From the Toledo War that was fought between 1835 and 1836, the nearly bloodless boundary dispute left reverberating feelings of resentment and hostility that are as equally intense now as they were then … possibly being even stronger now. This war was also known as the Michigan-Ohio War and is now known as the Michigan-Ohio State War. Our date at the end of every football season in either the Big House or the Horseshoe has become the greatest rivalry in college sports … and arguably, the greatest rivalry in all sports. This battle for glory became the bitter rivalry that it is under Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes. Neither man needs an introduction. Anyone who claims to be a fan of college football recognizes these legends by name. Neither school could boast the great football tradition they possess without paying homage to these two men, but there is something special about our rivalry … about The Game … that sets it apart from any other. In the words of the great Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Yes, the taunts are vicious, the hate runs deep, and disgust is written over all our faces when confronted with the enemy, but this is not a typical “enemy.” They are our nemesis … our equals … The Game is at its best when both teams are at their best.
That's how it should be.
In the final years of Tressel’s tenure at The Ohio State University, That School Up North stumbled. We loved it, yes, and we certainly mocked them for it … but in their weak years, The Game ultimately suffered. Therefore, OSU suffered, too. But last year, TSUN finally found their man in Brady Hoke … just when the Buckeyes hit a brick, tattooed wall of resistance. As our first year approaches with our new coach and lifelong Buckeye fan, Urban Meyer, at the helm - could it be that our rivalry will be renewed?
With both sides eagerly waiting to find out, I thought it would be fun to sit down with my future brother-in-law, Josh, and discuss the border dispute … from both perspectives. Josh is a born and bred Michigan man. Yea, I know what everyone is thinking, “Your sister is engaged to a Michigan man?” Yep. He had to be warned and thoroughly prepared to meet me. Being my baby sister, I am extremely protective and usually scare the guys away. So let’s introduce me to a Michigan fan! Well, Josh is not a typical guy. He is a very proud and respectful Marine, who did not back down or even waiver under the pressure of meeting me ;) Josh represents, in every way, what a veteran of the Michigan-Ohio State War is and for what it stands. So with mutual respect, we are doing a compare & contrast between our sides of the Greatest Sports Rivalry.
When and how did you become a fan?
Josh: My interest in Michigan athletics didn’t just magically materialize, I was born with it! However, my fanaticism has been acquired throughout the many years of dedication. The knowledge I have gained is the reason why I respect the university with the highest of honors. I have learned throughout the years what makes Michigan above the rest. There are so many reasons why I became a Michigan fan, but it starts with just being from Michigan and growing up in a family who stayed true to the maize and blue.
Carrie: I am Buckeye-born and Buckeye-bred! I was raised in Akron and have been sportin’ the Scarlet & Gray for as long as I can remember. However, I never went to any games as a child, and my family was not all-about OSU. I had sweatshirts and stuff, but I did not become the psychotic fan that I am now until I started at OSU in the fall of 2000. I bleed Scarlet & Gray because I earned it! It is and always will be apart of me. The University gave me everything I have and made me everything I am. It helped define me and now it defines my life. I do think, however, that my first true attachment to the school came when I moved to South Carolina in high school. I was so pro-North that I took it upon myself to represent my home … Ohio. I recall a paper-football tournament in my Freshman Focus class during my first year in South Carolina. We all took up the identity of a different team, and I was The Ohio State University. It came down to OSU (me) versus Notre Dame in the championship game … and just like the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State won! (FYI, no one in my class represented TSUN)
To you, what did Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes mean to their respective program? What do their memories mean today?
Josh: Bo is a legend, but to understand his legacy you must understand the history. Bo started his career with the Buckeyes and HAILS from the state of Ohio, but his heart and soul would eventually belong to Michigan. Before coming to Michigan, the program was in disarray and was in a complete downward spiral. I n the 50s and 60s Michigan put up several disappointing seasons, during which the Ohio State dominated the series. It was time for a change, a change to get the program back on track and rekindle the great rivalry. Bo would now face his mentor! His legacy would be imprinted his very first year as head coach. Beating an unbeatable Ohio State team set the stage for a 10-year football war. Michigan football was once again back in the spotlight as a powerhouse football team. Now do I think the program would have got back to elite status? Yes. However, without the illustrious duo between friends the rivalry wouldn’t have the same ramifications it does today. Woody and Bo’s friendship was extremely competitive, and losing was not an option vs. Ohio State but the Michigan vs. Notre Dame rivalry. To this day the players still believe in what Bo advocated “Those who stay will be champions.”
Carrie: Woody is an institution. One of the foundations upon which the largest school in the country is built came from Woody: “Pay It Forward.” When a football coach interviews potential assistants or is hosting recruits and never mentions football, but instead talks about the value of education, every American’s responsibility to our great nation, and every student’s responsibility to share his or her good fortune with the next generation, you know this is a great man … not just a great coach. I guess I do not see his sole value to OSU as developing a football “blue-blood” dynasty. I truly believe he gave the University an identity that transcends sports and time. As for his mark on the program, specifically, I think that had more to do with the Woody-Bo rivalry era. Woody was a legend before Bo and helped create Bo, but it was not until the protégé lined up against the master that OSU football really became the program we all know it to be. It is difficult to imagine OSU football without The Rivalry he established. Every Buckeye thinks of Woody & his drive to stop TSUN every time that state is even mentioned. Buckeye football today is a living tribute to the great Woody Hayes!
What is your favorite Wolverine/Buckeye memory?
Josh: I have so many great memories! I remember my first childhood game I attended at the “Big House.” I will never forget Desmond Howards Heisman pose or Charles Woodson’s Mesmerizing interception against MSU. The greatest of memories occurs every time we beat the Buckeyes.
Carrie: The National Championship run of 2002. No question. The last game in the ‘Shoe that year was when we beat TSUN. I was sitting in the student section in the South Stands where John Navarre threw the final pass of the game to try and upset the Buckeyes. Will Allen intercepted the pass in the endzone right in front of me … Game over. The students stormed the field and tried for HOURS to tear down the goal posts … unsuccessfully. And the police sprayed so much pepper spray on the field that my eyes were tearing up in the stands! Ahhh, yea, it was a great day!
Are you into other sports, or is it mostly centered around football?
Josh: I enjoy all Michigan sports (basketball, baseball, wrestling, hockey, etc.). Michigan athletics’ prestige is exemplified by the 52 national championships awarded to the school since 1865.
Carrie: Yea, that is impressive, Josh … for TSUN anyway. The Ohio State University has 69 national championships since 1870, including 28 in a single sport (synchronized swimming) … yea, that’s more than the number of World Series the New York Yankees have won. Oh, and did I mention that George Steinbrenner is also a Buckeye? Greatness … that’s what ALL our sports are about!
What is the biggest difference between your rivalry in The Game, and those outside of Michigan v Ohio State?
Josh: The biggest difference is tradition from the Woody/ Bo era. We have always treated MSU as “the little brother.” For the most part, we have handled them throughout the years (record: 67-30-5). A loss to them is more of an embarrassment, loss of pride within the state. OSU loss is more of a national detriment. I think both losses are substantially equal, with an edge going to Ohio State. I also feel as if other factors play a role, and that’s the outcome of the season. Whichever game means more for national rankings than that’s the more important win.
Carrie: For OSU, there is only one true rival. Sure, Penn State hates us and has had their moments of being decent, but on the Richter Scale of OSU rivals, they do not even register. As of late, our hatred for Wisconsin has grown … in basketball and in football, but if we just stopped playing them, I would quickly forget they even exist. We ALWAYS are thinking about TSUN … ALWAYS! If it wasn’t for Wisconsin’s tandem coaching combo of d-bags, no Buckeye would even think twice about them. And as for The [Other] School Up North … yea, “We Don’t Give a Damn For the Whole State of Michigan.” (But I do like Dantonio).
Growing up, when you were confronted with the other program, what did you think of the school? What has been your experience with fans from the other side of the border?
Josh: I have always respected them as a team, but I would never admit to that, I have always voiced my digressions towards the University. Fans can be appalling and rude, but every school has a lack luster of disrespectful fans. Unfortunately, I have run into a majority of that in my experiences with Ohio State fans.
Carrie: Well, one of my best friends from high school became a Michigan fan about three years ago when his dad became an assistant coach for their basketball team (yes, in EVERY shot of Beilein, you see his dad right by his side). We have not spoken in over a year. Here’s a summary of what happened: Last year around February, there was a Jeopardy, College Edition question about Denard “I-Don’t-Know-How-To-Tie-My-Shoelaces” Robinson. On Facebook, the Big Ten Network posted this link and asked if the girl who answered should have gotten credit for her answer. Technically, he doesn’t tie his “shoelaces,” and the girl answered “shoes.” I shared the post with my friend on his wall. His freaking girlfriend, who graduated from TSUN (as did her dad), commented saying that it figures a Buckeye fan would ALWAYS have to make everything about OSU. Ummmm, was I talking to her?? Did I ask for her opinion?? Did I say anything directed at the rivalry or derogatory in any way? Maybe she should post her comments on the BTN’s Facebook page. Out of respect for my friend, however, I didn’t respond to his girlfriend … and if you know me, you can imagine how difficult that was for me! Instead I texted my friend and told him that I didn’t appreciate her comments. He responded by telling me that SHE WAS TAKING THE “HIGH ROAD” and that I can root for my team and they’ll root for theirs. OMG! THAT was the “high road?” Then a few weeks later, out of nowhere, I was sitting at the doctor’s office and got a text from him saying that the basketball team has a cheer they do during games that made him think of me. He wants to start a chant that goes, “Carrie, come back down to Earth” because I need to get a grip on reality. I was completely confused and when asked what he was talking about, he told me that I am “one-dimensional” because all I do and all I care about is OSU. Let me clarify that he is basing this 100% on my Facebook activity. Just because I use Facebook as my own personal OSU blog site does NOT mean I have no other interests. Oh, we had it out! And now we are not friends. That is my experience with fans of TSUN (pre-Josh … ironically, my ex-friend’s name was also Josh).
Josh: "Hail to the Victors," running on the field under the "M," and the helmets are all great, but the best is jersey number 1. Only 16 players have had the honor of wearing that number and until another player is worthy their will not be a 17th.
Carrie: My favorite OSU traditions are the Buckeye leafs on the helmets, Hang on Sloopy, “OH-IO” cheers, singing “Carmen Ohio” after every game, the Golden Pants charms, OSU’s version of “Hail to the Victors,” “We Don’t Give a Damn For The Whole State of Michigan” … but the BEST ever is Script Ohio with the Dotting of the “I!” Josh, did you know that Michigan was the first marching band to do Script Ohio? You guys didn’t do it in motion or dot the “I,” but you did do a stationary version back in the day.
What traditions do you hate the most, or that annoy you the most?
Josh: The whole Ohio marching band thing but especially the doting of the I and that terrible fight song! On a side note, Men's Health magazine rated Brutus the Buckeye the worst mascot.
Carrie: First of all, Hokie, we are Ohio STATE, not Ohio. Secondly, hahahahaha, jealous much? I have to say, though, that I hate “Hail to the Victors.” If it wasn’t for our refined lyrics to that song, I would probably throw something at the TV or at the nearest “M” I see every time that tune plays! But of ALL things Michigan, I HATE that “M!” Every time I see that fake “maize” (it’s actually “sun”) “M,” my blood starts to boil.
What did you think about Rich Rod? What do you think about Brady Hoke? Who is your favorite Michigan coach of all time?
Josh: Terrible! We needed a change of pace, but that wasn’t it. Defense wins championships, Hoke brings bother tradition and defense, two things Rich Rod knew nothing about.
Carrie: So you wouldn’t have been pissed if I would have called him, Dick Rod, which was my natural instinct? Personally, he was my favorite Michigan coach ever! ;) While, Hokie obviously drives me crazy, I do think he’s the right man for the job. When I first heard that Dick Rod was named the new coach, I knew that wouldn’t last long. In fact, I even told my dad, I give him three years! My reasoning was that he was leaving the head coaching position at his alma mater to become Michigan’s coach. I know the prestige of Michigan’s head coach is far and away better than West Virginia, but his lack of loyalty to his school automatically made him a “fail.” What makes our rivalry great is that regardless which side we are on, there is one quality we share: Pride … and there are two principles we both understand: Loyalty and Betrayal. Clearly, Dick Rod wasn’t a fit. Hokie gets it. He has lived it. He’s definitely a Michigan man. (In other news, Ann Arbor restaurants are reporting a vast depletion of food products)
What did you think about Jim Tressel? What was your reaction to Ohio State hiring Urban Meyer?
Josh: Tressel did a lot for the program, but we all know you are only as good as your last mistake. His legacy will be forever tarnished. I think Urban Meyer was a T-e-r-r-i-b-l-e pick-up. I think he is a great coach, but Big 10 play is a different style of play. Rich Rod was a great coach but failed in the Big 10. I think that coaching caliber of Meyers is superior to Rich Rod and believe he can succeed but deep down I am intimidated by the diversity he brings to the university.
Carrie: Interesting perspective, Josh. Tressel’s legacy is tarnished, I agree. But I think that will live more in minds of everyone outside of Columbus. Woody Hayes is a great example here. He was immediately fired after punching a Clemson defender after he intercepted our pass in the Gator Bowl. While the two mistakes are vastly different and completely incomparable, I do think the effect both have on the legacies of the coaches will be similar in the long term. Right now, we are not removed enough from the lie Tress told NCAA so it may seem a bigger deal than it really was. But I’m sure we could say the same about Woody’s punch right after it happened. I was a freshman in college during Cooper’s last year and was a sophomore during Tressel’s first year. So I know first-hand how the entire Buckeye Nation changed under Tressel. Buckeye Nation became closer, more proud. He brought back classic tradition at OSU. Obviously, only time will tell what his legacy truly will be, but I sincerely hope that Buckeye Nation remembers him that way. Urban Meyer. He gets it. He knows Ohio State football tradition. Like you said about Michigan, we also needed a change of pace … new momentum. I think Urban is bringing that. We will see how he fairs in the B1G this fall.
What are you most excited about for the first Meyer-Hoke showdown at the 'Shoe?
Josh: Everything, but especially our defense against an explosive Meyer offense.
Carrie: You know, I completely agree. In addition, I definitely think our boys are more motivated and have a lot more passion (on both sides of the ball) so I’m also excited to see our stud defense against Denard, as well.
When you met my sister Chrissie and found out about the Janello's allegiance to OSU, what did you think?
Josh: I thought it would be interesting but exciting. I am reasonable but competitive. I can fall victim to my emotions with a devastating loss. I love the dual between good and evil, Michigan and Ohio State. I knew our differences would make for many good Saturday afternoons but after meeting the family I became overwhelmed. I never assumed I would run into a psycho-buckeye extraordinaire. My perspective of the situation would be like Woody and Bo, enemies on the field but friends off the field.
What were your thoughts about Chrissie marrying a Michigan man?
Carrie: Yea, when she first told me … actually, I think my dad was the first to tell me … I’m pretty sure I looked at Chrissie with a “are you f@#$ing kidding me?” look. But I think everything Josh said is dead-on. He completely won me over when we played.
When you found out about the Tat-gate scandal, what was your reaction?
Josh: I never kept up with all the fine details. I think it has tarnished the University but to say that they deserved the punishment? Well, I can only say I believe that many schools have committed similar crimes, even worse, but when the hammer gets dropped someone has to be at the other end.
Carrie: “Why Kirk, WHY?” I think Josh is absolutely right. The biggest problem, from a logistics standpoint, is that the athletic department was too reckless with the situation and put too much misplaced trust in immature kids, who were more than willing to take advantage of their celebrity status in Ohio. Most schools (if not all) do the same crap, but our cavalier attitude allowed us to get caught. I don’t condone any of it, but NCAA needed a fall guy, and that happened to be us. A year later, there is still one lingering question that has not been answered: “How does Genie-boy still have a job?” A question for the ages, I guess …. smh
Who is your favorite Michigan player? Favorite Buckeye player?
Josh: Michigan – Charles Woodson; Ohio State – Chris Spielman
Carrie: Ohio State – Archie Griffin; Michigan – Mike Lantry
Word association time! For each of the items below, what one word comes to mind?
The University of Michigan
The Ohio State University
Editor's Note: We want to thank Josh for being a great sport and jumping in with us from the wrong side of the border for a little Q&A about The Rivalry - but (as Tress would say) Most Especially for his time served defending our beautiful country as a United States Marine. Very nice work, Josh. That being said....Michigan Sucks.