Michigan has Michael Jordan in its corner. But Ohio State may have one hell of an answer.
In a since deleted Instagram post, Ohio State wide receiver Corey Smith showed off a pair of new LeBron James-branded cleats accompanied by the appropriate quadruple fire emoji. More specifically, they were the cleated version of the Nike LeBron Solider 10s the Cavalier great recently gave to the Ohio State basketball team.
Michigan made waves last summer when they announced the Wolverine football program would be joining Nike's Jumpman line, the first college football program to represent Michael Jordan's personal brand. And the Wolverines wasted little time using the relationship as a carrot on the recruiting trail, as any program would.
LeBron James is the only man on the planet capable of neutralizing any edge the Jumpman brand has on prospects and the Ohio State football program quietly made a move earlier in the week when Nike began selling James' No. 23 on Ohio State football jerseys.
James has not been shy about being a fan of the Ohio State football program, famously attending several games on the Ohio State sideline, including the Bucks' win over Oregon in the 2015 College Football Playoff championship game.
But back to the cleats. Here's a closer look at the them, which feature a scarlet and black colorway and James' logo that appears on all of his Nike gear.
Will the Buckeyes actually wear the LeBron Soldier 10s on Saturday?
Even a program as big as Ohio State doesn't randomly order up cleats just to never wear them. Given the timing of the release of the LeBron football jersey, Michigan entering Ohio Stadium backed by the Jumpman brand for the first time and a head coach who loves to make big splashes, there's a very good chance the Buckeyes will take the field wearing the Soldier 10s Saturday.
But wait, there's more. Columbus-based sneaker boutique, Sole Classics, posted the following tweet, showing off the Lebron Solider 10 “uncleated” Thursday evening:
The Buckeyes have a new cleat for this week's game. And we have the quickstrike sneaker version. Release details to follow. pic.twitter.com/vgNAif3DyR— Sole Classics (@SoleClassics) November 22, 2016
Adding to the chorus, Land of 10's Jeremy Birmingham also expects the team – at least some players – to wear the new cleats Saturday:
So to be clear, I think youll see the Buckeyes wearing these cleats on Saturday. At least some of the players on the team. https://t.co/JXc5o50vNW— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) November 23, 2016
If we know anything about Urban Meyer, it's that the coach is constantly recruiting. It shows up in everything he does, from the push to more night games in the Shoe to the incredible work his graphic and video teams produce. You can bet he has been working on a way to equal the Jumpman boost Michigan received and what better way to do that than through the greatest player currently roaming a basketball court?
And here we are, debating LeBron vs. Jordan in the heart of football season.