Michigan vs. Ohio State has earned the title of "Greatest Sports Rivalry" by the likes of ESPN, USA Today and Bleacher Report, but the annual football showdown has been one-sided in recent years with the Buckeyes winning the last seven meetings.
But the results on the football field aren't cooling the intensity of the rivalry that dates to the 19th century. Just ask Hooks pitcher Brett Adcock and outfielder Ronnie Dawson.
Dawson donned Ohio State's scarlet and gray from 2014-'16, the same time Adcock wore Michigan's blue and maize.
The two squared off on three occasions during their collegiate careers:
May 11, 2014 - Adcock threw 8.0 shutout innings, striking out seven in a 4-1 Wolverines win. Dawson went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout against his future teammate.
May 13, 2016 - Adcock strikes out nine over 6.2 frames but allowed three runs in a 3-2 loss. Dawson went 0-for-2 with a walk against him.
May 25, 2016 - Dawson finally got to Adcock, ripping two singles in two at-bats with a walk, a stolen base and a run scored. Adcock took the loss in the opener of the Big Ten Tournament.
Despite his mixed results against Adcock, the Columbus native is quick to point out his team went 6-2 against the Wolverines during his tenure, which includes going 5-0 and ending Michigan's season in 2016. Adcock regained some bragging rights this year, when his school reached the College World Series final as underdogs before falling to Vanderbilt.
The Houston Astros drafted Dawson after his junior season in the second round of the 2016 draft, then took Adcock in the fourth round that same year. The two former rivals have since been friends and teammates at each Minor League level, though their college pride still rings loud.
This month, Ohio State University - officially named The Ohio State University - filed a trademark for use of the word "The" on team merchandise. A term of honor to Buckeyes and perhaps braggadocious to others, the "The" trademark put a new twist in the rivalry and sparked widespread debates on social media.
Given that news and with college football season starting this week, Hooks Communications Coordinator Dan Reiner asked Adcock and Dawson, separately, the same exact questions to hear their opinions about the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity).
How would you describe the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry?Brett:
I would describe it as the best rivalry in all of sports, period. The history, even though it hasn't gone our way the last 10 years, it's just been a long time of those two teams battling it out.Ronnie:
For football it's real serious. It's the biggest rivalry in all of sports. Going to Ohio State, ever since I've been a Buckeye, I personally wouldn't call it a rivalry because we beat them a lot in football. In baseball, they beat us my first year, but my last year -- the most important year -- we beat them five times out of five. It's competition of schools and it's really intense, especially the football games. We'll go tailgate and people get after it.
What do you think of Ohio State filing a trademark for the word "THE"?Brett:
I think it's stupid. We've been around longer, so the
University of Michigan should get to keep it. 200-plus years of domination overall.Ronnie:
It's about time. I'm surprised we haven't trademarked already. People always give us heat for it, but it's THE Ohio State. But if they're going to give us heat for it, we might as well trademark for it. I love the idea.
Ronnie Dawson was named to two all-Big Ten teams in his three years at Ohio State, earning first-team honors in 2016. Credit: Ohio State Athletics.
You faced off three times in college (Dawson went 2-for-7 with 3 walks, a steal and a strikeout against Adcock). What do you remember from those meetings?Brett:
I remember I owned Ronnie the first time we played them, but after that he got me. He got better.Ronnie:
The first time we faced him, we see him Friday night and we're kind of making fun of him. Then he starts Sunday and he dominates us. Sophomore year I played against him in the Cape Cod League, but I don't think we faced each other. Junior year, I faced him and I put it on him. It was fun, especially because it's left-on-left, but he's a competitor and I'm a competitor. He was one of the best pitchers in my three-year era in Big Ten baseball -- he's top-3. It was good for me to get some hits off him, because he has his fair share of striking me out too.
What was the scouting report against him in college and how has he improved in 3 years as a pro?Brett:
I think our approach to him was just stay away from him and then spin him [throw him curveballs]. Now he's adjusted to all types of pitches and he's able to go with pitches in certain directions, which has been his biggest improvement since college.Ronnie:
Get out of that at-bat as fast as possible. If he throws you a first-pitch fastball, hop on it. Don't get deep into counts because I don't want that curveball. Two strikes, the chances of me getting a hit were very slim. From college to now, he's gotten a lot smarter. He's always had good stuff, but now he's smarter about how to use it.
You're both from the Midwest and have both risen through the Astros system together since being drafted 2 rounds apart in 2016. How is your relationship as teammates?Brett:
I think it's really good. We always have our little arguments about who's better even though Ohio State has been way better than us in football the last few years, so it's kind of been a lopsided conversation. It's always fun to talk some trash and have some fun with it.Ronnie:
He's one of the best teammates I've ever had. He cares about people and he's never shy. You could be a random person and he'll talk to you. That's good, having good people like that to rise through the system with.
Brett Adcock went 27-13 with a 3.14 ERA over three seasons for the Michigan Wolverines. Credit: Lon Horwedel/Michigan Athletics
Do you guys place any wagers for the annual football game in November? Any smack talk back and forth?Brett:
We don't place wagers but we definitely talk a little trash. It just makes it more fun. As soon as football season starts it's like that. Or if we go to Spring Training and we haven't really talked that much, he'll be like 'Oh what happened this year? Blah blah blah."Ronnie:
Every year, Adcock's like "this is the year" and I'm like "yeah, yeah whatever." Last year, Ohio State was good but they always give us a little scare. They'll lose to a team like Purdue or Iowa. Those teams are good, but they're not the beasts in the Big Ten like Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin. Last year, I was like 'this might actually be the year [Ohio State loses].' But he texted me and I was like 'man, there's no chance y'all beat us.' We had [Michigan baseball alumnus] Carmen Benedetti
here for a bit and it's fun to mess with those guys, like 'I don't think you'll ever beat us again.'
How do you feel about (Michigan head coach) Jim Harbaugh?Brett:
Mixed emotions. Everybody thought he was going to be the saving grace, but you don't beat certain teams
and a lot of people change their minds. I think he's pretty good. I think he's allowing the offense to be run by somebody else now, which will be interesting to see. I don't mind him. I think he's fine.Ronnie:
I like him a lot. He keeps losing, so keep him around as long as possible. Don't change anything.
Do you think (former Ohio State head coach) Urban Meyer will actually stay retired from coaching?Brett:
I hope so.Ronnie:
I don't know. I got to talk to him a little bit. His son Nate plays now at University of Cincinnati, so he'd come and hit when I was there. I think Urban himself played Minor League Baseball. I would talk to him and you could tell he has a passion for football. I think he's one of the best college football coaches ever. If he's retired, he's still showing up to the football field. So full retirement and done with football? I can't see that.
Is this Michigan's year to break the losing streak?Brett:
I want to say yes, but it'll all be determined by how they do with that offense. We also lost our key defensive players, but if we can fill those spots we'll win.
Does Ohio State extend the winning streak to eight in a row?Ronnie:
Most likely. It's like 99.99 percent certain. There's always that small chance, so I'm not going to say it's a 100 percent chance because I'm not naïve. But 99.9999 percent we're going to beat them again. It's going to be fun, I'm excited. We're going to try to go to the game together. We always talk about it, but we'll see.