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Welcome to Rivalry Week on TRE

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

In 1858, in front of more than 1,000 Republican delegates, Abraham Lincoln paraphrased this Biblical insight at the Republican National Convention. 

For the next six days, we at The Rivalry, Esq. will throw caution to the wind for the sake of fueling the flames of The Greatest Rivalry in All of Sports.  Yes, the great contentiousness, hatred, and disdain between The Ohio State University and The University of Michigan has seen better days.  I can't remember (and if I can I don't care to recall) the last time the Game mattered less.  Ohio State owns at least a share of the Big Ten Championship, and the conference's automatic BCS bid, while That State Up North owns last place in the Power Rankings.  The Buckeyes could turn on cruise control, rest their starters, and still end up in Pasadena on New Years Day.

But dammit -- nevermind the facts.  This is still Bo versus Woody and the Ten Years War.  This is still the fight for Toledo.  This is still a spitting match between cantankerous Giants, playing for the honor of the Midwest, and the thrill of sports immortality.  This is still a game where the records don't matter. 

Don't believe me?  What about 1993, 1995, and 1996?  The Buckeyes were undefeated heading into the Game in each of those seasons, and lost all three times.

If you think I wouldn't trade every one of Ohio State's nine victories for one sweet win over the maize and blue, you don't understand the burning hatred, and searing intensity I possess towards these oversized skunks. That's why Saturday matters as much as it ever has.

Later this week I will leave Columbus to make the 184 mile trip to Ann Arbor.  There I'll meet Graham, the site's co-founder, behind enemy lines to partake in a ritual we've shared since forging an unlikely friendship as undergraduates.  We'll wear our hearts on our sleeves, and watch as our home states do battle. 

In the meantime, we'll fire warning shots across this electronic bow.  To start, here's a list we compiled last year of the Top Annoying Things about Ohio State/Michigan:

9. Ohio State's Hang on Sloopy

As GrahamFiller10 writes:

My ten favorite oldies, in no particular order:

  1. "A Change is Gonna Come" Sam Cooke
  2. "Eve of Destruction" Barry McGuire
  3. "City of New Orleans" Steve Goodman
  4. "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay" Otis Redding
  5. "Times They Are A Changing" Bob Dylan
  6. "Hang On Sloopy" The McCoys
  7. "Paint It Black" The Rolling Stones
  8. "Your Precious Love" Jerry Butler
  9. "The Boxer" Simon and Garfunkel
  10. "Time of the Season" Zombies

Which song above has been adopted by a whole state and had inane lyrics forcibly inserted into its chorus? You got it...#6. Thanks a lot Ohio. Couldn't your state have picked a nice generic tune to ruin forever? Every time Hang On Sloopy comes on the radio, I start getting jacked up by that monster bassline, I get angry at the unfairness towards poor 'ol Sloopy, I'm feeling good...and then, in the back of my head, I hear that brainless chant of O-H-I-O...kills me every time.


No. 8: Michigan's Unwarranted Elitism

As Law Buckeye writes:

How many times have you heard a patron saint from That State Up North rip The Ohio State University for its community-college like standards?  According to the average Michigander, we're the ultimate safety school, boasting an open-admissions policy, lightweight curriculum, and beer-before-brains bent. 

This kind of rub annoys me on several fronts.  First, the vast majority of Michigan fans who claim it didn't attend the University of Michigan.  That's right.  If you went to Kalamazoo, Wayne State, or The University of Toledo, you're not a Michigan Man.

But, even supposing you are a true blue B.A., there's no need to gloat.  Let this Buckeye be the first to concede that The University of Michigan is one of the top public research institutions in the world.  Boasting an internationally renowned faculty, lofty alumnae roster (featuring the likes of Gerald Ford, Arthur Miller, and Ted Kaczynski), and litany of Rhodes Scholars and Nobel Lauretes, UM is without a doubt the superior academic specimen.

But, in the midst of their self-exulting righteousness, Michiganders seem to forget that The Ohio State University isn't exactly a push over.  In fact, Ohio State's undergraduate program is a flagship, serving the important role of making higher education accessible to the masses while at the same featuring an formidable array of elite graduate and professional colleges.


It starts with the University's mantra: Disciplina in civitatem, or Education for Citizenship. 

Did you know that:

a. Ohio State is currently the largest single-campus University in the United States.

With an enrollment of 52,586, Ohio State's Columbus campus is the largest of its kind -- accommodating a host of young minds and disciplines under a common umbrella. 

b. Ohio State is ranked among the Top 60 Universities in the United States and Top 20 public institutions by U.S. News & World Report.

Go ahead, Michigan alum -- start the barbing: UM is the 26th ranked university overall, and the Fourth best public institution.  There's no doubt that you're up higher. 

But, considering that OSU has a twenty-percent larger enrollment, and a slightly more populist mission, the disparity hardly warrants the criticism.  Plus, we're fifty years younger.  Give us another half a century to develop, and you might be surprised where things stand.

c. U.S. News & World Report ranks 19 Ohio State Graduate Programs among the Nation's Top 10.

So, before you're tempted to break out the "It's all right, it's okay, you can work for us someday" chant, you better check the scoreboard. 

Plus, we've got Gordon Gee -- the most famous American Academic -- at the helm.

No. 7: THEEE Ohio State University

As GrahamFiller10 writes:

Miami University (Ohio). Ohio University. University of Toledo. Bowling Green State University. University of Dayton. University of Cincinnati. University of Akron. These are some excellent Ohio colleges, worthy of sending your son or daughter to.

But people, let's be honest. There is only one Ohio school worthy of lifting up a giant THE before its name and having its fans correct people about the use of this illustrious THE. The effect of this self imposed grandiosity can be felt throughout the state. When I attended Miami (OH), I noticed that some of the students from Columbus were doubly rabid Buckeye fans. It was almost like the kids felt bad for leaving the C-bus mothership to matriculate elsewhere, so they made up for this betrayal by cheering extra loud for the Bucks.  

So in case there was any confusion about the pronunciation, or usage, let me clear things up. It's: THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY...And they call us pompous.

No. 6: Michigan's Silent Stadium

As Law Buckeye writes:

With its 106,201 (soon to be over 108,000) seating capacity, the Big House enjoys its birthright as college football's most voluminous venue.  But, despite hosting a burgeoning blue sea, Michigan Stadium is a bit, well, boring.


The Big House crowd generates all the emotion of a Bob Ross painting.

I've got to believe that somewhere beneth the semi-submerged, smoltering jungle of painted steel rivets, concrete aisles, and limited portals there's a scuole of spirit -- some distant relic of tradition and fanfare.  

But, as CSTV reports on its Battle of the Blogs segment:

Ok, here is one category where I must give the nod to our Buckeye brethren to the south. Sitting inside the 'Shoe during a game is something akin to sticking one's head in a jet engine. When not hurling F-bombs at frightened Michigan fans or spelling other four-letter words such as O-H-I-O with the rest of the stadium like they're practicing for a really easy spelling bee, OSU fans can be a loud, intimidating bunch that turn The Horseshoe into one of the loudest stadiums in all the land.

Michigan Stadium...not so much.

Michigan fans are very fond of the "key play" cheer by which, during "key" moments of the game like a critical third down for the opposing team, U-M fans -- in unison mind you -- reach into their pockets or purses, withdraw their key chains...and begin to jangle them with all their might. The hope here is that the mere sight of tens of thousands of Wolverine fans shaking their car key against their house key -- over and over again in the stadium -- is enough to cause an illegal procedure penalty for the opponent, either when the sun hits the keys just right and blinds them or from laughing so hard at the lameness of it.

Advantage: Ohio State

What's the culprit?  It's the shape, stupid.  Michigan Stadium's classic concave bowl sends soundwaves airborne.  (Not convinced?  Harvard's Physcs Department has got my back.  It's not exactly good cocktail party conversation, but here's an essay on the "Effect of Concave Sound Reflecting Surfaces on Speech Intelligibility and Articulation Index."

And The Michigan Daily confirms:

Sound often evaporates into the air at The Big House, which has a reputation for being a relatively quiet stadium despite touting the nation's largest crowds. Because there aren't many things for the crowd noise to reflect off of, the oval-shaped bowl loses sound...

...In a press conference in September, Penn State wideout Deon Butler said the noise and intimidation factor at The Big House were low for a stadium of its size.

"It's not a super-overwhelming place," he said. "Yes, it's large, and they're supposed to have more people than us, but it's not overwhelming in the sense that it's not as tense as Beaver Stadium. Their fans aren't near as rowdy as our fans."

But what about the rennovation?  Hopes are high that the big bowl's new press boxes will reflect and contain the raw sound.  As UM Faculty confirm, the new cover stands to magnify the total sound output 10-11 decibles (from 100 db to 111 db in the student section), the equivalent of a Van Halen Panama encore. 

But compare that to the Stadium that once prompted University of Iowa coach Hayden Fry to complain that the fans were too loud to call plays, and suggest that sound meters be used to gauge the noise level, penalizing the home team for too much volume and you see why the Shoe remains the stentorian sultan.

No. 5: O-H-I-Oh Shut up

As GrahamFiller10 writes:

Let me just say, there are few things more annoying than hearing that damn O-H-I-O chant all year. As I wrote this summer:

As a Michigan football fan, I am disgusted and underwhelmed whenever I see Buckeye fans chant O-H-I-O and accompany this intellectually challenging chant with arm motions. This repetitive chant is not original or witty (i.e. when an inspired crowd cleverly mocks an opposing player). The chant is not deep and meaningful, like an English soccer crowd singing a one hundred year old drinking song. The O-H-I-O chant leads me to believe that many Ohio State fans are not very educated and truly rejoice when they realize they can spell the name of their beloved state.

But that doesn't mean I can't be understanding of this behavior. It's not their fault that the whole state rallies itself by screaming a word fit for a 2nd grade geography spelling bee. Included in my last summer piece was this conciliatory note:

As a college football fan, I think the O-H-I-O chant is the kind of ritual that is as important as football game and the players themselves. The chant shows pride and tradition (however simple that tradition is). The chant breeds familiarity: if you're an OSU fan screaming O-H-I-O in the Horseshoe, you're surrounded by 100,000 of your closest friends.

Butttttttttttt it's Michigan Week, so I'm annoyed.


Great minds think alike.

No. 4: Michigan's False Idol

As Law Buckeye writes:

For twenty years (1969-1989), Bo Schembechler was a walking legend on the Michigan sidelines, his iron-taloned visage, down parka, and chrome-rimmed avaitor glasses reminiscent of a State Highway Patrolman.  He was described as "a consummate 'coach's coach,'" with a "superb technical command of the game" and a "fiery disposition," attributes that led him to find success against mentor Woody Hayes in "The Ten Year War." 

During his tenure in Ann Arbor, he compiled an impressive 194-48-5 record (.796 winning percentage) and led the Wolverines to 13 conference championships and 17 bowl appearances behind the populist banner: "Those who stay will be champions."

But he was wrong.  After thirty-seven years of coaching a "'remorseless and punishing' brand of football" Schembechler walked away from the game having never sustained a program at an elite level -- and without a national championship.

Pathetic in Pasadena

In two decades Bo Schembechler followed the gold rush to Pasadena ten times.  He walked away with just two Rose Bowl victories.  Take a look:

Jan. 1, 1970 Rose Southern California L 3-10 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1972 Rose Stanford L 12-13 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1976 Orange Oklahoma L 6-14 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1977 Rose Southern California L 6-14 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1978 Rose Washington L 20-27 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1979 Rose Southern California L 10-17 Bo Schembechler
Dec. 29, 1979 Gator North Carolina L 15-17 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1981 Rose Washington W 23-6 Bo Schembechler
Dec. 31, 1981 BlueBonnet UCLA W 33-14 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1983 Rose U.C.L.A. L 14-24 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 2, 1984 Sugar Auburn L 7-9 Bo Schembechler
Dec. 21, 1984 Holiday Brigham Young L 17-24 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1986 Fiesta Nebraska W 27-9 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1987 Rose Arizona State L 15-22 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 21 1988 Hall of Fame Alabama W 28-24 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 2, 1989 Rose Southern California W 22-14 Bo Schembechler
Jan. 1, 1990 Rose Southern California L 10-17 Bo Schembechler

(Courtesy University of Michigan Athletics)

Schembechler's Wolverines finished the season in the top three only twice.

Perhaps most tellingly, Bo never got past his 1985 second-place finish.  As my friend put it, "Larry Coker has won more championships."

But Bo sure has a lot more friends.

No. 3: OSU's Mixed Up Priorities

As GrahamFiller10 writes:

I have visited some famous places in my life, thanks mostly to the historically-inclined vacation tendencies of my mother. I played 18 at St. Andrews, drifted around the Bloody Angle in Virginia, visited the Old North Church in Boston...But according to this website, all my travels were in vain. Why? Because I haven't enlisted my family members or fellow travelers to hoist their arms in the O-H-I-O salute.


Oh that church was nice, but LOOK at the form on that last "O"!

This degradation of historic monuments and destinations would be a lesser issue if it wasn't so popular and celebrated. Buckeye students and family members have filled the University's O-H-I-O picture web page with over 2200 images of pure Buckeye egotism. I'm sure the scrapbooking conversations are wonderful:

Jim Buckeye: O hunny look, there we are touring Chichen Itza, one of the worlds most mysterious and historic places.

Jill Buckeye: Oh yes, and there we are doing the O-H-I-O with the kids in the Temple of Warriors! Go Bucks!


Note 1: The Leaning Tower hates American football and isn't willingly participating in this family moment. Note 2: That first "O" is a square Dad - bend those arms.

No. 2: The Wolverine Pose

As Law Buckeye writes:


In ESPN describes in its chronicle of the The 100 most memorable plays, performances, and moments that define college football:

Only four other ends had won the Heisman Trophy, but that's not what made Michigan receiver Desmond Howard's 93-yard punt return for a touchdown against Ohio State in 1991 so special. When Howard reached the end zone, he struck a Heisman pose. Innocent prank? Yes, but it also signaled a new era in the marketing of the sport's top individual award. Like politics, the Heisman became all about TV exposure.


No. 1: Michigan's Contested Championships

As Law Buckeye writes:


Sure, Michigan claims eleven National Championships.  But only three have been won since the modern era of NCAA record keeping begin in 1936. 

And, there's a problem with their athletic department's count.  ESPN only acknowledged two, when it visited Ann Arbor this summer to tape its Title Town segment.

I smell a Victorian Era rat.