Most fans familiar with Michigan football history know that the 10-year war relates to the period from 1969-1978 when Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes’ teams waged war with Bo’s teams coming out on top 5-4-1. Unfortunately for fans of the rivalry, it ended in 1978 when Woody took a swing at a Clemson player along the sidelines of the Gator Bowl and was fired.
Fast-forward to 2017 and we are in the midst of what is another great matchup of top-tier coaches between the two schools with Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer leading their respective squads. Meyer is off to a 2-0 start (should be 1-1) but this is shaping up to be a classic game every year which most Michigan fans know has not been the case lately. While the hatred between the schools is still there, what seems to be missing is the rancor between the coaches. While thrashing Michigan 50-14 in 1968, Woody went for two after his final touchdown. When asked why he simply stated: “Because I couldn’t go for three…” While Bo played for and coached under Woody, one of his great quotes was “I have close ties at Ohio State. Unfortunately, I even have a graduate degree from there.”
Nowadays while I think both coaches want to rip the heart out of the other, the PC/bulletin board era of sports seems to have dumbed it down and while I’m sure comments like this are plentiful behind closed doors, most are never said to a reporter or during a press conference. There is the occasional tweet from both coaches but they are mostly directed at someone or something other than the head coach. Some say neither coach will be there long enough for another 10-year war but both have openly stated this is their DREAM job so unless either has a real hidden desire for an NFL job. What other college programs would they want to go to?
Meyer has been at Ohio State for five years and is unbeaten against Michigan and 2-0 against Harbaugh. It feels like you won’t really be able to call it a war until Michigan and Harbaugh draw blood and beat the Buckeyes. Bo beat Woody in their first meeting in 1969 when that school down south was ranked number one in the country. That started the fire quickly. Meyer has a tendency to get snippy when a team starts beating him like LSU and Alabama did when he was at Florida so I would expect the same reaction once he gets knocked off by Michigan for the first time. Harbaugh has a way of getting under people’s skin and I want him buried deep into Meyer like an Alabama tick. In 1986 when Harbaugh was a senior under Bo, he guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes after a home loss to Minnesota the week before. He then went down to Columbus and delivered on the promise and has been a Michigan icon ever since. The only thing missing, for now, is his first victory over the Buckeyes as the head coach and in his third year with most of the players now his own recruits, I expect Harbaugh will beat Meyer and the Buckeyes this year. The war will officially be ON!!
(Feature Image courtesy of cleveland.com and Associated Press)