For crying out loud, who's writing the Michigan football scripts, J.K.Rowling? What next? The ghost of Fielding Yost appears to bat away a last second field goal attempt by OSU? Tom Harmon invades the body of B.J. Askew and gains 200 yards against the Buckeyes? Lloyd Carr is unmasked as the sorcerer who is responsible for this screwball season? If so, what happened in East Lansing, did the wand suffer from a temporary power outage? Oh well, one thing is certain anyway, the first season is over and the second takes center stage this weekend.
I mentioned earlier in the year that my first broadcast of an Ohio State-Michigan game was the somber 1963 affair following the assassination of John Kennedy. But my memories of subsequent meetings are anything but somber and in no particular order here are a few that have stayed with me over the years.
1. The mindless animosity of fans in Ohio toward the folks from Ann Arbor. Driving back from the game one year we were listening to one of the more hysterical call-in shows on a Columbus radio station. One of the callers was ranting and raving about Michigan fans They don't take their football seriously. They don't care what happens. Please keep in mind that Ohio State won that day! Apparently he was expecting a mass suicide dash into the Olentangy river by anyone wearing Maize and Blue.
2. The grace of Bump Elliot in both victory and defeat.
In 1964, on one of the coldest days in a broadcast booth that I can remember, the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes 10-0 in Columbus to win the conference crown and silence a multitude of alumni and media who had been calling for Bump's scalp after a dismal 2-6 season in 1962 and a break-even one in 1963. In the joyous Michigan locker room following the game, Bump would not allow him one moment of retribution. This was about Michigan winning a Big Ten championship said Bump, Not about me. Four years later, in a rout of the Wolverines, Woody Hayes would gain notoriety by going for a two-point conversion with seconds left to reach the 50-point mark.
"I do not give a damn about Bump Eliot," said Woody. "I want the
"That's just Woody's way," replied Bump. "I don't take it
It would prove to be the final game that the classy Bumper coached.
3. The last rites of Woody Hayes
There is no question that the battles between Bo and Woody during the 70's were in a league by themselves when it came to classic matchups
between two of college football's most crazed individuals. The only
person that came close of equaling the maniacal intensity during Michigan-Ohio State week was my buddy Bob Ufer. After one of the Wolverines epic wins in Columbus, Bob came dancing into my booth and told me to come next door where he had been ripping up the airwaves.
There in the back of the booth was a long box, disguised as a
coffin, draped in black with the notation, Here lies Woodrow W. Hayes and his Buckeyes, buried today by the Michigan Wolverines. We all got a goodlaugh out of it and then promptly forgot it. But not everybody did. The next November Bob called the office of the legendary Buckeye coach and asked if hecould get a pre-game interview with him.
"Hell no," came the answer. "I'm dead. You buried me last year."
The next sound Bob heard was a telephone
banging into its stand.
So let the festivities begin. I cannot wait.