The president of HBO Sports participated in an e-mail Q&A session with Ohio State Alumni Magazine
On Nov. 13, HBO Sports will premiere its documentary on the greatest rivalry in college football. “Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry” will take a close-up look at this storied rivalry through the eyes of the athletes, alumni, and fans who’ve made this game great. Prior to the release of the documentary, Ross Greenburg, the president of HBO Sports, participated in an e-mail Q&A session with Ohio State Alumni Magazine.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO FEATURE THIS GAME IN THE DOCUMENTARY?
Greenburg: The Ohio State-Michigan game has been a classic rivalry, and when you have the history surrounding the “10 Year War,” the story takes on mythic proportions. It is a subject matter that fits the mold of our very best HBO Sports documentaries.
WHERE DO YOU THINK THIS RIVALRY RANKS AMONG ALL OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S GREAT RIVALRIES?
Greenburg: We think this rivalry stands alone as the college football game each year with the most national interest. Many people in Texas, Oklahoma, and California won’t be happy to hear this, but the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry has no peer. This is the first time HBO Sports has produced a documentary on a college football rivalry. Why do you think we picked this one?
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THIS RIVALRY DURING PRODUCTION THAT YOU FOUND MOST INTERESTING?
Greenburg: The supreme hate that develops between the Ohio State and Michigan fans is an amazing phenomenon. I knew this was a rivalry. I never realized there was so much deep-seated anger toward the opposition.
DO YOU THINK OHIO STATE AND MICHIGAN FANS VIEW THIS RIVALRY THE SAME WAY?
Greenburg: Yes. They definitely have an equal amount of hatred for each other, but their reasons are distinct. Ohio State fans feel the Michigan fans are pompous, and the Michigan fans feel the Ohio State fans are not worthy.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE RIVALRY HAS DEVELOP[ED THIS WAY BETWEEN THESE PARTICULAR SCHOOLS?
Greenburg: There is a clash of culture. Michigan thinks of itself as a Midwest Ivy League institution and Ohio State is a proud state university that represents all of Ohio.
WHAT HISTORICAL FIGURES DO YOU THINK PLAYED THE BIGGEST ROLE IN MAKING THIS RIVALRY WHAT IT IS TODAY?
Greenburg: Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler.
DO YOU THINK THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WAY THE FANS VIEW THE RIVALRY AND THE WAY THE PARTICIPANTS VIEW IT?
Greenburg: None whatsoever, but the participants feel a lot more pressure and would personally suffer more of the disappointment after a loss. Of course, they would also feel even more euphoric after a victory. Their memories will last a lifetime.
IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE THIS GAME TO SOMEONE WHO ISN’T A FOOTBALL FAN, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT?
Greenburg: Life and death. It is everything that is right with college football.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF THIS RIVALRY?
Greenburg: The energy in the stadium each year on the third Saturday in November. As the bands play the fight song and the teams charge out onto the field, a classic rivalry is renewed; and there is always next year if you lose.
WHAT IS THE WORST PART OF IT?
Greenburg: There must be nothing worse than the 364 days after a loss.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF LAST YEAR’S GAME?
Greenburg: The rarity of No. 1 playing No. 2, and the extraordinary game that unfolded may never be duplicated through the rivalry’s long, rich history. It took on even a grander scale when Bo passed away the day before the game. We shot all week in Ann Arbor and Columbus and recorded our interview with Bo in Ann Arbor Stadium the day before he died. It was one of the great football games in collegiate history, and the rivalry made it even more memorable.
Ohio State Alumni Magazine is a benefit of membership in the Alumni Association.