The small town in question is Mansfield, OH. If anyone has ever spent any length of time in Mansfield lately, you might know a thing or two about depression. My grandparents lived there for many years, one of my parents grew up there. As you are driving down route 23 towards Columbus...about halfway through Ohio...take a left. Drive about a half hour and you find yourself in the hills of mid-Ohio. Two small-ish towns border up against one another. Ashland and Mansfield.
Both towns are nothing to really look at. Mansfield grew in the early 1900's when a steel factory opened up. It was a modestly thriving town in the day. Probably not many more than 50,000 people in the 70's...a number that has been shrinking ever since then. Typical rust-belt.
So when it comes to things to do, there is Browns-Steelers games, and there is tOSU Football.
Jon Spencer is a columnist for the Mansfield News Journal. His latest article, "Earth to Rodriguez - OSU is Your Top Rival" is not only terribly written with half-thought out points, but is also 6 months late. Maybe the title of this post should be "Earth to Spencer - You're in Mansfield F-ing Ohio"
But, okay...I get it. It's a great chance for a small town writer to not only take a cheap shot at a successful coach, but also add some gas to the fire of hate that all tOSU fans have for their better half from Ann Arbor.
Right off the bat, he uses a terrible comparison. Gary Moeller bent tOSU over and hand them two of the most recent lopsided losses in the series (31-3, 28-0). Now, Spencer does reference that later in the article, but don't lead with it. It already shows you don't know what you're talking about. Moeller was 3-1-1 against tOSU.
Look who's wearing the lamp shade now. It was bad enough that disgraced Michigan football coach Gary Moeller -- last seen in Ann Arbor getting pink-slipped after drunk and disorderly conduct -- refused to acknowledge Ohio State as a bigger rival than Michigan State.
Worse, Rich Rodriguez, entrusted with making the Wolverines more than a chew toy for the Buckeyes, is spouting the same sacrilege, insisting the circle around OSU on the calendar isn't any bigger than the one around Notre Dame or Michigan State.
And, lest we forget, I seem to remember a rather famous tOSU coach getting handed a pink slip after he let his fist do the talking against Clemson.
Jim Tressel started counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the Michigan game on the January afternoon he was hired as Ohio State's coach in 2001. Given his 6-1 record against the Maize and Blue, Rich Rod might want to find out where Tressel purchases his watches and clocks.Just make sure he doesn't purchase them at the same place Mark Dantonio does.
Is he waiting until he has the manpower to contend with Ohio State before he builds up the rivalry? Is he afraid of morphing into predecessor Lloyd Carr, who embraced the rivalry right up until Tressel's grip squeezed the remaining breaths from his career? Is he playing it down for fear someone will check his track record in rivalries? (He was only 4-3 against Pitt as head coach at West Virginia, including a gag job last season with a trip to the national championship at stake.)
Or is he just ignorant?
Or, is he savy? Did Bo have the "manpower" to contend with tOSU in 1969? And it doesn't take manpower to build up the rivalry, it takes wins. You don't win the game in January. What Tressel did was give tOSU fans exactly what they wanted to hear. It's cheap parlor tricks. He cemented his legacy the first day on the job.
I give him credit for putting his balls out there like that.
I won't quote him, but Spencer goes on to discuss Boren and Pryor...both are arguments that every tOSU fan has "in the chamber" ready to fire at any Michigan fan within shouting distance.
Now, please allow me to go out on a bit of an editorial limb...
Ohio State needs to play Michigan every year. Michigan does not need to play Ohio State.
This is a slightly modified Bo quote, I simply replaced Notre Dame with Ohio State. It may seem strange at first...but think about it. Of course I love playing tOSU every year...and I'm not saying we don't want them on our schedule. But what I am saying is, from a strictly football perspective, tOSU has no other rivals. And no, Penn State doesn't count.
I may get all kinds of flack for saying that...but I don't care. The simple fact is, great teams have more than 1 meaningful game every year.
Michigan has Notre Dame, MSU and tOSU
USC has UCLA and Notre Dame
Texas has Oklahoma and A&M
Florida has FSU, LSU and Georgia
Nebraska has Colorado and Missouri
Notre Dame has...well, everyone
But tOSU has just Michigan. And they won't let you forget it.
Tressel coming out and proclaiming the Michigan game as the be-all end-all game for his team was not bold, it was the truth. But it's not his fault. He's not responsible for tOSU not having another meaningful game on their schedule year-in year-out. I mean, they play other good teams from time to time...but nothing that even comes close to Michigan.
Again, it's just small town news. And in the scope of this rivalry, its nothing. But it does shed some light on what the rivalry means to fans in Ohio.
Ohio is a weird place when it comes to sports. tOSU is really the only contender when it comes to a successful program. You have 6 MAC schools, more 1-AA schools than I care to count, and a Big East college. So tOSU is the stand-alone. Ohio is a big football state...so to be the only real game in town means a lot.
I mean, am I the only one who's excited for the tOSU-Youngstown State game this weekend?