall of fame portraits is still going strong, as is his career as an artist and now owner of his own youth art school in the Warren County city.
“I’m very proud to do it,” he said recently at his Greg Storer Art studio and art school, located off of Bethany Road along the northern border of Mason.
Besides national championship coaches Tressel and Hayes, some of the other Ohio State football greats he has painted include the only two-time Heisman trophy winner Archie Griffin, his brother Ray Griffin, former OSU basketball player and famed Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight and the school’s first Black player from the early 1940s, Bill Willis.
“It’s the greatest thing … I really enjoy the work and working on the portraits and being part of Ohio State University,” said Storer, who graduated in 1979 and then tried out for the Cleveland Browns.
Storer studied art at Ohio State and then pursued his painting passion by touring European galleries and art schools as he developed his own style.
His work, including his non-sports paintings — Storer also has a special fondness for painting older homes and landscapes — have been featured in art gallery shows in Greater Cincinnati and across the Midwest.
The Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame was created in 1977 and has inducted 458 athletes, coaches and administrators through 2021. This year’s inductee ceremony will include 14 of Storer’s portraits.
It will be the 35th year Storer’s art has captured the school’s athletes and along the way he has met many Ohio State greats at the annual ceremonies, including an exchange with Tressel that left both chuckling when it comes to the coach’s near perfect winning record against famed rival University of Michigan.
Tressel was 9-1 against Michigan in his career, though one of the victories was later vacated under orders from the NCAA for the program’s infractions involving players receiving goods and services.
In the NCAA record books, Tressel is officially listed as 8-1 against Michigan.
But Storer pulled Tressel aside at his induction ceremony and pointed out a tiny detail of his portrait.
“Coach Tress was 9-1 against our friends up north and I wanted to sneak that on to the portrait. He used to carry a placard with plays on it and I carefully worked that into the placard so if you were looking for it you could see that 9-1.”
Storer greeted Tressel near the portrait and pointed to the sneaky detail and said to him “they took that one win away against our friends up north but I put it back.”
“And he got a big kick out of that.”