It was Ryan Day's team as soon as the Rose Bowl ended.
That meant when the championship rings and Gold Pants charms were delivered to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in April, the winning coach from last season was there as a visitor.
The last time an Ohio State coach who had beaten Michigan was not presiding over his team the following spring was 31 years ago, when Earle Bruce was a resident of Cedar Falls and busy preparing for his only season at Northern Iowa.
This time around, the winning coach was still a resident of Columbus. Day introduced his former boss as part of the festivities, putting him in the context of how the Gold Pants tradition began:
Francis Schmidt started this tradition back in the 1930s. And he started it because they had a hard time beating the Team Up North, and he told them they put on their pants the same way they did.
The team then watched a video whose target audience seemed to be the newest guys in the room. At the practice facility during team assemblies the newbies sit up in the back rows, which was where the visiting former head coach was standing in the aisle along with some former players and members of the Gold Pants Club. The video ended, the lights came back on and Day continued his address.
When I look at that (video) and I see the Gold Pants, I think about what that means to us now. We know they put their pants on the same way we do. We kick their ass. The way I think about it is, the way we put our pants on every day, we think about the rivalry - because the rivalry is what we live every single day.
And really where that started [Ed. we would have said accelerated] was the man in the back of the room. 7-0 against the Team Up North. Those are big shoes to fill, boys. Just telling you right now. And he created an environment where we live that every day in this program. And it’s who we are every day. I want to bring up Coach Urban Meyer.
Meyer then walked down the aisle from the back to the front of the room amidst applause, hugged his former offensive coordinator, and then addressed the team. Below is his unscripted speech in its entirety.
Humbled to be in front of you again. I’ve been part of this rivalry since I was this big [holds hand up to waist]. So I get really upset when I see people come into the program and they don’t appreciate it, they don’t respect it, and, uh, that bothers me.
And I can speak on behalf of you guys who have been here. I cannot speak on behalf of you guys in the back because you don’t yet. Some of you know a little bit about it. But this is a rivalry that in the 10-Year War, there was guy named Bo Schembechler who was the coach at the Team Up North, he’s actually from Ohio. And then a guy named Woody Hayes, and he was the coach here.
"That’s the way you respect a rivalry. Then you outwork them and then you kick that ass like it’s never been kicked before."
And I lived that rivalry in 1986-87 when I was a coach here and I lived this rivalry away coaching in other places. Came back here and, and I’ve been at USC vs. Notre Dame, Florida vs. Georgia, Florida vs. Florida State, and all due respect to all of them out there - that ain’t anything like this.
So it really bothered me when I heard a player for the other team come out and guarantee wins, and Revenge Tours, and shit like that, and I remember those days and my head almost popped off my shoulders. That’s disrespecting the rivalry. And I think - everyone listen real close, this is in our DNA, this will never change: How do you really show respect for a rivalry?
Think about it. Very simple question, complicated answer. How do you show respect for a rivalry?
Is it a tee shirt, is it uh - some guy, that Kamara (Ed. Meyer likely meant Michigan running back Karan Higdon, not Saints running back Alvin Kamara) that asshole that said they were going to win the game and said “I guarantee it” or that defensive end, really good player, Revenge Tour Almost Done so he’s going to group us with Wisconsin or Penn State or something like that?
How do you really show respect for a rivalry? And all due respect, maybe some up there don’t understand that. You work that [expletive] every day. Every day. You walk in that staff room - this is for the new coaches, you know who they recruit. You know what they’re doing every day. What I ask Mark Pantoni - who are they recruiting? Who are they going after? What is their practice schedule? What are they doing? Are we outworking them?
"How do you respect a rivalry? You work it every day. You don’t shoot your mouth off."
So I’ll say this again. How do you respect a rivalry? You work it every day. You don’t shoot your mouth off. If I ever hear, whatever’s going on, I hear a player take a shot verbally at them - that’s a problem. How do you show respect for a rivalry? You work it every [expletive] day. Not by tee shirts. Not by bullshit.
When I see people giggle about how we don’t wear blue in here - I don’t laugh about that. We don’t have blue pens in here. That’s not funny. This is Nike vs. Adidas, this is Coke vs. Pepsi, this is Ohio State vs the Team Up North. This is our livelihood.
So if you're new to the program - welcome to the program. Understand where you’re at. This is not a game. This is not silly. This is a way of life. There’s a bunch of former players in the back [of the room] that lived it. As you move up, you live it. This is who you are.
You never lose to those pricks. Ever. Ever. And you work it every day. And I don’t give a shit if you’re from California or Texas or whatever, as soon as you say you’re a Buckeye this is part of your life for the rest of your life - and you don’t lose to those pricks. You beat them every day. Every day.
This will always be a player’s program. What you guys did in that game, to put a beating on that team like they’ve never had a beating before in the history of that program - very good program, by the way - you notice how we talk about them, right? Is that a good program up there? Great program. Good players up there? Great players. Great coaches? Great coaches.
That’s the way you respect a rivalry. Then you outwork them and then you kick that ass like it’s never been kicked before. And that’s what you did.
Ohio State faces Michigan in Ann Arbor on Nov. 30 at noon.