Michigan-Ohio State rivalry comes into focus on HBO


The Kickoff

November 09, 2007|By RAY FRAGER

Scribbling this week's sports media notebook while wondering how soon ESPN will have to get separate desks for Stephen A. Smith and Bill Walton:

On Tuesday at 10:30 p.m., four days before the annual renewal of a football series that began in 1897, HBO debuts Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry. It's yet another compelling sports documentary by the network that produces one after another. But that's just my opinion. Let's hear from someone who actually played in some of those games, former Buckeye Stan White:

"Like Jim Valvano said, I had a good time. I laughed, I cried, I thought, I remembered. It was very personal to me," White wrote in an e-mail after seeing a preview. "From the first moments that showed my son catching a pass at the 1-yard line against Michigan last year, to seeing old friends relive great highs, to seeing old enemies resurrect painful memories, to seeing old No. 88 [me] back on the Horseshoes field. It brought back tremendous feelings of hate for anything Michigan and love and respect for Woody Hayes and anything Ohio State. It clearly showed Michigan to be the evil and Ohio State to be the good."

White, a former Colts linebacker who is a Ravens radio analyst on WBAL/98 Rock, said he saw himself three or four times in the hour-long documentary. White said he often attends the game, but when he watches at home, "I don't want to watch it with a group."

Though White last played for the Buckeyes in 1971, his competitive fires haven't exactly cooled when it comes to the Wolverines.

"I watched it one year with a pastor from Michigan," White said on the phone, "and I almost had to kick him out of the house."

One thing that clearly comes through in the HBO show is Michigan's superior attitude toward the folks in Columbus, perhaps best expressed in the rather dismissive way Michigan graduate Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes speaks about Ohio State.

The program ends with a few jokes, including this one: How do you get an Ohio State graduate off your porch? Pay him for the pizza.

Speaking of longtime rivalries, ESPN tomorrow takes its College GameDay to Williamstown, Mass., site of the 122nd renewal of the Amherst-Williams game.

And I know you want to ask whom we like in this game, but it seems too close to call. Each school can claim a president (Calvin Coolidge, Amherst; James Garfield, Williams), though Amherst has the Penguin (Burgess Meredith from Batman) and the White Shadow (Ken Howard) to Williams' Wojo (Max Gail of Barney Miller). However, Williams can counter with Stephen Sondheim, then loses points for George Steinbrenner.

Tipping the scale? The movie Carnal Knowledge was partly set at Amherst.

In the aftermath of Monday's Ravens game, some fans - via talk radio or message boards - have been complaining about ESPN's announcers for their treatment of the Ravens. Too much focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Too much dissing of the Ravens.

Now, just step back a bit before your face turns as purple as your No. 52 jersey. Think about it for a moment: The Steelers were honoring their past, bringing back players who made up one of the NFL's greatest dynasties, many of whom have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, the Ravens were dropping the ball all over the field and letting Ben Roethlisberger look as if he were going to join Terry Bradshaw in Canton.

So what exactly were Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser supposed to say?

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network announced its college basketball schedule, and Loyola and UMBC each will appear five times, Towson twice and Navy once.

MASN also announced the return of Washington Nationals play-by-play man Bob Carpenter for next season. The Orioles' voice, Gary Thorne, is under contract through next season.

You can hear Thorne call basketball on MASN on Dec. 2, when he works the BB&T Classic telecasts.


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