You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Jim Tressel is gone, Ohio State football is in trouble: Time for smack T-shirt sales in Ann Arbor

By Ben Freed


Tressel's iconic sweater vest turned against him


Latest news: Ohio State vacates 2010 football season, including 37-7 win over Michigan, according to Columbus Dispatch

It seems no major event occurs today without a rash of new T-shirts hitting the market, and the scandal at “That School Down South” is no exception to the rule.

One man’s loss is often another’s gain. Jim Tressel lost his job, Terrelle Pryor lost his collegiate eligibility, Ohio State lost some of its integrity, and the rest of us are gaining some pretty hilarious T-shirts to celebrate the occasion.

But who is cashing in on OSU’s misfortune? And, here in Ann Arbor, we also have to wonder: Which smack slogan will turn into Wolverine swag?

While some local retailers are stocking anti-Tressel gear, so far it's the major online companies that specialize in “smack talking” apparel that are producing the best-selling shirts. started in 1998 with a shirt asserting that Will Rogers, who “never met a man he didn’t like,” would not like trash-talking University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

Now the Florida's company's “Tre$$el Tattoo and Pawn Shop” and “THE Ohio Scandal University” shirts are on sale online, at All About Blue on State Street, and at Elmo's Main Street T-Shirts.


Photo by Angela Cesere for

According to Elmo Morales, Elmo's T-Shirts owner, the shirts may not be polite, but they do have widespread appeal.

"They're pretty good satire," Morales said. "Even people from Ohio chuckle when they see them."

According to owner Wayne Curtis, who left his day job after the shirt business took off, the key to making the rude shirts is avoiding what most apparel companies strive for: licensing rights.

In the world of big-money college athletics, universities go to great lengths to protect their brands and are often stingy in giving out licenses to sell official gear with school logos. That’s perfectly fine with Curtis.

“We haven’t held any licenses for any of the schools we’ve printed shirts for,” he said. “We’re averse to the creative restrictions they place upon creators.”

Universities have full rights in determining how their logos are used, and they can take away any granted licenses at will. At U-M, it was a $1.5 million business in 2009.

But schools cannot stop companies from using their colors or non-trademarked icons, and the free market is helping companies like GetSmack succeed.

“The powers that be don’t care for us too much,” Curtis said. “But the neat thing about America is that if you make a great product people will buy it.”

All About Blue owner Bob Duerksen is hesitant about buying unlicensed shirts for his campus-area store, but decided to take a chance and ride the anti-Tressel wave.

“It took me a while to be persuaded, but we tried a few and they were gone within days, so we kept ordering more,” he said. “We’ve already sold over 100, and I expect that will go up when football season rolls around.”

Curtis and GetSmack usually work through retailers to sell shirts, but owner Matt Fairchild sells most of his shirts through the Georgia-based online store. His “Vest in Peace” shirt has been selling well all over the Midwest.

“Usually (summer is) our slow time of the year,” Fairchild said. “But we sold 1,200 in about 2 days. It really took off.”

Neither websites discriminates with their trash talk. They have made plenty of money selling shirts angering fans from Michigan down to Texas, and everywhere in between. They both said many of their T-shirt ideas originate with fan suggestions.

Both Curtis and Fairchild say business is good, and if there’s one thing sports fans like more than bragging about their own team, it’s talking (and wearing) smack about their rivals.

Ben Freed is a summer intern at You can reach him by email at or by phone at (734)-623-4674. Follow him on Twitter @BFreedInA2.



Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 3:25 a.m.

What's all the fuss about licensing? This stuff is parody and thus protected from licensing and trademark protections under the fair-use doctrine. These shops should have nothing to worry about. See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 1:44 a.m.

T-shirt slogan for coach.... &quot;I coached at Ohio State and now I'll have is this lousy tee-shirt.&quot;


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 12:18 a.m.

Tressel prayed to God for forgiveness. God said that OSU should forfeit its 2010 season. Tressel should consult with Bush next time. Amen.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

2785 days since UM beat OSU in football..trash talkin .t-shirts won't change that


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 1:45 a.m.

Yea, selling gold pants really affected the game...this &quot;cheating&quot; alibi to explain UM losses doesn't cut it

Terry Star21

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:45 p.m.

2785 days since osu won a football game without cheating - priceless !

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

and they aren't intended to. UM, even after those 2785 days, still holds a 57-44-6 lead in the series.

Atticus F.

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

The only way OSU can win is by cheating.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Talk and T-shirts are cheap! Michigan Football still has a lot to prove, I wonder if Coach Hoke is going to take Michigan Football back to the Glory Days of the 50's and 60's!

Atticus F.

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6 p.m.

How 'bout the glory days of the 90's? Those were some of the greatest times in UM football.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Ohio State just vacated all of their 2010 wins... 594 days since Ohio State's last win against Michigan!

Jojo B

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 8:09 p.m.

Yeah, but UM didn't win either. Is it considered a tie? Or did the game even happen?


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

I wonder what Ohio t-shirt shop's products had to say about Michigan's loss to Appalachian State or Rich Rod's firing? Just asking.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

As I an alum I hate to say it but they might not. EMU should just drop football.

Terry Star21

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:43 p.m.

Maybe they said emu won't win another football game.

lindsay erin

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

I *really* hope that they don't still have T-shirts about Michigan's loss to App State nearly 4 years ago. Then again, it is OSU...I have low expectations. And T-shirts regarding Rich Rod's firing? Shoot, you can find some shirts about that in good ol' Ann Arbor instead of traveling to the worst state ever.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

It's only talk, if you can't back it up. Just be thankful Tressel played conservative during the Rich Rod era, and didn't destroy michigan like he could have. Woody wouldn't have been so nice. The force is strong in young Luke! Go Bucks!

Terry Star21

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

Cheaters always get caught and when they do it's always determined they have always cheated - the only thing tressel destroyed was himself and osu football.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

I hope for their sakes, TSIO's fans have thick skins when they come to Ann Arbor in November for The Game. Because the smack-talking T-shirts are going to be all over Ann Arbor! This is just the start. I think someone should come up with an official &quot;make-fun-of-OSU&quot; shirt for this year's game. I'd buy one in a second.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

He have no right to talk smack about OSU until we beat them this year. THEN we can brag and talk crap all we want.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

Y'all will eat your words. May the better team win--go Buckeyes!!

Terry Star21

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

With buckeyes vacating the 2010 season, the better team did get the win.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

I wouldn't toot my horn too early, it's bad enough having to lose with an old coach, could you imagine with a new one.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

I am not a diehard football fan but as a townie I gotten years of football through osmosis. I understand a bit of ribbing would be the standard against an opposing team. However we are starting the year with a new coach and now so is OSU. Perhaps we should just want to beat them b/c we have a better team and not because they are coming out of a scandal and want to kick them while they are down. They still have young players who had no part in the scandal that don't deserve to have it cloud their college experience, certainly the fans don't deserve it. I also don't want to win against someone that isn't on a equal playing field, no fun if it isn't a real contest.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 7 a.m.

Ohio State won when others weren't on an equal playing field... that's what it means when players are SHOWN, during the recruitment process, all of the places they can go to receive free things and special treatment. That is what it is called when coaches receive word that their star players should be ineligible to play and they decide they will lie just to keep those players in the game. That is an unequal playing field by definition.

Dr. Vag

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Who's jim Tressel?


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

I am disappointed we no longer have the opportunity to face off with OSU under Tressel and put a formal end to his streak. I was very much looking forward to that game. GO BLUE!!

lindsay erin

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Man, I don't care if trash talk is cheap--I'm rocking an anti-Tressel shirt next football season without a doubt. GO BLUE. And for those of you that agree with me, PLEASE entertain yourself by checking out this hilarious image, which depicts how Big Ten coaches reacted to Tressel's firing (via LSU Freek): <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

That was great. Thanks for sharing! GO BLUE!!

lindsay erin

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Oops! The previous link is the movie scene that the image is based on. Here is the ACTUAL image I wanted to share: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Sry!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

come on people. do you not think they (the team from ohio) would wear one. it is all in fun. who really cares if they are fired or not in school any longer. life is to short to worry about that stuff. just to poke fun and do a little laugh is worth it.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

I'm so glad Michigan didn't have their coach forced out amid NCAA violations, because then they wouldn't have room to talk. Oh, wait.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 6:57 a.m.

Michigan fired their head coach because he was a bad coach. Tressel resigned because he cheated. Rich Rod NEVER was found guilty of ANYTHING by the NCAA. Michigan was found guilty of running overtime during a couple practices. Ohio State is guilty of covering up player misconduct, creating an atmosphere of noncompliance, turning a blind eye to NCAA rules violations, playing ineligible players, etc. These are two entirely different animals and any rationally thinking individual would see that.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

I believe the record was Richrod's biggest downfall . . .


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

Hopefully, someone comes up with a better trash-talking shirt. I think the &quot;Liar, etc&quot; billboard was the best, and it was created by a Spartan before the waste material contacted the rotary blade. Also, making it in scarlet and gray would be a nice touch.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

I endorse cheating, as long as it's done correctly. OSU and pretty much everybody in the SEC and PAC-10 has been caught. That should tell us two things: 1) Good teams &quot;cheat&quot;, but since all the good teams do it, whoever (ncaa) is supposed to be policing it is unequipped. 2) Therefore, you need to be smarter than the police, and not necessarily your opponent on the field. With a few more years, Our King would have mastered how to &quot;cheat&quot; correctly and we would have been swimming in Crystal Lake for decades. Hoke, on the other hand, appears to be too old-fashioned to realize that the rules are made for the weak-minded. Rules are made only for those not smart enough to think for themselves.

Jojo B

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

Good luck with that ideology! The problem for you is that too many people aren't as smart as they think they are; just about everybody gets caught... eventually.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

&quot;Talk is cheap&quot; save the T shirts until after we beat OSU.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

In my younger days I would have snapped one up, no doubt. But now that I'm an &quot;old fart&quot; I need to feign some sort of old fart dignity.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

If your kids are all grown up you can take those farty old t-shirts out of hiding and wear them. I still can't figure out where I put my &quot;Shroomy Toons&quot; t-shirt.

David Briegel

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Why start now?


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

Renew your fartiness! Buy a t-shirt.

Jimmy McNulty

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 10:19 a.m.

Yes, now with UM's greatest coaching nemesis gone, it's quite possible that they may win one VS. OSU sometime this decade.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

Is that &quot;nemesis&quot; Tressel or Rich Rod?


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

You sir must be a qualified analyst for the Federal Reserve.