Sparties make it easy . and fun
Scott Bell, The Michigan Daily
It’s not even fair, really.

Mike Hulsebus
Bell
Mike Hulsebus
Conley

Do you think I get a kick out of this?

Winning an argument against a State fan about which school is better is like beating Matt Trannon in a spelling bee.

Or Jeff Smoker in a sobriety contest.

Or a Michigan State clock operator in a job-efficiency competition.

Or Tom Izzo in an “I’m-tall-enough-to-ride-roller-coasters” contest.

Or Mateen Cleaves in a . nevermind. You get the picture.

I could go on, but the fact is everyone knows the truth already. I go to one of the finest universities in America, both academically and athletically. You, uh, had a good women’s hoops team a few years back.

So why should I have to point this out to everyone?

I was raised with sound principles: Don’t kick someone while they’re down, pick on someone your own size – you know, pretty routine stuff.

Telling Michigan State students they’re eventually going to be bagging my groceries is pretty redundant (big word, look it up).

So why should I do it?

Well, because I can. And because it’s fun.

You Sparties are like the annoying little sibling who always wants attention. So here you go, here’s your attention.

Year after year, students at Michigan State get geared up for this “rivalry.” Last time I checked, a series as lopsided as 67-24-3 in favor of one team isn’t considered a rivalry. But hey, I know common sense isn’t your strongpoint – I’ll cut you some slack there.

Maybe I’m just a sick person, but I find it funny to listen to Spartan fans argue why their school is better. But then I find out that some of you’re actually serious, and it just makes me sad for humanity.

Let’s tackle the usual arguments .

Our basketball team is better than yours.

Congrats on owning us over a 10-year period. Now you’re just 21 games away from tying us in the all-time series. But don’t worry, I’m sure Drew Neitzel and Marquis Gray are the second coming of Magic and Mo-Pete. And why do you always seem to leave out other sports in your arguments? Hmhmh. (Michigan has never lost a Challenge Cup to Michigan State, which rewards the best all-around school for sports in a given year.)

Our school has hotter girls.

I hear a couple of them can even read, too. Those are the keepers.

We party so much harder than you guys.

Once we learn how to riot after wins, losses and ties in sporting events, maybe we can enter your league. But until then, I guess we’re not worthy. And actually, your habit of charging people for cups at house parties is smart. You guys better make money now, because I doubt that Michigan State diploma is going to do you any good after college.

We farm dem fields bettuh den you guys.

Yes, yes you do. Congrats.

So there you go, you got attention. And hey, if you ignore rankings for sports and academics, ignore our esteemed alumni compared to yours and ignore common sense, then you may have that rivalry you Sparties so desperately desire.

But be careful what you wish for.

Even though I couldn’t care less about Michigan State students, the Michigan football players will. When your batteredSparty squad limps into the Big House fresh off a beating from Illinois (!), it will get the attention you crave so much.

But do you really want the attention of an undefeated team that has your number? Do you really want to anger the most storied football program in history?

On Saturday, expect Drew Stanton to get knocked down harder than a drunken student trying to get in Amadou Ba’s way.

Expect a sendoff for the only coach that can actually make Bobby Williams look like a good coach.

And most importantly, expect more proof that the best thing about East Lansing is that it’s just 45 minutes away from Ann Arbor.

– Scott Bell is greatly anticipating hate mail from Michigan State students. He won’t even make fun of them for all the spelling and grammar mistakes. He can be reached at scotteb@umich.edu.

There’s no joy in East Lansing (yet)
Ethan Conley, The State News
I don’t even know where to begin.

These dueling columns are usually just a chance for reporters from the respective newspapers to boast about their team and trash the opposition’s fan base. But I’m fresh out of ammunition. No jokes about ugly coeds or trailer-trash fans will be seen here – not when half the MSU roster is in the infirmary and the head coach is a dead man walking.

Drew Stanton is nursing sore ribs, Javon Ringer’s right knee is torn to shreds, the offensive line is as sturdy as a house of cards and the coaching staff has been in the fetal position for the last two weeks.

“Fire Smith!” chants are a virtual lock for the next home game (not that they’ll be very loud, since Ohio State fans are sure to fill all the empty seats). On Wednesday, The State News even received a three-page letter from a 1995 MSU graduate demanding Smith’s firing. It was express mailed from Maryland. Somewhere in the “Old Line State,” there’s a guy who’d rather spend $14.40 complaining to a student newspaper about a football coach than going to a movie or ordering a pizza. There’s even a nasty rumor coming out of Nike’s headquarters – apparently the company is going to cease production of MSU hats and sweatshirts, opting to embroider the “swoosh” and a Spartan helmet on the front of brown paper bags.

So yeah, it’s a sad state of affairs right now. MSU hasn’t lost this many consecutive games to Michigan since 1983, when Reagan was in the White House and Lloyd Carr was a bushy-tailed assistant coach with his nose up Bo Schembechler’s ass.

Let’s recap:

The 2002 game was just a complete and utter domination by the Weasels: a 49-3 drubbing that should probably be erased from the books, since MSU’s All-American wide receiver was probably high out of his mind and the would-be starting quarterback may have been strung-out in rehab.

The next year wasn’t much better. We watched Chris Perry rack up 51 carries for 219 yards – at Spartan Stadium, no less – then blow a kiss to the student section. Hey, why not? When you run the ball down someone’s throat for three hours straight, you’ve written yourself a license to taunt whomever you choose. At the time, I thought it was the worst football game I’d ever endure – just a long, slow, painful death at the hands of Perry and the hulking Michigan offensive line. I should’ve known better.

Carr forgot that Braylon Edwards was on the roster in 2004, but suddenly came to his senses in the fourth quarter (maybe he couldn’t see Edwards because of a crowned field) and subsequently erased a 17-point MSU lead. Once the game ended in triple overtime, my friends had to pry a noose off my neck.

Finally, last year, Spartans fans saw field goal kicking so bad that the “laces out” jokes were exhausted before the stadium emptied.

But here we are again, ready to root for the Green and White and spit venom at the Maize and Blue. I guess that’s what makes us Spartans fans. We’re gluttons for punishment. We get our hopes up every September, only to have them whisked away in October and November. We’re the Red Sox to Michigan’s Yankees, the Phil Mickelson to the Wolverines’ Tiger Woods.

But we’ve got hope, and the Spartans love to play the spoiler.

John L. Smith is the first to admit it: He’s coaching the players Lloyd Carr didn’t want. Some were on a recruiting visit to East Lansing for MSU’s last-second victory over Michigan in 2001. They watched Jeff Smoker lob the ball off his back foot and into T.J. Duckett’s hands for the game-winning touchdown. They saw a pile of green-and-white-clad players form in the end zone. They watched students rush the field as security helped them from the stands to the turf.

Those recruits – high school seniors at the time – imagined themselves in the same position, and thought, “I can’t wait to be a Spartan.”

Now, they’re fifth-year seniors with four losses to the Wolverines weighing on their shoulders. Trust me: They’re not about to lay down and let Michigan stamp “0-5” on their foreheads. Banged-up quarterback and make-shift offensive line be damned – they’re going down swinging.

It may not be this year, it may not happen with these players, and it may not happen with this coach. If the Spartans lose, you won’t hear any complaints about conspiring clock operators, blind referees, evening start times or a simple, “I thought our team deserved better.” You certainly won’t hear George Blaha proclaim that the end result was “thievery!” or that “this game was stolen!”

We’ll get over it, and say, “We’ll get them next year.” Eventually one of those “next years” will end with a victory. The Spartans will beat the Wolverines again. They’re due. And when it finally happens, you can bet East Lansing will enjoy the victory more than any win Michigan fans have celebrated in years.

– Ethan Conley is a State News football reporter. He can be reached at conleyet@msu.edu

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