The Bruce, The Assassin and The EGG Get Down for Michigan Week
By John Porentas
There are certain things you can just count on during Michigan week. Students will jump into Mirror Lake, Senior Tackle will be conducted on Thursday and the city of Columbus will come to a standstill during the game.
Michigan week also brings out the best in some people who are not currently directly involved in the OSU football program, but are definitely involved in other ways. One of them is "The Bruce" another "The Egg" and yet another "The Assassin".
"The Bruce" is not a character from the Mel Gibson movie Braveheart, but rather former OSU Head Football Coach Earle Bruce. The Egg is current OSU president E. Gordon Gee whose monogram conveniently spells out a breakfast food and The Assassin is former OSU defensive back Jack Tatum whose name also adorn's Head Coach Jim Tressel's weekly big hit award.
"The Bruce" addresses the OSU team annually prior to the Michigan game and did so this year on Monday. He was, as usual, fiery, and this year was to the point: don't get complacent about Michigan because of their record.
"Coach Bruce genuinely dislikes Michigan. I mean full-blown hatred," said OSU senior punter A. J. Trapasso.
"If he could, he would take it (Michigan) off the map I think," Trapasso said.
"It was pretty down to earth this year. He just wanted to make sure, and he emphasized the 1969 game, how we should have run right over them."
Tressel has asked "The Bruce" to address his team every year the week of the Michigan game. According to Trapasso, some of the younger players are not quite sure how to take his enthusiasm, but by the time they are seniors, they grow to appreciate him.
"A lot of guys think it's funny when he talks and it is amusing. At the same time though the passion is there," Trapasso said.
"You can tell that if he could do it again he'd strap it up right now and get back out there.
"I love hearing him talk. He starts slamming on the desk.
"In years past he's gotten really into it, telling jokes and just being "The Bruce".
"This year it seemed like he wanted to make sure that we didn't lose sight of what this game means and certainly not lose sight of not taking Michigan lightly. This year was a little more concise and purposeful as opposed to years past."
The EGG contrasts The Bruce
Gee (or if you prefer, "The EGG") was not as fiery, and did not address the team, but was extremely entertaining on Monday. Like Bruce, Gee expressed his passion for the rivalry, but his style was clearly different from that of Bruce. What he lacks in fiery rhetoric he makes up for with clever quips.
"There are many great rivalries in America _ the Hatfields and McCoys, Aniston-Jolie, as you know _ but this is the greatest rivalry in college sports and in fact I would say it's the greatest rivalry in American sports," Gee said.
Gee gained some dubious notoriety in 1992 when he pronounced the 13-13 tie in the game as OSU's greatest victory. Gee made good natured fun of himself for that remark on Monday.
"This is Michigan week. I will not declare a tie our greatest victory. Thank God, we can't have ties anymore. So I'm grateful for that," he said.
Gee addressed the positive sides of the rivalry, including it's ability to motivate the communities involved (OSU/Columbus and U of M/Ann Arbor) to participate in positive community programs surrounding the game. He cited examples such as the blood drive, charity events to help raise funds to fight cancer, other drives to abate hunger, and this season, a drive in Ohio to "loose the blue" in Columbus in which participants donate an article of blue clothing and receive a "Loose the Blue" tee shirt. Gee took off his trademark bow tie, a maize and blue one he wore especially for the occasion, and dropped it in a donation bucket.
"Oh, I hate giving up a bow tie. But I had to in this instance. Consider yourself lucky that my trademark is a bow tie and not knickers, I would say," he quipped.
Gee also addressed the issue of sportsmanship surrounding the game, pointing to a new student initiative to promote sportsmanship. Bad sportsmanship, according to Gee, is a thing of the past.
"The problem with fan behavior, because I get asked this all the time, is old news," he said.
"The last incident happened six years ago. Our current freshmen at that time were only 12 years old. So the hooligans and the nutcases who caused problems in 2002 have all moved on. They will probably be reality TV contestants or Alaskan fishermen."
Gee admitted that his passion for football sometimes makes game days tough for him. He copes well with home games, but not away games when he cannot attend. He's adopted a unique way of coping with his anxiety during away games, he doesn't watch them. Instead, he listens to opera. He finds that much more soothing that the pronouncements of the likes of Andre Ware.
"The thing about it is, I'm passionate about college athletics. I'm so passionate that everyone asks me, I do not watch the football games when I'm not there in the stadium. I listen to opera," said Gee.
"Someone then texts me, my daughter or someone, we beat Illinois. And I will turn it on and I watch all the replays. I get the replay today and I'll watch it tonight.
"But that's just because I care so passionately about it. If I can't be there, I don't want to deal with the vicissitudes of announcers," Gee said.
One of the biggest hitters in the history of Ohio State football, Jack Tatum earned the nickname "Assassin" while playing in the NFL. Tatum did not speak to the media this week, but will speak to the team on the importance of the Michigan game. Tressel told The Quarterbacks Club that Tatum does not address the team often, but will for the Michigan game.
"We try to get Jack in for other games, but to Jack the rest of the games just don't matter," Tressel told club members.