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Monday, September 22, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 11/28/2013

SPORTS COMMENTARY

Rivalry not up to par right now

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah!

Whether your thing is brisket or turkey with all the trimmings, it’s the start of a joyous season, and hopefully one worthy of thanks. On these pages, of course, that means…

■ OK, so the Ohio State at Michigan game looks like a stinker. The Buckeyes have won 23 straight and the Wolverines have not. Brady Hoke, the UM coach, said the other day that it is still a rivalry that demands national attention. Between the state of his team and the perceived state of the Big Ten I think he’s a little full of it. But it’s still big in these parts. Other Big Ten rivalry games this weekend include Purdue-Indiana and Northwestern-Illinois. Be thankful, scarlet and maze, be thankful.

■ And before we leave the Buckeyes, I hope everyone is appreciative of Urban Meyer. Yeah, yeah, I know. Ohio State for the most part has been good ever since Paul Brown and then Woody walked through the door. Very good. But Meyer took over in a fairly tough spot almost two years ago and has never lost a game! So the Big Ten is not exactly formidable. So what?

■ In a matter of eight months, we have lost the two coaches who put University of Toledo athletics on the map. I’m sad that Bob Nichols and Frank Lauterbur are gone, but I’m sure grateful I knew them.

■ It’s the perfect day to hug your kids and grandkids, to phone close friends. And, in my case, to kiss a wife who never, ever makes me go shopping on Black Friday. Talk about thankful!

■ I can’t remember the last time there was this much anticipation over UT men’s basketball and the Rockets haven’t disappointed anyone thus far. Coach Tod Kowalczyk has done quite a job of resuscitating a program barely on life support. Have a drumstick on us, T.K.

■ And a tip of the cap, as well, to Bowling Green women’s coach Jennifer Roos. Her Falcons have already beaten Michigan and Ohio State to go along with some nice road wins at Iona and Butler. Following Curt Miller seemed a daunting task, but Roos is 30-12 now and I’m guessing BG fans are thankful.

■ And there is more for the Falcons, as the football team plays a meaningful game Friday at Buffalo. If you have to play the day after Thanksgiving on a frozen field surrounded by mounds of snow with the wind whipping around and through some 60,000 empty seats, there might as well be something big – the MAC championship game – at stake.

■ Turkey, stuffing, mashed spuds and gravy, spinach salad with hot bacon dressing, tomato pudding, rolls and butter, pumpkin pie with whipped cream … and then a nap. Thank you.

■ The best thing about Jim Leyland’s new job as a consultant for the Tigers organization is that he might visit Toledo more often. Having him and Larry Parrish sitting in the same office telling stories before games should excite every media type in town.

■ After 20 years stumbling and bumbling through baseball’s most parched desert, I can’t tell you how thankful I was, and still am, for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2013 season.

■ One of these days, months and years we’ll be thankful for accomplishments by the Browns and Pistons and Cavs. Maybe. As for the Red Wings and Lions, I’m not sure which way they’re tilting at present.

■ I appreciate Al and Cris on Sunday nights. Mike and Jon on Monday nights? Not so much. But that’s just me.

■ I’ve started a New Year’s resolution early, leaning on our local library in order to read and often re-read everything the late, great Elmore Leonard ever wrote. What better than “Raylan” to start with?

■ Some might remember a few years back, when I wrote about the loss of my beloved golden retriever, Maggie, that I said it was the first column I had written from home in a decade without my feet resting on her soft fur. I just realized that her successor and clone, Elsie, is sound asleep with her muzzle across my right foot as I type this. I am thankful ... even a tad emotional, as only old people can be. It’s a good time to stop.

But not before again wishing readers a Happy Thanksgiving on behalf of all of us here, from the names you see in print every day to the ones you never see, but who do all the heavy lifting in the office. I am surely thankful to work with all of them.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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