The Marty Smith Podcast: Former Buckeyes LB Joshua Perry Chats About the Storied Rivalry Between Ohio State and Michigan

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

We welcomed a college football national champion to the show this week when former Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry joined The Marty Smith Podcast. That’s great news for Buckeyes fans, but we’ve got a feeling most University of Michigan fans are going to skip this episode. That’s just how it is when it comes to the biggest rivalry in college football.

Perry started at linebacker and helped lead OSU to their 2014 National Championship victory over the Oregon Ducks. The guys talked plenty about the team’s magical run that season during Joshua’s appearance. In fact, his relationship with host Marty Smith dates back to that 2014 season. ESPN assigned Marty to cover OSU that year, which was his first time covering a huge college football program.

The pair have known each other for years now, but when speaking about his university, you knew the Buckeyes’ rivals would come into the conversation. Their annual matchup is such a big deal, many simply refer to it as “The Game.” The historic rivalry began more than 100 years ago in 1897 when the two schools first met on a football field. Since then, it’s gone on to become one of the biggest games played each season, no matter what each teams’ ranking is at the time.

Ohio State and Michigan can win every other game the whole season. But if they don’t win this one, it’s looked at by many as a failure of a season. That’s how much rides on that particular rivalry game. We get into that more with Perry, who knows the rivalry better than most since he grew up in Columbus and wore the OSU jersey.

Joshua Perry Speaks On the Hatred and Respect (Mostly Hate) for Michigan

“Before the season started, [Ohio State head coach] Ryan Day was very honest and open about the fact that [if] you don’t win that game, you failed. Encompass and encapsulate what the game is in Columbus,” Marty said to Joshua Perry.

Perry started out by reminding The Marty Smith Podcast co-hosts that he grew up in Columbus. He was even in attendance in 2006 when No. 2 Michigan played No. 1 Ohio State in a matchup nicknamed the “Game of the Century.” So Perry was already involved with the rivalry as a kid. But he’d go on to have a front row seat to it as a player from 2012 to 2015.

“Those were some of the initial impressions to me of what that rivalry is at its greatest,” Perry recalled. “And so, basically what it is, is an inordinate level of hate, but a respect as well. We hated those guys, absolutely hated them. I was born to not like those guys, I was conditioned to have hate in my heart for that team.”

Joshua Perry Shares Some of the Finer Details of the Rivalry

The former linebacker goes on to break down some of the nuances of the OSU-UM rivalry. He shares how deep-rooted the hatred for Michigan is in and around Columbus from an Ohio State perspective.

“So this is basically what happens,” Perry said. “The week leading up to the game, on Ohio State’s campus and other places in Central Ohio, every ‘M’ on campus is crossed out. They don’t exist anymore. It’s called ‘Hate Week,’ and that’s how it starts. And then everybody’s doing a pep rally. Every [advertisement] that you see is centered around the rivalry. Players are like, your eyes change color, your mouth starts to foam up. And it’s because you’ve prepared all year to play this game.”

“All of that to say, it’s a longstanding rivalry that has been back and forth in the past. Some of the greatest players that this game has ever seen have played in that rivalry. Some of the greatest coaches that have ever coached the game of football have coached in that rivalry… You can feel through your television set the emotion of every player that steps onto that football field. And I am proud to say that I never lost to those guys,” Joshua Perry concluded.

Our co-hosts talk with Joshua Perry about that and much more on the new episode of The Marty Smith Podcast. Make sure to check out the entire podcast in the video above, or listen to their full conversation on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.