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Friday, September 08, 2006

The Devil Speaks: The Dilemma

A long time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a guy named BaggyPantsDevil used to be a frequent contributor here at the MZone. But then he got busy with something called "work" and, even more frightening, his employer blocked access to blogs! Like they expected people to do their jobs and shit. Yet somehow, some way, Baggy is back and has secretly managed to submit the post below.

In case you haven’t heard, this week, the Ohio State Buckeyes play the Texas Longhorns. The college football world is all lathered up about Saturday’s game between the Number 1 and Number 2 ranked teams in the country. Also, both teams have a somewhat special connection to Michigan although they kind of lie at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Ohio State—of course—is Michigan’s most hated rival and most frequently played opponent (they’ve played 102 times). Michigan fans and Ohio State fans generally despise each other. Ohio State fans hurl adolescent insults around the internet like they hurl beer bottles at anything maize and blue on the streets of Columbus.

Michigan and Texas have only played once, but it was one of the most memorable games in recent history. Michigan fans and Texas fans seem to have a mutual respect for one another. Texas fans generally compliment Michigan and seem more likely to buy a Michigan fan a beer than throw one at him.

That the current top two teams in the country playing each other only partly explains all the interest in this game. One of the great things about college football is that it has no post-season playoff (don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a dissertation on why bowl games are better than a playoff). The lack of a playoff means every game your team plays matters and many games that don’t even involve your team matter as well. Saturdays aren’t just about watching your team play, they’re about watching your team and then watching every other game that can effect your team. Although wives may never accept this, that is usually most of the other games.

Watching teams that are not Michigan means having to decide who to root for. It’s just not as much fun unless there’s something at stake in the game. I generally apply two simple rules to deciding who I should root for in games not involving Michigan:

Rule 1: Root against any team ranked higher than Michigan.

Rule 2: Root for any team that has or will play Michigan this year.

These rules should be obvious as the desired outcomes help Michigan. Whenever anyone ranked higher than Michigan loses, Michigan moves up (assuming they win). Whenever a team Michigan plays wins, Michigan looks better because they’ll have a stronger schedule. Yes, sometimes I want Ohio State to win. I was even hoping Notre Dame would beat USC last year. After that, I have a less rational and almost irrelevant rule:

Rule 3: Root for the underdog, especially if it’s a perennial loser surprisingly hanging in there against a perennial powerhouse.

Rooting for teams I really should care nothing about enlarges the whole college football experience. Saturdays aren’t just about watching Michigan for three hours and then washing the car. I have a cornucopia of games that actually matter to me and in which I have an emotional investment. In 1997, I suddenly became a Missouri fan and was thrilled—although eventually saddened—to see them stand up to the Red Army-like juggernaut that was Nebraska. Last year, I was surfing through the channels and stumbled across an exciting game that found lowly Vanderbilt going at it against Florida. It was inspiring (and ironic) in 1999, to see East Carolina—it’s campus under water from Hurricane Floyd and having to play in Raleigh—overcome a 20 point deficit to beat the Miami…Hurricanes.

Which finally brings me back to my point. Applying my rules to the Ohio State-Texas game.

Both teams are ranked higher than Michigan and—at Number 1 and Number 2—neither is really an underdog, but Michigan will eventually play Ohio State. Therefore—according to my rules—I should be rooting for Ohio State. For some reason, though, it’s not that simple. Thus, the dilemma.

I find myself kind of sort of liking Texas lately. Maybe it’s the sense of kinship now that they’ve experienced Ohio State fans. Maybe it’s the respect one has for an honorable foe that’s the result of the 2005 Rose Bowl. It could be gratitude at the Longhorns ending the tongue worshipping of the GREATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM EVER. It might be that Mack Brown—a coach long derided for underutilizing his talent, playing too conservatively and predictably, and not being able to beat his archrival—has provided an example of hope for us Michigan fans. I could even be that Texas is the Number 1 party school in the country. Actually, it’s probably because the Texas Pom Squad wears hot-pants and chaps.

Anyway, I’m having a problem wanting Ohio State win this one even though it will help Michigan out. Of course, it could have something to do with wanting to just shut up Ohio State fans and put an end—or at least turn down the volume—on all the “OMG! Ted Ginn AND Troy Smith” chirping. I was hoping Georgia Tech would beat Notre Dame last Saturday for much the same reason, to shut up the “returning to glory” talk, at least for a little while. Besides, I’m starting to think it’s true that humanity loses every time Ohio State wins.

So, for all the Michigan fans, who do you want to win?

Me, I’m going for hot coeds in hot-pants and chaps.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, chaps


Nitric Oxide said...

Michigan fans can root for Texas or Ohio State, doesnt matter......what matters is that OSU will beat Michigan, again, this year.....and there will be a 'Hole in the Marching Victors (read Losers)' pants again....

Humanity might lose if OSU wins a game (however that might be possible, maybe only in AA), but its the spirit of College Football that loses if an in-conference team roots for an out-of-conference team, ever.

Michigan fans, get your bearings together.....stop pointing out to OSU fans how to act and react - just learn to be good sportsmen... again, thats not something Loser LLoyd talks about in Trash Arbor.

Rivalry apart, your website is awesome, very original, fresh and enjoyable every time. Hope your football team was as good.

JVH said...

You forgot Rule Number A: In all cases always root against Ohio State.

OSU fans suck. It can't be pointed out enough. I find it quite humorous that nitric oxide preaches to Michigan fans to "learn to be good sportsmen" then in the same sentence calls your coach a loser and your town trash.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, any Michigan fan must root for Ohio State. The game of the year is when these two meet, and anything that takes away from that must be opposed.

Allaha said...

There may be a pragmatic reason for Michigan fans to cheer for Texas (apart from wanting to go to heaven): the tOSU confidence level and sharpened focus on the MNC after a major win may make tOSU a tougher opponent later in the season. In other words, Michigan may find it easier to beat a tOSU that questions its ability to win big games this season as contrasted with a tOSU that has already beaten (in an away game) the strongest opponent it has faced hitherto. . . . Even if you don't but this analysis, cheer for Texas because in your heart you know its right.

Anonymous said...

Calling Michigan losers and telling Michigan fans to be good sportsmen in the same comment...a shining example of hypocrisy only a Buckeye fan is capable of.

Hook em Horns this weekend.

Crabapple Buck said...

Has history taught you anything? Would you rather beat an undefeated OSU (93, 95, 96), and ruin a season or see them lose and play a team looking to take it out on UM? If OSU can go into 11/18 11-0, the level of nervous anticipation in Buckeyes will be at an all time high.

I have 3 rules:
1. Always root for the Big Ten OOC.
2. Always root against ND unless it could help your cause (this is thankfully very rare).
3. Root against any team ahead of you in the polls unless you will play them, you want to be the one to beat them.

Now go forth and conquer - See you in Columbus for the NEXT 1 vs 2!

Jeremy said...

Your analysis about Texas is correct. Best fans, team, and band I've ever been around. I have nothing but respect for Texas and everything associated with their program.

However, as a Michigan fan, each week that brings us closer to the opportunity to crush an 11-0 OSU team in Columbus far outweighs my interest in seeing some far-away friends of mine win a game.

Fuck OSU for giving me this dilemma. The best option is that this game is won at the last second by an OSU player accepting illegal benefits and forfeited somewhere down the road.

Tom said...


Your dilemma is hard enough, but here is mine. I'm a Michigan grad attending grad school at Texas A&M. Every time I try think about who to root for, my head threatens to explode. Perhaps its a good thing that I won't be back from the A&M game until the beginning of the fourth quarter at the earliest.

DevilGrad said...

Well, after naturalizing to ACC hoops during grad school, I learned that my two favorite teams were Duke and whoever's-playin'-Carolina. Apply your corollary here, and forget the other rules.

And, yes, the self-refuting post from Nitric Oxide was pretty damn funny.

Ungar Kelt said...

I generally always pull for the Big-10 in out of conference games. But I made the mistake of backing Tosu against Miami in 2002. I had no idea what a monstrous transformation that this NC would have on the simple Tosu fans, spinning them into a downward spiral of potty-mouthed-ness, out of control arrogance, irrational feelings of invinciblity, and endless gushing over Tressel in an embarrassing perpetual expression of their "school-girl" crush on Sweatervest. For most sane fans, it would have taken at least ten years to emerge from the gutter of the Cooper years- they shook it off in 3.

Anyway, I hope Tosu gets destroyed. Not just a close loss like last year, but a complete demolition. I know that doesn't help Michigan at all, but I can learn to live with that.

Jeremy said...

ungar kelt:

I feel the same way. On one hand, in the interest of my team, I can't root for that to happen. On the other hand, goddamn I love seeing them fall from glory and I certainly wouldn't shed a tear if they got blown out by 50 points.

Wild Willie said...

I think this idea of always cheering for your conference is a great one. While it is nost applicable during bowl games, there are times that this doesn't need to apply. For example, when 1 vs. 2 go at it in the regular season (especially early in the season) we have found that it doesn't really hurt them as much in the long run. SO the way I see it, any Michigan fan can cheer for Texas in this case and not really be breaking the rule.

Additionally, how cool would it be for Texas and Michigan to play in a National Championship game together. That can only happen if tOSU has two losses.


Anonymous said...

M-Zone guys, HELP!

Austin is being invaded by hordes of primer red and bondo grey clad invaders. We need your expertise, honed over 100 or so years, to help us survive this onslaught! We're developing our list of survival tips and could use some of yours!

This is what we have so far:

1) Don’t get caught between a Buckeye and the buffet at any restaurant.

2) Try not to follow too close to them in line their women, lest you risk getting accidentally pushed into a crack of no return

3) Carry a cow bell at all times to drown out the blather of their Woody Hayes/Troy Smith/Ted Ginn Jr. drone.

4) Camouflage your children as a salad. They should be safe.

5) Keep a pack of bologna as a handy in case you need to make a fast escape. Throw it behind you and run.

6) If you feel threatened and you don’t have a pack of bologna handy, say something like “look over there! Isn’t that a crankshaft from a 1971 Malibu?” The Buckeyes will immediately begin fighting among themselves over whether it’s from a Malibu or from a “Chevelle with the 396 Super Sport engine.”

7) Study up on the types of mullet hairstyles as well as brands of paint primer and bondo so you can speak to them in their own language.

8) If you own a tattoo parlor, double up on staff and the barbed wire tattoo template.

9) Get some flame retardant for any couches you have in your possession.

10) If forced to describe something, use terms they understand, like “You probably won’t like that beer because it doesn’t taste like cardboard soaked in sausage grease”

11) For small talk, tell them that you once visited the Polish Hall of Fame in Toledo and mention that it's located above Ducats Imperial Lanes Bowling Alley on West Central Avenue.

Anonymous said...

tOSU winning Hurts Michigan recruiting. Texas winning doesnt.

tOSU winning inflates their ego
Texas winning deflates their ego

Beating a 11-0 rival is great.
Making a 0-11 rival a 0-12 school is greater

masked avenger said...

More chaps.

Anonymous said...

The Fiesta Bowl last year was a particularly tough quandary. I guess that I was ultimately pulling for OSU, but I was kinda hoping for a brawl in the first quarter and a cancellation of the game (or better yet, both teams forfeit and gets Ls).

I also wanted to point out that I was particularly impressed by the brief glimpse ESPN showed last weekend of UM's cheerleaders. Maybe (ok, definitely) not Texas caliber, but perhaps the talent gap is lessening.

jg6544 said...

31-24, Longhorns.

Herringbone said...

"tOSU winning Hurts Michigan recruiting. Texas winning doesnt.

tOSU winning inflates their ego
Texas winning deflates their ego"

Dead Wrong on the recruiting front...Michigan recruiting in Ohio is already in shambles. UM needs Texas as it recruits nationally...duh...

And whoever posted those rules about the OSU fans in Austin...just ignorant...beyond all belief. I am sure that there are more than a number of trailer trash stereotypes that are more true in Texas than they are in Ohio or Michigan, but I digress...

CrimeNotes said...

I feel like this site is unusually confused in who it wants to win this weekend.

On OSU-Texas: I root for the Big 10 against non-conference play at all costs, but this time it's different. The simple reason is, we don't want OSU to contend for a national title, and losing to Texas this early could make Ohio State's entire season contingent on seeing an undefeated team lose. This year their momentum seems premised entirely on being national championship contenders. Give them a knock early and it might throw them into a tailspin. Hence, for the only time all season, I'm rooting against a Big Ten team in non-conference play.

On Notre Dame/Penn State (discussed in the post below): Michigan being ranked in the mid-teens in a pre-season poll, then artificially being jumped to number 10, seems like a poor rationale for rooting for Notre Dame against Penn State. Does Michigan need the ego boost or momentum of beating an undefeated Notre Dame? Not bloody likely. Additional observations: Notre Dame having multiple losses and the glory not returning is good for Michigan not just for gloating purposes, but recruiting; Penn State is no patsy and playing them at night on the road could be painful (think about the implications later this year of beating or losing to a potentially very good Penn State team); there's conference integrity at state; and, finally, Notre Dame is significantly more insufferable, threatening, and cocksucky than Penn State. For sentimental and practical reasons, I feel like wanting a Penn State win is an easy call.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for those words.

As a longhorn fan, it's going to be a tough game to win and we do hope we win.

You guys are all class and cheers to a great season.

Hook'em Horns

harry hasselhoff said...

Anon 6:36, seems like you are right on track. From years of Ann Arbor being invaded not only by Ohio-billies but by Spartan-billies as well, I can tell you that your survival instincts will serve you well as you try to protect yourself from the Buckeye-wearing hordes.

Anyhow, I was as conflicted as some of the other posters about who to root for but nitric oxide's inane post sealed the deal, reaffirming the worst about the tOSU faithful. So this weekend I say HOOK 'EM HORNS, and of course,

Other Andrew said...

Excellent post. I pretty much agree with all the rationale and everything. However, I am reluctantly rooting for Ohio State to win in a blowout. Every year, I hope for a matchup of undefeated rivals the week before Thanksgiving. This year, that may be more possible than most. So until one of the teams lose, I always root for them to win every game in hopes of the nation's full attention on the greatest rivalry in sports.

Besides, there's nothing better than taking down a top-ranked OSU. I want them riding high going into that game.

To devilgrad, basketball is a totally different entity where rankings are irrelevant and every Div I team makes the tournament (if their conference has a conf. tournament). There are other things to consider here.

Anonymous said...

As a Texas fan, I use almost the exact same rules as you. However, these carefully crafted rules often break down in the heat of the moment involving a game between a rival and another team.

For example, the 2004 NC game between Oklahoma and USC... I was thinking to myself, "Ok, I'll root for OU because of conference pride, and we'll look better because the only team we lost to were the national champions." Well, that thinking didn't last long. As soon as the rout was on, I started cheering wildly and hoping that Pete Carroll would crack 80 against the hated Sooners.

Keep up the good work MZone, and OU SUCKS!!!

ou blonde said...

As an OU fan, I generally adhere to those rules, but when it comes to texas the rules are out the door.


daddy said...

Shame on Jenn Sterger and the FSU Cowgirls. Compared to the Texas chap squad, the Cowgirls have definitely let themselves go.

Jenn is obviously too busy trying to squeeze the most out of her 15 minutes, rather than working out those abs.

F Clemson said...

I'm with Masked Avenger....

More Chaps

FdNoles said...

And to add to Daddy's comment, my guess is that Jenn isn't too worried about the way her abs look because during money shots the camera doesn't show that high up anyway.

Anonymous said...

Nice Toledo reference Anon 6:36, my home town. The only flaw is Toledo is not a Buckeye safe haven since the town is pretty much split down the middle for UofM amd OSU. Also, the Polish fest is on the other side of the city.

Anonymous said...

Well regardless of whether you root for OSU or not I will still root for you to 11-0 so that the game in November will be for all the marbles. I also would like to say how do expect to not get reactionary posts when you make incendiary articles and comments. Everyone needs to chill a little bit and realize that as long as you see some huge hits and great plays college football is one of the greatest sport pastimes in history. Those who will root for the Buckeyes thanks, those who don't I hope you are disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap anon 12:41, a Buckeye fan responds with a non-flaming post. Thanks! I guess there's a first time for everything...

Anyway, I think I'll be pulling for Texas tomorrow, but I think OSU will win in a big way. I'd love to see a good game though.

Go Blue Too!

Ungar Kelt said...

Is "Fuck Texas" being heard, or did they cleverly make up a different rallying cry for the Longhorns?

Theri Maa, Bhanchod! said...

someone once told me that the hardest decision you'll ever make is settling on a wife. Bullshit. The hardest decision was figuring out who to root for in last yr's Fiesta Bowl. I hate both teams w/ my being and soul. I always thought I hated OSU more than ND, but when the points started raining on ND I was more satisfied to see it continue. i also had to vomit, actually enjoying an OSU win. Why God didn't throw a thunderbolt at the field that day I'll never know, hence, i have lost my faith in the Lord.

so to put it short: I want to beat OSU more than anyone else, but I hate ND more. Does that make sense? Should I hit myself in the balls w/ a baseball bat? I'm really confused

TrueMGoBlue said...

I find games like this to be enjoyable due to my ability to just watch the actual without the emotional baggage. It's really a "no-lose" situation. I have always rooted for Big10 teams in all non-conference games and bowl games; however, my weekend will not exactly be ruined if tOSU happens to lose...

Anonymous said...

I encountered a Buckeye fan in a bar once. I happened to be wearing my "Rudy Sucks" shirt and my Michigan hat. This was a week or two before they played in last years "Al-Quaida Bowl" as I like to put it. He said to me "Fuck Notre Dame! Are you pulling for the Buckeyes!?" only with more slobber in his 'S's. I said "I usually cheer for the Big Ten in Bowl Games." Then he said "Good. Because fuck you, we don't cheer for you. Fuck Michigan!"

So living in Ohio and dealing with these people on a regular basis I would love nothing more than to see them get their asses handed to them, whether it be from us, Texas (classy fans by the way), or any other foe.

So if they win, great, we'll wipe their shit eating grins right down High Street in November.

If they lose, fuck 'em, the majority of them are assholes anyway.

Trevor Pitt said...

What you don't take into account is the dynamic of most Ohio State fans. A vast majority of us support professional teams based in Ohio. The sheer pain and frustration of being a fan of anything sports related in Ohio is passed from generation to agonizing generation. Being an avid Reds, Bengals & Bluejackets supporter, I may never see another champion for the rest of my life. That being said, I think that's why Buckeye fans put so much stock into any OSU victory. It's all we have to rely on. That, and waiting to see Michigan and/or Notre Dame getting a right rogering from an unranked team.

Anonymous said...

You guys are so Ohio-phobic...have you ever tried it? How do you know that you wouldn't like it? You guys are so against it I think that you really want it. You are soooo BUCKEYE.

Yost, Benny,

I really enjoy this little forum for frustrated M fans that you have created. It has taught me that levity, not courage, is the better part of valor.

Please do root against the Buckeyes. Actually, I'm suprised at the conflict and inner turmoil that this game has brought about in UM fans. I for one would not root for UM in any game. That's what good nemesis' do for one another. Any softening of the animosity would, I feel, cheapen the spirit of competition and turn it into the vanilla mutual masturbation sundae UM and UT fans seem to share.
/Go Bucks
//Married a Spartian
///Mother-in-Law is a Wolverine
////I haven't thrown a brick through either of their windshields

Herbert West said...

Do most Buckeye fans even care about what Michigan does in a game? I remeber having no stock in the Alamo Bowl at all. Oh well.

Flop said...

Having been the recipient of a snide, gloating phone call immediately after Ohio State beat Texas (I'm a Michigan alum), I think it's safe to say that Ohio State fans do pretty much define themselves by Michigan, even when they have a disgustingly good team that just throttled another major power.

That's just one reason why they'll always be the Texas A&M in this rivalry.