In case you don’t know, the Ohio State/Michigan Rivalry is referred to as THE RIVALRY.

There were Israel and Judah, the McCoys and Hatfields, the Medicis and Pazzis and the Stewarts and Douglases. Today there is me, Sandy Hermanoff, the Buckeye, and my husband, Michael Hermanoff, the Wolverine.

Sandy Hermanoff
Sandy Hermanoff

In case you don’t know, the Ohio State/Michigan Rivalry is referred to as THE RIVALRY. It is an American college football game that is played annually between the Wolverines of the University of Michigan and the Buckeyes of the Ohio State University the third Saturday in November.

According to Wikipedia, the teams first met in 1897, and the rivalry had been played annually and uninterrupted from 1918 until 2020, when it was not held due to COVID. The game has been played at the end of the regular season since 1935 (except for 1942, 1986, 1998 and 2020).

Since 1918, the game’s site has alternated between Columbus and Ann Arbor, (which hosts in odd years and Ohio State in even years) and has been played in Ohio Stadium since 1922 and Michigan Stadium since 1927. Through 2010, Ohio State and Michigan have decided the Big Ten Conference championship between themselves on 22 different occasions and affected the determination of the conference title an additional 27 times.

In 2000, the game was ranked by ESPN as the greatest North American sports rivalry ever. It’s hard for Buckeyes to say the name of the University in Ann Arbor, so we refer to it as TSUN — that school up north.

Our rivalry has continued over the years with humor, fun and some very serious moments. This year, on Nov. 26, the Buckeyes will meet the Wolverines in The Shoe (the football stadium) in Columbus. You can bet there will be no words between us on that day. That includes after the game as well.

However, the next day, Nov. 27, Michael and I will celebrate 47 years of marital bliss. That’s when the communication resumes. After all, it’s our anniversary. We were married on Thanksgiving. He got the turkey.

A few years back, one of the local TV stations came to our house and did a segment on our rivalry. A room in our house is overflowing with everything you can think of commemorating our schools. The theme was, “Will the marriage last?” So far, so good.

Seven years ago, we decided to renew our marriage vows. The ceremony was at Temple Beth El; Rabbi Mark Miller officiated. The chuppah was adorned with maize and blue on one side and scarlet and gray on the other. The “bride” carried Buckeye flowers, the “groom’s” lapel was — you guessed it, a maize and blue boutonniere. The cake, the decorations reflected the theme. (There is talk of a 50th celebration.)

It’s amazing how many temples and synagogues encourage congregants to come to services dressed in their favorite college gear. The same for bar and bat mitzvahs. How cool is that?

Over the years there have been bets, including travel destinations, wardrobe improvements, dinners — you name it. Outside our home waves a House Divided flag, plus hanging Buckeye and Wolverine paraphernalia. Brutus’ head (Buckeye’s mascot) adorns the front porch.

The bet of all time was when the director of Ohio State President’s Club challenged Michael that if Ohio State won that year (in 2006) he would have to attend the brunch next year wearing an Ohio State football jersey with Hermanoff on the back. Michael agreed. The next year he wore the Ohio State jersey in front of 400 people at the Ohio State event before the game.

Three years ago, we carried the rivalry one step further. I am chair of the Ohio State School of Communication Advisory Board and wrote for The Lantern, the school newspaper when I was a student. Michael was business manager of the Michigan Daily when he attended the university.

In 2017, we called a meeting with faculty members of both our school newspapers and suggested a combined issue called: The Rivalry Edition. Not only did it give students from both schools the opportunity to work together, but they were exposed to the business side of journalism as well. We also included a built-in online fundraiser for each paper. Both fundraisers have been successful: the money going to pay for travel, printing, paying students, etc. Last year, we launched a Rivalry Webinar with a moderator (rotating each year from a university), the two editors, sports editors and sports greats from each football team/realm.

This year The Rivalry Edition debuted on Nov. 13, both in print and online in Columbus and Ann Arbor. The free webinar was on Nov. 17.

We will be hanging out at one son’s house on game day. He and his family remain neutral. Our other son and two of our grandchildren are Wolverines. It has been a fun time over the years. Last year, I never heard the end of the win after they lost to the Buckeyes for 10 years before. This year, both teams look good although Ohio State is ranked higher. The tension mounts.

We play Michigan for the 117th time. Michigan leads in wins: 59. Ohio State 51. They have tied six times.

I have great hopes for Ohio State winning this year. I’m sure Michael is counting on his Wolverines to win again. I’m hoping my prayers from Temple will be heard. Both of our hats are in Hebrew letters: mine is Ohio, his is Go Blue. One thing we both will be celebrating the day after THE GAME is our anniversary — a winning celebration.

Sandy Hermanoff is a writer and area public relations consultant.

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