The President of THE Ohio State University has delivered the death knell to the greatest college football tradition as we know it. E. Gordon Gee has officially gone on record supporting the move of the Ohio State-Michigan game up the schedule, distancing it in time for the Big Ten’s new conference championship game in 2011. While
some most of the national landscape remains indelibly scornful of the plight of Buckeye and Wolverine fans everywhere, those two fanbases are well aware of the implications of altering one of the great rivalries in all of sport.
“Tradition” is a bad way to frame the context of the game. National implications aside, this is more about what the game means to both programs FOR EVERY SEASON. It’s always its own Super Bowl, whether either team is 11-0 or 0-11. It’s a climax to the season, and really the Big Ten schedule as a whole. It is, as I said yesterday, a season unto itself.
And it’s not just about the game. It’s about the week leading up to the game, the last game of our regular season. Speaking as an Ohio State alum, Michigan Week–from the end of last week’s game to Saturday kickoff–is the greatest WEEK to be a Buckeye. It’s exciting because great seasons stand to be destroyed while underachieving seasons stand to be salvaged. Take how you celebrate college football–any college football game–and multiply it by 100. That’s the Michigan game. Regardless of the records, it’s a great game EVERY YEAR. It’s an event EVERY YEAR. It’s Ohio State’s Masters tournament, Indy 500, and Game 7 rolled into one Saturday afternoon. The last Saturday afternoon.
I said that The Game is a climax to the season, and both teams literally shoot their wad in this tilt. They empty their playbooks, they pull out gadget plays, and the fans on both sides realize that this is it before the postseason. Everything is better–the beer, the parties, the football–because after that game, your season could very well be over.
Tradition is paying homage to a gravestone. The Game lives and breathes and becomes a marvel to behold for the schools involved. At least it did before Gee delivered what will surely be a fatal blow to the way both schools sell and operate and their programs. The Michigan Game will soon become a Michigan game, and that’s something that most people won’t understand.
I think I’m gonna puke.