The argument goes that since the teams have been placed in opposite divisions, THE GAME, has been forever diminished. Eventually it will dawn on people that since results of the Michigan/Michigan State game has a greater impact on the division standings, and a trip to the Big Ten (+4) conference championships, it will be become the marque match-up of the season.
Perhaps someday in an alternate bizarro universe (one where fans are actually geeked about Rutgers and Maryland joining the conference), where a RichRod-like coach leads the Wolverines (rivalry? let me tell you about Pittsburgh/West Virginia!!) and a John Cooper-like coach leads ohio (why is calling us ohio an insult?) that may be the case.
But that’s not (thankfully) where we are today.
Brady Hoke grew up steeped in lore of the rivalry. He went to college and played football in Ohio, he was an assistant at Michigan for 8 years prior to leaving to be head coach at Ball State. He grew up a Michigan fan and even though he was a head coach at schools with red as a team color, wore white or black shirts on game days so as not to be reminded of the Buckeyes.
When he became the head coach of the Wolverines he had clocks installed at Schembechler Hall counting down the days until the “rivalry” games and put other reminders up to highlight the importance of THE GAME against “that school in ohio”, while referring to the Buckeyes simply as “ohio“.
Urban Meyer comes to lead the Buckeyes after a turbulent tenure leading the Florida Gators to 2 National Championships. While leading the Gators over two dozen of his players were arrested and Urban resigned due to health problems. Like Hoke, he also was born in Ohio (in Toledo which is far closer to Ann Arbor than Columbus) and also played college football in the state. He served as an assistant coach for the Buckeyes and appreciates the importance of beating “that school up north” both for recruiting and job security.
On Saturday, after completing his first season undefeated in Columbus, Urban took time to hassle a local reporter for wearing a blue tie to his post-game press conference.
Hoke won THE GAME his first year in the Big House and Meyer won THE GAME his first year in the snake pit.
The health of this rivalry is strong and the pedigree of these two coaches insures that it will remain so during their tenures.
Hoke and Meyer weren’t able to shake hands after the game.
Hoke denies any intentional snub, declaring to reporters that the lack of a handshake “…is not a big deal…not a story.”
It appears that Hoke and Meyer are gearing up for the next 10 Year War.
Tune in next year at the Big House for the next chapter.
You can be sure that Hoke and the Wolverines are already planning their revenge.