Fall in Ohio means only one thing on everyone's mind................FOOTBALL.
Every Saturday afternoon all over the country fans gather in front of the television or head out to the stadiums, or with friends and family to cheer on their teams to victories. Draped in their favorite colors, with nervous energy and tension in the air that the next three hours could be life changing. Growing up in Ohio there was only one week that you looked forward to, each November and that was the big game against that state up north ......MICHIGAN. There is just something about that final afternoon in the regular reason that the weight of the world seemed to be riding on. Usually riding on it was a trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
The first meeting between the two schools was October 17, 1897 and Michigan took the win by a score of 34 – 0. The yearly event is always the last game of the season with OSU hosting on the even years and M.U taking the odd years, expect in 1942, 1986 and 1998. The game has decided the Big Ten Title on 22 occasions and was critical in deciding the conference title an additional 27 times.
Coaches Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler had some really memorable battles over the years. Their very first meeting took place in 1969. The Bucks took a 22 game winning streak in to that day but were upset by a score of 24 – 12 with the second half of the game being scoreless. That was the beginning of the “10 year war”, and I remember some of those battles very well, as both schools would be ranked in the top 5 in the nation and would go into the war undefeated. OSU and Michigan would go on to share the title a total of six times during the war.
The war as it was called came to an end when Coach Hayes was fired at the end of 1978, after hitting a player in the Gator Bowl. The final game was won by Michigan by a score of 14 – 3, which left Coach Bo with a 5 – 4 – 1 record against Coach Hayes who departed with a 42 – 28 – 5.
The coaches that came after Coach Hayes even felt the pressure of how important that week was in each of their careers:
Coach Jim Tressel was always known by the sweater vest he wore. Earl Bruce had the HAT. Each coach brought their own twist. They knew when that time of year rolled around the pressure on them would sky rock. Not only did it mean bragging rights for another year but if at all possible a shot at a national championship. That is just what happened, in 2002, with beating Michigan, OSU was on the way to that proverbial perfect undefeated season. We would have to WAIT, until January 3, 2003 against the Miami Hurricanes for the holy grail of football. It would take a DOUBLE OVERTIME to achieve the one thing that no one else thought possible. The PERFECT season of college football. 14 - 0.
In 2010 it all came crashing down as a series of events involving players and Coach Tressel took its toll on the football department. Players were suspended and Coach Tressel wound up having to hand in his resignation. Talk about being STUNNED, how could this of happened with the quality of the department and all. I watched all this take place from here in Adelaide, I can't even imagine what the tension and all was like in Columbus. What would they do for a Coach now, that Tressel was gone? Who would really want to take the reins of a program that had made mistakes and knew that they would have to suffer because of it?
Coach Luke Fickle on May 30, 2011 was tapped to handle the Buckeyes for the upcoming season. I can't even imagine the pressure on him at this point. It was going to take all he and the staff had just to get use though the season reasonably in one piece. We did manage a bowl game that year but we didn't end on the high we would have hoped for. We made it though, with everything that the NCAA and everyone else threw at us we made it. In November of the same year Urban Meyer was made an offer he couldn't refuse and became the 24th member of the Head Coaching Fraternity of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
It’s been an amazing year; we are playing for the Big Ten Title and a trip to the 100th anniversary of the Rose Bowl which is an honour in itself. We are looking at another perfect season of 11 and 0, all I want on Sunday morning in Australia is to see that perfect season happen again, it may be summer in Australia but its fall in Ohio and I wish I was home.