The flag above East Lansing”s city hall will wave maize and blue on Monday if the Michigan football team repeats last year”s win over the Spartans tomorrow.
For the fourth straight year, the mayors of Ann Arbor and East Lansing have agreed that the city whose school loses the intrastate matchup will fly the winning school”s flag outside city hall. In addition, the losing mayor has to wear the winning team”s colors to Monday”s city council meetings and sing its fight song to conclude them.
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said he hopes his first year as mayor is not marred by a Michigan State victory.
“I do not want to wear green and white and I don”t want to play their fight song. From what I”ve heard of it, it”s not nearly as good as ours is,” said Hieftje. “Oh boy, we”d better win this game.”
East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows and former Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon started the tradition in 1998.
“After we won in 1998, Mayor Meadows sent me a videotape of himself wearing U of M”s colors and singing “Hail to the Victors,”” Sheldon said. “The other council members stood and turned their backs to the camera.
“When we lost two years ago I had to buy a new white scarf. Last year was sweet revenge.”
Michigan and Michigan State first met in 1898, when Michigan defeated MSU 39-0. Since then, Michigan leads Michigan State, 17-9-2 in games played in East Lansing and 45-18-3 in games played in Ann Arbor.
Michigan”s longest winning streak 14 games occurred between 1916 and 1929, while Michigan State”s longest winning streaks 4 games each occurred between 1934 and 1937, 1950 and 1953 and 1959 and 1962.
In 1902, the Wolverines defeated the Spartans 119-0, the biggest margin in any game between the two rivals.
The rivalry is also a battle for the Paul Bunyan-Governor of Michigan Trophy. Presented for the first time in 1953 by then-Gov. G. Mennen Williams, the Bunyan Trophy is less well-known than the nationally recognized Little Brown Jug given to the winner of the Michigan-Minnesota game.
The Bunyan Trophy is a four-foot wooden statue of the legendary Paul Bunyan standing on a map of the state of Michigan. Two flags one with an “M” and one with an “S” are planted on either side of Bunyan. A five-foot stand supports the statue.
“It”s the ugliest trophy in college football,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said before the 1999 game against Michigan State. “But, it means a lot if you lose it.”
The Spartans won the first of the Bunyan Trophy games with a 14-6 victory in East Lansing. Since 1953, Michigan has won 27 times, Michigan State has won 18 times, and the two have tied twice.