The rivalry between the Ohio State and Michigan football teams received a breath of fresh air on Wednesday when Michigan officially introduced its new coach, Brady Hoke.
Speaking for just more than 40 minutes, Hoke did not once refer to OSU by its official name, instead referring to his new rival as “that university in Ohio.”
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Hoke said although he’s never been a fan of OSU, he still respects the university — even if he can’t bring himself to say its name.
“I have great respect for Ohio,” Hoke said. “I had a lot of respect for Coach (Woody) Hayes. I was not a fan of ‘that university in Ohio’ because my buddies were, so I had to be different.”
Hoke is no stranger to the rivalry, as he spent eight seasons in Ann Arbor, Mich., as the Wolverines’ defensive line coach from 1995-02. In those seasons, Michigan went 5-3 against the Buckeyes.
“I think it’s a great hire for them,” OSU President E. Gordon Gee told The Lantern. “I think Michigan needed a Michigan man.”
Things have changed since Hoke left Michigan for head coaching jobs at Ball State and San Diego State; since Hoke left Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes are 7-1 against Michigan.
OSU has also won six straight Big Ten titles. Hoke said his No. 1 goal is to develop a similar streak for the Wolverines.
“The expectation is to win the Big Ten championship,” Hoke said. “That’s where it starts. And if we don’t do that, we’ve got to retool it, re-fix it, do whatever we have to do, because we’re going to do that for Michigan.”
Hoke made it clear how seriously he takes The Game, which he at one point described as “personal.”
Pounding his fist on a podium in-synch with each word, Hoke said, “It is the most important game on the schedule.”