Viewpoint: We need Ohio State

BY NIRBHAY JAIN

Published September 12, 2011

When the new Wolverines step onto this glorious campus in Ann Arbor, one thing is always deep inside their minds: They hate Ohio State. They want to see Ohio State bleed. When OSU coach Jim Tressel was fired, Michigan fans across the world rejoiced. The vest was gone — Michigan will win again!

This deep-seated hatred, although well-founded, obscures a greater point — Michigan needs Ohio State, just as much as Ohio State needs Michigan.

Coming from Toledo, I’ve seen both sides of the rivalry. That game defined not only what team you rooted for but who you were. To this day, the most divisive and passionately talked about game is that epic No. 1 v. No. 2 2006 matchup. We all know what happened, but it still was one of the high points of the past decade. Why? Because it’s OSU.

As Wolverines, we compare ourselves to the Buckeyes, not only athletically but also academically. We take pride in being a better academic institution than Ohio State — being more reputable, more widely known, higher ranked by every single system imaginable. Why? Because it’s OSU.

When Tattoogate broke, we laughed and jeered. Why? Because it’s OSU.

When Rich Rod left, we were happy not only because he destroyed the program but because he could not beat the Buckeyes. Why? Because it’s OSU.

When Tressel quit, we were happier, because he went 9-1 against us. Why? Because it’s OSU.

Everything we do always comes back to none other than OSU.

We have great rivalries with other schools such as Michigan State, Notre Dame and a new one coming with Nebraska. Yet we will never care for those games this year as we will for Nov. 26, despite that thrilling win over Notre Dame under the lights. Why? That’s when OSU comes up to the Big House.

A win over OSU would mean so much more to us than sneaking past Notre Dame with two seconds left.

OSU is a mess. Current OSU coach Luke Fickell is no Woody Hayes, but we aren’t much better. Sure, we finally got our Michigan Man in Michigan coach Brady Hoke. When was our last bowl win? Bowl Championship series? Our last Big 10 championship? National championship? National championship game? When was our last win over OSU?

None of this would hurt as much if OSU hadn’t been so damn successful lately.

Michigan's last bowl win: 2008. OSU wins since then: 2.

Michigan's last BCS Bowl: 2007. OSU since then: 5.

Michigan's last Big 10 Championship: 2004. OSU since then: 6.

Michigan's last National Championship/National Championship game: 1997. OSU since then: 3 games, 1 win.

Michigan's last win over Ohio State: 2003. OSU since then: 7.

Our football program is the one that is in shambles, not the Buckeyes'. We shouldn’t be gloating over how much the pride of the Big Ten has fallen over the past months. In fact, we should be, in a way, ashamed.

OSU has been the poster team of the Big Ten for the past decade. It has been easily the most successful team over that time period. We need them to stay strong. By doing so, OSU shows that the Big Ten is not a weak conference.

The reason why the Southeastern Conference can stay so consistently powerful lately is because the conference seems to be the strongest conference, attracting the best recruits. Meanwhile, the older, plodding Big Ten can’t even beat mid-major Texas Christian University. How do you think that helps our image?

I understand why people were so happy that OSU made such a mess of itself. It was probably the happiest moment of my summer. We shouldn’t hope that their football program becomes worse than Minnesota’s though. We need OSU to stay strong, to show that the Big Ten is not a weak conference, so that we can get those players that we need to succeed.

I believe in Brady Hoke. I believe in the University of Michigan football team. But I also believe that we need to defeat a strong OSU team this year, not just any team.

After being down so long, will anybody believe the legitimacy of our win over this team if OSU does awfully the whole season? No, it’ll be called a product of circumstances.

What if we lose this year? Our program will be set back even further.

We need Ohio State to stay undefeated this year. That’ll make Nov. 26 all the more sweeter.

Nirbhay Jain is an LSA freshman.