Some online reports called it revenge. Jon Waters, director of the Ohio State University marching band, said yesterday that it was sheer coincidence.

Some online reports called it revenge.

Jon Waters, director of the Ohio State University marching band, said yesterday that it was sheer coincidence.

The band’s “Are You Smarter Than a Wolverine?” performance at halftime on Saturday during the San Diego State game, he said, was in no way a response to the O-H-N-O depiction the previous weekend by the University of Michigan band.

“It was really good luck that Michigan spoofed us last weekend and we did it this weekend,” said Waters, who oversees all bands for OSU athletics.

On Aug. 31, the Wolverine band had portrayed Brutus Buckeye as the bad guy in a James Bond-themed halftime show.

“We had to have a villain,” band director John Pasquale said.

Both directors got a kick out of online reports suggesting that the OSU show took “revenge” for the Michigan performance. (A headline on the USA Today website: “Ohio State’s band fires back at Michigan.”)

Although each acknowledged that he enjoys taking an occasional jab at the rival school, the reality isn’t so intense — or as contrived.

“These shows are planned six to 10 months in advance,” Pasquale said.

Students in both marching bands typically don’t learn the songs and steps for a performance until the week preceding a game, but directors plan the shows, arrange the music and chart the marching visuals after the end of the previous football season.

OSU began work on the “Smarter Than a Wolverine” concept in March, deciding a few months ago that it would be presented at the San Diego State game.

Waters did admit, however, that he amplified the “biting sarcasm” in the script after seeing a video of the Aug. 31 Michigan show.

During the OSU offering, actors portraying a family from Michigan and a family from Ohio answered silly questions in between game-show theme songs.

Thus, in the Price Is Right portion, the Ohio family called a Michigan T-shirt “worthless” after the Michigan family bid $800.

“We take our shots at Michigan, and they take shots at us,” Waters said. “That’s what makes this rivalry so great.”

During the Michigan show, performed at halftime during the home opener against Central Michigan, Brutus kidnapped university President Mary Sue Coleman, only to be defeated by her in the end.

The O-H-N-O wasn’t necessarily intended as a knock at Ohio State, Pasquale said.

The band spelled the exclamation when Brutus entered the field — which the squad has done previously in other performances.

The resemblance to “Script Ohio,” however, made for a fantastic photo opportunity, he conceded.

Michigan taunts OSU during its halftime shows once or twice a season, Pasquale said.

“It does always get a good reaction — as it does when they poke fun at us.”

Both band directors try to save most of the competitive spirit for the day in late November when the two football teams meet.

Much of the rest of the season, they said, is spent cheering each other. (The directors even sent congratulatory email messages to each other after the most recent shows.)

They also share ideas, Waters said, about keeping marching bands relevant amid the increasingly commercialized sport of college football.

“What we’re doing here and what they’re doing there, it’s kind of out of the same playbook,” he said. “The whole marching-band scene is a really neat piece of Americana.”

And, Pasquale noted, the bond runs deep.

Two years ago, after a Michigan band member was killed in a car crash, six Ohio State band members made the three-hour drive the next day from Columbus to Ann Arbor to show their support at the Wolverine band practice.

“They stood in the pouring rain,” Pasquale recalled. “They didn’t have an umbrella, a poncho; it was incredible.”

The Buckeyes even sang the Michigan fight song with their counterparts.

“That shows the friendship behind the scenes.”