Michigan billboard aimed at Jim Tressel

Updated: May 9, 2011, 2:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Some Michigan Wolverines fans are having a laugh at Ohio State's recent troubles.

And the highlight of the pranks isn't going unnoticed. It winks at thousands of interstate drivers daily.

According to a recent report in the Toledo (Ohio) Blade, a billboard in Michigan between Detroit and Ann Arbor on I-94, clad in a scarlet background with bold white letters, takes a jab at Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and his familiar sweater vests.

[+] EnlargeJim Tressel
AP Photo/Terry GilliamA Michigan interstate billboard in reference to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel reads "Liar, Liar, Vest on Fire!" Its sponsor remains anonymous, according to a report.

"Liar, Liar, Vest on Fire!" reads the billboard, whose sponsor remained anonymous, according to the newspaper.

Tressel, suspended five games for the beginning of the 2011 season, is under investigation by the NCAA for knowing about player benefits but not telling school officials.

Five Ohio State players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, will serve five-game suspensions for accepting improper benefits from a tattoo parlor. On Saturday, The Columbus Dispatch reported Ohio State's compliance director is looking into at least 50 car sales to Buckeyes players and relatives to determine if the deals met NCAA guidelines.

The Buckeyes are no strangers to billboards that target their missteps.

In January, after TCU beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, multiple billboards popped up congratulating the Horned Frogs on their victory -- in Columbus, Ohio.

The ads made reference to Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee and his derogatory comments about the quality of non-automatic qualifying schools such as TCU and Boise State.

A graphics-based T-shirt produced by a Tampa, Fla., company is among other recent efforts at Ohio State's expense, according to The Blade.

The shirt by Smack Apparel, "Tressel's Tattoo and Pawn -- Turning a Blind Eye Since 2001," is a hot sell in Ann Arbor and other big college football towns, the report said.

"We knew that Michigan fans would eat it up, and they have," said Wayne Curtiss, Smack Apparel's owner.

Another T-shirt company has twisted the Big Ten's new division names, with the front displaying "Legends" along with a pair of Joe Paterno-style, heavy-framed eye glasses.

But the back of the shirt carries a similar punchline as the Michigan billboard. It's imprinted with "Liars" instead of "Leaders" and carries an image of Tressel's familiar sweater vest.

"People see it as something that's fun and something that's funny," Curtiss said, according to The Blade. "We just take a situation that has fans talking, and then try to have some fun with it. We hope people can laugh and take it the right way."

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