BY DAN FELDMAN — THE MICHIGAN DAILY
and Jacob Carpenter — the State News
Published October 22, 2008
In the week leading up to the Michigan-Michigan State football game each year, football writers from the Daily and the student newspaper at Michigan State exchange columns. You can find this year's installment below, starting with the Daily and followed by the State News.
"I was just laughing. I thought it was funny. They got excited. Sometimes you get your little brother excited when you're playing basketball and you let him get the lead. Then you just come and take it back."
—Mike Hart on Nov. 3, 2007
As much as you try to escape it, Hart has you all figured out, Michigan State. You can run from the truth all you want, but everything you do screams "little brother."
You're little brother because the only comeback Mark Dantonio could think of was to call Hart short.
You're little brother because Chad Henne doesn't rhyme with douchebag.
You're little brother because of Braylon Edwards.
You're little brother because football, not basketball, is America's favorite college sport.
You're little brother because "your" biggest win last year was by a I-AA school.
You're little brother because John L. Smith slapped himself.
You're little brother because you planted a flag in South Bend, then fought Illinois for doing it to you.
You're little brother because Sportsline.com's Dennis Dodd listed Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio (along with coaches from Temple, Cincinnati and Brigham Young) before the season as "coaches who will soon have big-time jobs."
You're little brother because you're the lowest-rated school academically in the Big Ten.
You're little brother because you're too dumb to care.
You're little brother because when your plans to copy the historic success of Michigan football went up in flames against Ohio State on Saturday, you (allegedly) tried to emulate the Wolverines' (alleged) football player-on-hockey player violence.
You're little brother because you probably don't know what emulate means.
You're little brother because your girls' fake tans, sloppy blonde dye-jobs and low standards don't mean they're that hot.
You're little brother because you can't be a great party school and charge five dollars for a cup.
You're little brother because the University of Chicago has more Big Ten football titles than you do.
You're little brother because your inferiority complex is so big that "smash right through that line of blue" and "Michigan is weakening" were lines in your original fight song.
You're little brother because you had a clock counting down the seconds until the Michigan game months before the game time was decided.
You're little brother because after all the clock hype, you lost anyway.
You're little brother because rioting and couch burning are the highlights of your college years.
You're little brother because you don't understand that jokes like "What does a Michigan State grad call a Michigan grad? Boss." can't be reversed, so you do it anyway.
You're little brother because you were giddy with your football team's 7-6 record last season, which would have been the Wolverines' worst in 23 years.
You're little brother because you've tried to replace a 111-year tradition of mediocrity with clips from "300."
You're little brother because you take being favored against Michigan as a victory in itself.
You're little brother because, deep down, you know your annual collapse is just beginning.
You're little brother because six straight will become seven on Saturday.
Now, before you flood my inbox with poorly written letters, let's take care of a couple likely complaints.
"But Michigan State is better at basketball."
Like I wrote above — and I know you have trouble reading — football, not basketball, is America's favorite college sport. Let me know when you get the 75,000 people who attend your football games to go to a basketball game, let alone the 110,000 that pack the Big House.
"I got into Michigan and Michigan State and chose Michigan State because it's better."
— Dan Feldman can be reached at email@example.com.
There's an old saying that you're never supposed to kick a dog when it's down.
Whoever coined that phrase never said anything about wolverines.
There is plenty of ammunition with which to launch an insult assault against the Michigan Wolverines this season, but I'm going to take the high road (I-96, not U.S. 23) in this annual tradition of bashing each other's team.
I will not say one bad word about Michigan fans or the football program in this space.
I know the fans in Ann Arbor are all-consumed by their beloved Wolverines, so I'm going to tell you a little bit about what's going on in East Lansing with the MSU football team:
The Spartans HAVE A WINNING RECORD (3-1 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) after two-thirds of the season. It started with a close road loss at Pac-10 foe California, which was disheartening but somewhat expected given the game was a season opener on the West Coast.
MSU followed up the loss by BEATING A MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE TEAM, shutting out a pesky Florida Atlantic squad in a downpour and CRUSHING NOTRE DAME to finish the nonconference schedule.
After three consecutive Big Ten victories — Indiana, Iowa and Northwestern — to start the conference season, the Spartans ran into the buzzsaw of Terrelle Pryor, Chris 'Beanie' Wells and the dominant Ohio State defense last week (you'll get to know all of them soon enough).
MSU is led by a RELIABLE QUARTERBACK, Brian Hoyer, who has thrown only four interceptions while leading his team to BOWL ELIGIBILITY early in the season. In the backfield, the Spartans boast a stockpile of RUNNING BACKS WHO HAVEN'T BEEN ARRESTED THIS YEAR, led by senior Doak Walker Award candidate Javon Ringer. The VETERAN OFFENSIVE LINE has helped pave the way for Ringer to rack up 1,179 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in just eight games, while giving Hoyer ample time to hit his relatively young group of wide receivers.
The constantly improving MSU defense has been up-and-down, with strong performances against Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame and Iowa and less-than-stellar outings against California, Indiana and Ohio State. (It looks like the Wolverines are experiencing the same yo-yo effect on defense with a solid showing against Wisconsin but collapses at the hands of Illinois and Penn State).
On special teams, the Spartans boast Brett Swenson, an IMPRESSIVE KICKER WHO DOESN'T CHOKE and has connected on 15 straight kicks, after missing his first of the season and NORMALLY-NAMED PUNTER Aaron Bates, who has routinely pinned opponents inside their own five-yard line all season.
Roaming the sidelines is Mark Dantonio, A CLASSY COACH leading one of the best up-and-coming teams in the country.
Dantonio displayed his integrity at MSU even before he arrived in East Lansing; he DIDN'T SCREW OVER HIS FORMER EMPLOYER before coming to Michigan State, choosing to wait until the end of Cincinnati's season prior to interviewing with MSU officials for the head coaching position.
According to players and recruits, Dantonio and his coaches have instilled a solid foundation of FAMILY VALUES while taking the team to a BOWL GAME IN THE STAFF'S FIRST SEASON.
In recruiting, Dantonio and his assistants have hit the Midwest hard, RESPECTING IN-STATE PROSPECTS that are the basis of slug-it-out Big Ten football. The Spartans have snagged 16 recruits for a top-15 class of 2009 (which puts them in the same class as U-M this season).
The MSU football program appears to be HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, and a win in Ann Arbor on Saturday should continue its ascension to the top of the Big Ten.
Just like the Wolverines' program, right?
Told you I wouldn't say one bad word about Michigan.
—Jacob Carpenter is a football reporter for The State News. Hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, but there shouldn't be any hate mail, since nothing bad was said about Michigan.