Actually, Baggett had not meant to be insulting. But for stating the situation as he saw it, he was subjected to a ferocious rush during the game and the derisive laughter of the Buckeyes after it. His coach, Denny Stolz, was quick to come to the quarterback's defense. "Charlie had an average day," Stolz said. "A quarterback can look like an idiot when things go to hell even when it isn't his fault. On one of those interceptions, the freshman receiver ran the wrong route. Later the same kid was called for clipping. It was his introduction to the Big Ten."
For all the problems Michigan State encountered, it was Hayes who did not want to take his team to East Lansing. He would have preferred to start the season in some fail-safe town like Iowa City or Evanston, where his opening game record of 20-3-1 was certain to improve. But because schedules had been recycled this year, he was back for the second season in a row, playing what he admitted would be the toughest opener of his career. Publicly, at least, that was about all he was saying. Privately he feared that the Spartan fans and players might want something more than victory, like a few scalps. Woody's study of history had taught him all about revolutions.
At last year's game people had merely hurled liquor bottles at him. This year he expected Molotov cocktails, which is why he had three uniformed policemen guarding his flanks. Compounding the antagonisms was a rumor that a current NCAA investigation of Michigan State had been instigated by Woody. Although NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers denied this, it weighed heavily on several Michigan State players. "Because of the investigation," said one, "this is an even bigger game than Michigan."
Indeed, the Ohio State game was to have been the start of a new era in East Lansing. If it meant revenge for the Buckeyes it was an emergence for Michigan State. Since 1968 Ohio State has won or shared six conference titles while the Spartans have had but two winning seasons. Michigan State has challenged Ohio State on the field, to be sure, but it has been Michigan which challenged the Buckeyes in the standings.
"The coaches in the league haven't liked the talk about the Big Two and the Little Eight," said Stolz before the game. "Unfortunately, it has been pretty factual. This season will go more to answering that question than any other. That's why this game is so important."
Michigan State's 21-0 loss gave Stolz an answer he certainly did not like. "I wish I didn't have to live for a week," he said when it was all over. "I wish I could just disappear."
Hayes could not have been more chipper. "What was it Wordsworth wrote?" he asked. " 'The old order changeth, yielding place to new.' Well, I'll tell you something. That damn new order hasn't come yet."
As a matter of fact, Woody, it was Tennyson, but you've made your point.