At the end of the 2010 season, it seemed like Ohio State and Michigan were in completely different worlds—the Buckeyes claiming their first bowl win over an SEC opponent (later vacated) and Michigan getting destroyed in the Gator Bowl by Mississippi State.
All of that changed when San Diego State's Brady Hoke took the job at Michigan and reinvigorated a rivalry that Jim Tressel squashed by losing just one game to Michigan in his time at Ohio State.
Unfortunately for Hoke, he never got to face Tressel to end his grip on the rivalry. Tressel let the grip go on his own after committing infractions that led to him being forced out of his job.
Hoke capitalized and got Michigan believing in themselves once again, not just by reemphasizing the importance of their rivalry with who he calls "Ohio," but by instilling some defensive intensity.
That paid off as their great turnaround—combined with Ohio State's collapse due to the Tattoo-gate scandal—led to their first win over the Scarlet and Gray since Chris Perry and John Navarre shredded the Buckeyes back in 2003.
The Wolverines' 40-34 win was followed by a moment that Buckeye players and fans felt was a classless gesture.
Michigan players tossed a football into the air like it was a grenade, and when it hit the ground, all the players around it fell.
Players like Zach Boren and Jeff Heuerman tweeted these responses after the game:
I lost so much respect for michigan after they won n threw the ball in the air acting like it was a grenade. This is a great rivalry and to— Zach Boren (@ZBoren44) November 26, 2011
Karma is gonna be a bitch for that little "celebration" at the end.—Jeff Heuerman(@JHeuerman86) November 26, 2011
Hoke said he felt the criticism didn't bother him because his players had done that every Friday at the end of practice during the season.
Buckeye fans only felt disappointed for a short time, because Urban Meyer was hired two days later as the head coach at Ohio State.
Suddenly, an Ohio State team that looked to be at their lowest point since the end of the John Cooper era, were back to where they were before the tattoo scandal.
And in the months since then, Meyer and Hoke have added kerosene to the fire of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.
The two coaches have waged several recruiting battles already, and Meyer has tried to create some psychological advantages including various reminders of Ohio State's biggest rival and a potential case of academic superiority over said rival.
Hoke later responded with a comment that jabbed at the problems with the law that players Meyer brought to Florida kept getting into.
Even the recent recruits on both sides have made their voices heard, including Kyle Kalis, who memorably flip-flopped from Ohio State to Michigan. And he has not been afraid to talk about it.
On the other end, LB David Perkins, who has become a quick fan-favorite in Columbus, shared his thoughts about being a Buckeye and his new rivals to the north:
Its only right to be a Buckeye.....Anything else jus feels.....bad like you would suck automatically.....Specially if U gotta wear Blue smh.
— David Perkins (@StudntOfDaGame) February 17, 2012
Them Bois up north keep talkin! I guess its gon be they line against ours an I kno I ain the only 1 who would take ours over theirs anyday!?— David Perkins (@StudntOfDaGame) February 5, 2012
Fans are starting to get into it as well, as the fire is back in a rivalry that seemed more like an annual one-sided beatdown that the Buckeyes kept delivering in the 2000s.
For the sake of the game of college football that had such a terrible year in 2011 with an unprecedented amount of scandals all around the country, it's exciting to see one of the greatest rivalries in American sports finally reignited after being dormant for so long.
This may be the most exciting time in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry since the Ten Year War from 1969-1978.
Most Buckeye and Wolverine fans might not remember that, but the new generation of fans on both sides should get quite a similar taste starting on November 24th at The Horseshoe when Urban Meyer faces Brady Hoke on the field for the first time.
All we can say is, get the popcorn ready.
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