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Posted on Mon, May 6, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Obama calls University of Michigan 'that certain university up north' during Ohio State commencement

By Kellie Woodhouse


President Barack Obama is seen on a huge video screen as he speaks during the Ohio State University spring commencement Sunday in Columbus, Ohio. President Obama is the third sitting president to give the commencement speech at Ohio State University.

AP Photo

Three years after he spoke at the University of Michigan's commencement, President Barack Obama addressed Ohio State University and played up the two schools' bitter rivalry.

He said that while, yes, he did speak at U-M, "everybody can get some redemption."


President Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the May 1, 2010, University of Michigan commencement at Michigan Stadium.

Melanie Maxwell |

During the Sunday graduation speech, Obama also took a note from OSU's football coach Urban Meyer, not daring to call U-M by name, instead referring it to "that certain university up north."

Obama's remarks engendered laughter from the crowd. Here is his comment in full:

"It is true that I did speak at that certain university up north a few years ago. But, to be fair, you did let President Ford speak here once — and he played football for Michigan! So everybody can get some redemption."

When Obama visited Ann Arbor on May 1, 2010, he didn't mention OSU but he did play to students' school pride.

"It is great to be here in the Big House, and may I say 'Go Blue!' I thought I'd go for the cheap applause line to start things off," he said to a crowd of more than 80,000 that day.

He also returned to U-M in January 2012 to talk about college affordability. When he visited then, he referred to Michigan Football, saying it "will be a team to be reckoned with."

Twitter CEO and U-M alumnus Dick Costolo gave U-M's commencement address Saturday at Michigan Stadium

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

Do any of you remember JFK's speech from the steps of The Student Union. That was greatness. Challenging us to serve our country. "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country". My have we fallen. This guy wants us to all see how the government can serve yourself. Very different mindset now. He actually took this as an opportunity to slam congress. History will remember him very differently then JFK.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

Wouldn't believe a word he utters... Wait til he tries to wash his hands of the Bengazi Fiasco......


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

He challenged them to make a difference. The response was "dude, we're OSU. Get real."


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:41 a.m.

I think that is a great place for him to speak.

Frustrated in A2

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:16 a.m.

Love it!

Stuart Brown

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:08 a.m.

Mary Sue Coleman did not participate in a forum President Obama held in 2012 concerning tuition hikes. The speech he gave at OSU looks to me like payback for Coleman having gone AWOL when he was last here. Standing up a President visiting your university is pretty arrogant, over-the-top behavior. If she treats a President this way, how does she treat normal people?

Stuart Brown

Thu, May 9, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

Usual Suspect, Interesting that you chose to confirm the snub. Mary Sue did not want to answer questions about why the U has been so ruthless about raising tuition much faster than inflation and much faster than incomes for households in Michigan have been increasing. The usual glib answer for why this happens is that the State and Federal government have not grown the state subsidy as quickly as the U has raised its expenses, so its their fault. Obama came to deliver the message that after 30 years of the same tired worn out excuses, that dog would no longer be allowed to hunt; hence the snub from Coleman. I find this offensive for a public official in Colman's position. This shows a lack of respect for transparency and accountability.

Usual Suspect

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

He's not a king (even though he thinks he is). As citizens, we're not obligated to meet him, talk to him, respect him, show deference to him, or even be nice to him. He is our servant, we are not his.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

Obama vs. the Twitter guy? I went to UM and loathe anything scarlet and gray, but OSU wins this battle, this year. A sitting president (any president; I don't care who it is) vs. someone whose sole contribution to society was some idiotic invention that dumbs the world (further) down with mindless, 140-character buzz phrases? Who at UM was in charge of this? Couldn't they have done any better? We're used to presidents, world leaders, leading actors, writers, journalists, poet laureates. But the Twitter guy? Just b/c he went to UM? So did the Groupon guy? Is he next? What a joke. Sorry guys, but this one's a slam dunk for OSU.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

Glenn - I agree that it's important to have a speaker who can speak to the students, but make it someone who, in addition to speaking ability, has made a positive contribution to society. The queue is pretty deep with people who would love to deliver a Michigan commencement address. We can do, and have done, better.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

I attended the graduation this time and I thought the Twitter guy did a good job. My nephew was graduating and he really enjoyed his speech. It's important to have a speaker that can speak to the students who are graduating. I was disappointed in Mary Sue Coleman's speech. She looked like she wanted to be anywhere else but in the Big House. She gave the same speech she did for the Fall commencement Which is why it probably came out flat. The Twitter guy was clever and showed that you could have multiple careers and still do well.I learned something from him. I think he graduated from Michigan just about the same time as me in the same major of computer science.

Ann Dwyer

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

I have to say, someone had a similar complaint when David E. Davis spoke at my graduation--but he was awesome. He even mentioned the guy who wrote into The Daily with the complaint.

Old Salt

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:38 a.m.

Politicians will say anytihing just to get votes...


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

Who's running for election?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:06 a.m.

He's awesome.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:41 a.m.

I wonder what Andrew Shirvell thinks about this?


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Who Cares?!?!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

It appears you are the only one who wonders about what he thinks.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

I voted for the man, but this is an impeachable offense.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 5:19 a.m.

Chill, talker. I hate Ohio State football.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:17 a.m.

You do realize that the President of the United States is the President of people in Ohio, as well as people in Michigan, don't you?


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

'tis what politicians do. Somebody probably handed him a little buckeye baby to kiss as well. Next time he comes to Michigan, someone can hand him a live wolverine for the same thing. Now, that would be entertaining.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:44 p.m.

I can't believe this is news. Who honestly cares what Obama chooses to call the U?


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.



Mon, May 6, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

RE: "... I thought I'd go for the cheap applause line to start things off," – Which is pretty much what BHO does every time he opens his mouth. He's become so adept he can turn that rhetorical humor into a cry of fake anguish and then drag his hand-picked supporters from Newtown, Conn. around for 4 months to moralize about the need for background checks on 100 million Americans. It just stands to reason he can make himself appear to be equally in favor of Michigan and OSU. This guy's loyalty is like the skin of a chameleon. In Michigan Stadium he was Maize & Blue, in the Horseshoe, he was Gray 'n Red. I bet if Obama gave a commencement speech at Bryn Mawr College, he'd turn pink.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

Score one vote for the right of felons, psychotics and wife beaters to legally buy the most powerful possible arsenal. You're in good company.

Harvey Morrison

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

With my degrees from both "that place down south" and The University of Michigan, I can say that it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine. Perhaps he was simply humoring the bumpkins. A-H -- I-A!


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

Pandering, pure and simple. That was the thank you for getting the Ohio electoral college votes in the Nov 12 election.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

Pandering, yep, he NEEDS Ohio for his next election. Oh wait, you mean the election is over? Hmm, seems like maybe Obama should have been doing that LAST year. You people crack me up when you want to put motives on things you have no clue about. I guess he is speaking at Annapolis because he OWES the Midshipmen his election. I know for sure Morehouse College is because he owes the state of Georgia for their overwhelming support


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

It appears a lot of creatures are slithering out from under rocks today.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 9:56 a.m.

At least now some of the anti-Obama comments make some sense, as opposed to when they're posted on other completely unrelated articles.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

Considering this from a President who has mastered the art of Class Warfare, I'm not surprised...


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Love the teleprompter every puppet has its strings....


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

Worst President Ever!

Ed Kimball

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

Not according to most polls, Tom. Look at


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

Wrong Second worst President in modern time since Jimmy Carter, although he has 3 more years to switch the order. He may well succeed.

Ed Kimball

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

He left office more than four years ago. Get past it!

E Claire

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Love how he tells them to "reject those who warn of government tyranny" when it has just basically been confirmed that the NSA has been recording the phone calls and emails of every American.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

The photo is classic. He stares into the telepromter as he recites his speech. The great orator, ha!


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:38 a.m.

Of the four following people, who knows how to fly a fighter jet? Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore, or GWB? Answer- GWB. Yep he must be a real idiot.

Ed Kimball

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

I would like to know where you got your data. I was a classmate of GWB's at Yale and I can assure you that his GPA was not higher than Kerry's or Gore's. After our junior year, Yale changed its grading system to one that was incompatible with the previous one and did not have numerical equivalents, so it stopped computing GPAs.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

Without teleprompter its all...uh..mmm...well...uh..mmm....


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

Have you heard him talk without reading the words from his teleprompter? It's pretty funny.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

George Bush's GPA at Yale was higher than both Al Gore's and John Kerry's and his grades are public knowledge.What was Obama's GPA at Harvrad? Oh that's right, it is a state secret for some reason or another. Perhaps because it was so low?


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

At least he can read the words unlike his predecessor, the great "decider"


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

At least he did not say something moronic like, "You didn't build it."

Usual Suspect

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

"can you tell me what exactly in there is moronic?" The whole thing.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

Fordie, you don't seem to understand that businesses succeed or fail on the efforts of those who created that business. Roads, bridges, etc are paid for through taxes. So its's not like they are getting them for free. The quote in your post is relevant at at individual level, not a societal level. Society did not build give that person their idea or build their business. The individual, perhaps with some support from other individuals, did so. But society did not. The argument put forth is for idiots. It inaccurately credits society for the acts of genius. It is akin to crediting the Medicis for the genius of Michelangelo or Donatello. How preposterous! Yes, society constructs a basic frame, but a frame does not make a house. Elizabeth Warren said that because she herself owes her career to the machine we call government. She has created nothing, so she is incapable of understanding the absurdity of her statement. She simply is a bureaucrat, a cog, in the vast machinery of government.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

Probably becuase he was so condescending when he said it.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that." Genetracy, can you tell me what exactly in there is moronic? I have trouble keeping a straight face when the right blasts about this line. If you are successful, chances are you probably didn't build every road, teach yourself or build the American economy. If you built everything in this country yourself Genetracy, then we all owe you a lot. Of course, that would mean his quote was still accurate to the rest of us, just not to you.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

Even more moronic.....the GOP using that as their catch phrase at their convention.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6 p.m.

"Now can we refer to him as: 'That Clown from Chicago?'" Were that the worst name he has been called over the past 4(+) years. "The traitor from D.C. is more like it." Yeah, that's more along the line of the typical hyperbolic name calling we've come to expect. "A second rate president speaking at a second rate university . . . " Quite the retort. Funny how the right wing all of a sudden identifies with the left-wing university they like to trash if it gives them an opportunity to go after the president. I don't recall any of these folks saying anything nice when he twice chose to visit the U before his first to OSU. GN&GL


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Johnny, I corrected myself at 4:10.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

@ A2 citien, You would be correct if you only talk about UNDERGRAD degrees. Bo received his graduate degree from OSU in 1952, but don't let facts get in the way of your story.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

oops I guess he got his graduate degree from osu.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 8 p.m.

I agree with all of those retorts, he's earned them! And I'm no right winger either! Call em as I see em without the blinders on. Best part, when the vote downs come...then I know I've po'd a liberal LOL!!!


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

"...Guess who ATTENDED the school in Ohio? I will give you a hint, his real name was Glenn. Most called him Bo..." When you say "the" school do you mean "a" school or "THE" school, as in OSU? I only ask because Bo Schembechler went to Miami of Ohio (1948-50).


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

@Landes "He has a classless way of trying to inject humor in his speeches " WHAT? So now making a joke about a football rivalry is classless. Guess who ATTENDED the school in Ohio? I will give you a hint, his real name was Glenn. Most called him Bo. It is a SPORTS rivalry. The fact that many morons choose to make a SPORTS rivalry into something akin to the Palestinian/Israeli issue shows why rivalries over a FLAG are stupid. Yes, I like for UM to defeat OSU when they play, but I would hardly consider it life and death. The president was there to talk to 21-25 year olds and their families at a graduation. Did you expect a policy speech? Did you want him to make a political speech and tout the jobs numbers that the right refuses to discuss other than to say, they arent good jobs. (If the numbers were bad, they would have said we need ANY job, now they have to be the right KIND of jobs). FAnd for the record, just because somebody went to UM does not make them somebody to admire. Ann Coulter is hardly somebody the U should take pride in producing, while OSU can take pride in having produced the man the graduate library at the UM is named after Harlan Hatcher or Bo Schembechler


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

Ghost, where you been hiding? I thought you were on double secret probation for that stunt you pulled with the Dean's wife? Anyway, it is always amusing to me how one needs to "show respect" for the Office of the President, if it happens to be be the guy you pulled the lever for, but he is total idiot if it isn't. I'm not referring to you, personally. Probably the best version of this was the President from our alma mater. All American football player, yet somehow he was a clumsy fool. Me personally? I enjoyed the Twitter guy and thought he was a better fit than the president anyway. He actually had a personality.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

When U of M grads start to sound and act like OSU grads, I have to conclude that neither school has the high ground in teaching the their grads how to act with class. GN&GL


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

Well said on!

Stephen Landes

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

I don't care where he chooses to speak. I care about what he says. He has a classless way of trying to inject humor in his speeches -- appropriate to the classless approach in Columbus. If he were to make similar comments while speaking at U of M I would be embarrassed for my University.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

As President you'd think he wouldn't need to nor want to drag a rivalry-fueled jibe like that into a graduation speech. But look who we're talking about (and also who he was talking to).


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

What's the big deal? At his 1985 UM commencement address (I was there), speaker Jim Blanchard made light of the UM/MSU rivalry. Who cares? It's called levity. Look into it.

Stephen Landes

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

A second rate president speaking at a second rate university can only seem great by making stupid statements. I guess this is what it takes for some people to feel good about themselves.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

Now can we refer to him as: "That Clown from Chicago?"


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

E Claire - YOU are not getting it I'm afraid, it was a hit to your savior Bush

harry b

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

You know you are upsetting the liberals.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.

I'm really not into name calling. However, every time this President opens his mouth something stupid comes out or something with no substance at all. What is more discouraging is the flat out lies regarding Libya and fast and furious.

E Claire

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

lol Brad. by your "up" votes, I see most don't' get it.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

" No. The correct title is 'Mr. President.' " I am sure you referred to the last president. Correct?


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

No. The correct title is "Mr. President."


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

No, because insulting the Commander-in-Chief in a time of war shows us as weak and divided and encourages the terrorists. Oh wait, that was the other guy... Never mind.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

Sure, if you want to. Just like a vast majority of educated people would refer to his predecessor as "that reckless cowboy from Texas who put our country and economy in the toilet".


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

NO, you may not.

In doubt

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

The traitor from D.C. is more like it.