In sports, specifically where rivals are concerned, there is almost always a time and place for hostility and vitriol and rancor and acrimony and disdain and repulsion and animus, but there also comes a time when those things need to be temporarily put away when someone is in need.
Unfortunately, that time has come. The University of Michigan football team is in need and the Ohio State Buckeyes are in a position to help them.
Last week’s decision by Michigan to schedule Notre Dame in 2018 and 2019 has put them in a difficult situation, but it is one in which Ohio State should seriously consider lending a hand.
You see, Michigan’s 2018 schedule has them traveling to Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State, and then hosting all of them the following season. That is the kind of scheduling imbalance that can throw a program out of whack.
Last Friday on the WTKA-AM radio program “The Michigan Insider”, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel talked about the unfortunate circumstance in which the U of M currently finds itself.
“I’ve had conversations and will continue to have conversations to look at the imbalance of (the schedule), particularly of having Michigan State and Ohio State in the same year,” he said.
“It’s something that I’d like to work towards to have that balance. (Ohio State and Michigan State) are our two biggest rivalries on our schedule every year. While you love the fact that you have both at home when you have them, you hate the fact that you have both on the road like this year. It just causes that imbalance for our fans and our team.”
So how does Michigan fix this imbalance? By turning toward the one place they would never expect the help — The Ohio State University.
Michigan is in a situation where they don’t want to have to play their three biggest games on the road in 2018, and the Buckeyes are in a position to help.
This year’s game between the two teams is taking place in Columbus and tickets and hotels have already been purchased, so there is no way the schedule could be altered, no matter how much OSU would love to help. Next season, however, something could easily be done.
Yes, these are two heated rivals who would rather stab themselves in the ear repeatedly with rusty coat hangers than offer needed assistance, but at some point sportsmanship has to step in and rule the day.
Michigan is in need, and so Ohio State should stand tall, let bygones be bygones, be the bigger man in this rivalry, and offer to let Michigan move their 2017 contest from Ann Arbor to Columbus. This way, the Wolverines would be able to host Ohio State in 2018, and they would only have to worry about MSU and Notre Dame on the road that season.
It would be what is best for Michigan, and in turn what is best for the rivalry. Ohio State can help out, so they should try.
I can see OSU athletic director Gene Smith not wanting to diminish Ohio State’s road schedule in 2017, but sometimes we all have to make sacrifices when it comes to helping out family or business partners or stray dogs.
Sometimes you even have to give until it hurts.
The Buckeyes should sacrifice some of the perceived strength of their 2017 road schedule in order to help Michigan relieve the imbalance that threatens to tumble their very football foundation.
As the saying goes, a rival in need is a friend indeed.
No, playing Michigan in Columbus two years in a row is not ideal for an Ohio State program that wants to expose its players to new horizons — even those in Michigan, but this is about more than just sports.
If Ohio State would be able to help out in this way, they would in turn need Michigan State or Penn State to do the same for them so that the Buckeyes wouldn’t have all three of their East Division rivals on the road every other season beginning in 2018.
There is an easy fix here, however, as Penn State hosted Ohio State in consecutive years in 1994 and 1995, and the Buckeyes then hosted the Nittany Lions in consecutive seasons in 2010 and 2011. But since the 2010 game was vacated, PSU still technically owes Ohio State a home game.
It might sound like a lot of maneuvering overall, but it’s worth it in order to help out a Michigan football program that has helped out so much of the Big Ten over the last decade. Ohio State needs to be big enough to realize that it is time for selfishness to take a back seat to selflessness for a change.
It is important to note that OSU has not yet been contacted about a switch, but that doesn’t mean it won’t eventually happen.
Ohio State needs to set an example, even if they have to make the first phone call. Rivalries may be forever, but so is charity.
And charity starts at home. #DoItForMichigan