ORANJESTAD, Aruba - My recent trip to the Caribbean has convinced me that MSU and Ohio State, no matter what ever happens in the future of both football programs, will never be serious rivals. We both hate Michigan too much.
Those of you who know me know that about half of my wardrobe is made up of green or white Michigan State shirts. If you just consider t-shirts and other "warm weather attire" that number jumps to about 2/3 or 3/4. Ergo, it should be no surprise that I was walking around Aruba last Tuesday wearing a Spartan Final Four souvenir shirt.
That green shirt may as well have been a scarlet sweater vest because of the way it attracted Ohio State fans. "Hey Sparty!" one yelled out as I left a duty free store in Oranjestad, "Nice win!"
The guy was a Buckeye alum who just couldn't get enough of how we stuck Michigan with their first loss. "Well, just take care of them when you play them," I said, thinking that would be the end of it. Boy, was I wrong. That exchange repeated itself twice more in Aruba, again in Curacao the next day and even more in St. Thomas on Saturday.
The thing that struck me wasn't just that the Bucks wanted Michigan to lose. It was that they were positively giddy that MSU had done it. I got the impression that these folks weren't just rooting against Michigan, they were actually rooting FOR Michigan State. I guess it's the old axiom of "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," but taken to a whole new level.
The feeling is mutual. I mean, have you ever seriously found yourself rooting against Ohio State in football? They own their rivalry with Michigan, which is a good thing. We rarely compete with the Buckeyes for bowl games, but they routinely help Sparty out by knocking off folks we're competing with for good destinations. Once you get to the bowl games, you're rooting for them to win and make the conference look good. Frankly, the biggest problem with OSU I have is that they don't win more often against big-name competition.
So to all the Buckeye fans on vacation last week, thanks for the thanks, I guess. Just make sure you get it done when you play Michigan and we'll continue to get on just fine.