There are great college sports rivalries all over the country, but few can compare with the intensity of Michigan and Ohio State. The bordering Midwestern states harbor a legendary threshold of hate for one another, the likes of which can even make Red Sox and Yankees fans blush.
Still, what happened to one Ohio native who dared cross state lines recently went beyond any sense of pride or rationality into a nearly scary situation … and may have given motivation to both teams come next November.
As first reported by the Michigan football blog Tremendous and It's Always Sunny in Detroit, Michigan commitment Kyle Kalis received numerous threats from Ohio State fans after he committed to play for the Wolverines this fall. In fact, the threats were explicit and incredibly brazen, with more than one fan chiming in to say they hoped the offensive lineman tore his ACL.
Of course, there's a reason why the hatred for Kalis was particularly fierce; he had previously committed to Ohio State before opening his future back up after the firing of Jim Tressel.
Here's how Kalis described the treatment he received from Ohio State fans in an interview with Tremendous:
There are really a lot of stupid people out there. I'd get people telling me they wanted me to tear my ACL. I got plenty of threats. I know it was bad, but I gave my address out to about 20 people and told them to come find me. Nobody came.
While Kalis was surprisingly magnanimous in his handling of the threats -- the senior claims that he simply brushed them all off during the season -- he also patently refused to back away from controversy himself. The Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward lineman said that the reaction by Ohio State fans would serve as inspiration for his future success at Michigan, and took a particularly aggressive tone when asked about the 2012 game between the Big Ten rivals, which will be played in Columbus.
"There will be blood on the field and it won't be mine. … Quote it. Let them know."
Strong words from a strong teenager, with plenty more in the full interview which can be read here. Still, those sentiments and the hostility Kalis has already received may be an ominous sign for future tensions between a resurrected Michigan program and an Ohio State football family which will be desperate to regain the success of the Tressel era under new coach Urban Meyer.
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