Sunday, November 25, 2012

Back to Normalcy

In a college football season that has been anything but normal, Saturday was quite...pedestrian. Notre Dame is going to the National Championship. Michigan and Ohio State played a game worthy of the rivalry, with one team securing an undefeated season. Florida beat Florida State. Alabama rolled Auburn. Bruce Springsteen checked in with the number one hit in the country this week with "Born To Run." Oh, it's 2012? My mistake, I thought it was the mid-70s.

Okay, maybe not the 70s. It's been a while since I've seen any Bell Bottoms with peace signs draped all over them, multicolored. But it's also been quite some time since the scenario I started this article with has occured. And isn't ironic that as the BCS, the brain child of 21st century sports, nears its institutional death, for the first time in a while, it SEEMS as though there will be no controversy regarding who should play in the National Championship? (Read that one again, I know there are a lot of commas) Quick, someone call the House Committee on Matters with NO Relation to Politics and tell them to reverse their decision on a college football playoff. Boise State can once again go undefeated, Utah can cry for the Sugar Bowl, and Sparty can go back to besting Big Blue and Touchdown Jesus on the gridiron. You mean you like this version of college football better? Me too.

Before I go into what I think will happen in the future, Buckeye fans will of course want me to mention what happened yesterday. So let's give credit where credit is due. It was Ohio State's day from the beginning, just like it was Michigan's last year. Honoring Tressel, ushering in Meyer, and beating Michigan. Those days don't come around very often. So good for the Buckeyes. That said, what a blown chance for Michigan. Two halves that were polar opposites of each other don't occur like that very often. Michigan missed a golden opportunity to put a stranglehold on this game, and contribute to the growing legend of Brady Hoke. They missed it, badly. Oh well, this team is not one of the all-time Ann Arbor greats. That said, it COULD have been a great day. But again, being respectful since it's the holiday season, an Ohio State win adds to this rivalry...yes, I really believe that.

Denard Robinson breaks away from two Buckeye tacklers photo credit:

As the seconds ticked off at Ohio Stadium, and every Michigan fan had to come the realization that the one year hiatus of bad Ohio State teams is over, I found myself thinking of Eminem. Slim Shady is an interesting person to think of at a time like that. I've always felt a special bond with Eminem. If you aren't from Detroit and you are reading this, chances are you know someone from the Detroit area. Chances also are that if you've ever been in the same room with that person while an Eminem song has been playing, then they've probably uttered the line that is taught at every "Being a Suburban Detroiter" class ever assembled: Oh My God, I live by 8 Mile! No stranger to that line, I actually grew up off of 8 mile. And while my version of 8 mile may have been just a little tougher than Mr. Mathers's version (haha), I've still listened to "Guess Who's Back" plenty of times.

It's back. They're back. Finally, both of them, at the same time, are good. It's been a while since Michigan and Ohio State each had top notch programs. And while the Spartan fans reading this will swear that Michigan is not nearly as good as I think they are, they're wrong. No, Michigan could not win a national championship this year even if Devin Gardner played quarterback every game. But what we learned yesterday in Columbus is that the B1G is about to hop on the back of the Maize and Blue and the Scarlett and Gray. Am I saying that they will be the only B1G teams to win big games? No. Am I saying they will be 11-0 each time they face each other in the future? No. And to appease all of my Spartan friends, am I saying they will both go a combined 10-0 vs. Michigan State in the next five years? Yes. Okay fine, no. But put an alarm in your phone for five years from today. It's possible. Label it "Have Michigan and OSU dominated the B1G in the last five years," and see what happens.

Last year it was Michigan plus six. This year, Ohio State plus five. The last time these two played back-to-back games with each opponent winning at home by less than a touchdown? 1971 and 1972; right smack-dab in the middle of one of the few wars recognized by many, that saw no deaths...the Ten Years War. Who were the coaches again during that period? Two weird names that's for sure. A couple of dudes who were known by their nicknames as opposed to their first names: Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes and Glenn Edward "Bo" Schembechler. The rivalry has always been great. It's been around as long as Michigan and Ohio have disliked each other. Those two men took it to new heights. The two men now, with weird enough names of their own, will take it even higher.

Bo Schembechler (left) and Woody Hayes (right) photo credit:

The last two games in this series could not have meant more to the schools and less to the overall agenda. I'd go as far to say that in ten years, the last two games in this rivalry will be known for NOTHING except each coach won in their first game. Michigan beat Ohio State last year, a game Buckeye fans will say did not mean as much because their coach was too fickle. Ohio State beat Michigan this year, a game Wolverine fans will say didn't mean as much because, well, it just doesn't sting like it should. The B1G Championship game was unattainable, and while that never matters in "The Game," the loss changes nothing about what is going to happen to Michigan come bowl season. Every loss to Ohio State hurts, that will never change. But compared to games like the epic shootout of 2006, this one just feels a little bit different. I'm trying to be more pissed than I actually am. But I just can't help thinking about where this rivalry is about to go.

All non-Michigan fans prepare to grimace: Brady Hoke is a Michigan man. Urban Meyer is a proud son of Ohio. Let's get this clear, I don't like Meyer. I respect what he's done. I imagine he's a good card player, cause he played every single person in this country with his sad tale on the contract he signed with his daughters and leaving Florida for health reasons. BS. He wanted out, he got out, and got the job he really wanted. The two coaches are great at what they do. They get top notch talent to buy into a system, and turn it into results--fast. Brady Hoke took a program that was as stable as Courtney Love, turned it around in one year, won eleven games, and a BCS bowl. Urban Meyer took a 6-6 team, turned them into an undefeated 12-0 team, and took them to a BC--oh, just kidding, no BCS bowl for the Buckeyes (couldn't resist). Both of those coaches did that in one year, with talent they didn't recruit. Imagine what they can do when their systems are fully in place?

Urban Meyer gets the gatorade shower from OSU players photo credit:

Seeing players from both sides jawing hard before the game brought a smile to my face. That's the way it should be. Michigan and Ohio State should not like each other. That should be reflected on the field. I think it will be. I'm even for the coaches not liking each other. Respecting each other, sure. But they don't have to like each other. I don't think it's a coincidence that the two coaches forgot to shake hands after the game yesterday, because the field was too full? No matter what they say, it's on. They want to beat each other, badly. Take Urban Meyer's press conference two days ago. Take Brady Hoke's refusal to call Ohio State, well, Ohio State. The days of "that team up north vs. Ohio" are back. Get ready. It's going to be entertaining.

1 comment:

  1. They applauded Tressel? F That. Ohio would cheer for a crook.