Sunday, August 03, 2008

The 39-year war vs. OSU

The 2008 season marks the 40th season since Coach Schembechler took over as Head Coach of the Wolverines in 1969 and ushered in the modern-era of Michigan Football. In the book Bo's Lasting Lessons, Coach Schembechler wrote (at page 30):
From the very start, my entire focus was to beat Ohio State. That was a tall order, because they were the returning national champs, ranked number one in the nation, and had just beaten Michigan the year before, 50-14.
Coach Schembechler, of course, led his first team to a dominating 24-12 victory over the Buckeyes in the 1969 game. That contest was the first of the "Ten Year War" between Michigan Head Coach Schembechler and Ohio State Head Coach Woody Hayes. Bo got the best of Woody in the "Ten Year War" as Michigan went 5-4-1 vs. Ohio State from 1969-1978. For his career, Bo was 11-9-1 against the Buckeyes. Bo was followed as Michigan's Head Coach by Gary Moeller who had a sterling 3-1-1 record vs. Ohio State from 1990-1994. Coach Moeller was succeeded by Coach Lloyd Carr who went 6-7 vs. OSU (after starting 5-1 in his first 6 seasons). That means the Wolverines have a 20-17-2 record in the series vs. Ohio State during the modern-era (1969-present).

Although new Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez is familiar with the rich history surrounding the rivalry with OSU, Coach Rod has a different approach to the game than did Coach Schembechler. During his press conference at the Big Ten Media Days, Coach Rod was asked about the rivalry game vs. OSU and he stated (at the 17:00 mark), "I'm not the kind of coach that has a countdown to a particular game. Other than the game that is next." Coach Rod went on to remark (at the 18:25 mark), "We talk about it but nothing in particularly significant for just one team all the time." This is a markedly different approach than what Coach Schembechler took in 1969 and succeeding seasons. At the Monday (November 13, 2006) Press Conference the week of the 2006 Michigan/Ohio State game, when Bo was asked how much he would prepare to play Ohio State, he responded, "Every day. It was our strategy here at Michigan to do something to beat Ohio State every day, and even if it's in the first meeting to talk about it. But we're going to do something every day." Of course, Bo's approach was extremely successful in 1969 and subsequent seasons. Hopefully, Coach Rod's low-key approach will yield just as successful results in the rivalry game vs. Ohio State. To read more about the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry, you can go to the site Greatest Rivals which was just added to the blog roll. Go Blue!

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At 4:03 PM, Blogger susieandrew said...

One other reason I can see Bo's tactic no longer working now is that long gone are the days of the Big 2 and little 8. He really could take most other conference games for granted. It would be like if Michigan played the current day equivalents of Purdue and Indiana every week.

Data? Data.

From 1969 to 2007, Michigan and osu each averaged a 9-3 season, with 18 and 15 10+ win seasons, respectively.

In that same timespan, Iowa, msu, and Wisconsin are averaging 6 wins and 6, 6, and 5 losses (rounded). Illinois, Purdue, and Minny avg 5 wins, and IU and NW avg 4 wins.

The other 8 teams have 18 10+ win seasons combined - the same as Michigan alone - 11 of which have come since Carr took over in 1995 (Wisco 4, Illinois 1, NW 1, Iowa 3, Minny 1, MSU 1). Wisco had another 10-win season in 1993, and I didn't count PSU, although they certainly bolster the recent rise of teams not named "Michigan" and "ohio state" argument.

It would be far more arrogant and untrue for even someone of Bo's ilk to say today that one game is all that mattered. Back in the day, that was more or less true. These days, not so much.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Bill Biggens said...

That's a sweet rivals site! Nice post.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Peabody said...

Football started in 2001. Please amend your post.

Thanks in advance,


At 8:00 AM, Blogger mzgoblue said...

LOL! In Jim Rome jungle style, Peabody of MATW weighs in with the viewpoint of the Buckeye fan. Great stuff!


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