Family Feud is a feature where Dave and Drew throw their opinions in on various Buckeye football subjects, which like most father and sons, are quite opposite. This edition takes a look at the Michigan-Alabama game and who Buckeye fans should root for.
September 1st is a big day. Not only will the Buckeyes take the field for the first time under their new field general, Urban Meyer, but one of the biggest non-conference showdowns of the year also takes place. The defending National Champion Crimson Tide will be taking on Brady Hoke's Wolverines in Cowboys Stadium. Oh, if the stadium could only implode.
Anyway, this matchup definitely leaves Buckeye fans in a precarious position. If we root for Alabama, we are pulling for the SEC to claim another victory over the B1G. The SEC chants will ring out around another stadium, and the ego of every fan throughout the Confederate States only gets bigger. On the other hand, pulling for Michigan goes against everything we have been taught about rooting for Ohio State. Their pain is our gain, and besides, if anyone is going to carry the torch in the B1G it should be Ohio State. Right?
So, what is a Buckeye fan to do? Well, we'll make a case for each side and let you decide which is the lesser of the two evils. Let's go...
The Case for B1G Allegiance (Drew):
Let me start with what everyone agrees on - WE HATE THAT SCHOOL UP NORTH! We hate the helmets, the uniforms, the stadium, the fight song, the mascot, their fat coach, their fans and about everything else that is associated with their sorry school (and state for that matter). In fact, we hate them so much we enjoy watching them lose almost as much as watching Ohio State win. Yes, we are a sick bunch.
You see, the B1G had/has a perception problem. We're known as the conference with corn-fed farm boys on the line running Power-I every play. The media loves to toss around phrases like "bigger" and "slower", words that have unfortunately stuck with the conference in recent times. It would have been great to shake that image too, but that was difficult with the Buckeyes dominating the conference every year like it was the Big East (and then getting crushed on the national scene by the SEC). It's also not easy to shake that image when a team like Wisconsin is winning the conference. (Yes) offense to Bret Bielema! They literally live up to every stereotype that the B1G has.
So far, that perception hasn't hurt the conference too bad. Thanks to the best fan support in college football, the B1G has done well. Ticket sales, memorabilia sales, and the B1G Network have all positioned the conference in a good spot. That won't last forever though. At some point the conference will have to step up and start winning at the highest level. In fact, the SEC is quickly running away from the rest of college football, and if the B1G (and the rest of college football) want to keep up they better wake up.
You see winning big games helps perception, perception leads to more money, and more money leads to each team in the conference being able to build better facilities and recruit better. It was perception that landed Alabama in the national title game after losing to the other team playing the game. It was perception that has helped the SEC land other "border-line" teams in BCS games. You better believe it will be perception that will help them with the committee picking the top four teams starting next year.
The only way to combat this is the traditional powers that exist in the conference (Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and MICHIGAN) starting to play on an elite level again. That means rooting for Michigan to beat Alabama. The conference needs statement wins against the best in college football.
As painful as that is, you won't be compromising your OSU fandom. It's a lot like having siblings. You can beat them up every day, but if someone outside your family lays a finger on them you go after them. Let's be honest as well, it's not hard to go after Nick Saban. The man is about as much of sleaze ball as exists in college football, and I would love to see him crying in the press conference after the game.
If all of that didn't convince you, let me also remind you how much better the rivalry is when Michigan and Ohio State are at the top of the rankings. I throughly enjoyed laughing at Michigan during the Rich Rodriguez era, but there was definitely missing something. It's those epic moments when the game is on the line that define a rivalry, not when you winning by multiple touchdowns.
So as hard as it seems, I'll be rooting for Michigan and the B1G on September 1st. I hope you'll join me.
The Case for Michigan Hatred (Dave):
Okay, first things first. Nobody who wears scarlet and gray needs any motivation to hate the weasels from up north. If you are old enough to have lived through the John Cooper era then you recall the horror of losing year after year, watching Rose Bowl aspirations go up in smoke, to say nothing of national championship hopes. Just watching the fans decked out in blue and urine-colored yellow laughing, high-fiving, and taunting Buckeye fans literally made me nauseous. So there isn't a great deal of challenge in encouraging readers to amp up the hatred for TSUN.
That being said, let me confess that intellectually I am committed to cheering for the Wolverines in this matchup. I am sick of the SEC arrogance, and truly want the B1G to see its luster restored. With Penn State out of commission for the foreseeable future, and Ohio State serving a one-year hiatus from bowl eligibility, the conference needs Michigan to win. I believe that, and might even be able to convince myself before the game begins that I will be cheering for the maize and blue.
It won't be the first time. In the past, when UM and Notre Dame have met, I have sat down in the recliner, beverage in hand, chips and dip close by, and told myself that I will be cheering for the ugly helmets. Guess what? About two plays after kickoff I have found myself rooting, instead, for the Domers, who I despise.
Bowl games have brought the same result. Intellectually I tell myself that I must pledge my allegiance to the B1G conference teams. When the flatlanders from Illinois hit the field in their orange and blue uniforms, I have no problem cheering them on. Their fans annoy me, and I recall them cheering when Pryor got hurt in Champaign a few years ago, but I can still force myself to root them on. Same for Michigan State, or Iowa, or even, heaven forbid, Purdue. Yes, I have received 75 texts saying "Boiler Up!" following an Ohio State loss in West Lafayette. But I can still push that aside and cheer for them when they play Notre Dame or enter a bowl game. But not Michigan.
I have a good friend who used to say, "Michigan: where the men are men, and the women are too." Intellectually I know that isn't true - well, not completely anyway. But I still repeat it often. Why? I just despise that team from Ann Arbor.
Maybe it goes back to my early years, when Woody was still at the helm. His intense animosity towards "that team up north" kind of naturally filtered down to all of us fans. Or maybe my hatred goes back to 1995 when Tim Biakabutuka ran for 313 yards, leading scUM to as 31-23 upset of the Buckeyes. That was the team with Eddie George, Bobby Hoying, Terry Glenn, Rickey Dudley, Orlando Pace, Mike Vrabel and Shawn Springs that should have been national champions. Instead, they limped out of the world's biggest toilet bowl with another excruciatingly painful loss. And, seconds after the final play, my phone started ringing. If I hadn't hated Michigan already, I would have started that cold afternoon. I could go on, but you get the point.
So, as much as I will psyche myself up on that first day of September, convincing myself that I MUST cheer for the good of the old Big Ten, I already know that I will never pull it off. They will come running out onto the field in those ugly helmets, waving that flag with the big M on it, and all of the venom will resurface. And I will temporarily sell my soul to Nick Satan and cheer for a bunch of cheaters I despise. Maybe I will hate myself that evening, but it's an old story and I already know how it ends!