Last month, pictures showed up on Twitter of a University of Michigan football with the inscription “Made in USA, Not in Ohio.”
It was clever, it further stoked the fire (at least among fans on the Internet) of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry and the picture was real.
The truth is that Michigan for decades has ordered its official footballs from the Wilson Football factory in tiny Ada, Ohio, and that hasn’t changed. Per a Wilson source, Michigan’s usual order of around 300 new Wilson footballs for the 2013 was delivered last week.
All 300 were, as usual, made in Ohio.
Michigan has a shoe and apparel deal with Adidas, which produced the football that showed up on the Twitter feed of Michigan receiver Bo Dever. In later tweets, Dever — probably after a nudge from someone involved with the program — tweeted that the “Not in Ohio” ball was “not created or supplied by the University of Michigan.”
The ball was likely a promotional item supplied by Adidas and therefore probably wasn’t made in Ohio. Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Louisville also use Wilson footballs.
The Adidas Michigan “Not in Ohio” ball was all in good fun, at least what fun there is in the high-stakes, high-intensity rivalry between the guys in maize and blue and the guys in scarlet and gray, neither of whom will refer directly to the other these days.
The Wilson factory in Ada employs 120 people and has been making the official football of the NFL longer than the NFL has been playing the Super Bowl. It’s also the official ball of 28 high school athletic associations and 11 of 13 Mid-American Conference football programs, as of last fall.