Ohio State players never require bulletin-board material to motivate them when they are preparing to meet their biggest rival. They have some, anyway.
And the bulletin board is almost 30 years old.
The Buckeyes will play at Michigan on Saturday — their first meeting with the Wolverines since Jim Harbaugh returned to his alma mater as head coach. It will be Harbaugh’s first tangle with Ohio State since 1986, when he followed through with a victory guarantee and led the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl.
Three decades have passed. The Buckeyes have not forgotten. And no, Harbaugh is not guaranteeing anything this time.
“That was a long time ago,” a smiling Harbaugh told reporters. “In my youth … in my youth.”
Back in 1986, in the days leading up to the game in Columbus, Harbaugh said this: “I think we’re smart enough to know that there’s too much at stake right now. Everything’s still out there for us. We can still win the Big Ten championship, we can go to the Rose Bowl, and we will. I guarantee you we’ll beat Ohio State and be in Pasadena.”
In its oral history of the prediction and the game, ESPN also quoted from the autobiography of late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler: “Quarterbacks are a special breed. They need to be cocky, and the cockiest I ever had was probably Jim Harbaugh.”
Let history show that Harbaugh was lucky, too. Ohio State lost the game 26-24 when the Buckeyes missed a 45-yard field goal with a minute to play.