I admit it. When I lived on the left coast I used to watch USC play UCLA football and think that this was really a great game, a great rivalry. How embarrassing! I didn’t know that their quarterbacks were social work majors and their running backs wore panty hose to keep their legs warm. I didn’t know that football could be played in weather so foul that your toes froze. I was sheltered.
I have been trying to talk politics with people in Ohio for the last week, and they will not have it. They just want to talk about the war and all of Ohio is on fire! They mean a tumultuous war, a war with kith and kin and kind with kind confound, a war of quartering steel and climbing fire. The talk is only of the war with Michigan. After all, it has been going on since 1890’s. The story is filled with great captains (Woody Hayes) and the ministers and instruments of war, hearty and valiant troops (too many great ones to name), and even has a Benedict Arnold (except his name is Bo Schembechler in Ohio). It is a tale full of noble victories and unjust losses, of soothsayers in Columbus predicting a fourth quarter win in Michigan, of the hard knowledge that Ohio State has only won two out of the last fourteen games. This is no idle tale, it is close to the heart and mind of my fellow citizens. Identity and happiness is at stake. Tickets are being traded for first born sons, men are known to have given up their Helens to get to the game. Honor and the nobility of life are at stake. The Trojan War was nothing compared to this contest between giants. There is nothing else. The optimists argue that virtue is bold and that none by virtue fall. The pious pray that the God of battles steel our soldiers’ heart. And the pessimists hope that God will sort things out. Yet, we think we know that God is just.
These Buckeyes are people who know the disciplines of war. These bloody, bold, and resolute men are ready to try their fortunes, to the last. The state will effectively shut down on Saturday. Newborns on that day will be named Buck and Tressel, gender being irrelevant. Everything is at stake. We’ll talk about the war on terror another day, after Ohio State defeats Michigan by three points.