Dueling Columns: The Michigan Daily vs. The Lantern

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Published November 23, 2010

In the week leading up to The Game each year, football writers from the Daily and the student newspaper at Ohio State exchange columns. You can find this year's installment below, starting with the Daily and followed by the Lantern.

The Michigan Daily's Joe Stapleton:

Columbus smells like piss.

And I don’t mean it smells like some of its honorable residents decided to relieve themselves one too many times behind a secluded pine tree or in an abandoned alley. I’m saying that upon entering Columbus you are immediately hit with such a strong stench of piss that it’s best described as an aura, hanging over the city like the dark, grey clouds that give it its depressing, hopeless charm. The stink is so strong it seems possible that those clouds, when let loose, release not rainwater but that foul, acid-yellow expulsion; God’s very own personal urinal.

Unfortunately, the intense, almost attacking smell that hits you at the city limits is not enough to base a column on. Still more unfortunate is the fact that the Buckeyes have beaten the Wolverines in “The Game” for six straight seasons, leaving little on-field inspiration to draw upon for material.

But in an extremely lucky twist of fate, I have fell into the possession of something that couldn’t be more timely or essential: a series of entries from Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s personal diary. Without further ado, the inspired writings of Mr. Pryor:

Jan. 25th, 2009

Dear Diary,
WTF, Diary? Just lost the Fiesta Bowl against Texas. It was the third straight loss for us in a bowl game! Why can’t we win when it counts???

Nov. 2nd, 2009

Dear Diary,
I saw on the news today everyone hating on Mike Vick just for killing a few dogs. WTF is everyone making such a big deal out of it? Don’t they know everyone murders?

Nov. 21st, 2010

Dear Diary,
There are so many haters out there! I’m gonna go get some food—gotta find 10 pairs of socks in order to fit into my own shoes.

Man I was watching College Gameday today and saw Kirk Herbstreit talking shit. He a fake Buckeye. Wait, that’s too good not to tweet.

Alas, that’s all I have. Well, it’s all I could make out — the rest was a jumbled mix of poorly-drawn pictures of his house labeled “homework” and simple algebra written in crayon. But I think what we have, though meager, still gives us a glimpse into the amazing mind of Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

The piercing scent of urine that seeps into clothing and pores so you can’t get the smell out for a week after leaving that depressing troth of a city? That aura of human waste that hangs over the center of Ohio like an atmosphere? It’s merely a physical manifestation of the attitude of Columbus. The city’s citizens, and indeed Ohio State’s students most of all, wallow in this hopeless mediocrity which is made all the more saddening by their lack of understanding of it. They exist in a sort of bliss, willfully ignorant of the futility of their attempts at being “better” than Michigan. Yes, the Ohio State football team has dominated Michigan’s for six years. But to compare the University of Michigan to Ohio State University is to compare a filet mignon to a steaming pile of human feces.

The sad part? They still try. But when you are so steeped in a tradition that demands willful ignorance, medieval values and sub-par results, how can you expect to compete with a school that consistently churns out the leaders and best? Even Terrelle Pryor, who by most measures has been a very good quarterback, seems unable to fit into his own shoes — Buckeyes just aren’t used to exceedingly high expectations.

One of the most applicable quotes I could find on the existence of Ohio State students comes from Bill Watterson, an Ohio native who understand the plight of Ohio State University better than anyone and the author of the timeless comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. In one comic, Calvin explains what he believes to be the existence of girls by comparing them to insects. In my paraphrasing, I’m replacing “girls” with “Ohio State students”:

I imagine bugs and Ohio State students have a dim perception that nature played a cruel trick on them, but they lack the intelligence to really comprehend the magnitude of it.

So Michigan fans, hate Ohio State all you want, just remember how sad and pitiful the “institution’s” existence really is. And for all the students attending this poor excuse for a University, don’t hate them — feel sorry for them. They just don’t know any better.

—Stapleton can be reached at jstaple@umich.edu

The Ohio State Lantern's Zack Meisel:

Maybe we would have been better off if the “Game of the Century” never took place.

There couldn’t have been a bigger stage for the 2006 meeting between Ohio State and Michigan: No. 1 vs. No. 2, fighting for the right to the BCS Championship Game. Bo Schembechler’s death the night before even provided an emotional undertone.

Then, the game exceeded expectations, as the Buckeyes escaped with a 42-39 victory in a contest marked by big plays, costly penalties and an uneasy audience.

Four years later, we still clutch onto memories of that epic affair. It spoiled us.

OSU takes pride in beating Michigan, and vice versa. But the Buckeyes’ recent dominance in the series — OSU has won six in a row and eight of nine against its nemesis — has tamed the rivalry a bit.

The more at stake, the bigger the reward. When OSU and Michigan are the cream of the Big Ten crop, the game has more meaning.

In 2006, the Buckeyes knocked the Wolverines out of contention for a trip to the national title game. On Saturday, an OSU win could redirect Michigan from the TicketCity Bowl to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. I’m not sure how much motivation that provides.

Of course, players and coaches will say the right things and play up the significance of the matchup. It still means a lot — there would be no sweeter culmination to an up-and-down Michigan season than an upset at the Horseshoe.

However, the rivalry is at its best when both teams are at their best.

The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers maintain a rivalry because of their history of games with NBA title implications on the line, not because of a few April meetings in which they jostled for draft positioning.

“The Game” will probably never reach the pinnacle of importance it hit in 2006.

But it serves the rivalry and its fans better when there’s more on the line. Until both teams return to their typical perch atop the Big Ten, we’ll keep reminiscing about the game that epitomizes what Ohio State-Michigan is all about.

—Meisel can be reached at meisel.14@gmail.com