The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is known for its tradition. From the infamous 10-10 tie in 1973, to former coach Woody Hayes’ refusal to buy Michigan gasoline, to Desmond Howard striking the Heisman Trophy pose in the end zone, The Game is full of tradition.
And traditionally speaking, both schools have kept their uniforms virtually the same for nearly 60 years, if not longer. Yes, both teams have made slight changes over the decades, but nothing dramatic. Before OSU began wearing these retro throwback jerseys when facing Michigan, fans across college football would see those scarlet and gray helmets line up against those maize and blue helmets, and they knew exactly which two teams were playing.
For last year’s OSU-Michigan game, the Buckeyes went with all-white uniforms to commemorate the “Snow Bowl” of 1950 between these two schools. Unfortunately, there were a couple of issues with wearing the all-whites. One, Michigan defeated OSU in the Snow Bowl by a score of 9-3. So wearing those uniforms reminded Buckeye fans that their team lost that historical contest. Two, the Snow Bowl was played in Ohio Stadium whereas last year’s game was played in Ann Arbor, Mich. If the university wanted to have the team wear the white uniforms one year at home, that would at least make a little more sense, but again, the Buckeyes came up short in that iconic game.
OSU first wore alternate uniforms against Michigan in 2009. I understand that the college football landscape is slowly shifting toward schools having more than just two uniforms, but OSU isn’t known as that type of school. Programs rich in history and tradition don’t seem to be following the new trend of alternate uniforms, and rightfully so. Programs like Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Southern California, Texas and UCLA do not need to have countless uniforms to build tradition because the tradition has already been built, and OSU is no different.
Wearing the retro throwbacks for non-conference night games is completely understandable. Having the team wear those is a way to not only get the players fired up, but to get the crowd energized, too. And the chrome helmets the Buckeyes wear occasionally throughout the season are phenomenal, but I am simply a fan of tradition when it comes to the OSU-Michigan game.
One can argue that these alternate uniforms do represent tradition because they either honor a specific game or they honor a historic season in Buckeye football. When looking at this rivalry, though, the tradition for OSU is to wear its eminent scarlet and gray — not modern variations of past uniforms.