Football The Rivalry

New Players, Coaches Already Receiving Crash Course In Rivalry 101

Tyvis Powell Interception Ohio State Michigan 2013

When you become a firefighter, you learn how to fight fires. When you become a teacher, you learn how to handle 25 agitated children in a confined space. When you become an astronaut, you learn how to walk slowly on a movie set and keep a secret.

And when you become a Buckeye, you learn how to appreciate a rivalry the way nature intended.

Everybody knows about the Ohio State rivalry with Michigan. Even non sports fans.

Yet, even those who choose Ohio State can still be caught off guard by what the rivalry means in Columbus.

Every Buckeye football practice has a “Team Up North” period, even the bowl practices well after the Michigan game has come and gone.

Winter workouts are no different, which took freshman running back Marcus Crowley by surprise.

“Yeah, the Team Up North workout that we do every week, that definitely shocked me,” he said. “It caught me off guard and it was my welcome to college moment.”

What exactly is the Team Up North workout?

“Well, we’ll be in the weight room before everything and then however many days it is until we play the Team Up North, we’ve got to do that many abs,” he said. “Just a straight ab workout and pushups. It’s definitely a grind.”

Crowley comes from Florida, but understood pretty early what The Game means, and he will no doubt continue to learn.

For freshman defensive end Noah Potter, he grew up in Mentor, Ohio as an OSU fan and already had a pretty good idea of the stakes, but even he learned quickly that he had no idea how serious things were.

“Today during mat drills they were playing the TUN fight song,” he said. “It was like, ‘Dang, they really take it seriously.’ I have always been a Buckeye fan my whole life so I know what it is, but they take it another level here.”

The Team Up North workout has also taken on a little bit more intrigue this year now that head coach Ryan Day has added former Wolverine assistants Greg Mattison and Al Washington.

Having finally gotten off of the road the last few weeks, Mattison and Washington are now getting to experience the workouts first hand.

“They have to be juiced up just like we have to be juiced up,” Crowley explained. “All the coaches are juiced up. You can’t come in there with a low energy. You can’t come in the weight room with a low energy, you aren’t going to survive. They’ll kick you right back out. But definitely the coaches that have transferred here, they’re getting used to it just like I’m getting used to it and everything is going to be great.”

Both Mattison and Washington adjusted in their own ways. Washington’s father is former OSU linebacker Alvin Washington, so he grew up knowing what this game meant. For Mattison, even though he spent 13 years of his coaching career at the University of Michigan, he still had questions.

“He said its going to take some time to get used to,” Potter said of Mattison. “He questioned why they take the rivalry so seriously. And that’s why we’ve been so successful. We base our entire program around the game. That’s why.”

Wait, what? Mattison wondered why the rivalry is so important?

“He questioned it why we took it so seriously,” Potter said. “Then Coach Mick was like, ‘It’s The Game.’ Our whole program revolves around that.”

Mattison will continue to adapt to what the rivalry means on this side of the grass, so Buckeye fans shouldn’t get too worried.

Ohio State’s newest quarterback is also being taught about The Game.

“I definitely knew it was a big rivalry, but coming here and actually seeing all the Ms crossed out, it’s definitely way bigger than I thought it would be,” said sophomore quarterback Justin Fields.

When asked what his teammates have told him about the rivalry, he did not want to reveal what was said, but he certainly appears to be a fast learner.

“That’s kind of private, but just know there’s a lot of hate for the Team Up North,” he said.

“I’ll definitely be excited about that upcoming game.”

16 Responses

  1. ” When you become an astronaut, you learn how to walk slowly on a movie set and keep a secret. ~ Tony Gerdeman ~

    rotflmao………….this is why you’re loved in Buckeye Nation. The ability to make delicate minds completely implode back to their primordial state of single celled ooze on the banks of Darwin’s warm pond, begging for a bolt of lightening.

  2. Appreciate the article, but anyone who even thinks about coming to OSU and doesn’t understand the rivalry on their own or has to be taught, maybe never will get it. Growing up in the 70’s as a kid for most of us Ohio kids and OSU devotees, there were only two games we cared about as Buckeye fans; MI and The Rose Bowl.

    1. True that, but new age, new ways, Kurt. As long as they get it eventually us old-timers will have to be happy with that.

  3. After we scored 62 points on them last year, their fans on their mgoblog site even said OSU and their fans take this game very seriously and work year round to prepare for this game in late November. Mattison needs to jump on board quickly so that the guys he is coaching can see he is committed to the Buckeyes now.

    1. Don- don’t be fooled by the propaganda on their blog, their fans take it every bit as seriously, as does their garbage team. The blog puffery was their way of dealing again with the psychology and reality of being beaten, nothing more. And Mattison better internalize the intensity of the rivalry NOW, the comments regarding him were strange at best.

  4. Living now in Nebraska, I try to communicate and live out how much the rivalry means to me as a lifelong Buckeye and OSU alum. For years, a lot of people would say things like, “Oh, so it’s like what we had with Oklahoma/Colorado” and I would patiently shake my head and assure them that the magnitude is just very different. There isn’t another like it. As those close to me have watched how I treat the rivalry and reference it and am moved by it year round, and as they have been to Nebraska-OSU games in every sport and heard how ichigan is referenced and put down even when not playing in the game, they have come to see that it is unlike the rest.

  5. Loved your reference to the moon landing being “fake”.

  6. Mattisons questions clearly show why the Buckeyes have dominated this series since 2001. Its obvious that we don’t just give it lip service like they must do up north. I had this argument with an acquaintance of mine who is a TTUN fan (notice I didn’t say friend) last November before The Game and I told him this game is way more important to the Buckeyes and their fanbase than it is to the yellow weasels which partly explains why it has been so one sided this century. Mattison needs to learn the rules very quickly.

  7. I went to Ohio State in late 90s, and so my hate for Michigan is born of that. If you’ve never known that pain, it’s easy to take for granted the success we’ve had over the last 19 years.

    With a win streak like we’ve had, it’s easy to become complacent. I’m glad they are fighting that every step of the way.

  8. They have a high bar to match – no losses to TTUN in seven years? This year will set a new record (‘vacated’ games be da****!) at 8 in a row for The Good Guys with a new QB and away. No pressure! 😉

    1. Nailed it Andrew……………..Just because some asshats in suits say the games were vacated, doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. REVISIONISM is the wild card EVERY totalitarian despotic single brain cell coward likes to hide behind.

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