A few years ago, when it looked like I was going to be relocating to Cary, North Carolina (right outside of Raleigh) to live with my ex, people would invariably quiz me–politely–on my allegiances to sports teams. When I’d mention that I was an Ohio State Buckeyes fan, I’d get asked, almost without exception, “What’s the deal with Michigan?” or “Do you guys really hate Michigan THAT much?”
This brings to mind a conversation that I had when I was on Duke’s campus (and proudly wearing one of my scarlet and grey shirts). I had about a half hour to kill, and ended up talking to a guy in a Duke Blue Devils hoops jersey. Not surprisingly, we had a good conversation about college sport rivalries, but I swear, he tried to logically dissect why OSU fans loathe/detest/wish fire on Michigan. Every time someone down there would ask me why I hate Michigan so much, I’d simply ask them why they hate UNC, to the point where I know it drives some of them into damn near a feeding frenzy. There’s no rhyme or reason to it–it just simply IS. Browns and Steelers fans know what I’m talking about. Ditto Duke and UNC fans. Same with Yanks and BoSox people. You can’t define why the rivalry–and the hatred/animosity that’s part of it–drives us to curse at the TV, set Michigan shirts on fire, and constantly invoke the spirit of Woody Hayes. We’re products of our environment–and our environment around here is largely delineated, especially in mid-to-late November, by the OSU/U of M game.
Me? I’ve been an OSU fan all my life. Blame my dad, if you must. But my allegiance fills me with a dark yearning to see my enemies from Michigan crushed like the cockroaches they are, and to hear the sobbing lamentations of their women and children.
I revel in it.
I know you do too.
That’s why, last Saturday, nothing pleased me more than seeing over 100,000 Michigan fans weeping into their blue-and-gold clothing like little girls with skinned knees. It was glorious.
The game itself, however, was kind of underwhelming. It was cold, gray, and rainy at the Big House, and with the exception of OSU’s Beanie Wells, both teams looked like they were phoning in their performances at best. Mario Manningham decided he wouldn’t make any receptions. Todd Boeckmann had a little Slip n’ Slide-style fun. Henne and Hart, Michigan’s two offensive leaders who were taking their last shots at beating Tressel’s boys, made the gutsy decision to play through their respective injuries, but were non-factors. OSU’s defense stiffened up nicely after a while, though, and we went home with the win.
Only 360 days till the next one…
PS: it was one of those moments that was small but emblematic, but I thought it was appropriate for the coin toss that they used one that had Woody’s face on one side, and Bo’s face on the other. They had probably the greatest college sports coaching rivalry in recent memory–we’re talking Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader level here–and it was a good way to immortalize the two of them.