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. As the teams prepare to clash in East Lansing, here’s this year’s installment:
The Michigan Daily’s Michael Florek:
Congratulations, Michigan State. You did it.
For the 115 years since you started playing football, you’ve been obsessed with waging an imaginary battle against Michigan. Your original fight song included lines of “smash through that line of blue” and “Michigan is weakening.” Your name as the Spartans came as a direct response to Michigan being called the “Athens of the Midwest” (Athens and Sparta were rival city-states in ancient Greece. Wikipedia it. I hear that always works for class.)
And after beating Michigan a trio of times, during the worst three-year stretch in program history, you have your rare moment of attention. Hell, if you ignore Michigan’s edge in the all-time series, 67-31-5, you could even say Michigan State has turned the tide of the rivalry.
The Wolverine fanbase cares about you marginally more than Notre Dame! Time to party!
But seriously, here’s the bottom line: The three losses to the Spartans have derailed Michigan’s seasons. And no one in the class of 2012 wants to be in the fourth-ever senior class that never beat Michigan State. We care.
The funny thing is, no one else does.
I was at last year’s game. I saw Edwin Baker rush for 149 yards and two touchdowns. I saw the Spartans celebrating and heard your chants. As I went home and flipped on the television I caught ESPN between games and expected the worst. They were airing College Football Live.
There was no talk of a dominant Spartan defense or Baker or Kirk Cousins. Everything centered on the play of a certain dreadlocked quarterback.
Despite being 11-1 and co-co-Big Ten Champions by the end of the year, those final BCS standings had you at No. 9, behind two-loss Arkansas and two-loss Oklahoma.
As your coach tried to drum up support for a bid to a BCS Bowl anyway, few outside of East Lansing came to his support. Why? Everybody knew the same thing.
Sometimes Sparty looks like a big boy, sometimes it even plays like a big boy. But don’t let Sparty get too far away from his diapers. Eventually, it’s going to crap its pants. When it happens later than usual, like last season, usually it happens twice. Iowa and Alabama know what I’m talking about.
Don’t be mad. You’re still Michigan’s second rival, a distant second from Ohio State — like the distance your defensive backs will be trailing Denard Robinson — but second nonetheless. You’re No. 2! After the previous paragraph, that’s especially fitting.
Plus, there are good things that come from the American public’s complete apathy toward you.
No one cares when your football players start a brawl in the dorm that causes your coach to create a “zero-tolerance” policy. Or when your starting cornerback, Chris L. Rucker, who was involved in said brawl, gets a drunk-driving charge.
Or when said cornerback is released from jail on a Thursday and your coach’s “zero-tolerance” policy means he can play two days later in the last major challenge to an undefeated season. Or that the team lost the game anyway.
Even on Saturday, no one is going to care that your “Pro-combat” threads look like South Florida and Colorado mixed their uniforms together and then threw up on them. People will keep their laughter to themselves when you chant “Go Green! Go White!” even though your uniform is missing one of the colors.
Embrace this. You need it. The public caring means you would actually have to live up to expectations. People would look at your schedule and realize it is just as bad as Michigan’s and realize that the offensive line looks, well, like a bigger sieve than Drew Palmisano in the Big Chill. They’d be surprised when you crapped your pants.
It’s not worth all that. Keep your diapers on, Little Brother.
—Florek can be reached at email@example.com
The State News’ Anthony Odoardi:
What’s more sickening? That Michigan is ranked No. 11 in the country, or that I offer the newspaper I saw those rankings in as toilet paper for my apartment? (No, it’s not the Michigan Daily. But if you have any extras, I’ll take them.)
The AP needs the Red Sox treatment after that one. Clear house. Give those votes to someone unbiased, who doesn’t believe Michigan should jump seven places because they beat the Big Ten’s worst team, 58-0.
Big win against Minnesota, huh? Well, I guess if you don’t count their losses to New Mexico State, North Dakota State and Purdue — another poor Big Ten team — it’s justified.
But you know what, we’re OK over here in East Lansing. It will just make it that much sweeter Saturday, when the “Little Sister” chants ring throughout Spartan Stadium (thanks for that Mike Hart, how’s Eastern Michigan going for you? And what the hell is a quality control coach?) and Paul Bunyan look-alike Joel Foreman hoists the trophy for a fourth straight year.
I know, I know, then we will go drink and party and riot and burn couches and (insert bad joke here). Your insults remind me of your co-eds: No matter how hard they try, they still look like Rosie O’Donnell.
You find your jokes about us to be funny and insulting. We just find them funny.
It’s one of those things where your buddies will go “OOOOOOH, BURNED!” and then you start to think about it and say, “Wait? They actually party AND have girls that don’t look like Kelly Osbourne in East Lansing?!”
Still, you Wolverines think you just do it so much better down there in Ann Arbor.
But I can go on for hours with the routine stuff, how the girls are ugly, how the team is overrated and how they actually have the audacity to refer to themselves as “The Harvard of the Midwest,” but I want to get to what really bothers me about U-M.
I sent out a text to my friends yesterday with one simple request: “Tell me why you hate Michigan.” And in each one of their responses was the word “entitlement” (except for one who said “because they wear short shorts.” He was dead serious, too, but he’s a story for another time).
It’s so true. If you don’t go to U-M, you’re a joke to them, no matter if it was MSU or any other school in the Big Ten. You’re not serious in sports, academics, the professional world, anything.
No matter how long the Spartans continue their recent domination of the series, MSU will never be considered a rival by you self-entitled students, alumni and people who once watched the Wolverines on TV and became fans.
The Big House had its first game under the lights. The students felt they were entitled to parade around the streets of Ann Arbor as though no team had ever played a night game before.
Or how about Denard Robinson? That guy is entitled to a Heisman Trophy. He might have the most interceptions (9) in the NCAA, but that guy is the “best player in the league.”
He might be exciting, but I’ll stick with a guy like Kirk Cousins, one whose twitter hacking might go a little more like “Hi. Yes, I hacked you lol. You are the nicest person I have ever met in my entire life! Your beautiful eyes and pearly white teeth make me wish we were in a relationship!”
Athletes such as Cousins, as well as coaches such as Mark Dantonio, Tom Izzo, Suzy Merchant — and even coaches of the smaller sports like Tom Saxton and Cathy George — are leading the charge to repaint this state green.
So MSU fans, feel free to invite your U-M friends over Saturday (maybe ask them to bring some Big Ten Burrito because that place is delicious), give them a seat on the couch and let them watch the game with you because the only thing they’re entitled to this weekend is a fourth straight embarrassment.
And eventually, they’ll recognize who their real rivals are.
—Odoardi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org