Football The Rivalry

Long-Snapping Robinson Family on Opposite Sidelines This Saturday

Ohio State Football Buckeyes Michigan Football

Swiss neutrality is well known around the world, having been established way back in 1815 via the Treaty of Paris. Since that time, Switzerland has avoided taking part in any armed military conflict on foreign soil.

Conflict, meanwhile, has been going on between Ohio State and Michigan since 1897 and neutrality has never really been desired.

Until now.

Enter the football equivalent of the Swiss Family Robinson.

Andrew Robinson is a fifth-year senior long-snapper for the Wolverines, while his younger brother Bradley is a redshirt freshman long-snapper for the Buckeyes.

You can call it a house divided, but this is more like good and evil sharing a Jack-and-Jill bathroom — and it doesn’t matter which side of the rivalry you call home.

For parents Brad and Susanna, who live in Michigan, it’s just two sons getting great educations and having the opportunity to play in the greatest rivalry in sports.

Last week at Michigan, Andrew went through Senior Day ceremonies for the Wolverines, and because they have two sons to watch every week, it was the first time Brad and Susanna were at the same game this year. This Saturday they will be together again, but this will be their first time being able to watch their sons stand on the same field, just 53 yards apart.

And while this will be a special moment for the family, it is made even more special because of The Game and the history involved.

“It’s one of those things, with the Senior Day last week, that was pretty emotional thinking about Andrew,” Brad said. “But what we’re thinking about now is being able to see what our kids have been able to achieve – continuing to be walk-ons, they have backup roles, they are team players and doing whatever they need to do in order to supporting the team – but to be able to be involved in The Game, the tradition, the history, all of that behind the scenes, that’s what we think about and we’re just happy about that. With both teams being 10-1. When I grew up in the Michigan area this was what the Big Ten was about. Michigan and Ohio State, coming down to the last weekend with all of the marbles. It’s just exciting.”

Brad grew up a Michigan fan, but went to college at Michigan State. As such, his sons grew up going to Michigan State games. Andrew eventually picked up long-snapping in high school and fell in love with it. Ultimately, through excelling at camps such as the one belonging to long-snapping guru Chris Rubio, the Robinsons began to see this as a college possibility.

“When we were going through the recruiting process [for Andrew], we didn’t look at D-I programs,” Brad said. “He’s 6-foot and it didn’t look like we would get an opportunity. We stuck more with the D-2 schools, but it was back in Brady Hoke’s era and special teams coach Dan Ferrigno ended up saying, ‘I need a backup long-snapper, would you want to come in for an opportunity.’

“And I remember Andrew came running downstairs and saying, ‘Hey Dad, Michigan is coming to my high school to talk to me.’ I said, ‘Yeah, right.’ Just kind of jokingly, never thought that would happen. They were serious. We went out and we paid a visit. Had a conversation with them. It was a walk-on opportunity. I personally like walk-on opportunities because they have to earn it. They have to go out there and compete. I told my son that if you want to do this, you have to compete in the classroom just as much as you compete on the field.”

Bradley, meanwhile, didn’t really want to get into long-snapping. That is, until he had a conversation with Rubio about the opportunities available to him by being a specialist. So Bradley followed in his brother’s footsteps, but only so far. He began his snapping career at Michigan State, but soon decided to transfer. When looking for new destinations, there were opportunities available, but then Ohio State came calling.

Rubio received a call from then-OSU special teams assistant Adam Scheier. Urban Meyer was looking for a backup long-snapper but they didn’t want a high schooler. Instead, they were looking for a transfer student, and they were hoping Rubio had somebody he could point them to.

Rubio pointed to that state up north and to the Robinsons.

“Bradley also had the opportunity to transfer to Michigan,” Brad recalled. “But the opportunity at Ohio State last year came up and he said, ‘I’d rather have that because I really don’t want to be in the shadow of my brother. I want to make my own opportunity. I want to have my own opportunity and set my own agenda, and that’s why he chose Ohio State.”

The Robinson family grew up around the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, and they have lived it with their oldest son over the last few years. It wasn’t until Bradley and his father were on a recruiting trip to OSU and sitting in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center that the reality of this newest situation began to bubble up.

“When I was with Bradley at the Woody when we were talking to Coach Meyer and getting a tour, they sat us in a room and the highlight tape playing is the Michigan-Ohio State game,” Brad said. “And the wall they have dedicated to the Michigan and Ohio State game. That’s where it kind of hit me. ‘Oh my God, there is this opportunity.’ Growing up in the ‘70s, that’s what this was about, Bo and Woody. I’m going, ‘pinch me.’

“I had the same feeling when Andrew and I sat in Schembechler Hall and they played the videos, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God. I grew up a Michigan fan and sitting there and thinking that my oldest son is going to have an opportunity to be a Michigan Wolverine.’ And then two years ago, sitting in almost the same type of room at the Woody Hayes and thinking ‘Oh my God,’ and then thinking about all of the tradition. Now sitting here this week and thinking about the rivalry and The Game, that’s what Thanksgiving Weekend was about, to be able to sit there and be at the game and be on different sides and be split and to be able to watch the boys’ teams play.”

The Robinson family, including in-laws, will be split four to a side on Saturday, and yet they will all be cheering for the same thing — the two brothers standing on opposite sidelines, while also hoping to see a great game between two bitter rivals.

“I just want to see a great college game,” Brad said. “From a parent’s standpoint, no matter what happens we win. Of course, one of the boys is going to walk away a loser, but they don’t see it that way. They see it as being able to have an opportunity to be on the same field as brothers, and it be The Game, the greatest rivalry in sports. To be able to have that opportunity and to be able to share it as brothers.”

As you might expect, weekends are hectic for the Robinson family. One group goes to Andrew’s games and the other group heads out to support Bradley. Brad did admit that the family has to make sure they are packing the proper clothing before heading out.

There are faux pas and then there are faux pas, after all.

In order to lessen the chances of this happening, Brad has moved all of his Michigan gear into Andrew’s room and all of his Ohio State stuff into Bradley’s room.

The Rivalry is now just part of the Robinson family’s life. And it is only going to become a larger part from this week on.

“When I talked to Coach Scheier, he said your Thanksgiving weekends are going to be incredible,” Brad recalled. “And the boys and I have both talked about it and going forward we will either spend Thanksgiving at somebody’s house and watch the game, or before they start having kids we will try and go to the game. Whether it be at the Shoe or the Big House. It’s going to be a family tradition moving forward that every Thanksgiving, this is what we do. And not a lot of people can say that. My wife and I feel very blessed in the opportunity both schools are giving these kids.”

The Robinsons are a rarity in sports families. They are split evenly between the Maize and Blue and the Scarlet and Gray.

But don’t be confused — this isn’t a house divided.

Far from it.

This is a house united, and by the greatest rivalry in sports.

And the Robinsons wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I didn’t get emotional on Saturday too much when my older son was going through Senior Day,” Brad said. “But I got kind of emotional just thinking about the opportunity that my kids have in regard to both universities, both programs, both coaches, to be able to give them an opportunity to be part of the team and be a part of this weekend, it’s just crazy. Crazy good.”

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