Rooting for either Ohio or Michigan State represents potential problems for fans of the Maize and Blue (of which I am), but I am going to try to rationalize why rooting for one is better than rooting for the other.
Due to Jim Tressel’s lying, using ineligible players, fixing raffles so recruits could win automobiles, all the while having Bible studies with his coaches and players and writing books about how his personal faith and relationship with Jesus Christ sustained him, the NCAA banned Ohio from post-season activities this year. Most of Ohio’s fans say that the game against Michigan is their post-season, which is the first chapter in the book, “Sour Grapes: What Morons Say to Comfort Themselves.” A Buckeye win helps Michigan’s (rather difficult) road to the Rose Bowl, and an eventual loss to Oregon. Rooting for Ohio is a very foreign concept, and in fact, I only remember two times when I hoped for a Buckeye victory: in 1994, against Notre Dame, and when they faced Miami in 2002. By the way, the ref just threw the flag for Pass Interference.
Urban Meyer makes rooting against the Buckeyes much easier than Jim Tressel ever did. Having lived for the past five years in the heart of Florida, I witnessed the many arrests of UF players and the complete lack of control Meyer had over the program. When 30 players are arrested , there is a problem, but Urban led Florida to two national championships, so folks looked the other way. After Timmy Tebow left, Urban began to lose, so spending time with his family seemed a lot better than being fired. After just eleven months of spending time with, “the most important people in his life,” which also included working for ESPN, Urban replaced Ray Finkle. By wanting to change the culture of corruption that flourished under Tressel, Dr. Gee (whom Tressel did NOT fire), chose someone just like him, who, contrary to any rumor we hear, is STILL the Head Coach at Utah. Where Tressel feigned Christianity and “doing the right thing,” Urban is a breath of fresh, stank air. He is going to cheat to win, and his players are going to be arrested.
Other than the occasional dorm fight, and reinstating someone to the team who was responsible for life-altering brain damage to a hockey player, Mark Dantonio and Michigan State seem the lesser of two evils, but do not be fooled, Sparty deserves all of our collective ire. During “The Streak,” as they called it, it was ______ days since a Michigan team defeated a Michigan State team. I always laughed because most Spartan fans clung to “The Streak” like Linus clung to his blanket. Spartan fans would spend hours telling me that they, “had bigger fish than Michigan to fry,” yet counted the days since a Michigan team beat them. And when the streak ended, they cried like a little girl with a skinned knee.
Their school’s football team has beaten ours four straight years. They waste no opportunity reminding us of that, and they should never, either. When Michigan won the previous six contests, I always reminded them. Their program is on the right track, but it has not arrived, nor has it supplanted Michigan as, “the most recognizable team in the State.” They point to their win over Georgia last year in the Outback Bowl as proof of their turn-around, when it was their first post-season victory since 2001, the last year Bill Clinton was president. They have not been to a Rose Bowl since 1988, right after the Iran-Contra Affair that sullied Ronald Reagan’s last term, and have not won it since 1966. Ironically, it was Jim Tressel’s team that prevented Sparty from going to the Rose Bowl the year they shared part of the B1G title. If Tressel did NOT lie, cheat, and lie about the cheating, Sparty would have seen the Roses.
As difficult as it is to root for Ohio, I find myself wanting the Buckeyes to win Saturday. Since this is a ghost season, even if they finish 12-0, it will not matter, although Buckeye fan would never let anyone forget the year the NCAA cheated them, as they take their shoes and socks off so they can make it all the way up to twelve. If they beat the Spartans, Michigan’s chances of representing the B1G in Pasadena grow, exponentially, even though Tom Osborne is retiring from Nebraska, again, and will probably get another gift national championship, like he did in 1997, again. The road games on Michigan’s schedule mean that our beloved Wolverines need all the help they can get, and if that means rooting for Urban Frank Meyer and a quarterback who misses open receiver after open receiver, then, so be it. I can always shower after the game.