Although the Buckeyes have dominated the Wolverines on the field in recent years, the University of Michigan beat Ohio State for the top spot in an online ranking of “The 50 Greatest College Fight Songs of All Time.”
The Bleacher Report, an open source sports network, ranked OSU’s “Buckeye Battle Cry” as No. 7 in the country. The University of Michigan’s fight song, “Hail to the Victors,” was ranked No. 1.
Michael Pinto, the article’s author, said in an e-mail that the website’s staff decided the rankings.
He said several factors went into deciding the rank: the prominence of the song in school history, the origin of the song, how recognizable it is, if the song is the school’s only fight song, whether it had won any awards and if the song is “simply a good song.”
“Hail to the Victors” and “Notre Dame Victory March” were close contenders for the top spot, he said. Michigan’s fight song, written in 1898, was chosen because Notre Dame’s song was written 10 years later, he said.
“You could say (Notre Dame’s song) was inspired by” Michigan’s, Pinto said.
“Buckeye Battle Cry” received a lower ranking because it is not OSU’s only fight song and was written later, Pinto said.
“The general consensus is that it is not quite on the same level as ‘The Victors’ or ‘Victory March,'” he said.
In 1919, OSU student Frank Crumit wrote the song for a contest. The OSU Marching Band plays “Buckeye Battle Cry” during its entrance to football games and after every OSU score. Marching band members and fans also sing it at the end of nearly every “Script Ohio” performance.
Other prominent OSU songs include “(Fight the Team) Across the Field” (1915), “Beautiful Ohio” (1918) and “Carmen Ohio” (1902), the oldest song still in use.
The website allowed only one song per school and chose “Buckeye Battle Cry” because it is played during “Script Ohio,” Pinto said, adding the marching band’s performance is ranked No. 1 on “The 50 Greatest Football Traditions” article on the same website.
Carter Walchli, a sousaphone player in the OSU Marching Band and fourth-year in civil engineering, said “Hail to the Victors” is easier to play than “Buckeye Battle Cry.”
“‘Battle Cry’ has a lot more moving notes,” he said. “Even though I play tuba, a bass line, it still moves enough to be played as a solo.”
Derek Whipkey, a snare drum player for the OSU Marching Band and fourth-year in political science, said many Big Ten schools play a slower or altered version of “Buckeye Battle Cry.”
“I can’t say if it’s too difficult for them to play, but that could be something inferred,” he said.
Whipkey doesn’t think the song should be ranked lower than Michigan’s, he said.
“Just because theirs is a few more years older than ours doesn’t make it any better,” he said. “Ours is just as recognizable as theirs, if not more so.”
Lance Fulton, a third-year in music education, said the only reason “Hail to the Victors” is nationally recognizable is because it’s “cheesy and easy to remember.”
OSU fight songs have a lot more depth to them, Fulton said, while Michigan’s has the same rhythm throughout.
“There’s nothing to it,” he said. “A third-grader could have composed that.”