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and the ongoing melodrama that is life in the Big Ten.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Down and Out in Ann Arbor

Ah, the off-season. It’s been four months since the last devastating bowl defeat. Four to go before we can vent our frustration on a Division I-AA team in the season opener. So how can a Buckeye fan find comfort in the meantime?

By reflecting on how much Ohio State is kicking Michigan’s off-season ass. Consider:

After flirting with the Wolverines, toying with the media, and leading his high school to state titles in both football and basketball, Terrelle Pryor, perhaps the most touted high school recruit of all time, signed with the Buckeyes in March. This gave Ohio State two of the nation’s top three recruits, according to Rivals.com, and catapulted the Buckeyes’ overall recruiting class to 4th best in the nation. And remember, this is a recruiting class that will join a team of seasoned veterans. A team that lost only three starters from last year’s squad. A team that returns a Butkus Award winner, a Heisman hopeful, and a veteran quarterback. A team coached by a man in a sweater vest.

And Michigan? Well, they lost pretty much everything that mattered: their starting quarterback, their back-up quarterback, their top offensive lineman, their top linebacker, both top receivers, and their combination running back/court jester. Gone also is their long-time coach…and their ability to get media coverage about anything but their new coach’s pending lawsuits.

Then, just when the future looked about as bleak as it could get for the Wolverine nation, the unthinkable happened:

A defection.

The sort of slap in the face typically reserved for dejected, out-of-touch Communist nations.

Citing an erosion of family values (something else Michigan has apparently lost in the off-season), sophomore offensive lineman Justin Boren quit Michigan in March only to sign last week with Ohio State. Boren was on full-scholarship at Michigan. According to NCAA rules, he must pay to attend Ohio State. He’s coming anyway. When Boren suits up in fall of 2009, he will be the first player to have donned both the maize and blue and the scarlet and gray since before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

These are times that try a Wolverine’s soul.

It must be tempting for a Michigan fan to try to explain the Boren defection away: “Ah, he’s just a whiny kid who didn’t like the new coach so he left. He’s a quitter.” “He wants to be closer to mommy and daddy in Pickerington.” “He was tired of being downwind of Flint.”

I must admit, I thought of these possibilities myself. The Flint theory seemed particularly sound. But then I heard West Virginia quarterback Pat White interviewed on ESPN’s College Football Live. He was asked how spring practice was going under new coach Bill Stewart now that Rodriguez had left. White’s answer:

It’s pretty much the same, except with less cursing.

And so the questions linger: Is there anyone at West Virginia who misses Rodriguez? Is there anyone at Michigan who’s glad he came? Will there be anyone left to wear those stupid helmets in the fall? If not, will Ohio State still find a way to lose in November?

These are questions to ponder. Later.

For now, let’s just enjoy our off-season supremacy. And the fact that our team has nothing in common with Cuba.

1 comment:

Jonathan M. Franz said...

I couldn't find your e-mail so I'm dropping this here.

I'm a law student at Ohio State living in Columbus and an avid enthusiast of all things scarlet. I started reading "That State Up North" a few weeks ago when I stumbled across the link on Buckeye Planet, and wanted to let you know I enjoy your often hilarious musings.

A friend of mine and I recently started a column of our own with a slightly different bent. I'm a Buckeye, he's a Wolverine. We're two aspiring lawyers battling over all things college football in a taking sides format.

The Rivalry, Esq.


I hope you'll take a second to check out the concept, and consider teaming up with us by creating a link on your blog. Naturally, we'd return the favor by featuring "That State Up North" in our "Partners" links. Ultimately, more fans will have the chance to access our articles.

My e-mail is franz.50@osu.edu.

Feel free to give us some feedback.

Thanks for your help.

- Jon