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Matt Singer: So many reasons to hate Ohio State

BY MATT SINGER

Published November 17, 2006

This column is one of the toughest assignments I've ever received.

Asking a Michigan man like me to limit his attacks on Ohio State to just over a half-page is like asking former Congressman Mark Foley to choose just one page. It's not easy.

I could go after the entire, crappy state of Ohio - its ugly highways, its uglier cities and its poor judgment in picking presidents.

I could go after the city of Columbus, which is easily the worst of the 10 Big Ten towns I've seen. There's no character at all, just miles and miles of decrepit strip malls and chain restaurants.

I could go after The Ohio State University and spend the next 500 words mocking its hilariously low academic standards.

But since Michigan and Ohio State are entering what could be the greatest-ever installment of The Game, I'll try to limit my attacks to what's relevant - the respective football programs and what surrounds them.

In Wolverine country, we take the Michigan-Ohio State game seriously. A win sets off an all-night party; a loss sparks an evening of misery.

We're not nice to Bucknuts that invade our town every other year, not by any stretch. Wearing scarlet and gray usually earns you some choice words from the Michigan faithful, or maybe even a stray water balloon tossed in your direction.

But you guys take it to a new - and disturbing - level. Buckeye fans have been known to assault opposing fans while the Columbus cops turn a blind eye. To Ohio State fans, a sucker punch is an acceptable form of behavior when a Michigan student is on the receiving end.

That's not rivalry. That's not fun. That's sick. And Ohio State fans should be ashamed of it, instead of touting physical intimidation as a reason why Columbus is a tough place to play.

The same dichotomy (It's a big word, I know. Ohio State students, I recommend dictionary.com.) applies to the respective athletic departments as well.

In Ann Arbor, the visiting Buckeyes are greeted by a friendly athletic department representative, who guides the team to the visitors' locker room.

In Columbus, the visiting Wolverines are greeted by not-so-friendly attack dogs, in a "security measure" that Ohio State takes against no other team.

Seems a bit excessive, especially when the hardened criminals usually hail from Columbus (insert your own Maurice Clarett joke here).

But when your all-time record against Michigan is 39-57-6, you need every unfair advantage you can get. At least that's how the screwed-up thinking goes in Bucknut country.

Michigan boasts some of the most iconic traditions in sports. Touching the Go Blue banner. Winged helmets. The world's greatest fight song: "The Victors."

What do you guys have? A fat tuba player who high-steps to dot the 'i' in a script Ohio. Wow. I can feel the goosebumps already.

And you couldn't even come up with that lame-ass tradition on your own. The Michigan Marching Band invented the script Ohio formation in 1932.

Then again, since when has Ohio State been renowned for producing anything of value?

We invented the polio vaccine. You invented the burning couch.

And, of course, no dueling column would be complete without mentioning that smarmy coach of yours. I'll give credit where credit is due - Jim Tressel has done a solid job rebuilding the program that John Cooper gutted. And yeah, there's that 4-1 record against Lloyd Carr.

But sweater-vest's empire is built on lies . and recruiting violations . and academic shenanigans . and paid-off players. The mountain of evidence implicating Tressel is simply staggering.

Looking for some entertainment? Type "Tressel allegations" into Google and have a field day.

This guy is so corrupt that he was even involved in dirty dealings at Division I-AA Youngstown State.

At Ohio State, that trend has continued with Maurice Clarett's loaner cars, Troy Smith's $100 handshakes and laughable "classes" like golf, sports officiating and AIDS Awareness. (These are actually online in the Ohio State course guide - the school isn't shy about it.)

At Michigan, we don't pay our recruits (at least in football) and our athletes go to real classes. Stunning stuff, I know. But that doesn't hold us back at all. Last I checked, we're undefeated, too.

On Saturday, Ohio State and Michigan will face off in what might just be the greatest regular-season college football game of all time. Predictions aren't my strong point, so I won't make any guarantees about what will go down in the Horseshoe.

What I will say is this: May the classiest team win.

- Singer hopes to see South University Avenue rocking when he returns from Hell on Saturday night. He can be reached at .