Dueling Columns: The Michigan Daily vs. The State News

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 10:58am

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.

Max Bultman, The Michigan Daily

I’ve been to Michigan State a handful of times in my life, and it’s really not a terrible place. There’s some decent food, an admittedly solid dairy store and the second-best Rick’s American Café in the state.

It wasn’t my first choice for college, but for a while, there was a chance I could have ended up there. And I probably would have been happy. That’s why I’ve always felt a little strange about the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry.

But when it comes to the State News, I have no trouble sorting out my feelings. I think I speak for your entire campus when I thank you for reducing your print publication to two days a week. The world can only handle so much mediocrity.

Last season, after Michigan State beat Ohio State in one of the most significant wins in school history, the State News’ game story led with this: “MSU defeated OSU by a score of 17-14 Saturday afternoon in Ohio Stadium on a walk-off 41-yard field goal by junior kicker Michael Geiger.” It ended like this: “Junior kicker Michael Geiger then attempted a 41-yard field goal attempt to win the game; he made it. The Spartans won. They will play Penn State next Saturday at Spartan Stadium.”

After reading stories like that, I wonder if the reason Mark Dantonio always feels disrespected is that his school doesn’t have a better newspaper.

To be fair, he hasn’t exactly earned better coverage this year. Michigan State is so bad at football this season that its inferiority complex no longer stops with Michigan. Now, the Spartans are looking up at Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan, too.

They’re so bad that NBA coach Mike D’Antoni is hoping people stop slandering his good name by insinuating that he coaches Michigan State. They’re so bad that even Connor Cook’s dad is offended. They’re so bad that the couches in East Lansing are finally coming out of hiding.

I’d actually feel a little bad making fun of the varsity team in this column if the State News’ writers didn’t seem to believe they were part of it. Last year, one of your reporters tweeted that he cried in the press box after a win.

I would have assumed they taught objectivity in journalism school. There also seems to be a misunderstanding about the concept of “news.” I know you all only print twice a week, but is there a reason you still have photos from Oct. 9 as your lead football gallery? And here I thought Michigan fans liked to live in the past.

Unfortunately for you, the past, present and future are all the same when it comes to our annual touch football game. The Daily has won 11 straight, including one game in which you wore shirts proclaiming, “We are the ones.” We’ll win again Friday, and then we’ll listen to all of your complaints about how big our staff is.

Maybe we should apologize because students here want to work for the Daily. Maybe we should play with six on the field instead of seven, just to give you a break. Maybe we should cancel the game and just use that time to teach you how to write on deadline. I don’t have all the answers here.

What I do know is that it genuinely saddens me how pedestrian the State News is. I have a lot of respect for Michigan State as a university, and there’s a chance that one day, one of my younger sisters could end up there.

I’d hate to think that, if that happens, they would find this column and think I have nothing good to say about their student newspaper. So I decided to end with a positive. I racked my brain, and I came up with all of the redeeming qualities I could think of about the State News — reasons I don’t think the paper might as well just give up.

Here’s what I came up with: I’m sure you’ll all have nice children some day.

Bultman is a co-Managing Sports Editor and football beat writer at The Michigan Daily. He can be reached at bultmanm@umich.edu and on Twitter @m_bultman. Please @ him.

Nathaniel Bott, The State News

Whether the odds were in their favor or not, the Spartan army of ancient Greece would back down to no challenge. Their tactics were not overpowering and their skill did not reign supreme, but sheer determination and will kept them atop their archaic state, cutting down challengers in their path.

Mark Dantonio is King Leonidas, and has been for his Spartans since his arrival to the throne of head coach in East Lansing. A great leader — the men he has recruited were not the best athletes, nor the greatest students, but dedication to his process of intense, hard-nosed training and conditioning has led him to glory no Spartan coach in the modern era of MSU football has achieved. “Those who have stayed are already champions.”

Four 11-win seasons in the last five years. Two Big Ten championships. A Rose Bowl win for the first time in 25 years. An improbable come-from-behind New Year’s Six bowl win, an appearance in the College Football Playoff thanks to one of the most historic plays in college football history and an 7-2 record against the Wolverines.

That final point knocked U-M off their proverbial pedestal that they perched upon for much too long.

As for “Big Brother,” you might be the winningest team of all time, but what have you done for your fans lately? A couple of wins in the Sugar Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but nothing else notable comes to mind.

Jim Harbaugh is Xerxes — as he leads his Persian army into Spartan territory –– a place U-M hasn’t won at since 2007 and recently has turned in some historically tragic performances. for instance, a Remember the bewildering negative 48 yards in the rushing column against the Spartans in 2013?  We do.

Harbaugh and his Wolverines embody the cockiness of those same Persians. Harbaugh consistently runs up the score on lesser opponents, even in his days at Stanford. He keeps his starters in for the majority of the game and even ran a fake punt in the fourth quarter against Illinois while up by more than 20 points. Classy move, Jim.

Now, our counterpart at The Michigan Daily surely has a statistical edge for this year’s content: U-M ranked No. 2 with an undefeated top defense while MSU sits at a lowly 2-5. It’s certainly a flipped script for prior years, where last year’s Daily writer resorted to a poorly constructed satirical piece about “East Lansing loving Jim Harbaugh”. If I were to walk down the streets of Ann Arbor proudly sporting Spartan garment, I would receive belligerent remarks as well.

But for the readers of this content, whether it be through The State News or The Michigan Daily websites, know this –– MSU’s student newspaper has won 15 Pacemaker Awards, the highest honor a student-run publication can achieve. This is done with a newsroom of hardly over 30 students with nearly half of them underclassmen.

The Daily, on the other hand, falls well, well short of that mark and employs a newsroom more than double the size of ours, full of freelance writers who probably get their work done while eating in  cafeterias their own former basketball golden boy described as serving “jail food.”

Get some salmon in your diet, Daily staff, some brain food — based on your lack of recognition and achievement for your work, you certainly need it.

The large newsroom staff the Daily has naturally gives them an advantage for the annual “touch” football game between the State News and Michigan Daily as well, played the Friday before U-M and MSU take the field. Touch is quoted considering the fact that it left one of our female designers in the emergency room following a cheap shot from a Daily reporter in last year’s contest.

Back to the gridiron, it is tough to deny that the Wolverines have the better athletes –– with more skill and speed on the outside and stronger interior line presence. They will certainly be hungry to avenge last season’s gut-wrenching defeat in the final seconds to MSU, one that surely still leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Wolverine fans, Walmart or not.

The Spartans have had improbable wins against U-M too.  Remember in 1990 when an unranked MSU team upset the No. 1 Wolverines?  We do.

MSU will have to call upon their Spartan brethren of old in order to beat these odds, and perhaps the Gods of war themselves, but if there was a leader who could inspire a group of warriors to defend their home against their enemy to the southeast, it would be “Leonidas”.

Perhaps he will have some tricks to flip the script of history once again.

Bott is a State News football reporter. He can be reached at nbott@statenews.com.

Editor’s note: This column is subject to the editing team and style guide of The State News. The Daily has published it as presented.