There has always been a competitive edge between the University of Michigan and Ohio State, forged by decades of fierce competition. However, there has generally been great respect between the two schools, perhaps best exemplified by Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler during 10 years of battle.
Both coaches were intense, but both coaches respected the other.
In the book Bo by Bo Schembechler and Mitch Album, Schembechler says of Hayes:
...his methods were tough, his temper was, at times, unforgivable. And, unless you knew him or played for him, it is hard to explain why you liked being around the guy. But you didn't just like it, you loved it. He was simply fascinating.
According to SI.com, Hayes described Schembechler in The Lantern newspaper by saying, "If Bo is not a winner, I never saw one and I should know. He beat me the last three games we played. We've fought and quarreled for years but we're great friends."
Clearly there was plenty of respect between the two coaches, and that carried over to respect between the two schools.
Today, there is still plenty of posturing between Michigan and Ohio State.
Brady Hoke calls Ohio State by simply "Ohio," something that has spread to the whole athletic department, and Urban Meyer has adopted Hayes's moniker of "that school up north." According to USA Today, some have taken offense to the nicknames, but both labels are closer to innocent ribbing rather than mean spirited.
However, the latest antic by Meyer crosses a line.
A new sign at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Ohio State's campus shows a chart comparing the majors of Michigan football players to Ohio State football players, highlighting the number of Michigan players that major in general studies, engineering, biology and business compared to Ohio State football players.
The ploy is presumably meant to highlight a higher academic standard for football players at Ohio State; however, it disrespects a fundamental principle of college athletics. On both sides, young men have been given a chance to get a funded, world class education. Both sides have players doing the right thing by going to college and working on a degree.
The vast majority serve as strong role models in the community by doing so.
The players should be commended and respected, no matter where they go to school, for the tireless dedication it takes to be a collegiate athlete while also working towards graduation.
To use their choice of major as a means to paint the opposing school in a negative light is misguided. The importance of academics and respect for the players' academic pursuits on both sides should be common ground between Hoke and Meyer.
However, perhaps times aren't like they used to be when Schembechler and Hayes lead their kids into battle.
There seems to be less respect to go around.