Students Do It In The Rain
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- While Matt got to be sipping hot cocoa up in the press box, I had the pleasure of watching the Michigan-OSU game from the middle of the Michigan student section. A pretty game it was not, played in what Tyrone Wheatley affectionately called "football weather." 36 degrees and grey skies, with a constant drizzle.
A cold, hard rain makes me happy.
My first observation was how unimposing the Big House is from the outside because of the way it's built into the ground. Unlike most stadiums the Big House doesn't have any levels or decks. Only having one entrance can unfortunately lead to a bottleneck, but also allows for a super-cool visual of excited fans from top to bottom with no empty spaces.
The Big House, it's "a-maize-ing."
The Michigan faithful dressed mainly in maize were loud and standing for the entire game. The way we were packed in so tight I'm not sure they had any choice, but I still give them credit for their endurance. It was a tough game to stay excited for due to the style of football that was played. It seemed that Michigan refused to open it up and take any chances. And Ohio State, once spotted a lead, was content to keep it on the ground.
The main difference between the Michigan student section and some of the others that we've seen was their lack of identity. Yes they were all dressed similarly in maize and blue (and I got yelled at a bit for being in neutral colors), but they had no distinct cheers or chants. Aside from a band led "Let's Go Blue" or a take on the tomahawk chop that ends with a "You Suck", there was nothing unique to them and I think this ended up hurting them. What I mean is, as the game dragged on and no big plays on the Michigan side, the crowd got lulled to sleep a little bit. Considering the weather and the Michigan style of play, that reaction was perfectly acceptable, but there was nothing the crowd could call on to pump themselves or their team back up.
For those who don't know, a big part of the trash talking that exists between Michigan and Ohio State fans is Michigan fans taking "intellectual" jabs at the quality of an OSU education. Considering their intellectual confidence, I was disappointed with the lack of creativity surrounding their fans, particularly the students.
Michigan fans were hoping for a rosy afternoon. It didn't work out that way.
On a more positive note, one of the things that has impressed me most on this trip is the perspective that most fans approach these games with, especially the students. As you can see in today's video "'Friendly' Rivalry" most of the students and fans enjoy the good natured trash talking and realize that the game is about fun.
(Note: If you're a Mac user having trouble viewing this video, click here to download a program called Flip4Mac that will allow you watch it.)
Even as it became clear that Michigan wasn't going to put any more points on the board, the Michigan fans stayed happy and friendly. There were no fights between the Michigan students and the OSU fans who had managed to get into the student section. In fact the closest thing to a fight occurred in the third quarter, when a male student in front of me got into an argument with a female student about whether it was OK to do the wave if Michigan was losing. I'm not normally a wave guy, but i think a successful wave in the Big House would be awesome.
It was a long, cold and wet day in the student section and unfortunately Michigan didn't give the students a lot to get excited about (it's not every day you get to see 23 punts!!!) . Regardless, it was great to be a part of the comraderie that exists between the students, and it's days like this that make me angry at my parents for letting me go to a D-III college.