Wolverines find humor in OSU fans’ hostility

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Cameron Barnhouse of Zanesville, Ohio, and his cousin Erin Barnhouse show their contempt for Jim Harbaugh on Saturday morning.

Columbus, Ohio — Ohio State fans dislike Michigan so much, they have a whole song telling the world about it.

Buckeye fans “don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan,” the lyrics go, and they mean it.

Boy, do they mean it.

Michigan players past and present said no place compares to driving up to Ohio Stadium and the greeting they receive from the Ohio State fans. The current Wolverines will find that out first-hand today when they make the trek to the stadium and then into the locker room before their game against No. 2 Ohio State. Michigan is ranked No. 3.

“That’s definitely the worst,” Jake Long, a former All-American tackle, said. “Seems like every single person is flipping you off or mooning you or throwing things at your bus. That goes for cops, to a 70-year-old grandmother, to a 15-year-old kid.

“It’s fun though. You’ve got that group on the bus and it’s you against everybody. They hate you, and it’s fun. You’ve got your group of 80 or 90 guys, and it’s you against 100,000 people.”

Jon Jansen, a two-time captain, was an All-American offensive lineman who played on the 1997 national championship team. He now works on the Michigan radio broadcast.

He laughed when recalling his visits to The Shoe and encountering the rabid Ohio State fans.

“Their fans have no inhibitions. None,” Jansen said, smiling. “I think the best one, I was sitting next to Zach Adami and heading to the ‘96 game. Normally on the bus it’s quiet as can be. You don’t say a word. You’re on the way to the game. Some guys have headphones on.

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“We were going down High Street and all of a sudden these two old ladies, I’m talking old, old ladies, turn around, hike up their skirts and moon the bus. It was the only time I was at Michigan where the whole bus erupted in laughter before the game. For college kids to see that, it was “Ewwwwwwww, that’s really gross. But that’s hilarious.’ ”

Jansen had a long NFL career with Washington. NFL fan bases can be rowdy and disruptive, but in his opinion they never reached the level of Ohio State fans.

“They were nice at Penn State. Wisconsin was rowdy but still with a tinge of respect,” Jansen said. “I’ve played all over, and I have never run into a fan base like Columbus. We have a rivalry with Michigan State but that rivalry only goes so far. Every school in the Big Ten has some sort of rivalry with Ohio State because of the way they’re treated when they go to Columbus.

Buckeye fans are certain to make an impression on the Wolverines upon their arrival at Ohio Stadium Saturday.

“We’re not treated that way when we got to Nebraska, and we don’t treat Nebraska like that when they come here (to Michigan Stadium). There’s always this kind of mutual respect. You go to Columbus, and there’s none. You get no respect from their fans. We’re not asking for it, but I think it’s amplified when they play Michigan. But I also think that’s how they treat everybody.”

Growing up in Pickerington, a suburb of Columbus, senior tight end Jake Butt watched Michigan-Ohio State every year. He will play his final regular-season game for the Wolverines today and smiled as he recalled the fan reception when the Wolverines arrived two years ago.

“You get flipped off a lot by the fans,” Butt said. “They don’t really have anything good to say. No good luck wishes by any means. I like that. It gets the adrenaline flowing a little bit.”

Cornerback Jourdan Lewis had heard about the Ohio State fans and endured their warm greetings two years ago.

“Just seeing how much the fans hate us.” Lewis said Monday on the Inside Michigan Football radio show when asked what he remembered about being at Ohio Stadium. “You go down there in Columbus and seeing it for yourself first-hand how bad they are. They have a special place in my heart definitely.”

Drew Henson, the former Michigan quarterback, also experienced receiving ultra-polite greetings from older women dressed in Ohio State garb.

“We’re on the team bus from the hotel and you’re seeing 85-year-old women, my grandmother’s age, giving you straight-up double fingers,” Henson said. “Like, why are you that mad? Why do you care so much?”

Jansen’s game-day attire this season has included a loud maize and blue Valiant-brand Block M jacket.

He’s a large man already hard to miss when he’s on the sideline, and with that jacket, he stands out.

“I’ve gone back and forth about wearing the jacket in Columbus,” Jansen said. “I’m wearing it.”


Twitter.com: @chengelis