Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After being away from the laptop most of the day, I'm finally getting a chance to sift through some of your comments and e-mails about Tuesday's series on hated teams, rivalries, etc. A fairly popular sentiment is that I whiffed on the Big Ten's most hated team and should have selected Michigan instead of Ohio State.
Justin from Normal, Ill., writes:
Adam, come on man. You apparently spent too much time covering ND and Depaul and not enough covering Northwestern and the rest of the Big Ten. Anyone who has experience following the Big Ten would know that Michigan is the most hated team in the conference, hands down. Always had been, always will be.
First off, I've covered more Northwestern games than any sane person ever should. I agree with Justin that Michigan always has been the league's most hated program. The Wolverines are viewed by many as arrogant, overexposed and often overrated. But the "always will be" statement is where we differ.
Ohio State has overtaken Michigan on the hate meter after the last six seasons. The Buckeyes and their fans have been in the spotlight constantly, and increased attention usually breeds hatred. Unlike the Wolverines, whose perceived arrogance has become laughable at times in recent seasons (i.e. Appalachian State), many people view Ohio State as projecting the rare combination of arrogance and crudeness. It's Jim Tressel's sweater vest combined with rowdy fans. Plus, Ohio State can back up the smack with its recent success. According to my colleague Mark Schlabach, the Buckeyes aren't just the most hated team in the Big Ten, but the entire country.
As far as rivalries, most of the criticism has centered on including Illinois-Ohio State and leaving out Purdue-Indiana. One user wrote that I neglected some of the rivalries but didn't list any examples. Fortunately, he did list a location (West Lafayette, Ind.). Pretty sneaky, Paul.
Greg from Chicago writes:
Dude, cool out on creating some sort of rivalry between Ohio State and Illinois. A close game 2 years ago and an upset last year do not make a rivalry. A rivalry is something that is entrenched for years (OSU - Michigan or even OSU - Penn St at this point). Not sure if you graduated from Illinois but even my buddies from U of I think you are annoying and crazy. How many different articles can you write to suggest this? It even made the top 5 rivalries in the Big 10?! What? Maybe someday they will be rivals but at this point, Illinois - Michigan is more of a rivalry that has garnered some passion from the faithful (at least on Illinois' side), not glee from an upset win and a close game over the past 2 years.
Greg, you bring up a good point about the importance of longevity when ranking a rivalry. Perhaps I'll create a separate list of "best new rivalries." Illinois-Ohio State would definitely be up there because of recent games and Illinois' recruiting surge. I'd also classify Purdue-Indiana as an exciting new rivalry to watch. Sure, the two teams have been playing forever, but Indiana's struggles until the last few years really decreased the buzz around the game. It's definitely getting good now with Indiana's recent surge and should be a fun one to watch in November as Joe Tiller coaches his last home game at Purdue.