A Home at the End of the World

By Ramzy Nasrallah on November 20, 2012 at 12:14p
the shoe

Confession: I've never really understood why people call this Hate Week.

Football seasons are packaged in neat little 12-chapter tomes. Ohio State and Michigan annually share the best final chapter of any of them, which makes this the best week of the season. Defining these beautiful, precious few days with hate has always felt unclean.

Am I supposed to find some way to despise Michigan more than usual in these next few days just because Ohio State plays them Saturday? Not really sure how that's done.

There is nothing to hate about this week; not the glacial pace of time painfully lurching toward Saturday, not the Buckeyes' postseason circumstances and certainly not Ohio State's evil, disgusting and egalitarian partner in this perfect, sublime week.

It isn't about hate at all. This week is a love story disguised as the buildup to the only game that really matters.

That rotunda inside of the closed end of the Horseshoe is a permanent reminder of it. Ohio State vs. Michigan is an affair of the heart that has literally been carved into stone.

Little yellow flowers embossed on top of perfect blue squares: They'll still be there to welcome the great-grandchildren of Ohio State and Michigan fans who have not been born yet. Hate is empty, misspent energy. Love is eternal. It's effortless.

This week is a love story disguised as the buildup to the only game that really matters.

Stories are famous for their beginnings and endings, and those flowers mark the first chapter of this story. Sure, there were some earlier meetings, but they're best left to the prologue – because Michigan-the-powerhouse vs. Ohio State-the-fledgling-club-team was exactly that. 

This love story begins with a man named Goebel, wearing a primitive leg brace made out of steel just so he could play in a game that at the time was killing dozens of collegians and seriously injuring hundreds more.

There's this brand new colossal football facility being dedicated in the town that at the time was home to the newly-branded NFL's headquarters. And there was a blood wager between schools that would last for eternity.

Purdue sucks.Another Goebel who will be on the field Saturday.

Paul Goebel was the Wolverines' captain and best player heading into the season. He had shredded his knee, which Michigan trainers stabilized with a steel hinge they fashioned themselves.

It was nothing like the sophisticated apparatus today's linemen wear on both legs as normal body armor: This thing required constant lubrication to just function properly. Goebel had oil-coated steel wrapped around his battered knee.

The brace gave his leg enough stability to play, but the more he ran, the faster the oil would dry. As the lubrication wore off, Goebel's hinge would overheat and burn hot.

So Goebel and his steel hinge wobbled into Ohio Stadium on Dedication Day, 1922. The benches in the Horseshoe had been sat in exactly twice. It was the third game in the building's history.

Stories are famous for their beginnings and endings. This is the beginning.

Goebel ended up blocking a Buckeye punt, kicking a 35-yard field goal and recovering a fumble - on one good leg. 

He collapsed in the third quarter and had to leave the game. While his teammates were carrying him off the field he swatted them away and tried to get back into the scrum, but his body was finished. The rest of the game played on without him.

Every point on Dedication Day was scored by a Wolverine – Goebel or teammate Harry Kipke. Final score: Michigan 19, Ohio State 0.

The following week in Ann Arbor against Illinois, Goebel's brace would overheat and he would suffer several burns to his leg, as if his knee needed more damage. That might have happened against the Buckeyes had he not missed the final quarter.

Following the game in Columbus, the concrete flowers that had already been poured into Ohio's million-dollar version of a Roman Colosseum were painted with the colors of the winning team on Dedication Day. And they're still maize and blue, in large part because Goebel on one leg was better than everybody else was on two.

HEY NO FAIR HE'S DOING IT AGAINThe Master: 3-0 against Michigan with 1051 yards & 9 TDs.

He was the very first hero in Ohio Stadium history. Chic Harley, whose football prowess is credited with the construction of the Horseshoe near the end of the prologue, led the Buckeyes to their first Michigan win five years earlier on the now-buried Ohio Field, which lives on in fight songs.

It's been 90 football seasons since Goebel limped through the unpainted rotunda at Ohio Stadium. A dozen years following his heroics, William Henry Harrison "Tippy" Dye became the first starting Buckeye quarterback to go 3-0 against the Wolverines. Same field as Goebel, but with two good legs and a much better arm.

Then 60 seasons after Dye beat Michigan for the first time, Troy Smith did the same thing. Two games later he became the second Buckeye quarterback to go 3-0 against the Wolverines.

That unexpected turn of events was as sweet as losing to Michigan as a heavy favorite a decade earlier was sour. Love oscillates with pain in this series, not hate. 

Smith's struggling 2004 Buckeyes blew the doors off the Big Ten champion Wolverines with him accounting for 386 yards and three touchdowns. At the following meeting in Ann Arbor, Smith had 337 yards and two touchdowns while leading a memorable come-from-behind scoring drive with seconds remaining.

As a senior the eventual Heisman winner had 328 yards and four touchdowns, wearing the same number 10 that Harley had worn in Ohio State's first-ever defeat of Michigan, though his number 47 is what hangs inside the closed end not far from those equally permanent yellow flowers.

Terrelle Pryor led the Buckeyes to three more wins in the series and was set to become the only 4-0 quarterback in school history before the Tressel era came crashing down, which led to the reigning hero in this story.

Denard Robinson scored five touchdowns last year and accumulated 337 yards while ending Ohio State's longest winning streak in the series. His final Big Ten game is Saturday. He can finish 1-3 or 2-2 against Ohio State. His teams' record against Ohio State will help define his legacy.

Boston won the battle; Woodson won the war.Current college freshmen have no memory of this happening.

From Goebel to Robinson, the Wolverines hold a 44-41 series advantage. In between there have been heroes and villains with names being carved into this tome in the figurative sense that Goebel's flowers were at Ohio Stadium.

And there is joy in every single chapter. Slightly more often than not it has belonged to Michigan. If it was one-sided this game wouldn't matter nearly as much.

You wouldn't love this week so much. You would take it for granted.

To my best recollection I have openly wept following five different Ohio State-Michigan games: 1993, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2006. Four wins; two losses. Maybe I've cried at more, but those I remember. Hate has never brought me to tears.

Hate will make a brief appearance on Saturday as the sky begins to darken and Kübler-Ross Stage Two kicks in for one distraught fan base. It's defined by bitter remorse and regret over what should have happened and resentment over what could have been done differently.

By that definition, last season virtually every week of Ohio State's season was hate week. But following that loss to Michigan – the first in eight meetings – hate very quickly gave way to bargaining. It was the promise of Urban Meyer possibly being hired and making this awfulness go away.

And it was also Braxton Miller, a true freshman without the benefit of a real position coach, overthrowing a wide-open Devier Posey which would have probably won the game and changed the entire complexion of one of the most forgettable seasons years in Ohio State history.

That's not hate. That's bargaining. 

The subsequent depression stage was abruptly interrupted by Meyer's hiring in the hours following The Game, and there's been nothing but love ever since. And this week that love has swelled like no other.

Ohio State's season will end Saturday following what will hopefully be an undefeated season. That was somewhat common back in Goebel's era when bowl games were still in their gestational phase, but it is a rarity now.

Nothing else matters.Earle Bruce being carried off the field in Ann Arbor in 1981.

The Buckeyes will remain on house arrest through January, and then this one-year sentence is over. Guys like John Simon and Zach Boren will play their final games on Saturday. They can finish 2-2 or 3-1 against Michigan. Their teams' record against Michigan will help define their legacies.

Ending this season or any other with a loss to Michigan is a dreadful thought, but the annual buildup to this game does not fill me with an ounce of hate. It feels like home.

It's always there, and it never goes away. It's the reason I cringe at the thought of it being altered, whether it's by the threat of being moved from its rightful place on the calendar or disrupted by some empty Nike gimmick that's better left to the Purdue or Indiana game.

I've grown to appreciate it even more over the past few years as it becomes increasingly apparent that unlike those yellow concrete flowers in the rotunda, The Game in its current form will soon be, perhaps, a mid-October affair.

Stories are famous for their beginnings and endings, and those flowers marked the first chapter of this story. It doesn't matter when Ohio State plays Michigan in the future. This story had a beginning, but it has no end.

The flowers in the Horseshoe Rotunda are maize and blue because PAUL Goebel on one leg was better than everybody else was on two.

It was the third game of the season for Goebel's Wolverines. Perhaps it will be the sixth game of the season for J.T. Barrett's Buckeyes.

Maybe I'll learn to hate more during that week, when some of the romance is sucked out of it at the expense of a sterile, manufactured television program in December. But until that happens there's just too much history in this finale for me to do anything but love it.

Saturday is the final chapter of one of the better stories in the entire tome. I'll save my hate for the offseason. I love this week, and regardless of the outcome Saturday, I will love this game.


Comments Show All Comments

carence's picture

I don't get the "hate week" thing either, I hate them everyday!

Oyster's picture

Why write a paragraph when you can sum it up with one sentence, like you just did.  Nice!

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

BeijingBucks's picture

Count on RamZ to show some erudite prose and an alternate viewpoint... you sober or something bro?

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

bukyze's picture

Completely disagree.  I love the week.  I love the game.  I HATE scUM.  This is full fledged HATE week.  I'm not obssessed with hating scUM during February or May (though I do still hate them), but the hate climaxes during this week, the mothership of all weeks.  Ramzy - hate has never brought me to tears either.   Only the love I have for my alma mater, THE Ohio State University.  Tears of joy when we win, tears of sadness when we lose - either way, those tears are all about the love of OSU.  My hatred of scUM only breeds anger, and the desire that we kick their ass each and every year.  I think it's delusional to say that the game means more b/c it's been an even series over the years.  That's like saying you hope we lose 4-5 out of every 10 games.  Going 9-1 or 10-0 every decade would bring me infinite joy.  My love for this week, my love for OSU, and my hatred of scUM will never change. 

hodge's picture

Beautiful.  Perfectly sums up all the anticipation, revelry, and love I have for this week.  I wish every week was Michigan week.  There may be better games played (and there may not) this week; but no game better encapsulates the spirit, feeling, and soul of our beloved sport like this one.  Like Clint Eastwood's nameless hero that epitomizes the Western genre, Ohio State and Michigan's annual nameless feud does the same for our celebrated fall pastime.
Interesting note on Paul Goebel, per his Wiki:

Goebel also played an important role in the career of U.S. President Gerald R. Ford. Goebel was friends with Ford's mother and stepfather and recommended Ford to head football coach Harry Kipke at the University of Michigan. When Ford returned from World War II, Goebel urged him to run for U.S. Congress and was part of the original Ford-for-Congress committee. Goebel was later the chairman of a committee formed in 1960 to name Ford as the Republican Party's Vice Presidential candidate on the ticket with Richard Nixon.

Johnniebuckeye's picture

Agree Buckeyze, agree. Growing up under Woody you learned to distill a pure kernel of hatred for them that never goes away; NEVER. That hatred extends to those totured souls who would even consider going there much less those that do. (JokeHoke example). So; agree Buckeyze, agree.

Bucksfan's picture

The Game in its current form will soon be, perhaps, a mid-October affair.

Over. My. Dead. Body.

Riggins's picture

Fun fact: Hate is more similar to love than it is anger or disgust. 
I'm not suggesting we start calling it Love Week, but I know I'm not the only one out there who wants Michigan to be good again to recharge the rivalry.  I want our rival to be an elite and respected opponent that we get to pound into the dirt once a year.

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

The history of the rivalry is what makes it great and together these schools have created an event I cherish every year. It's about more than hate or love, it's about bloodlines and memories and life stories. Great article Ramzy.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Dougger's picture

well said. but you hate them right? i always thought to myself there's a fine line between love and hate.
as doc from tombstone would say "nah im sure of it. now i really hate em"

I like football

Boxley's picture

I agree with Ramzy, I never thought enough of TTUN to hate them, they were not important enough to me to use up that much emotion towards them.
Hate is a funny thing, you have to care for and admire someone/thing to either love or hate it. I neither care for, or love TTUN, therefore they do not get any of my hate. I save that for important things in my life (ex, taxes, mismanagement).
Those whom have earned my scorn get my hate, as well as my respect, not a bunch of jumped up wannabe, buffet line clogging, ex-ohioans.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

tjbucvik23's picture

Great story.  I have had the good fortune of going to every home game for the last 20+ years. I don't feel the hate either. But I come close when we lose and they dance on our block O. Hoping we are victorious Saturday and hoping the win total gets about a dozen wins in our favor. Very much excited having Urban on our side. Again, great story.

OSUbucknut's picture

Last years deep ball from Braxton to Posey was actually pretty close.  Posey could have extended his arms and may have had a chance at it.  Timing was difficult considering Posey missed most of the year.  

Earle's picture

Love Michigan Week.  Hate Michigan.  No contradiction.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

JLP36's picture

The thought of THE GAME being played at any other time makes me feel like vomitting.  It is worse than Christmas in March or Independence Day fireworks in February.  F*** Jim Delaney - The Game stays where it belongs.  And yes, F*** Michigan too - at the end of the season like it is supposed to be!


Bucksfan's picture

If Michigan had beaten Nebraska, this Saturday would be an elimination game for Michigan in their quest for a trip to Indy...on top of them playing to ruin Ohio State's undefeated season.  If it were any other year, this would mean the difference between elimination for Michigan or rematch against Ohio State the following week on a neutral site for the trip to Pasadena or higher.
This is the new era.  Think of it as a preview for what's to come as long as Ohio State and Michigan keep scoring top-5 recruiting classes year in and year out.  This Rivalry has the chance to become the most unprecedented, heated, highest stakes, and important rivalry in all of sports...ALL OF SPORTS.  And it's already #1.

JLP36's picture

if they were in the same division it would be an elimination game every time, like it is supposed to be.  if this "new era" (including the exciting inclusion of Maryland football) means altering what is largely considered to be "the greatest rivalry in sport" and, not incidentily, what the B1G is built on - I say NO THANKS to the exciting new era and keep the one thing about the Big Ten football that is still great - THE GAME
if the Big Ten messes with the game the Big Ten will die


hodge's picture

They can't be in the same division because of competitive balance.  If the Big Ten were to add two marquee members (as expected), it would allow for OSU and Michigan to be placed in the same division again--thereby avoiding the nasty prospect of them playing twice in two weeks.  
The only way Ohio State and Michigan would meet twice would be if they both made the four-team playoff.

ARMYBUCK's picture

As always a great article Ramzy.  I do indeed love this rivalry so much that it outweighs any feelings I have for Michigan. Thats why I, like Riggins suggests, want Michigan to be good every time we meet.  The better they are the more I can love it when we beat em!

timdogdad's picture

i can sort of handle the games vs ichigan we lose when we're both 8-3 and it's on to the 2nd tier bowl for each team. winning in those years is great too. but when we have a season with a huge oppportunity and then lose, it's unbearable.  like the 90's.   we did well with tress when we had that opportunity. we have another this year.  just seems like it's lining up correctly. at home, going for perfect season, and urb as the coach.   hoping to see the field flowing with fans at about 3:30 on saturday....  

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I never wept, but I was ready to punch a 12yo in Schottenstein's(I miss that store) that was wearing a M*chigan jacket after the 03 game.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

740 BUCKEYE's picture

Ramzy, your writing is like a mix of Fergie and Jesus.

jthiel09's picture

He's been called the Song Bird of our generation.


Alhan's picture

I'm not really liking this image you have put in my head of Jesus singing "My Humps".

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

CALPOPPY's picture

It's provocative.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

jthiel09's picture

The week and the game out-weigh my disdain for Michigan. Honestly I like it when they are near undefeated or are in the position (now with a conference title game) to go to the conference title game if they beat us.
I want them to be in this position because if there is one thing I enjoy more than beating Michigan ... it's crushing their hopes and dreams of a magical season in one perfect day. 2006 was one of the best games not just because of the game itself (amazing) but because of the agony, the sadness, the crying that came from OSU ruining all of what Michigan tried to do that season.
Most Buckeyes fans always want Michigan to lose at every opportunity. I'd rather beat the best Michigan team possible every year. Beating up on Rich Rod's teams was fun at the time but looking back those are forgettable games. Give me the games where it's #1 vs. #2 every thing on the line.
Everyone has their opinion, I'd prefer to just crush their souls, take away their precious season and ruin everything they love each and every year but against a good team.
Great article Ramzy.


AltaBuck's picture

For me...the 2006 game stands alone. With what was at stake and the passing of an Icon, emotionally for both sides, nothing prior to that game was its equal. I dont know if we will ever see its likeness again. Probably not in my lifetime.

I am Groot - Groot

jthiel09's picture

We'd be lucky if any college rivalry reaches that level. It's not only great for the schools but for college football in general. There will never again be a Woody vs. Bo Ten Year War .... this is why college football trumps NFL.


RedStorm45's picture

'98? Were you still crying from the MSU meltdown?

klfeck's picture

I hate scUM 24x7x365. I hate their fans and I hate their colors. I hate scUM so much that anytime I see someone in Ohio wearing scUM apparel I feel a very strong urge to punch them in the face. I know its irational, but that's what hate is right? Hate is not rational or logical, it is pure emotion. Very similar to love, just at the opposite end of the spectrum
I know they have a great and storied football program and that they are a fine academic institution. I have plenty of respect for them,  but that respect makes me hate them no less. I sincerley hope that Denarded leaves the field weeping like a child who has had his favorite toy stolen from him. Nothing would make me happier.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

Abuck10's picture

Ohio State-Michigan has always felt like a holiday to me, on the same level as Christmas and Thanksgiving. Waking in the morning with that special feeling, it's Gameday!

CC's picture

2 things:
The words "Football" and "tome" should not be used in the same sentence.
Go Bucks!

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

If you're not yet feeling it after reading Ramzy, youtube the play where that nameless $#! popped that stupid heisman pose. I still loathe that moment. Time to crank up some Dead Schembechlers.

bukyze's picture

My personal favorite song of theirs is Stukas Over 23 (Stukas being old WWII planes, and 23 being High Street, for those who may not know):
Wolverines are heading South
Time for us to shut their mouth
With German planes from WWII
To drop bombs on the maize and blue
Stukas over 23
Death from above is our decree
They'll die like dogs, we'll laugh with glee
With Stukas over 23
The Horseshoe is the fatherland
Defend it with an iron hand
One less team for the Big Ten league
A deadly buckeye air blitzkrieg
Stukas over 23
Gonna be a football killling spree
My wingman's name is Archie G.
Our Stukas over 23
Gott 1st mit uns in the air
Look out below, the sirens blare
Their team looks up and starts to cry
The end is here, it's time to die
Stukas over 23
Surprise attack, nowhere to flee
Their bodies burning in debris
From Stukas over 23
Go Bucks and kick some ass !!!

45has2's picture

I don't know if High St. is 23 or not but I'm pretty sure the 23 TDS are referring to is U.S. 23 which runs right by AA. Therefore, dive bombing AA and the $hithouse. Why would TDS want to bomb High St.? They would have no where to celebrate the 109th straight victory over the evil michiganites.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Boxley's picture

Yes, High Street is US 23, runs from Columbus all the way North out of the state continues, until you smell it.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

45has2's picture

Thanks. And then left until you step in it.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

BeijingBucks's picture

This is also one of my most hated moments. I can still remember everything about that day... Down to the bile in my mouth.

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Poison nuts's picture

Well I certainly have added this site to things I love about OSU & in no small part due to to  stories like this. After the heartbreak last season, UFM was hired. Weeks before that, a site I never heard of was making news by having stated that they were "99.9 % sure that Urban Meyer is headed to Ohio State". After that, I was on here at least once day, every day for almost exactly a year. So thanks Eleven Warriors staff & community...Love you guys.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

thatlillefty's picture

I started coming to this site a year ago myself, and I absolutely love it. Such a variety of content between the game previews, write ups, daily skull sessions, podcasts and articles like this... and it's all free. Gotta love it.

thatlillefty's picture

Life is too short for hate. I love beating meeechigan.

buckeyedude's picture

Hey Ramzy, (speaking in my imitation 12 year old kid voice)Do you suppose there is a place in heaven where Buckeye and Wolverine fans actually get along and don't hate each other so much?



MediBuck's picture

Hate week signifies that without scUM, OSU would not be the same. We have cross-pollinated players, coaches, professors, administrators, and students through the century of our rivalry. Hundreds of young men have cemented legacies for no reasons other than their eternally-memorable feats of strength and bravery in a single 60-minute contest. A 6-7 season, 4-9 season, or bowl ban season is not lost--it only makes the game against that team up North mean so much more. Thanks for letting us remember this fact, Ramzy. It was beautifully written.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

HighBallAce's picture

I sure hope there's a Ohio Stadium in Heaven cause when I get there, I want to sit on the scoreboard and watch the Ohio State/Michigan game every chance I can! If I'm real lucky, I want to be the quarterback who leads the game winning drive against Michigan!

45has2's picture

It's a week that celebrates the hatred for all thngs michigan and the international wolverine conspiracy. Only a michiganite would  try to flip the switch to love. :) Eff michigan. GO BUCKS.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

dtanmango's picture

Love. So much Love. That's what this game is about.

This is the story.

This is the legacy.

Again, elegant prose to build this momentum for the Saturday that I've been waiting 362 days for.


osubuckeye4life's picture

Love the rivarly, hate TTUN!