Ohio State-Michigan since 1969: the post no Michigan fan wants to read...

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By ScriptOhio on 10:24:04 11/14/01

In response to the Michigan fan who warned against OSU tearing down the M-GO-BLUE banner, claiming Michigan had dominated "since 1969" (evidently believing we tore the banner down that year...)

That phrase to me indicates "since the 1969 game". So:

1970: OSU wins.
1971: UM wins.
1972: OSU wins.
1973: Tie. We really enjoyed Pasadena, BTW. :)
1974: OSU wins.
1975: OSU wins.
1976, 77, 78: Michigan wins.
1979-1987: OSU wins five, Michigan four.

So from 1969 until John Cooper was hired, OSU led the series 9-8-1.

In other words, ANY TIME PERIOD THAT INCLUDES JOHN COOPER will make the series look uncompetitive or at least unbalanced in Michigan's favor. You haven't dominated the series since 1969. You lead it since then because you owned us while Cooper was our coach.

I don't begrudge Michigan ANY of its wins in the series. But I DO take strong exception to the average Michigan fan's stupid perception of the series, namely that it has been one consistent stretch of uninterrupted Michigan dominance.

This is not the case. Rather, there are two reasons why Michigan leads the all-time series by the current margins. These are reasons, NOT excuses.

1) From 1897 until 1919, when Ohio State beat Michigan for the first time, UM dominated the series with a record of 13-0-2.

I'm not going to sit here and claim that several of these Michigan wins should be discounted because the line of scrimmage and the frigging forward pass hadn't even been invented at that time. Those were the rules. Both teams were subject to them, and Michigan won. It's up to Michigan fans to decide, when trumpeting their "ALL TIME LEAD IN THE SERIES!!!", how much weight a glorified rugby match from over 100 years ago should carry.

2) John Cooper was 2-10-1 against Michigan. Cooper had it all: he lost to Michigan with inferior teams (1988, 89, 91, 1999-2000), he lost to Michigan with superior teams (1993, 95-96), and he lost to Michigan with equal teams (1990, 1997).

Now, if memory serves me, Michigan leads the all-time series 56-35-6.

13 of those wins came in the rivalry's infancy, when an already powerful Michigan program dominated an obviously inferior and small-time Buckeye program- essentially a Division I team destroying a Division I-AA team.

Michigan also has enjoyed an 8-win advantage over Ohio State since Earle Bruce's firing because, for whatever reason, the Wolverines have outplayed Ohio State consistently and thoroughly most of the time.

13 + 8 = 21.

There's your advantage. In the 78 years between Ohio State's first win in the series (the first time the programs could be considered equal) and the first time JOhn Cooper led OSU onto the field for THE GAME, the two schools played to a standstill.

That is the essence of the rivalry.

Michigan fans can claim they "dominate" because they lead it by 21 wins. They're entitled: after all, UM HAS beaten OSU 21 more times.

However, any exploration of where that advantage comes from quickly turns up the immutable fact that UM's lead is the result of two stretches of dominance, one early in the series (when the two programs were vastly unequal in stature and the game itself resembled rugby more than what we define as "football") and one during the strange, sad saga of John Cooper.

The rivalry is far more competitive over its long history than most Michigan fans are willing to admit.

One last thing: Michigan fans would be well-advised to remember that our last two native Ohioan coaches, Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce, were a combined 21-15-1 against Michigan. Neither had a losing record.

Jim Tressel is a native Ohioan. Just some food for thought.


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