College Football: Why the Michigan-Ohio State Rivalry Will Disappear
Here are 8 reasons why future generations of Michigan and Ohio State fans won't care about "The Game"
I'm 31 years old and I love Ohio State football; I also love it when Ohio State beats Michigan...regularly.
But, I was around a group of junior high school kids from Ohio earlier this year talking about Ohio State football and, to my shock, they didn't seem to care much about the Michigan Rivalry.
Being from Ohio, beating Michigan is our big thing. How could they not care?
My Michigan friend here in Las Vegas (we are only friends 364 days a year) noticed the same thing in her two young sons; her sons didn't seem to care about the game either.
I began to realize that because of some changes in the college football world since I was in junior high, there are more important things for Ohio State and Michigan to accomplish rather then beating each other. The ramification of these changes has started the demise of the greatest rivalry in sports.
Reason No. 7: It's Been over 30 Years and Counting
The "Ten-Year War" is the most fabled period in all of sports history.
Kids these days and in the future won't understand the "feeling" of religious fervor associated with that period of Wolverine and Buckeye history.
Through the entire 1970's there was only one bowl game for the Big Ten: the Rose Bowl; and every year it came down to the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game. That is something my generation and future generations will never know.
I wasn't alive for it, but my parents, aunts, uncles, older cousins and neighbors were. They can speak about it with a feeling of magic and wonder; I cannot, I wasn't there.
If my generation can't relay that feeling, our kids won't either, and it's going to be like that from now on.
Reason No. 6: The SEC
The new generation of Ohio State fans are not filled with as much frenzy against Michigan as they are when it comes to beating any SEC team.
Since the disastrous showing from Ohio State against Florida in the 2006 BCS Championship Game, followed by a loss against LSU the following year, Ohio State fans have crowned a new villain: the SEC.
Given the not so glamorous record for Ohio State against SEC teams, Ohio State has worked hard to try to become a competitor against them—including Ohio State's blatant NCAA rules violations (how SEC of them).
Reason No. 5: Notre Dame
The year 2031.That is the final year of the current tentative agreement* between Notre Dame and Michigan.
Young Michigan fans now have a another powerhouse to root against every year. It's going to be like that for a long time and it comes earlier in the season.
By the year 2031, will the Michigan-Notre Dame game mean as much to Michigan fans as the Ohio State game—or will it mean more?
That is a question to consider.
*"Current Tentative Agreement" has been added in place of "Current Contact" form the original article because the 20 year extension is only a handshake agreement and not a signed contract. http://www.annarbor.com/sports/um-football/michigan-notre-dame-never-signed-contract-to-extend-rivalry-series/
Reason No. 4: The Big Ten Championship Game
What is going to be more important to our younger (and future) Michigan and Ohio State fans—beating the other in the Big Ten championship game, or during the regular season?
During all the years before the BCS, in any given year the invitation to the Rose Bowl could come down to the Ohio State-Michigan game. It made the rivalry much more exciting.
Today, there is an extra game added to get there, the Big Ten championship.
Given the makeup of the Leaders & Legends divisions, Michigan and Ohio State could end up playing each other twice in the same season.
If you beat your opponent once for a shot at the Rose Bowl, you'll then have to play them again for the same shot...it make the end of the year matchup not so lustrous.
Reason No. 3: Jim Tressel
To the younger Michigan fan, a loss to Ohio State is something they just expect.
Jim Tressel's tenure is one of the main reasons the young Michigan fan is losing interest in the game against Ohio State. Why should they look forward to a game where all they've seen is Michigan get crushed?
Despite the fact that Jimmy is out of the picture, he sure did make light work of the Michigan football team.
Michigan can try to blame Rich Rod for their Buckeye woes, but Jimmy has been sticking it to Michigan ever since he slipped on the Ohio State vest—9-1 against the Wolverines with a combined score of 279 to 172, 114 to 24 since the 2006 game.
Reason No. 2: Wisconsin
Good Bye Michigan. Hello Wisconsin!
Given the carnivorous nature of the Buckeye faithful, Wisconsin is going to be the main focus of the younger and future Ohio State fans.
With Ohio State and Wisconsin in the new Leaders division, we are going to see a battle for the Leaders division champion come down to these two teams on a regular basis.
Starting this year the Wisconsin game will be a more important win than the Michigan game. It's going to be like that from now on...almost automatically.
Finally: The BCS
Fifty years from now when we look back and try to figure out what happened to this great rivalry, we will be able to point to the BCS as the primary culprit.
During the Ten-Year War, it was the intensity of a single head-to-head matchup for a trip to the Rose Bowl that made the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry a legend.
To the next generations of Ohio State and Michigan fans, polling and a computer system decides bowl games for us. A single head-to-head matchup doesn't mean as much anymore.
Plus, the addition of the BCS Championship Game and a Big Ten championship game has devalued the Ohio State-Michigan Game to third in the list of big prizes either school could win (or seventh* depending on how you look at it).
Hopefully Bragging Rights will be enough to sustain this rivalry though the new generations, but the legacies those bragging rights were built upon are are passing away with those who were able to live them.
I hope this rivalry will last, but given the evidence, I don't see how it can.
* BCS Championship Game, Big Ten championship game, games against the five remaining teams in your division.