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Posted on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan football team renews emphasis on beating Spartans and Buckeyes

By Pete Bigelow

Behind two glass doors at the side entrance to Schembechler Hall, visitors will see two clocks affixed to the wall.

One counts down time to the Michigan football team’s next game against Michigan State -- 219 days, as of Wednesday. The other counts down the time remaining to the Wolverines’ next date with Ohio State -- 261 days away.

Both tick down the days, hours, minutes, seconds and tenths of seconds until kickoff.

They were installed at the behest of new Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who in two months on the job, has renewed the school’s interest in games against its most bitter rivals.

“The thing I love is the emphasis that is going to be put on certain games, that’s all I’m going to say,” running backs coach Fred Jackson said on Wednesday.

“We’re going to get back to playing the way we should play -- with an attitude of knowing there is a difference in football games and that they are not all the same."

Under former coach Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines compiled an 0-6 record against those two opponents.

The three-game losing streak against the Spartans is the program’s first since 1965 to 1967. Rodriguez’s three losses to the Buckeyes are part of an overall seven-game Wolverines’ losing streak.

Asked if the meaning of the rivalry had been forgotten over the past three years, Jackson said, “I don’t want to say that, but it won’t be forgotten anymore. Put it that way.

“When you get guys knowing some games mean more than others, that is a lot to do with guys from the Midwest, guys who grew up around here and know what the rivalries are. That means a lot.”

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


Terry Star21

Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 11 p.m.

The clocks are a most inspiring idea. Everyone that has every played sports knows that it is necessary to set goal - and the anticipation to achieve those goals makes you stronger and better each day. You set those goals, however you are smart enough to survive, retool, and move forward if not achieving. You pay attention, you learn and you do get better - the clocks are 'hands down' inspiring. Tick tick sounds the countdown clock, osu and msu football teams we're gonna rock. The seconds click down to that crucial game, GoBlue will win and put those teams to mighty shame. Our coaches, team and faithful are the best in the land, Our athletic director will always have situations well in hand.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 8:39 a.m.

I'll disagree with Tater's reasoning vis a vis the "dangers" of having a tradition of rivalries. While he does a good job of history and brings up some possible points: he misses that today's top college teams all focus on having perfect seasons. I don't agree, in other words, that too much focus on Ohio State and Michigan State caused the several upsets Michigan experienced. There's more common reasons teams don't bring their "A game" to every game. One is that playing flat out increases the chances for season-damaging injuries. The other, I think, is that sometimes the team as a whole just gets slack, often it's the players who "decide" they're not going to exert themselves in a game against a "nobody team." These players are young men: obviously, they are prone to such bad judgements. If the coaches don't detect the lax attitude in time, it's a window to an upset for the opponents. Michigan is battling back from 3 straight lousy seasons. They've got a lot to prove and I think Coach Hoke is priming the Wolverines to... play like Wolverines! Most of the starters will be juniors: their record is that they'd beat the cupcakes and then lose to good teams, including our traditional rivals. Hoke's emphasis on beating the rivals makes sense, in that way.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

To those of you who think the clocks are stupid: If they help motivate our team to beat up on MSU and OSU, then they are a great idea.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 5:43 a.m.

Clocks, counting days, etc... it's all the kind of thing you do if you aren't used to winning. If we start acting like we're not used to winning, then the terrorists have won.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

I'm going to agree that the clocks are stupid. I've spent years making fun of MSU fans because they have a clock counting down to the Michigan game. It's just bad form in my opinion. Makes you look weak.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

"This is Michigan for God sake" Is that you Mike Hart! Keep the pride rolling,and you wonder why your so hated!


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

So enough with the old woman chatter about how we're going to do this and that and this and that. It's time to train and get back to Michigan football the rest will take care of itself.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.



Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

Go Blue!

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

Damn!! I so enjoyed beating Purdue, Indiana, and Notre Dame last year and winning the championship of the State of Indiana. Are we really certain that we want to forgo that and focus on MSU and OSU? Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

I think it's a great idea. I know on the Columbus Dispatch sports page they list "Days since Michigan's last victory over Ohio State in football", which by the way is 2665 today. Although it irks me to no end it's obviously a motivator and that's what Coach Hoke needs to help our team get into the riverly spirit. ohhowihateohiostate.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:59 a.m.

The character counter isn't accurate. It tells you how many characters you have left, but then cuts part of your post off at the end anyway. The last part of the above post should read thusly: "If you don't bring your A game every week, you can easily be upset by an "inferior opponent. Tick tock."


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

Actually, no, I work with a bunch of Alabama grads here in Atlanta and they tell me that the Auburn/Alabama rivalry is different on both sides. They say Auburn sees Alabama as their OSU, while Alabama sees Auburn like UM sees MSU: More like a "little brother". Even when Auburn won the title a couple months ago, they were all "aw, it's cute that Auburn won their second championship".


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 12:08 p.m.

Doesn't work too well though, look at all the characters it gave your posts? For one example, you don't think that Alabama cares about the "Iron Bowl" Anyone called Wiscy and Minny doesn't deserve a rivalry with anyone.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

Funny how people just can't stop stirring the pot re RR. The clocks are stupid, but stupidity is a hallmark of college rivalries. It's part of what makes them so much fun. The only real problem I have with any of it is that if you spend too much time on rivalry games, it leaves you vulnerable to upsets. That is why OSU usually has one "inexplicable" loss to a team like Illinois or Wiscy every year; they are so focused on Michigan that they have a week where they forget to take care of business. Teams like Alabama, USC, Oklahoma, Texas, or Florida, which win National Championships, handle rivalries the correct way. They always focus on the task at hand, and prepare during rivalry week for whatever rivalry they are playing. They know, unlike Michigan, that almost every team they play sees them as a "rivalry," and that they can be easily upset if they don't take care of business every week. Teams that Michigan sees as a rivalry: OSU, MSU, Notre Dame. Teams that see Michigan as a rivalry: OSU, MSU, ND, Illinois, Purdue, Wiscy, Minny, PSU. Back when there were 115 schollies and no such thing as cable TV, a team in a major conference could get away with this kind of mentality. The difference in talent level between the tier of Michigan and OSU and the tier of "the little eight" was so large that Michigan and OSU didn't have to bring their "A game" every week. Nowadays, though, with almost every game being televised, only 85 schollies, and the internet age making it easier for players to get info and talk back and forth with friends on other teams, teams like Michigan and OSU can't stockpile talent anymore. Players who were almost as good as the starters but not quite good enough to start now end up on other teams, where they get playing time and develop into better players. Also, there aren't really any secrets anymore, either. In other words, if you don't "bring it" every week, you can easily lose to an &qu


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

I don't know if I'd call OSU losing to WIsconsin last year "inexplicable". WIsconsin has lost something ridiculous like 4 games at home in the last decade.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

I tend to agree with what you're getting at here. Losing the odd game one shouldn't lose has been a hallmark of Michigan for some time. To this day I remember losing to Purdue in 1976 ... a classic example of not bringing their A-game to a game they should have won. There is increased parity in talent in college football. There is also an increasing anxiety about achieving the highest level of success ("Crystal"). That is creating a very unhealthy dynamic -- the OSU/Tressel thing being one piece of evidence; the Cam Newton/Auburn thing from last year being another; the brewing scandal around Oregon recruiting being another. This is why I like what Hoke has to say about the prime objective -- to develop young men of character. That's a far more noble primary goal than doing "anything necessary" to "win Crystal."


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

Talk about spending too much time thinking about rivalries, I guess you didn't know that people in Alabama talk about the Alabama/Auburn game LITERALLY every day of the year. There are radio shows in Alabama on which the rivalry is discussed on a daily basis. Is your argument that teams like UM and OSU have the wrong mentality or that there simply is more paroday in college football? I think the latter.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:52 a.m.

Coach Hoke gets it. "This is Michigan for God's sake!"


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:50 a.m.

MSU is not a rival


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

Don't be so hard on your Wolverines. Just because they can't keep up with MSU, doesn't mean MSU has stopped caring about beating up on them.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.



Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:35 a.m.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Jackson did not have a great deal of respect for the former coach. Interesting comments, and I think he is absolutely correct. Go blue


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

What? Because he didn't agree with RR about whether to emphasize individual games? You took that as "did not have a great deal of respect for"? Talk about reading what you want into something. Wow. And for the record, there are many, MANY coaches who believe each game, no matter how big, should be approached just like any other game. There is no right or wrong about it. It's all preference. And just because Fred Jackson and RR had different opinions about that doesn't mean one of them didn't respect the other.