Jack Park can not only solve complex accounting problems, but he can also tell you how many yards Ohio State racked up during its 1968 national championship win in the Rose Bowl. Or maybe you want to know how many yards two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin ran for during his first Heisman season. (The answers are 361 and 1,620 by the way.)
Originally from New Lexington, Ohio, Park (BSBA ’62) had a 22-year career as a CPA in corporate America before starting his own company, Financial Insights, a leadership development and consulting business. The business graduate is an award-winning, nationally recognized speaker who delivers 40-50 speaking engagements each year based on his program, The Leadership Secrets of Football’s Master Coaches. And he does all this while flourishing in his other interests-turned-careers: sports radio commentator and Ohio State’s unofficial football historian.
Most people know you as the Ohio State Football historian, but there’s an entire business career that happened before you earned this title. Tell us about your accounting background.
Prior to professional speaking and football, I worked 25 years with four major corporations in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and lastly Columbus. My areas of responsibility were accounting and finance. My last two positions in the corporate world were as chief financial officer of divisions of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation and the Greyhound Corporation. I’ve also been an adjunct professor of finance and accounting at five different universities.
How did your business education prepare you for these opportunities?
My business classes at Fisher and my MBA classes at the University of Pittsburgh were vital in helping me pass the State of Ohio examination to become a CPA. Additionally, my senior year at Ohio State, I was president of my fraternity which was a very beneficial leadership opportunity where I learned how to better interact with people from diverse backgrounds and various levels of authority and responsibility.
Do you have a favorite business faculty member or mentor who helped shape who you are today?
Yes indeed. Professor Walter Burnham was an outstanding accounting instructor at Ohio State, particularly in cost accounting. He made the subject “come alive” and I’ve thought about him many times over the years.
What is your favorite business school-related memory?
Graduation day with my parents and a few other family members was special. Also, the relationships I developed during those years with other business students are unforgettable.
How did your love of Ohio State football turn into a career you’ve been able to share with family and friends?
I did not plan for a career in football, it just happened. At first, I was first asked to do some radio interviews, then I become a part-time commentator and it just grew from there. Soon I was asked to do a few speaking engagements so I joined the National Speakers Association and became a Certified Speaking Professional. From there I authored four books on the Buckeyes and co-authored a fifth book, with my friend and professional speaking colleague, Maureen Zappala.
My late wife, Sue, was an honors business school graduate at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and after I left the corporate world, she was able to offer valuable insight for creating a successful speaking business. She attended most of my local presentations and would later provide feedback and suggest improvements. Sue also edited each of the first four Ohio State football books.
I much appreciate all the fine friendships I have made with former players, coaches and many of the Ohio State and Big Ten Football media. I attend the annual two-day Big Ten Football Media Days Conference in Chicago. Those events have been beneficial in developing relationships with Big Ten staff, members of the Midwest media and some of the head coaches. Three of my closest Big Ten media friends are at the University of Michigan.
Where does your love of football and history come from?
My mother taught high school American history, and I inherited my love of history from her. My mother was a graduate of Ohio University, my father is an Ohio State and marching band alumnus, but they were both big football fans. I am an only child and they began taking me to high school football games when I was around six years old. When I was 10, they began taking me to Ohio State games.
I played high school football and basketball and was selected for the Muskingum Valley League all-conference football team as a linebacker my senior year. At Ohio State, I was very active in the fraternity league football and basketball intramurals, but I never played any varsity sports beyond high school.
Tell us about some of your recent accomplishments.
I was honored to be selected for the 2021 “Ohio State Football Person of the Year” by the Agonis Club of Columbus for my contributions over the years to the Ohio State football program. The Ohio State University Marching Band made me a Lifetime Honorary Member in 2018.
Did you have a favorite spot on campus? Why was it special?
Ohio Stadium. It was (and continues to be) very special because of my love of the game, and of course, The Ohio State Marching Band will always provide a thrill.
What advice would you give to a current student or recent business graduate?
Knowledge can help create self-confidence. My advice is to encourage students to learn your profession very well at the academic level, because that will be so helpful when you enter the business world. Make good friendships with your classmates. I remember how helpful it was to study with another student or two, and how discussions among us really helped give all of us greater understanding of the subject material. Stay in touch with your friends and classmates — they are the foundation of your network.
Share your thoughts about being around for the past two Ohio State football seasons, which have been unique.
The 2020 season was certainly like no other in school history. First it was announced there would be no season, then a shortened season that would start on Saturday, October 24, 2020. I strongly applaud the tremendous efforts of Coach Ryan Day and his staff to hold our team together and have such a successful season, going 7-1 with the single loss coming at the hands of Alabama in the national championship game. Because of very exceptional efforts and sacrifices by the coaches and players, this was a special season that will long be remembered.
I will also remember 2020 as the season I did all my pre-game radio commentaries on 97.1 The Fan by telephone from my home office because of the virus. Normally for home games, we broadcast from outside Ohio Stadium. The 2021 season is the first time I have seen my broadcast partners in person since the last home game of 2019.