The following was written by Guest Writer Clint Derringer (UMGoBlue User ClintD):
The fuel for a rivalry is not found in an athlete’s love of winning, but rather in his hatred of losing. For me, there is no reward as great as denying your greatest adversary. This attitude is what made Michigan vs. Ohio State as great as it is today.
In the beginning, Fielding Yost’s "point-a-minute" teams were a juggernaut, to the tune of 214-6 over those guys beneath us. Accordingly, Ohio State men of the 1919 were not jubilant about winning a game as much as they were reveling in bringing Michigan back to earth.
Perhaps the greatest era of this illustrious rivalry is the Ten Year War between Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines, and Woody Hayes’ Buckeys. This era particularly showed how the beauty of a rival is inflicting heartache on the other guys. In 1968, the year before Bo was hired at U-M, Woody famously went for a two point conversion up 48-14. It was successful. When asked why he went for two, Woody crassly replied "Because I couldn’t go for 3." Point taken.
In 1969 Bo Schembechler used Woody’s venom against him. The number "50" was prominently displayed in the football facility. When there were conditioning reps to be done, Michigan did 50. Before the 1969 Michigan vs Ohio State game, the national media was not shy about purveying the opinion that the only college football game worth watching was OSU’s offense vs. OSU’s defense during practice in Columbus. Woody later said it was the best team he had coached throughout his career. That was high praise from a man that coached three national championship teams.
But the 1969 team was not one of those championship teams. Michigan triumphed 24-12. Michigan finished 8-3 in 1969, but the people of Ann Arbor weren’t counting wins. Only counting that one OSU loss.
In 1973 both teams entered The Game undefeated. After the teams battled to a grueling 10-10 draw the teams split the Big Ten championship, but in those days only one team could go to a bowl. The conference Athletic Directors voted to send the Buckeyes, citing an injury to Michigan’s starting QB. *** Bo would call this decision the greatest injustice of his career. It was the only draw in the Ten Year War, but anyone will tell you (from either side of the fence) that it feels much more like a Buckeye victory than anything else.
Now I’ll fast forward to MY introduction to the rivalry: the John Cooper Era. In 199 3, 1995, and 1996 Ohio State entered the game undefeated. In 1993, 1995, and 1996 Ohio State came out of The Game once defeated. Cooper was a fabulous recruiter, and an outstanding coach. But these three games, and a 2-10-1 overall record versus the wolverines, proved to be too much for the powers-that-be.
In 2002, Ohio State was on the brink of another National Championship berth. I was personally part of this game from the sideline and the locker room as a manager and I can tell you unequivocally that our guys wanted to rip that away from them. In 2006 the stakes were the same, but this time for both teams, as both Michigan and Ohio State were undefeated. Something tells me all 22 players on the field at one time were trying to play spoiler, rather than fighting for their own glory.
Rivalry games are a great embodiment of the essence of competition. They represent a season within a season. Winning THE GAME makes that particular season a success to many. They represent a fresh start while simultaneously encapsulating all the season’s efforts. Throw the records out, because football is a game of emotion, and response to adversity. Throw the records out, because THE GAME is about forcing the other team to wallow in our glee. Throw the records out because it’s time to bring the Buckeyes and their fans back to reality: 57-43-6 We are the Leaders and Best. GO BLUE!!!
***Legend has it that the Michigan State Athletic Director cast the deciding vote, and THIS is really the beginning of another, less storied rivalry. Another rivalry thus began with taking pleasure in the other team’s demise.