If You Can't Beat Buckeyes, Join SEC
That happened last Thursday in downtown Detroit when a billboard went up that read, "Congratulations Michigan on 2000 days since the big win over Ohio State." Who's responsible for the billboard? An Ohio State fan site of course.
It's been five long years and then some since Michigan beat Ohio State on that November day back in 2003. In the past eight years, Ohio State has won seven times, something the Buckeyes have never done before in series history. Michigan fans are furious. Mention Ohio State to them and their fists clench and they stare off into the corners of dark rooms. They hate the entire state of Ohio with an unbridled passion. I know because my wife is a Michigan grad. And as she succinctly puts it, "Ohio State fans are trash."
I've written about the fact that, in an effort to stave off my lifelong hatred of the Big Ten, I root for Michigan thanks to my wife. And I even wrote about buying Michigan athletic gear back in July of 2007. I considered it a sign of maturity that I was willing to root for a team above the Mason-Dixon line, especially given that my most-hated player in college football history, Charles Woodson, wore the maize and blue the year he hyped his way to Heisman glory on the back of ESPN.
Rooting for Michigan hasn't been that tough, because I root for Michigan like most women root for sports teams. Namely, if Michigan loses I don't really care. But if they win, I'm happy. It's an amazing feeling, watching a football game and only having something positive at stake. Win, and I feel better; lose, and I shrug my shoulders and go about the rest of my day.
Of course there haven't been that many good things happen since I bought my first Michigan shirt.
The first game after my apparel purchase? Appalachian State. The next season? It was the worst in the history of Michigan football. Add in the economic collapse of the state that has made Michigan into Beirut north, and now this? Creative mockery from Ohio State fans via a billboard? Most Michigan fans didn't believe Ohio State fans could spell billboard if you told them it was one word, gave them fifteen chances, and spotted them B-I-L-L.
The only thing good about the billboard from Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's perspective? No other Michigan companies could afford to advertise on it. So at least the billboard company made some money.
Put plainly Michigan must respond to this callous assault upon their college football honor. Sadly, with Rich Rod installing the spread offense, it may take another five years before Michigan can manage a victory. Which makes the appropriate response all the more galling. Quite simply, Michigan doesn't have a lot of rivalry ammunition. At times like these, cliches become valuable. And no cliche is more worn than this one, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
Michigan needs to attack Ohio State where it hurts the most, the Achilles' heel of their football program, where South meets North. Outside of Michigan who is Ohio State's biggest enemy? Well, the SEC of course. Yep, Michigan needs to look to SEC country to instill the requisite humility in their rival. After all, if you can't beat 'em yourself, align yourself with the people who can.
Ohio State is 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games stretching all the way back to 1978. That's 10,967 days ago. The potency of the last two losses, beatdowns from Florida and LSU when a victory would have secured a national title, make the lashings sting all the more. But it's probably not fair to exclude regular-season victories over the SEC. And Ohio State has a ton of those, two since 1935, the latest a heart-stopping 36-33 triumph over LSU back on September 24, 1988. That's over 20 years without a win, 7,537 days to be exact.
And here's the kicker about the billboard. The Ohio State ad was only up in Detroit for one day. That's kind of lame. In order for the anger to truly fester, fans need to be constantly confronted by their defeat. Which brings me to the perfect idea, a sports version of the national debt billboard. You know, the billboard in New York City that constantly rolls up our national debt right before our eyes? It's awe-inspiring and terrifying to stand in front of a billboard like that, the numbers just keep ticking by and it appears there's nothing we can do to stop them. Why not a similar billboard that counts the days since Ohio State beat an SEC team?
Cross the Ohio River and put the billboard alongside the interstate in Covington, Kent., right where the Cincinnati suburbs spill into the upper reaches of the South. What percentage of Ohio State fans would pass this sign during the course of a year? I'll tell you, every single one. Because they all go South as soon as they get a vacation. Picture your average Ohio State fan blissfully singing along to "Hang on Sloopy" while wearing their oversized Terrelle Pryor jerseys when out of nowhere their singing ceases. Bang, there it is, a huge billboard that says, "Congratulations to Ohio State on the victory over the SEC 7,537 days ago. Welcome to the South. Y'all come back now."
During the course of each day another number would slowly rotate past. It would be mind-numbing in its transcendent billboard powers, bone-chilling in its simplicity. Are you telling me this wouldn't be the perfect revenge?
I can be your emissary to the SEC, Michigan. Revenge is only a phone call away.
Somewhere Bo Schembechler is smiling.