By Joe Catullo
After playing for the University of Michigan and in NFL Europe, Carl Diggs returned home to serve as assistant linebacker coach at his alma mater, Warren Harding.
He preaches to his players to follow their dream and do what they want to do.
“Don’t let nobody make that decision for you,” he tells them. “Wherever you want to go, that dream can come true. You just got to work hard and fight for it.”
Whether it was sitting on his grandmother’s bed watching an Ohio State-Michigan game when he was 8 years old or his elementary gym teacher playing the Michigan fight song on his pen, Diggs’ dream was to play for the Wolverines.
“Every little kid looks forward to possibly play in the NFL, but I got a chance to at least put on a helmet and be a part of an organization,” Diggs said. “I would say I reached that dream. Many people don’t get the opportunity to do most of the things that I did.”
Diggs shared his story Thursday night at the DiVieste Banquet Hall. The Warren Sports Hall of Fame hosted the 15th annual “The Game” banquet, which raises money for area high schools.
“The Game” features former Michigan and Ohio State players reminiscing about their rivalry experiences. Diggs and former wide receiver Tai Streets represented the Wolverines. Former running back Raymont Harris and former cornerback Tito Paul represented the Buckeyes.
Even though Michigan and Ohio State have competed in separate divisions in the Big Ten since 2011, the former players said the rivalry remains the same.
Jones said the rivalry is reminiscent of the Chicago Bear-Green Bay Packers battle.
“Every year those two teams will continue to play because of that storied rivalry,” Jones said. “It’s a little different now because we have two new head coaches, but the essence is still the same.”
The rivalry is more than a game to Paul, who said the Michigan game was the reason he chose to play Ohio State even though he was raised in Florida and followed the Gators.
“Is it politically correct to say that? You’re not supposed to say that, but the reason I came to Ohio State was to play in the Michigan game,” Paul said. “There was something about Ohio State that resonated.”
Streets played basketball and football at Michigan early in his college career. He said the rivalry goes beyond one sport.
“It’s not the same, but it is,” Streets said. “Obviously the football rivalry is legendary, but the basketball rivalry, I mean, you don’t want to lose to Ohio State in anything. Any sport, any school event, anything. It’s almost just as big.”
Diggs said the rivalry will always have “juice” even if the game was a season opener.
“Regardless of what happens, you know you’ve got to beat them if you want to go farther,” Diggs said. “The game will never change. There’s so much history involved in that game. It will never ever be diminished.”
The Buckeyes and Wolverines collide for the 109th time on Nov. 24 at Ohio Stadium as more stories and memories will be created.