Yes, you there, Ohio State fan with sympathy for Them. You kind of piss me off these days. Now don't get me wrong, sympathy in the real world is a good thing. We need it to survive as a species, I get that. Kindness towards your fellow man is an important thing, and humans who are without sympathy and compassion in most situations are dirty, incorrigible people who make life miserable for the rest of the planet.
Yes, I'm talking about Notre Dame fans and/or Bret Bielema, but that's not why we're here today. We should all strive to be a compassionate people, and do what we can to make our planet a better place. But that's real life, and it matters out there. So if you ever come across a Notre Dame fan, or a *ichigan fan, or even Bret Bielma and they're in need of some real life compassion because life has kicked them in the teeth, don't be an asshat. Be a compassionate, caring human being. Even to Bret Bielema.
But this? This is sports, and this is The Game. And This Rivalry matters more this week than anything else, at least in my world. And it should be the same in your world, too. So take your pity for Them, take your compassion for Their Situation, kindly wipe your ass with it, and leave my presence.
Why? There's been a lot of wailing and lamentations about *ichigan and her current state as a marquee program in the Big Ten conference. Something along the lines of...
WARBLE WARBLE THEY NEED TO BE GOOD BLAH BLAH THE RIVALRY IS SUFFERING WAIL WAIL WITHOUT A GOOD *ICHIGAN NO ONE WILL LIKE THE BIG TEN CRY PISS MOAN WAHHH BESIDES I KIND OF FEEL BAD FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY'RE SUCH A TRAINWRECK I MISS THE GOOD OLD DAYS WAIL WAIL CRY.
Shut up. Seriously. You're embarrassing yourself, and you're making the rest of us uncomfortable.
To hell with That Team Up North. If you want them to be good 'for the good of the rivalry', just quit reading now. If you want to plug in to your hate and relish why a bad *ichigan isn't bad for the conference and this grand rivalry, read on as we pick apart each one of these theories like J.T Barrett picks apart opposing defenses.
The Rivalry Is Suffering: Really? Do you really feel that way? I will never, ever think this rivalry is suffering when Ohio State is on a roll like this. Do you know why? I'll give you two words: John Cooper. A lot of readers don't remember the Cooper years/didn't live through them, and for that, as an old man, I hate you and your wistful, idealistic youth. Those 13 years of suffering, and one embarrassing defeat after another, they change a man; harden his heart. So when Jim Tressel came on the scene, he was Moses in a Sweatervest, leading us out of the desert. Now that Saint Urban of Ashtabula is here and continuing the work Lord Woody started, every victory is relished like a cool drink of water on a hot day. Because for me, I'll never...ever...forget the Cooper years. For most of us, Ohio State fandom in this Rivalry is viewed through two prisms: The Ten Year War and/or The Cooper Years. Some of us have been lucky enough to live through both, some of us can only remember The Cooper Years, some of us don't even remember that.
So for those of you that have only known, for the most part, a one sided schoolyard beating, let me ask you this: Do you remember in 2011 when Brady Hoke ran around yelling 'Ohio' with that smart ass smirk on his face...and then beat the Buckeyes? Do you remember how badly you wanted to dickpunch him for 365 days? Remember that dread in your gut between that loss and the news that Urban Meyer was taking the job, and you thought the tables really might have turned? Yeah, it only lasted two days or whatever it was, but imagine feeling like that for over a decade, for the most part, suffering one miserable, bitter loss after another. Ohio State could win every game in this rivalry by 35 points for another 20 years, and it still won't be enough for me, simply because of The Cooper Years. I want OSU to beat Them in everything--football, recruiting, hockey, basketball, competitive manscaping, intramural eyebrow waxing, whatever. If you can't channel your inner Middle East and plug in to that kind of sports enmity, I don't know that you can call yourself a college sports fan, and I doubt we can be friends.
Because every win in this rivalry is fantastic, whether TTUN is 5-6 or 11-0. If you think this rivalry is suffering, let me ask you this--are you depressed after yet another pantsing of the Maize that's actually now yellow and Blue? Are you moribund after yet another shot of sad Michigan fans in the stands? Do you weep for Brady Hoke or Devin Gardner? Because if you answered yes to any one of those questions, you're either a fan of TTUN or a god damned communist. To you, I say:
Michigan needs to be good for the conference perception: I hate the SEC for two reasons--that stupid chant, and the fact we even have to try to buy in to this 'conference pride' bullshit to begin with. I grew up hating every other team in the Big Ten (except Minnesota, and that was mostly pity), and I feel dirty having to cheer for other teams in this conference because of 'national perception'. But in this day and age, I agree that a good conference perception is essential for Ohio State to make the College Football Playoff, so whatever. That doesn't mean Michigan has to be good for the conference to have a good national perception, though. You really know what's required? That means more than one or two Big Ten teams win a bowl game, Ohio State included, and that means the conference, as a whole, doesn't shit the bed during their non-conference schedule. Again, Ohio State included coughVaTechcough.
Going back to the SEC as an example, Tennessee is the second winningest program in conference history, behind only Alabama PAAAAAWWWWWLLLL. Is that conference suffering because the Volunteers have pretty much sucked since 2008, roughly the same time TTUN hit the skids? No. You know why? Because as they fell, other teams rose up, and that hasn't really happened in the Big Ten. You could argue MSU, and I think they're almost there as a perennial top conference power, but it's not the top one or two teams of this conference that is the problem, for the most part. It's the middling middle and the back end that gives this conference a feeling only MAC fans can love. I'm looking at you, Indiana. I'm looking at you, Purdue. And Tim Beckman...Timmy Tim Tim, we're just staring at you at this point, because of course we are. You porridge eating buffoon, you.
When the rest of the conference plays at a respectable level against quality non-conference opponents, the national perception will change, whether TTUN is good or not.
Michigan losing in an embarrassing fashion is good for the soul: Appalachian State. Purdue. Toledo. These are games that I remember almost as much as I remember big OSU wins, and when I come across them while channel surfing I stop what I'm doing and I watch. Unless, you know, my wife yells at me for watching stupid sports shows and I have to clean up dog poop in the yard or something. They warm my heart with a sports joy that is just below the level of my teams winning a respective championship, and the thought of that program in disarray, chaos, and tumult for a generation makes me giddy.
If the shoe was on the other foot, they would not be pitying you: I can assure you, because I lived through it, that if the shoe was on the other foot, the feelings coming from north of the border would not be sympathy and compassion. It would be an arrogance and superiority as unbridled and unchecked as the German Army rolling through Poland in 1939. They would show no mercy, and not only would they mock the football team, they would mock the state of Ohio, The Ohio State University as an institute of higher learning, and the fans in general. Think about that--a university that's basically in Detroit with fans like this:
...would show us absolutely no mercy. None. So think about that the next time your heart softens a little towards '*ichigan Man', and the state of their program. When it looked like OSU was entering a time of uncertainty in 2011 with Tatgate and the Tressel resignation, They were already dancing on our graves, and They didn't think twice about it. When Hoke beat OSU, you would've thought they were on a 10 year winning streak.
The only thing as good as Ohio State being the top dog is Michigan being OSU's lap dog, and I never want this to end.
So screw 'em. Forever and ever, amen. Go Bucks. Beat that Team Up North.