Is The Ohio State-Michigan Rivalry Fading?

Michael PeriattCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2009

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is legendary.  It brings images of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler stomping down the sidelines and conjures up memories of great triumphs and epic disappointments.

The Rivalry has been crowned THE game in sports, but lately fans have been left to wonder, "Is this game what it used to be?"

Back when it was Woody vs. Bo, there was no question what the biggest game of the year was.  The rivalry was so intense Woody refused to even say "Michigan," instead calling it "that school up North." Ohio State did something every single day in practice just to prepare for Michigan and Michigan did something every single day just to prepare for Ohio State. It was that important.

Legends were made in the Ohio State-Michigan game.  No one will ever forget the Heisman pose by Desmond Howard or the dominating performances of Archie Griffin.  Seniors were judged by their record in a single game.

The Ohio State-Michigan game was the postseason and then maybe the winner would go to the Rose Bowl, but that was secondary.

Ohio State and Michigan each started their season with the same goals.  Beat Michigan or beat Ohio State. Win the Big Ten. Go to the Rose Bowl. And that's the way it was.

There weren't 34 bowl games or even a national championship game. So losing the big game was the end of the season.  There was no consolation prize.

Today with all the bowl games and national championship implications, it seems that THE game is playing second fiddle.

Plus, the game has been dominated in recent years by Ohio State.  The Bucks have won the last five years and six out of the last seven.

New coach Rich Rodriguez is not helping things either.

Rich Rodriguez and plenty of Michigan fans refuse to acknowledge that their Ohio State rivalry is bigger than their rivalry with Michigan State.

Has the rivalry somehow been tarnished by new faces and a new generation?

Jim Tressel doesn't think so.  Tressel never misses a chance to mention the Michigan game saying that it "trumps" everything else.  In fact, in one of Tressel's first public appearances as Ohio State head coach he gave the famous "310 days" speech in which he boldly predicted a win over Michigan.

The players don't think so either.  The games are always rough with hard-hitting Big Ten football.  There was even a slight scuffle before this past year's game. 

Troy Smith and Beanie Wells will forever be remembered for their success in the game. Chad Henne and Mike Hart will always be the face of a good senior class, but everyone will remember them as the four-year starters who never beat Ohio State.

So really it depends on the eye of the beholder.  For some, the game will always be THE game.

But for many others, the game is losing its relevance by the year.