Undercover Michigander heads to Columbus to see what really goes down on gameday
A few weeks ago, my editor approached me with what seemed like a simple proposition: Would I like to go down to Columbus for the Michigan-Ohio State game and chronicle how Michigan fans are treated by the Buckeye faithful?
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
Since then, I’ve had a certain amount of bravado about the story idea. As you might remember, I’m a Michigan State University graduate and really have no dog in this fight. I would be a disinterested third-party observer, heading to Ohio to find the truth.
That bravery somewhat faded yesterday.I sent out a tweet asking Wolverines to send me their experiences and observations on how they’re treated when they go to enemy territory. After a steady stream of responses, I’m now wondering exactly what I’ve gotten myself into.
I’ve been to Columbus once for a game at The Horseshoe, cheering on my Spartans as they defeated the Buckeyes in a truly terrible game in October 2011. Perhaps it was because I was joined by a few Buckeye supporting friends — military men whose muscular physiques surely deterred a lot of potential hecklers — but I left with nothing but positive experiences.
I expect it to be slightly different today. Just a little bit. Especially after reading some “what to expect” tweets from Wolverine fans sent to me in since this morning.
Here’s a sampling:
@kfeldscheraacom My friends grandma went to a game and had D batteries thrown at her, and morepeople we know had a cop throw bottles at them— Cameron (@Michiganman1220) November 23, 2012
@kfeldscheraacom Went to Cbus as a kid in full Michigan gear. Our car was egged & I got a drink tossed at me in the stadium. We won 16-13.— Yvo ][V][ (@_YV0) November 23, 2012
@kfeldscheraacom was with UM player fam (Lazarus) his young cousin (15) had a beer poured on him & was punched in the face after ohio won— Steven Nettle (@StevenNettle77) November 23, 2012
@kfeldscheraacom oh, and another girl I knew was having dinner/drinks after the game and some guy got in her face and dumped beer on her.— K-T-G(@katieg1975) November 23, 2012
I left for Columbus Friday afternoon and will wander the streets and tailgate areas of the city during the morning on Saturday. I don't know what to expect but Sgt. Rich Weiner, of the Columbus Police Department, said Michigan fans can expect "frustration and nervousness" (he was laughing and I'm assuming referring to events on the field).
Weiner said the Michigan-Ohio State game is definitely one of the top 10 biggest events that happens in Columbus every other year.
“It’s a huge deal and a lot of pride goes into this game,” he said. “The rivalry exists, not only between the teams but between the cities.”
While Wolverine fans can expect the usual jabs and jeers from their rivals, Weiner said major incidents between Buckeyes and Michigan supporters are few and far between. Police presence will be increased in the city's university district and off-campus housing areas, Weiner said.
"Whenever we have games, it's a huge deal, but Michigan just kind of takes it another step," he said.
Come back to AnnArbor.com for my full report from the streets of Columbus this weekend and check my Twitter feed (linked at the bottom of this page) for updates throughout the day from Buckeye-ville.
Oh, and if any Buckeyes are reading this and have designs on keying someone from Michigan's car, please spare me. It's a lease and it's almost up. I'll put some MSU gear in the window or something.