I remember Bo’s first game against Ohio State – we beat the buckeyes 24-12. At the age of thirteen I was riveted to the television for the famous 10-10 tie in 1973. When Michigan Football is in your blood, it’s in your blood.
Hoke understands this – he was a kid from Ohio who was smart enough to know which was the better of the two schools - UM or the OSU. Such is what I ascertained he was speaking about when he said he knew the rivalry from both sides of the border. He didn’t say as much as he’s more of a gentleman than I am.
At 52 years old, I’m the same age as Hoke. Growing up, I too was aware of how the big state schools ranked academically. My parents had them Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State. The OSU was not even on their list for me... nor was it a wish of any parent of a halfway smart kid.
Michigan was the best school of the bunch, and it remains so. Michigan is academically superior to the OSU and attracts kids from all over the US – Ohio included. For that reason you’ll always see a half dozen or more Ohio kids on the Michigan team, yet hardly ever does a kid go south, football player or otherwise. When I was coming up through school, I aspired to go to one of two schools – Stanford or Michigan. For reasons other than lack of football scholarship, I applied only to Michigan.
There’s something special about Michigan Football that a few down years will never tarnish. No knowledgeable football fan in this country needs to look for the name of the team on the screen when the Wolverines are on the field. Even those who are not Michigan fans know the program has put together good teams more often than not through the years. Not a day goes by when wearing my Michigan cap on the streets of Telluride, Colorado that I’m not greeted with at least two “Go Blues!” When your school owns a color, it’s especially special.
This is not the first time Michigan Football has struggled – nor will it be the last. It’s no fun not having beaten the lesser school for six years, yet let’s not forget they had their John Cooper years only to re-emerge as a power. It is time for Michigan to re-emerge. It’s time to make beating the lesser school a priority again. Let’s get back to basics.
Hoke understands this. As well, he understands the Michigan magic. He’s made a believer out of me. I’m fired up listening to him and reading his interviews. Denard looked into his eyes and saw whatever he needed and chose to stay. That’s good enough for me.