As Michael Corleone said the movie The Godfather II, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." I am pretty sure he wasn't referring to the rivalry between the Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo athletic programs, but he could have been.
The residents of the city of Toledo spent Sunday without running water after Mayor Michael D. Collins issued a ban Sunday on drinking or using tap water after it was found to have high levels of toxins as a result of algae from Lake Erie that contaminated the city's water supply.
This is a very serious subject and Ohio Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency in the area on Sunday. As of Monday morning, Mayor Collins has lifted the ban on drinking the city's tap water, however many residents remain skeptical of the water quality.
So why are we discussing this in a MAC sports forum? With fall football camp opening at Toledo this past weekend, the trainers suddenly found they were without a way of keeping their players properly hydrated. They desperately needed safe water and they turned to their old rivals, Bowling Green State University, for help.
And the Falcons were happy to help, sending the Rockets an ample supply of water.
When inteviewed by local NBC affiliate WNWO in Toledo, those in the BG athletic department said it wasn't a time to think about competiton. "This is a crisis situation and it's about making sure the kids have water," said Alfred Castillo, Assistant AD for Sports Medicine at BG. "It's not about the rivalry right now." Castillo said he simply hopes that if his team were in the same situation, the favor would be returned. "In sports medicine, we have to make sure we stay safe and healthy."
Now the Rockets could have turned elsewhere for help in this matter. All three directional schools in Michigan are within shouting distance of Toledo and get their water from somewhere other than the western basin of Lake Erie.
But who can blame the Rockets for turning to their arch rivals for help on this one. After all, they've had pretty good luck dealing with the Falcons in recent years. The Rocket football team is currently on a four game winning streak in the "Battle of I-75" against the Falcons. Last year, the Falcons had a dream season winning a MAC Championship for the first time since 1992. One of only a few blemishes on their schedule last year was a devastating 28-25 home loss to the Rockets. Ouch!
Both schools have been picked by the media to win their respective divisions in the MAC this year and meet for a second time in a matter of five weeks in the MAC Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit. If that happens, I wonder if Bowling Green will be supplying the Rockets with more water? Probably not!
Now there are unsubstantiated rumors that Bowling Green athletic department not only gave the Rockets the much needed water but they also supplied them with Gatorade as well. The thinking here is that BG is sending a not-so-subtle message to the Rockets defense letting them know they are going to need all the help they can get in keeping up with BG's new up-tempo offense this year. Nobody from BG has commented on the rumors.
What if this kind of camaraderie filters over into other rivalries in the MAC? What's next, Ohio sending mac & cheese and Ramen noodles to the Miami players after a strike by school cafeteria workers? Kent State putting gas in the Akron bus so they can make the trip home during a gas shortage? The directional Michigan schools pooling resources and having just one marching band that knows all three fight songs?
Now if we could only get Ohio State and Michigan on the same page!