Posted: Friday November 17, 2006 10:28AM; Updated: Friday November 17, 2006 12:10PM
Former Michigan students Ann B. Davis and Madonna show that the school can accomodate a wide variety of personalities.
Have a question or opinion for Pete? He might answer/address it in his mailbag.
You may think you've already heard all there is to hear about Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan showdown. Think again. The 10 Spot has scoured the history books to bring you these overlooked matchups. This analysis might not tell you who's going to win, but at least you can look at a picture of two American icons -- Alice and Madonna.
1. Famous Hollywood alumni Michigan: The Wolverines boast both glitz (Lucy Liu, Selma Blair and Madonna, who attended UM but didn't graduate) and grit (golden-voiced James Earl Jones, character actor David Paymer, Christine Lahti). Toss in the likes of David Allen Grier, Max Gail (Wojo on Barney Miller) and Ann B. Davis (yes, the Brady Bunch's Alice) and Ann Arbor might as well be Hollywood Midwest. Ohio State: The Buckeyes suffer a severe drop-off after Everybody Loves Raymond's Patricia Heaton. OSU's next most famous acting alum is the immortal Gigi Rice, whose biggest credit is A Night at the Roxbury, a film that Will Ferrell probably denies making three times each day before the cock crows. Edge: Michigan in a blowout.
2. Nickname/mascot Michigan: The Wolverines are currently one of the few major Division I teams without a live or stuffed-animal mascot prowling the sidelines, but that wasn't always the case. UM coach Fielding Yost (architect of the famed "Point a Minute" teams) set out in 1923 to find a live wolverine upon seeing Wisconsin toting along live badgers. Alas, Fielding's task was easier said than done because the animal isn't actually native to Michigan. In 1927, though, the Detroit Zoo obtained 10 wolverines from Alaska and would lend two to UM on game days so the fierce animals could be marched into the stadium. That practice lasted just one season because, as Yost put it: "It was obvious that the Michigan mascots had designs on the Michigan men toting them, and those designs were by no means friendly." Ohio State: A Buckeye is a small, shiny, dark brown nut that comes from the state's official tree, the buckeye tree. Native Americans called the nut a "hetuck," or buck eye, because it resembles the eye of a deer. Brutus the Buckeye, a mascot with a giant nut for a head, was introduced in 1965. Edge: Michigan. In a fight, always go with the fierce animal over the nut.
3. Helmets Michigan: The classic winged maize-and-blue design is arguably the most recognizable in college football. What the Wolverines don't want you to know, however, is that the helmets are swiped from Princeton. Then-Tigers coach Fritz Crisler came up with the scheme in 1935, putting wings on the helmets of his receivers so his quarterback could better pick them out downfield. Crisler brought the wings with him when he took the Michigan job in 1938. Ohio State: The unique element to this otherwise plain gray helmet with a modest center stripe of scarlet, black and white is the introduction of the "buckeye leaves" in 1968. Hayes and trainer Woody Briggs decided to award stickers of a buckeye leaf to players' helmets for outstanding plays. Edge: Ohio State. The 10 Spot doesn't condone plagiarism, unless it's plagiarism of one's self.
4. Iconic coach Michigan: Bo Schembechler is the Wolverines' winningest coach (194-48-5). His teams won or tied for 13 Big 10 championships in his 21 seasons. He couldn't win the Rose Bowl (2-8), but not many Big 10 coaches could. Ohio State: Hayes might be best known nationally for belting a Clemson player in the 1978 Gator Bowl to get fired, but in fairness, the guy could coach a little (205-61-10 and five national titles at OSU). Still, there's no getting around the fact that Hayes liked to slug people -- including himself. During practice the week before the 1968 Michigan game, Hayes went nuts when his backup QB threw a bad pass. Hayes tossed his watch and then his glasses on the ground and crunched them with his heel, ripped his trademark baseball cap in half and tore his T-shirt. Then he punched himself in the left eye, actually drawing blood while presumably inspiring the Buckeyes to a 50-14 win and a national title. He went that one better another time when, after an assistant suggested that the staff turn in after four hours of fruitless late-night film viewing, the coach become so enraged that he punched his own face until he developed two black eyes. Edge: Ohio State. We're afraid to pick against a guy crazy enough to beat himself up.
5. Music Michigan: The memorable strains of The Victors came about when a young music student named Louis Elbel watched the Wolverines defeat Amos Alonzo Stagg's famed University of Chicago team 12-11 on Nov. 24, 1898. Elbel composed the tune on the train trip from Chicago back to Ann Arbor. The sheet music was printed in 1899 and the song was first performed by none other than John Philip Sousa and his band, who were in Ann Arbor for a concert, on April 8 of that year. Ohio State: The 225-member, all-brass Ohio State Marching Band -- aka "The Best Damn Band in the Land" -- was formed in 1879. TBDBITL has been dotting the 'i' on the script Ohio since 1936, first with a trumpet player and, starting in 1937 and continuing through today, with a sousaphone player. Only a few non-band members have been given the honor of dotting the 'i," including Hayes, Bob Hope and, earlier this month, OSU alum Jack Nicklaus. Edge: Ohio State. The Buckeyes get extra musical credit for denying tickets this week to Nickelback.