Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rivalry at the 50 Yard Line

Affected by Siblings
in Heaven ?

Who in their right mind wants to crawl out of bed at nine o'clock on a Saturday morning just to watch a football game on television? For reasons beyond my ken, I'm likely going to do just that a little later this morning. So what if it's a long time rivalry between two famous teams, the Ohio State University Buckeyes and the University of Michigan Wolverines. I think viewing a football game at that early morning hour seems a bit strange, but due to the three hour time difference between many Big Ten Conference Team locales and West Coast time, that's when the game starts. Starting that early can make for a really long day of football in many households as it once did here, for my husband, but he thrived on what would have been sports overload for me.

These football teams are each others arch enemy. They can be counted on to upset the other's winning streaks in any given year, so it should be an exciting game. For the second year since my husband's death, I find myself drawn to watching this game on television on his behalf, I guess, for reasons I do not understand. I just cannot excise this game from my thoughts since learning the action is to be televised locally. The last time we saw Ohio State play was in San Diego some years ago at the Fiesta Bowl. Their appearance triggered so many memories for me at that time, I actually got a bit weepy-eyed when Ohio State's famous marching band took the field forming their unique "Script Ohio" (see a YouTube video) -- an old friend, Merv Durea, had once earned the honor of "dotting" the "i" in Ohio. Later during the game the band launched into John Tatgenhorst's popular arrangement of "Hang On Sloopy" -- more memories for me of our flying days when that OSU alumnus and his young wife joined us on a flying trip to the Sandusky /Lake Erie area of the Great Lakes.

You see, the Buckeye's were my husband's favorite team, as might be expected of an OSU alumnus who spent so many years living in the Buckeye's home town. He likely might have had an Ohio State football scholarship the fall after he graduated from high school, had it not been for two significant factors. World War II caused OSU's athletic program to be placed on hold and he was diagnosed with a serious medical problem requiring his lengthy hospitalization. Many years later when we met and married, the team's horseshoe shaped football stadium sometimes accommodated us in the stands. We watched as their fabled coach, Woody Hayes, repeatedly guided the team to victory through primarily ground play -- a running game characterized as "ten yards and a cloud of dust."

A few years later when we moved to the West, one of the great disappointments my husband experienced was his inability to regularly view his Big Ten Conference OSU Buckeyes on TV. Even the local Los Angeles Times newspaper sports pages relegated news of his team to very little commentary, if any at all. For reasons he did not want to accept, the college and university teams of the area in which we lived always took priority gaining press attention over his Buckeyes. His sister, commiserating with his plight, sent him a game program after attending each year's opening home game, clipped all sorts of newspaper clippings regarding the team and sent them to him. National networks often televised Ohio State's games, but they were not aired in our region, again catering to local preferences, much to his displeasure. So, when such a game was actually available to view here, my husband's plans revolved around the start time schedule for the event. Perhaps I'm conditioned now to do the same, at least this year again, I guess.

Ohio State's undefeated season last year was one my husband had longed for them to experience for many years. When that finally happened, I couldn't help wondering if somehow where he resides now, behind those pearly gates, he was able to exercise some ethereal influence that enabled the team's success. Unfortunately, he must have been distracted when they later played that bowl game that didn't turn out quite right. But that was last season.

A few weeks ago, his sister, an equally or even more avid Ohio State fan joined him. She was in her eighties, attended home games religiously with their season tickets even after her husband died. I think she and her brother (my husband) are putting their heads together in an effort to enable this team to have another winning season. The Buckeye team has had an unexpectedly spectacular season until being upset in their most recent game. I have to tell you I think that loss happened because he and his sister are butting heads as siblings sometimes do. They're still trying to agree on what various individual players need to do to improve their game. More importantly, I suspect their individual views are quite divergent on how best to coach this team to another winning season. I surely do hope they've gotten their differences worked out, 'because game time is fast approaching as I write this.

I must get to bed now, because I want to see the very opening of the game's televised coverage, just in case that's when the Ohio State Marching Band plays, and performs(see YouTube Video) the "Script Ohio" formation.(See YouTube Video.) I'd prefer to see all the bands at half-time, but corporate greed dictates the television network programs video clips of other games that viewers could easily wait to see later and talking heads spew their replay analysis with statistics during that time. (See YouTube Video University of Michigan Marching Band at a half time Rose Bowl performance.)


  1. Well Joared, here I am at my computer in Columbus watching the neighborhood a twitter as people rush to put up their Ohio flags, get last minute groceries and walk their dogs. It is cold, so we won't hear the roars through the open windows of neighbors when the Buckeyes make a good play.
    Although we are strong sports fans, we are transplants, and Badgers, so we will enjoy the game, hope they win, but probably walk our dog sometime during the game because the quiet on the streets is divine. Go Bucks!

  2. Hey Judith, great to get a first hand picture of pre-game activities in Columbus. Sounds like everything is normal, or at least as I recall from many years ago. Badgers, Buckeyes, Wolverines -- we're all connected and hopefully have fun on a day like this. Sounds like a great time to walk the dog, so take advantage of it!

  3. What can I say but Goooooooooooooo Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. You are a trooper Joared....and what a nice little tribute you paid to your hubby. I haven't heard, but I hope the Buckeyes won.

    Sleep tight....

  5. Hi Joared - hope those Bucs won today. One of my children was a tuba player and at one point he wanted to dot the "i" - he didn't go to Ohio but for quite awhile we followed the Buckeyes.

  6. Hi Joared. This post brought back so many memories both long term and very short term as well. Since I live 35 minutes away from U of M the big football game always gets lots of attention. But little from me however. But Nancy (friend/life companion) lives in AA MI so I'm there often. Short term memory: Last Friday before the 'big' game she was walking her dog 'Whisker' and hearing the UM marching band practice miles away from the stadium. This is a common occurrence the day before 'football' Saturday.

    Now a long term memory. But first a little background. UM runs in my family. The oldest son graduated from UM Dearborn and next son from UM AA.

    In the late 50s my young bride and I would take advantage of gratis UM football tickets. One Saturday it rained shortly before the game ended. It was cold in the mid 40s. I swear I can still smell that wet wool tweed suit. But the heater did work in my '55 Buick convertible.

    Now back to current times. Nancy and I thoroughly enjoyed watching UM hockey team handle U.Alaska with ease.(Nov. 10) We sat directly behind one of the goals. Not the best seats but we cheered each time our team scored. By the way. Each time the Wolverines score everyone stands and points,shaking their index finger at the opposition's goalie and shouts in unison "It's all your fault". And then we hear the fight song. Ah the good times are now!