Sit back young fellas, it’s time to learn about the biggest rivalry in all of sports. During Hate Week, we will bring you the stories, plays, and characters that have created this great rivalry. Today, we go back to one of the most formidable periods in the rivalry.
The Ten Year War.
Bo Schembechler. Woody Hayes. Some of the most competitive games in the rivalry’s history.
From the great Wikipedia:
Wolverines coach Bump Elliott resigned after the 1968 loss and Michigan hired Miami (Ohio) head coach Bo Schembechler, who had previously been an assistant at Ohio State under Hayes, to revitalize its football program. On November 22, 1969, Hayes led his top-ranked Buckeyes into Michigan Stadium to face Schembechler’s Wolverines in the first matchup between two coaches who would come to define the rivalry between the two programs. The Buckeyes brought a 22-game winning streak into Ann Arbor, but behind an inspiring 60-yard punt return by Barry Pierson that set up a Wolverine touchdown in the second quarter, and a defense that intercepted Ohio State six times (three by Pierson), the Wolverines won a defensive battle (both teams were scoreless in the second half) for a 24–12 upset.
The contest was the first in the famous “Ten-Year War” between Hayes and Schembechler, which pitted some of OSU’s and UM’s strongest teams against one another. Four times between 1970 and 1975, Ohio State and Michigan were both ranked in the top five of the AP Poll before their matchup. The Wolverines entered every game during those years undefeated and won only once, a 10–7 victory in Ann Arbor on November 20, 1971. The Michigan graduating class of 1975 shared or won the Big Ten championship every season, yet went to the Rose Bowl only once, in 1972. They only lost or tied with Ohio State during the regular season in that period.
In 1973, both teams entered undefeated, with the winner guaranteed a trip to the Rose Bowl. The rivals played to a 10–10 tie in Ann Arbor on November 24, and the athletic directors of the other Big Ten institutions were forced to vote on the Big Ten representative for the bowl game. In a secret ballot, Ohio State won the vote, to the outrage of Michigan athletic officials and fans. Schembechler argued that Michigan was robbed of its on-field achievements, and for months afterward, Ohio State newspapers were flooded with angry Wolverine letters and threats of lawsuits.
Woody coined the phrase “That state up north” and “That team up north”, so he would not have to say the word “Michigan”. He was famous for his intense hatred of all things Michigan and according to legend, once refused to get gas in an empty tank, saying: “No, goddammit! We do NOT pull in and fill up. And I’ll tell you exactly why we don’t. It’s because I don’t buy one goddam drop of gas in the state of Michigan! We’ll coast and PUSH this goddam car to the Ohio line before I give this state a nickel of my money!”
During the “Ten-Year War,” Ohio State and Michigan shared the Big Ten title six times. Between 1976 and 1978, Michigan won the game each year, and Ohio State failed to score a touchdown in each of those contests. Woody Hayes was fired at the end of the 1978 season after punching an opposing player during the Gator Bowl, which ended the “War.” The 1978 game was won by Michigan, 14–3, giving Schembechler a record of 5–4–1 against Hayes. At the end of the Hayes tenure, the series stood at 42–28–5.
Sit back and enjoy the video above where Bo and Woody sit down to talk about the Ten Year War.