he grew a beard
I bleed Maize & Blue... but I grew up 50 miles due east of Columbus, Ohio until I was 18 years old and went away to college. My father was a OSU alum and my whole family are OSU fans. My parents dressed me in an Archie Griffith jersey when I was in kindergarten. I've seen the pictures in albums, but had blocked the shame and horror from my memory. In grade school I remember watching the Rose Bowl one year. Michigan was playing UCLA (I think) that year and being a young lad and just learning about College football in a rather prejudiced environment, I had never before heard talk of these Wolverines from up North. Nonetheless, I fell in love with the helmets, the name, team colors, and the fight song and picked them to win the game, which they did. I was a fan for life from that day forward.
By sixth grade I had met a few other UM fans in my school and we banded together against the masses of OSU idiots. Every year on the Friday before The Game, our Jr. High School had OSU-Michigan Day. And every year, my UM buddies and I would proudly wear our Maize & Blue amidst the jeers and jokes, only to again walk the halls on the following Monday with our heads still high and making a few jokes of our own. Our 9th grade science teacher was an OSU fanatic and also the lunch monitor. To really stick it to him one year, we wore our own homemade OSU shirts (we had to make them with markers because we didn't own anything scarlet & gay). During lunch period, we ripped off the outer osu shirts to expose our true Maize & Blue identities underneath and then walked through the halls with roses in our teeth. We won the game that year and went on to the Rose Bowl again, much to the chagrin of our bucknut science teacher.
During my Junior year in H.S. my father took me to The Game at the horseshoe as a way to "bond" after he and my mother had separated. He warned me before we left that I should not wear my Michigan attire because we would be sitting in the alumni section and he would not be responsible for my safety. I told him I would take my chances. After we sat down at the stadium prior to the game, my father looked at me and said, "How's it feel to be surrounded by all of us OSU fans boy?". "Feelin' a little uncomfortable are you?" Just at that moment the Michigan Band came onto the field and started playing the Victors and the three rows behind us stood up and started belting out the best fight song in history along with the band. I looked at my father with a big grin and said "now who's outnumbered kemosabe?" then joined my Michigan brethren in song. Unfortunately we lost the game, but to see my father's face when 100 UM fans stood up behind him singing the Victors was priceless!!!!
The past five years have been truly agonizing, however. Every Thanksgiving I get together with my family for our annual Turkey Bowl football game, and all I hear from my brothers and nephews is how UM can't beat osu and got our arses handed to us, etc. Even my children, who I have raised with the same passion for all things Michigan, get hassled by their cousins. My kids were brave enough to wear their GO Blue gear on their school's OSU-UM day the friday before the Big Game a couple of years ago, but my son came home crying because even the teachers game him a hard time (he was about six at the time). Now they wear their Maize & Blue on a regular basis and everyone in the school knows we are the family of UM fans. My kids have learned to ignore the insults, attempts to humiliate them, etc. I have shown my kids videos of games gone by so he does not lose hope in what will once be again... the day we return to our rightful place on top of the Big Ten!!!!
I took my son to the spring game this year. He was fortunate to get many autographs of recruits and his picture with Marvin, Denard, & Ricardo, which he proudly displays in a frame in his bedroom. On the drive home to Akron he slept with his autographed Michigan football clutched tightly in both arms. Though we've lived with trials and tribulations... persecuted for the color of our Maize & Blue blood... we have overcome and remain unwaiverable in our faith and love for the Leaders and Best... Hail to the Victors!! Go BLUE!!!