While not necessarily the biggest game now, definitely one that has held onto its marquee for a long time. Those of you in your late forties and up probably remember the 1968 game which put Michigan back on the map (by taking a “gift trip to the Rose Bowl” and making it an earned trip); I remember the missed field goal, the vote and Woody punching out the camera man. After that, I was an MSU fan so the game receded from memory.
Then came 1996.
Michigan was aiming for its first end-of-year #1 ranking in almost fifty years, and Ohio State was in the middle of its near-domination of the Big Ten (just couldn’t get Michigan out of its hair…). I was following along, especially after MSU did its usual nose-dive by losing to both Michigan and Ohio State.
The week before the game I called Radio Talking Book at WKAR to see if I could volunteer to read. I lucked out — they had the Saturday Morning reading of the Detroit News/Free Press open. I jumped on it.
Saturday comes, I ride the bus to campus and walk in to read. Sadly, the regular reader has the sports section to read. Happily, it’s an old woman and she begs off the Sports to me.
As I look through the paper, I not only notice the Michigan and Ohio state articles (both big and front-page) but also articles for the Tigers, Lions, Pistons, Red Wings and Spartan Football. I break up the fifteen minute reading into three sections — The first section covers the Tigers, Lions, Pistons, Red Wings and Spartan Football, the middle section is dedicated to Michigan, and the final section is for Ohio State.
My sports time comes, I sit behind the mike.
The first five minutes pass by. I butcher my usual number of words (not the names of the Russians playing for the Red Wings, thank goodness), moving an eye on the time clock to make sure I’m not taking too much time on these unimportant items.
Then I move on to the Michigan article. As I read it, I find myself getting keyed up as I try to gauge equal time between this and the Ohio State Article. Three minutes, then four, then five minutes finally pass by.
I move on to the Ohio State article.
Now I’m reading with one eye on the article and the other on the clock. Time ticks steadily as I work my way through the Ohio State Article. A pattern to the paragraphs, noticed in the Michigan article, ingrains itself throughout the Ohio State Article: One paragraph discussion, one paragraph supporting quote, repeat until the end.
Again, the time runs out. I’m sure I’ve given equal time, and I know I’ve done justice to everything — both the important game and the rest of the sports news. I feel good.
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Now, I’m sure I’d have done it differently. I’d have done the first seven minutes to Michigan, the next seven minutes to Ohio State, and passed on headlines and other stuff in the last minute. Even the MSU game (they would win their game that day and get slaughtered in the bowl game they played — Thank You For That Slaughter, Nick Saban). It would have been a nerve-racking effort, but worth it for that day as #1 was fighting a worthy opponent.