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The Battle of the Bricks: A History

We take a look at the oldest rivalry in the Mid-American Conference.

Last year's game shows that the record books go out the window when Miami plays OU.
Last year's game shows that the record books go out the window when Miami plays OU.
Jamie Sabau

(Author's Note: This story was supposed to go live this morning. However, real life -- in the form of a sudden job interview -- intervened. I hope everyone out there in HustleSpace is willing to forgive me.)

The first thing to know about the history of the Battle of the Bricks is that there isn't really much history to speak of. It's a contrivance. An invention. An artifice. And it's grafted on to a deep, passionate rivalry -- like the Red River Shootout being renamed the AT&T Red River Rivalry. Miami and Ohio first played each other in football in 1908, and a rivalry soon developed between the schools in all sports, not just on the gridiron. "Battle of the Bricks" was a term created by marketing wizards in 2002, apparently because they were unhappy with simply saying "rivalry game against Miami" or "rivalry game against Ohio." And properly speaking, it describes not just this Saturday's football game, but every athletic contest between the schools during an academic year. Tennis? Battle of the Bricks. Baseball? Battle of the Bricks. Men's basketball? Battle of the Bricks. Ice hockey? Battle of the Bricks LOL OHIO DOESN'T HAVE A REAL HOCKEY TEAM.

But, as befits a football rivalry that's over 100 years old, there's plenty of history. Here, then, are some highlights:

1908: The first Miami-OU game. Miami had no nickname at this time, not "RedHawks," not "Redskins," not even "Red and White," the first team nickname to appear in print. And this old-school game had the old-school score of 5-0, a Miami victory. This being 1908, the number of people permanently injured in the game probably exceeded the number of points on the scoreboard.

1909: Perhaps sensing how bored people were with that 5-0 snoozer, Miami wins 45-0 in Oxford, the largest margin of victory in the series.

1937-42: The first of three extended winning streaks for Ohio, and arguably the Bobcats' most dominant run in the whole series. Ohio won six games in a row with a combined score of 151-32, or roughly 25-5 per game. The 1941 game is the Bobcats' largest margin of victory in the series, a 26-0 win over the Redskins.

1943-44: No games played. There were more important things going on in the world at this time.

1945-59: Over fifteen years, Miami goes 14-0-1. The Redskins' head coaches during this stretch: Sid Gillman, George Blackburn, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, and John Pont. Three of those guys are Hall of Famers, and all of them went on to win coaching awards in their careers. The 1953 contest was one of only two ties in the series.

1960-69: Probably the most evenly balanced decade of the series, with Ohio winning the Sixties 6 games to 4. True fact: Bo Schembechler had a better winning percentage against Ohio State than he did against Ohio. The 1968 game sealed the MAC title for the Bobcats. They have yet to reach the mountaintop again.

1971: Apparently everyone got together before the game and decided that 1908 wasn't boring enough. Ohio won 3-0 in the most scintillating game played in any sport in the 1970s.

1989: The Bobcats and Redskins tied 22-22 at the end of the Cleve Bryant/Tim Rose era (error?). The two worst teams in the MAC couldn't even be bothered to beat each other. Both Bryant and Rose were gone at season's end.

1992: This game is legendary because of a fight between the Marching 110 Alumni (not the band itself, mind you, the alumni) and the Redskins football team. According to Ohio's side of the story, the alumni finished up their show, then the Miami football team came on to the field to warm up before the actual student Marching 110 got to do their show. As a result, both the football team and the band were on the field at the same time, and the alumni deservedly intervened to make sure the football players were out of the band's way...but it all got out of control. To hear Miami's side, the Redskins were explicitly given permission to take the field, and suddenly a bunch of 30-year-olds decided to start a drunken (on their part) brawl. There's been an Amazon e-book written about this; I recommend it.

So there you have the highlights of Miami and Ohio over the years. Here's hoping the RedHawks kick some ass, at least on my part. (I make no claim to impartiality.)