November 29, 2013
PDT Content Manager
When I arrived on the campus of The Ohio State University in 2004, I was a naive, 40-pound lighter version of myself that had little real grasp of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry besides the fact it was important to students and fans of the two schools.
Growing up in Cincinnati will do that to you. College sports allegiances in the Queen City are fragmented between the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and too a lesser extent Ohio State, Indiana University and Miami.
I learned pretty quickly about what I had been missing via the gridiron excellence of one Troy Smith and some of the best Buckeyes to play in the last decade. Smith, along with Santonio Holmes, Anthony Gonzalez, AJ Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, Mike Nugent, Ted Ginn Jr., Malcolm Jenkins, James Laurinaitis, Vernon Gholston and so many others would create a lot of happy sports memories for the Buckeye faithful.
Michigan week has such a different feel than all the other the weeks during the football season. Outside of the Cincinnati bubble you can feel the buzz right as the game clock strikes double zeros from the previous game.
That first 2004 Michigan week was a crash course in being a Buckeye. From my seventh floor view in one of OSU’s massive tower dorms, Morrill Tower, I watched as the Best Damn Band in the Land practice their shows with an increased purpose on the turf field below. Ohio Stadium personnel and television crews feverishly prepared for Saturday and students wore increasing amounts of scarlet and gray as the academic week marched toward the weekend.
Of course, on Thursday of that week was the annual Mirror Lake jump. I only took part in the jump my senior year, but it was, painfully, documented on YouTube for prosperity. Other years I operated as a walking laundry basket, holding my friends’ clothing until they came shivering back.
Saturday arrived and it was the first time I experienced what 105,000 people in a stadium, unified Buckeye pride and Wolverine hate, is truly like.
I was hooked.
Smith started his OSU legacy by taking down the No. 7 ranked Wolverines, passing for 241 yards and running for another 145 that day. The final was 37-21 and the celebration was just as enjoyable as the game itself.
The Buckeyes went on to play in two National Championship games while I was an undergraduate at Ohio State. We all know what happened, but there was no uninstalling the Buckeye software from my brain after my first experience of “The Game.”
The best I have been able to do is mute that part of my psyche when I was covering Ohio State sports. But I don’t have to do that today. Today I’m primed to celebrate yet another victory over That Team Up North and enjoy the remarkable run the Buckeyes have had since Urban Meyer arrived.
Here’s hoping we see Meyer and our Buckeyes sing Carmen Ohio after the game much to the angst of the Michigan fans occupying the Big House.
Oh come let’s sing Ohio’s praise
And songs to Alma Mater raise
While our hearts rebounding thrill
With joy which death alone can still
Summer’s heat or winter’s cold
The seasons pass the years will roll
Time and change will surely (truly) show
How firm thy friendship … OHIO!
Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 296, or email@example.com. For breaking news, follow Bob on Twitter @rjstrickleyjr.