The news that the University of Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh to be its new head football coach has been largely viewed as a positive on a national scale and by former Ohio State players, but not by all Ohio State fans. An example Twitter dialogue between my esteemed colleague Jeremiah and myself will give you an idea as to what I mean…
Every time someone says something is "good for the B1G" that is code for.... Bad for Ohio State.
— Jeremiah (@SYRmotsag) December 30, 2014
Jeremiah’s concerns and viewpoints are understandable. After all, Ohio State has had its way with “The Team Up North” since January 18, 2001, when this speech was made on the day Jim Tressel was announced as the new head football coach at Ohio State…
Winning every game but two in a span since 2001-2014 is very rewarding and satisfying. It has allowed for a full generation of Ohio State fans to forget what it was like to suffer through the agonizing defeats to “The Team Up North”.
I want to emphasize this point – I never want to lose to “The Team Up North”. Let me make that abundantly clear.
However…I have enjoyed winning THE GAME much more so when “The Team Up North” was good, and not bad or mediocre.
Allow me to elaborate. The speech up above by Coach Tressel merely amplified the anticipation for THE GAME on November 24, 2001. The 26-20 victory in Ann Arbor was the first by Ohio State since 1987, and helped to eliminate “The Team Up North” from The B1G championship. In 2002, I was in attendance when “The Team Up North” was ranked twelfth as they entered Ohio Stadium with designs on eliminating Ohio State from the national championship game; Ohio State won on a nailbiter interception by Will Allen…
I was in attendance in Ohio Stadium when arguably the most mediocre Ohio State team of the Jim Tressel era defeated the last "Team Up North" to win The B1G in 2004. Who can forget "The Catch"that helped propel Ohio State over the seventeenth-ranked TTUN to a BCS bowl game in 2005?
THE GAME, and B1G football, has not stood as tall since November 18, 2006. Ranked number one and number two, for the right to go on to play for The BCS Championship. Who did not relish that victory over "The Team Up North" when the stakes were so high?
Yes, in 2007, Ohio State won in Ann Arbor to clinch The B1G and deny "The Team Up North" a trip to The Rose Bowl, but it was not the same. After 2006, the quality of "The Team Up North" has been one of steady decline, and helping to contribute to a national perception that B1G football was not something to be respected, and certainly not feared.
Jim Harbaugh's hiring helps to change that perception. Look at how @finebaum, noted troller of all things north of the Mason-Dixon line, tweeted about the hiring...
Jim Harbaugh to Michigan easily ranks with Saban to Alabama and Meyer to Ohio State recently in terms of Mount Rushmore hires.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) December 28, 2014
Think about the coaches in The SEC West - Nick Saban (Alabama), Dan Mullen (Miss St), Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Gus Malzahn (Auburn), Les Miles (LSU), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), and Bret Bielema (Arkansas). While not all are impressive, Saban, Miles, and Malzahn have had teams compete for the national championship over the past few seasons.
Now compare that to what The B1G East will have to offer - Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Jim Harbaugh ("The Team Up North"), and James Franklin (Penn State). While Meyer is the only one with national championship credentials, all of those men are truly well-respected for their recruiting prowess and abilities to develop teams into championship caliber units. The B1G East's teams and reputation will be able to compete against any team from anywhere.
To put it another way, The B1G used to have men such as these roaming the sidelines thirty years ago (1985 season) - Earle Bruce. Bo Schembechler. Hayden Fry. Lou Holtz. All of those men are in the College Football Hall of Fame. The Harbaugh hiring helps to bring B1G football status back to its historical perspective.
Again - I NEVER want to lose to "The Team Up North". However, I welcome the idea of going into Ann Arbor on November 28, 2015, with a highly ranked opponent in Ann Arbor, helping to propel Ohio State back into its second year of The College Football Playoff, thanks to the return of an old adversary.
Can't get here soon enough. #presentedbyhatred pic.twitter.com/iq3u5DWR15
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 30, 2014
Jim Harbaugh just declined to guarantee success against UM's rivals. Jim Tressel had no qualms doing that with his 310 days speech in 2001.
— Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich) December 30, 2014