College Rivalries

4 min read
  One of the most important aspects of the world of collegiate athletics is the rivalries, existing between schools, players and fans. It seems to remind us that, amidst the money and grandeur surrounding these players, it really is, after all, just a game. And, although these rivalries may sound silly, they should always be taken seriously. Widely regarded as one of the most exciting rivalries in the country, Michigan and Ohio State’s long-standing feud stretches back to their first meeting in 1897. However, the rivalry was at its best during the time of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, a period often referred to as “The Ten Year War.” It was during this time that the public became fascinated by the competition, drawn in by Woody Hayes’ intense, almost laughable distaste for all things Michigan, so much so that he would only ever refer to it as “the state up North” so as to avoid saying its name. Despite this period being long over, and Michigan’s under performance meaning the game fails to be as exciting, new coaches for both sides sparks hope in fans that the rivalry will soon be back to its best.   Pittsburgh Panthers’ rivalry with Penn State’s Nittany Lions has seen better days. Despite the two teams first meeting in 1893, the nineties saw the rivalry begin a slow death as both Pitt and Penn State joined different conferences, Pitt to Big East and Penn State to Big Ten. The feud has been on a hiatus since 2000, but a four game series starting this September and scheduled across the next four years promises to return this intrastate rivalry to its glory days.   Considered one of the most intense rivalries in the sporting world, Louisville’s Cardinals vs. Kentucky’s Wildcats has captured the attention of both football and basketball fans alike. Despite first being established in 1913, the basketball teams’ rivalry is relatively young, with the teams only having met 49 times since. However, the history behind the Governor’s Cup – the name given to their football tournaments – is more interesting. Having only played six times before 1924, the rivalry was dead for an entire seventy years, until it was revived in 1994, with the presentation of a brand new Governor’s Cup trophy. As it stands, since the reintroduction of the feud, Louisville leads with 14 wins to Kentucky’s 8.   North Carolina’s Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils’ basketball rivalry has endured nearly a century, and 242 meetings; in order to become what Sports Illustrated rates “the biggest rivalry in college basketball.” The fans’ behaviour underline the intensity of the hatred existing between the two teams, with diehard Carolina fan and US Representative Brad Miller famously saying: “If Duke were playing against the Taliban, I’d have to pull for the Taliban.”   Finally, “The Big Game” – used to refer to any meeting between the California Golden Bears and Stanford Cardinals – has seen its fair share of fan, and player, rivalry. The California intrastate football rivalry is the oldest in the West, with the two teams first meeting in 1892, and has developed since first starting while Stanford was under the coaching of future President Herbert Hoover. The term “Big Game” was actually coined to describe the 1900 game, the fateful day where the Thanksgiving Day Disaster occurred – the deadliest spectator accident at any US sport event – but it stuck, and has been used ever since. Currently, Stanford is leading with 61 wins to Berkeley’s 46. Clearly, rivalries remain a prominent fixture in the world of college sport, providing a sense of competition and team pride. It can be argued that without this, collegiate athletics as a whole would be seriously lacking, as it brings an inspiring, and sometimes much needed, sense of excitement to the games. Written by Bethany Sharpe  

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