At the beginning of Jurassic Park, after Alan Grant gets the vapors because an old guy told him that a Tyrannosaurus Rex might want to be his friend, director Steven Spielberg treats viewers to a tour of an extremely 90's visitor's center filled with such exciting things like nerds in lab coats and a long educational video. Eight year old Johnny angrily balled up his fists and pounded the sides of his movie seat: where the hell were the dinos? You just showed us some dinos, show me more of the freakin' dinos!
And of course eventually you do see more dinosaurs, they're cool and they eat people (they're cool because they eat people), but as a kid I didn't care about the interpersonal relationships between the characters, or the business espionage, or a paleontologist learning that children are people too. I just wanted the movie to cut to the chase and get to the good stuff.
Sometimes that's how I feel about the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry. Almost self-consciously, we hype up the huge historical and cultural edifice around The Game, as if we need to justify to outside observers why it's important and awesome. And while The Game is indeed culturally and historically important for Ohio, and Michigan, and college football as a whole, sometimes I think the best way to carry on its cultural cache in a quickly-changing college football landscape it to just go ahead and air as much dirty laundry as possible.
Which is why I am forced to grudgingly admit that Michigan displaying the flag that they planted at midfield last season like some kind of war trophy is exactly the kind of petty bullshit both programs should lean into, hard.
Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh hinted at keeping the flag soon after it was planted in Columbus. During a conference call with the media before the Big Ten championship game, Harbaugh said, "I want to get that flag and put it in our museum."
Well played, James Joseph! But there is no small shortage of potential Ohio State relics from The Game that the Buckeyes should proudly display in return, so let's review a few of them:
At the now-demolished Riverfront Stadium, the Cincinnati Reds left a mark in left field commemorating the spot where Pete Rose slapped a single to break Ty Cobb's hits record. It was a cool way to remember a record that might never be broken, and while that helped establish a part of baseball lore that went back 75 years or so, I think Ohio Stadium should do the same on the spot where J.T. Barrett ran for an obvious first down to help beat Michigan in 2016.
That Spot, along with a field turf facsimile to be displayed in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, should exist in conjunction with a video loop of Jim Harbaugh crying about it in the postgame press conference.
In one brief, beautiful moment during the Ohio State/Michigan game in 2013, Marcus Hall summarized the entirety of the rivalry by giving double middle fingers to Michigan Stadium as he walked to the locker room after being ejected for a fight that the Wolverines instigated.
It remains one of the greatest moments in Ohio State history, and should be memorialized as such with two ten-foot tall replicas of his outstretched arms, which visitors can walk between on their way into the WHAC.
Lloyd Carr is probably still mad about this one.
When the Wolverines arrived at Ohio Stadium ahead of the 2004 edition of The Game, they were met by a rather unwelcoming greeting party – police, security, and bomb-sniffing dogs.
The Michigan football team was forced to stand outside Ohio Stadium for more than an hour as bomb-sniffing dogs searched them and every one of their bags before allowing them admittance into the stadium.
Obviously, the delay noticeably disrupted the Wolverines' pregame routine, and Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr was absolutely outraged, believing it to be an intentional delay coming from the Ohio State athletic department.
I was in attendance at that edition of The Game, and I can't think of a better way to manifest the attitude of a contest that saw an unranked and 6-4 Ohio State team beat a top-10 Wolverines squad than a very nervous wax figure of Carr getting barked at by a bunch of dogs wearing Buckeye uniforms.
M CLUB SUPPORTS YOU
The Buckeyes tearing down the M Club banner in 1973 was as predictable as it was funny, especially since Michigan announcer Bob Ufer had an absolute kitten watching it happen. The "dastardly fate" Ufer predicted for Woody Hayes and company didn't pan out, as the game ended in a tie and Ohio State went on to win the Rose Bowl.
Anyway, the obvious display here is a replica of the banner, but the twist is that it should be in a trash can (of course).
BECAUSE WE COULDN'T GO FOR THREE
Just a giant, gold plated number "3", placed gently on a throne made of wolverine bones would be a very classy and appropriate tribute to Woody Hayes' greatest single contribution to Ohio State lore.
There are others (as I'm sure I'll be reminded of in the comments), but the long and short of it is that to celebrate The Game as we should, the best approach that both Ohio State and Michigan can take is to recognize that we aren't looking at this contest through a sepia-colored telescope smeared with nostalgia, we're looking at it with beer goggles sprayed with chili peppers.