Mapping the rivalry: How a real Michigan map included fake Ohio towns of 'goblu' and 'beatosu'
University of Michigan football fans heading to Columbus tomorrow morning for the rivalry game against Ohio State may want to consider a quick stop south of the border.
The town of 'goblu' lies just 17 miles to the east of Toledo, while 'beatosu' is fewer than 10 miles south of the Ohio Turnpike, according to an official Michigan Department of Transportation highway map published in 1978.
No, neither town actually exists, but both came to life in the imagination of Peter Fletcher, former chairman of the Michigan State Highway Commission.
Fletcher, in a 2008 interview with archivist Bob Garrett published on the state government website, admitted that he ordered a cartographer to include the fictitious towns on the official map in an act of loyalty to his alma mater.
While "beatosu" clearly was aimed at the Buckeyes, the Michigan grad said his map meddling was inspired by a separate Big Ten rival that resided just down the road in East Lansing.
Michigan.gov: He explained that a fellow University of Michigan alumnus had been teasing him about the Mackinac Bridge colors. According to Fletcher, this man wondered how Fletcher, as State Highway Commission Chairman, could allow the Bridge to be painted green and white. Those were the colors of Michigan State University! Mr. Fletcher noted that the bridge colors were in compliance with federal highway regulations, so he had no choice in that matter. He did, however, have more control over the state highway map.
While Fletcher took some heat for the map -- the state reportedly issued a reprint after Gov. William Milliken and others fielded complaints -- he defended the accuracy of the Michigan cartography.
"We have no legal liability for anything taking place in that intellectual swamp south of Monroe," he said jokingly.
Fletcher's map was published at the peak of the bitter 'Ten-Year War' between Michigan and Ohio State coaches Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes. While the rivalry hasn't been quite as competitive in recent years, it remains one of the most-storied in all of college football.
These games have a way of bringing out fans' true colors. Or, in this case, fake towns. Got any great rivalry week stories of your own? Share them in the comments section below.
Jonathan Oosting is a reporter for MLive Media Group's statewide news team. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.