With the game kicking off in Columbus this year, most of us will be watching Saturday’s Michigan-Ohio State game on 50-inch high-definition flatscreens in the comfort of our own homes.
Things were much different 50 years ago.
The 1968 Michigan-Ohio State, played in Columbus, is one of the epic games in the rivalry. OSU won, 50-14, after Buckeye Coach Woody Hayes looked to run up the score by going for two late in the game.
The only way that people back in Michigan could watch that game was by going to the University of Michigan Events Building and watching it broadcast on a big screen that was set up inside. And paying $3 a ticket for the privilege.
A story in the Detroit Free Press on Nov. 24, 1968, gives a fascinating look at what it was like back then if you wanted to watch a college football game on TV.
According to the story, “The game to determine the champion of the Big Ten was blacked out on private TV sets,” meaning that nobody could watch the game at home.
“So the 14,500 seats at the University of Michigan Events Building here on the University of Michigan campus were rented out at $3 a whack. A couple of movie screens had been erected at opposite ends of the main floor.”
For whatever reason, there wasn’t play-by-play that went along with the TV broadcast, so they turned on the radio broadcast instead.
And in a bit of total foreshadowing of what all of us know now, the story pointed out that watching a college football game on TV has its benefits.
“If anything, it was probably more enjoyable here, all nice and comfortable and warm indoors, than it was at Ohio Stadium, where the wind was whipping through the girders like a bullet.”
According to this extensive history on Wikipedia, college football games have been broadcast on TV since 1939, but were historically very restricted until the advent of cable television in the late 1970s.