When 12pm EST rolls around on September 1st, I will be in front of my television, tuned to The Big Ten Network's coverage of Ohio State taking on Miami University. You notice I referred to Ohio State's opponent as Miami University. Not "Miami of Ohio", which is another common term for the school. Miami University.
I will sit there conflicted... Conflicted because Miami University is where I spent four and a half years, earning my degree proudly. Miami is where I had a tremendous college experience and where I met many of my closest friends, whom I still talk to/e-mail quite frequently.
Ohio State is the team I grew up rooting for, and the team that allowed me to serve as a volunteer recruiting assistant in 1995. Ohio State football is the one and only sport that I am truly passionate about, and pretty much the one sport that my wife, children, family, and friends know I will be following during fall weekends.
The conflict, as strange as this may sound to those of you reading this article is this -- I want Ohio State to win. I know Ohio State is ineligible to win the Big Ten or play in a bowl game this season, but I know how damaging and catastrophic an upset loss to Miami University would be to Ohio State's season (see University of Michigan, 2007 opener).
On the other hand, I do not want my alma mater to be crushed and embarrassed. Could I handle a loss like they had in 2000, or 2005? Sure.
To put this in perspective, my lovely wife Colleen and I were in attendance in Ohio Stadium back in 2000, when Ohio State defeated Miami 27-16, along with my friends Dave and Bryan, two former Miami roommates. Of course, we all enjoyed the pre-game tailgating festivities, so we entered into the stadium to watch this game.
The above-written logic then entered into my mindset, along with the pre-game consumption of liquid barley and hops. I wanted Ohio State to win, but I did not want Miami to be crushed. So I merely sat there, and cheered...for no one.
Of course, Colleen thought I was very drunk, as I sat there in what she believed to be a post-tailgate stupor. I had to explain to her the dilemma I was experiencing. Ohio State pulled the game out, and Miami had not been humiliated.
In 2005, I was not in attendance in Ohio Stadium, as Ohio State defeated Miami University 34-14. Ohio State started Justin Zwick at quarterback, as Troy Smith was serving his one-game suspension for accepting money from a booster. Miami was no match, but at least not embarassed.
The last time new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer had a team face Miami University, it was a bit of a struggle...but Coach Meyer's team came out on the winning end, despite some struggles. How would Ohio State fans handle that, with all of the build-up for Coach Meyer's debut as Ohio State's head coach?
I suppose I will try to remember what my good friend and former Miami roommate Dave said at the 2000 pre-game tailgate, when we were asked by my cousin John's friends (John is a proud Ohio State alumnus who I usually tailgate with for Ohio State games, by the way) what we were expecting when the Miami
Redskins RedHawks (please do not get me started on that p.c. topic) took the field against the Buckeyes.
"Touchdowns. I am rooting for touchdowns.".