You see, Younger Son's Young Lady is a born and bred, died in the wool, Ohio State Buckeye legacy. I should have realized that this allegiance wasn't run of the mill fandom, when I began to take note of a drastic change in Younger Son's wardrobe. Where NFTY and camp items used to take up shelf space in his closet, they were fast being replaced by OSU sweatshirts, t-shirts, pendants and scarves. This boy is no fool. Shalom Bayit!! But when he made a nine hour car trip a few years back down south to Columbus for the annual Michigan game, I knew that this wasn't ordinary team fanaticism.
Look, I am a sports person. A Leaf fan who hates Les Canadiens with a passion so strong there is a visceral ache in my belly. The Yankees? They get booed no matter who else is on the field. I mean, I rooted for the Diamondbacks in the series right after 9/11. That's true team hatred. But I have never seen anything like the neurotic, all consuming, complex mania that is Ohio State football. And during Michigan week? Well, suffice it to say that wearing blue this week around The Young Lady is an invitation to excommunication. Shalom Bayit!
In order to fully understand the nuances of this extreme sporting rivalry, I have spent the past few days immersing myself in the culture of one of the longest and perhaps most hateful feuds in all of athletics. Here is a sampling of what I have learned and adopted all in the name of Shalom Bayit!
- The Ohio State/Michigan football game goes back to their inaugural meeting in 1897. It predates the World Series by six years and the formation of the National Football League by over twenty. This isn't just hate. This is your great-grandfather's hate!
- Ohio State isn't merely Ohio State. They are officially known as The Ohio State University. I thought that sounded somewhat pretentious. Of course, I was wrong. There is actually a history as to why this is so, and it has to do with state legislation and renaming the school. The long and the short of it....never insult the Buckeyes by leaving the "The" out of their official school moniker. And pretension? That is something left to that school to the north.
- Which brings me to Woody and Bo. I stupidly thought that Mr. Allen was making a new film starring the Obama's dog, when in fact they were the legendary coaches on both sides who engaged in what is commonly referred to as the "10 Year War"; or as we normal human beings like to call it, "The 70s". Woody Hayes, the slightly insane but beloved coach at OSU, and Bo Schembechler, the equally nuts and paranoid head guy at Michigan, engaged in a battle royal over this decade. One school or the other either won or shared in the Big Ten Championship every single year, and usually both placed in the national rankings. No other game on the schedule mattered. Everything was (and still is) geared toward beating the shit out of the other. When Woody's boys lost one season, he had a rug made with the score emblazoned upon it. Every day his team would stomp on that rug as motivation so that the following season, they would understand the "game" and kick the crap out of the Wolverines. Woody was so immersed in his hatred for Michigan, that he refused to utter the state name, always referring to it as that school or place to the north. There is local legend telling of a road trip through the state when Woody ran out of gas. He famously stated that he would rather push the car on fumes back over the state line rather than fill up in Michigan. Now that's hate!
- I am now a devotee of TBDBITL!!
- Urban Meyer isn't a neighbourhood in Cleveland, but rather the current head coach of the Buckeyes.
- What the f*** is a Buckeye anyway? Well, a Buckeye is a small, shiny, dark brown nut with a light tan patch that comes from the official state tree of Ohio, the buckeye tree. According to Michigan fans "they are hairless nuts", but those are just the jealous rantings of those that are less academically endowed. According to folklore, the Buckeye resembles the eye of a deer and carrying one brings good luck.
- Scarlett and grey are much more appropriate choices for my colour palette than maize and blue. Apparently, I look really crappy in blue, and yellow is never a good idea, but red seriously sets off my skin tones.
- This is a rivalry that isn't merely about school spirit. This is about hate. Passionate, visceral, "Hatfields vs McCoys"-style hatred. A sampling.
A: To keep the Michigan cheerleaders from grazing at half time.
One day in an elementary school in Ann Arbor Michigan, a teacher asks her class if the Michigan Wolverines are their favorite football team. The whole class says yes except for Little Jimmy.
The teacher asks, "What's your favorite football team Jimmy?"
Little Jimmy says, "The Ohio State Buckeyes."
The teacher asks, "Well, why is that?"
Little Jimmy says, "Well, my dad is a Buckeye fan, my mom is a Buckeye fan, I guess that makes me a Buckeye fan."
The teacher angered by his reply says, "If your dad was a moron and your mom was an idiot what would that make you?"
Little Jimmy says, "Well, I guess that would make me a Michigan fan."
or...how about this from ESPN
This week my Facebook timeline has been taken over by rabid Ohio State fans. I have seen lunacy in action. Did you know that as of this writing it is 9:41 am and Michigan still sucks? But I have learned my lessons well and even though my degree isn't from THE Ohio State University, I will be rooting hard for the Buckeyes this Saturday afternoon in their quest for an unbeaten season, gold pants, and bragging rights for the next 365 days....all in the name of Shalom Bayit!