In more ways than one, it’s going to be a little strange seeing Tom Brady play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, isn’t it?
For two decades, Tom Brady was the face of the New England Patriots and became arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. He won six Super Bowl titles, four Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards, three NFL MVP trophies, and was selected to the Pro Bowl a record 14 times. So seeing him suit up in a different jersey for the next two years is going to be a little awkward.
What may have gotten lost in this whole thing is that before Tom Brady donned the red, white, and blue of the New England Patriots, he wore the maize and blue of the Michigan Wolverines. So, given the history of one of the biggest rivalries in college football history, don’t you think that seeing the most successful Wolverine in NFL history playing for a team called the Bucs is a little strange?
The Michigan-OSU rivalry
The Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes have one of the biggest rivalries in college football history, even if it’s been a little one-sided in recent years.
The Wolverines and Buckeyes first played one another in 1897, with Michigan picking up a 34-0 win. Since then, the two programs have become the two winningest programs in college football history. Michigan is first on the all-time wins list with 953. Ohio State is in second with 911. And in what came to be known as “The Game”, the matchup between Michigan and Ohio State at the end of each season often has major implications as it pertains to conference and/or national championships.
If you play for Michigan, you don’t like Ohio State. If you play for Ohio State, you don’t like Michigan. In fact, if you’re a Buckeye, you don’t even say Michigan. You say “that team up north”, a phrase that was coined by legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, whose famous “Ten Year War” with Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines from 1969-1978 was one of the greatest stretches in the rivalry.
While Ohio State has won the last eight matchups, Michigan still holds the overall lead in the rivalry, 58-51-6.
Tom Brady’s career at Michigan
Out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, Tom Brady joined the Michigan Wolverines in 1996 and was a backup his first two years in Ann Arbor. Sitting behind future NFL quarterback Brian Griese, Brady threw just five passes his freshman year and just 15 his sophomore year in 1997, the same year the Wolverines won the national championship.
Brady beat out Drew Henson ahead of the 1999 season and was the starter for Michigan his final two seasons, although he did platoon a bit with Henson his senior year. Brady compiled a 20-5 record as a starter and notched wins at the 1999 Citrus Bowl and the 2000 Orange Bowl.
Brady finished his Michigan career with 4,773 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions, completing 61.9% of his passes.
How did Tom Brady fare against the Buckeyes?
In the two years that Tom Brady sat the bench, Michigan beat Ohio State both times. However, the Buckeyes turned the tables in Brady’s first crack at them as the starter, pummeling the Wolverines in 1999, 31-16. Brady had a lot of yards that day with 375 but the Buckeyes racked up seven sacks that afternoon in the victory.
Brady was able to exact a little revenge his senior year and showed his ability to be clutch late in the game. Down seven near the end of the third, Brady hit tight end Shawn Thompson with a touchdown pass to tie the score at 17 and then gave the Wolverines the lead with another touchdown strike to Marquise Walker with five minutes to play, giving Michigan the 24-17 win.
Since leaving Michigan, Brady has returned to Ann Arbor on numerous occasions to support the Wolverines and has made plenty of bets with some of his Ohio State teammates in the pros, often losing them given the recent history of the rivalry. But he’s always stayed true to his Wolverines. So while there’s no letter “k” in there, it’s going to be a little weird hearing or seeing “Go Bucs” from Tom Brady.