Tales of the Rivalry

WDBM Sports Staff

On Saturday, Oct. 17 the Michigan State Spartans will find themselves playing the University of Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The outcome of this year’s game is one of the most anticipated in recent years and the rivalry between the two schools couldn’t be deeper. From students that have switched allegiances to others claiming fan status from birth it’s a rivalry that spans generations and divides families. In honor of what has been deemed “Michigan Week” by MSU students we called on our writers to explore the feud on and off the field.


OPINION: Wolverine Disrespect Stokes Spartan Fire

By: Andy Chmura

The University of Michigan is back in the media spotlight and that’s exactly why Michigan State will win.

[su_expand height=”50″]As the Michigan-Michigan State game draws near, players and fans alike excitedly anticipate the action that will unfold Saturday. Energy generated by fans, the media, and analysts give momentum and motivation for both UM and MSU, but which team has more? Most people would say Michigan does, but most people are wrong.

The Michigan Wolverines have everything going for them. The Harbaugh Effect seems to be in full swing. The Wolverines have only one loss against No. 4 Utah Utes, and have improved every week. After Utah, UM rolled past BYU, Maryland and Northwestern, shutting out each of them. Quarterback Jake Rudock and running back De’Veon Smith have proved themselves to be elite players with the skills to tear apart the Spartan defense. The Wolverines started the year unranked and now are knocking on the top 10’s door. Some are even predicting Michigan to win the Big Ten and make the playoffs. It appears that Michigan football is back with a bright future ahead.

The Spartans are undefeated but remain unimpressive. MSU has had close calls in every game they played so far –– Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Air Force included. One might think that MSU would come into sync as time went on, but their most recent performances against Rutgers and Purdue were no better. MSU had a “signature win,” but this was against an overrated Oregon team, currently out of the top 25. To make matters worse, Michigan State has suffered many injuries this season, including Ed Davis, R.J. Williamson, Jack Conklin, Kodi Kieler, Jack Allen, Madre London, Josiah Price and others. As the weeks have passed, MSU has moved further down in the rankings, and have little thrust moving forward.

If all this is true, how could the Spartans have more momentum than Michigan? There is one thing MSU has that U-M cannot compare in. Disdain. Obviously, ill feeling  will always exist within rivalries, but MSU’s contempt  toward U-M goes much deeper than most people realize.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has a saying called ––“no respect.” This does not only refer to the lack of recognition MSU gets, but also to the incessant praise UM gets. Since Dantonio has arrived in East Lansing, he has won two Big Ten championships. He won his last four bowl game appearances, including wins in the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl. He beat Michigan six times out of the past seven years, and finished in the top five the past two years running. Dantonio has established MSU as a football powerhouse, while the Wolverines struggled to make a bowl game. In spite of this, the amount of publicity Michigan State gets does not compare to Michigan. Non-stop talk about Jim Harbaugh this offseason cast a shadow over the Spartans who gained massive success in a victory against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. ESPN, who mispronounced Dantonio’s name during media day, treats the undefeated Spartans like they have done nothing in the past five years. The network seemed more interested in Dantonio’s opinions on Harbaugh and the Wolverines than his opinions on his own team.

This is the kind of publicity that gets MSU’s blood boiling. They are filled with hatred toward Michigan, and want nothing more than to put them in their place. This disdain is not new; it is the same thing that fuels the Spartans every year against Michigan. The Wolverines may be playing well right now, but the source of their momentum is cockiness, supplied by the constant praise and glory they receive from the media. MSU’s momentum is supplied by rage, a lack of respect– from UM and the media–  and most importantly, humility.

Will the Spartans defeat the Wolverines this Saturday? Who knows? Do not  think, though, that Michigan is more pumped up than Michigan State. The opposite is true. Every time Dantonio is asked about Harbaugh, or hears the term “little brother,” he likely grins from ear to ear. He knows that this only adds more fuel to the fire.  [/su_expand]

The Indoctrination of A Spartan Fan

By: Casey Copp

For some students becoming a Spartan is a lifelong journey.

[su_expand height=”50″]I am an unabashed fan of Spartan athletics, and I hate the University of Michigan. Why do I hate them with all my passion?

One word, my friends: indoctrination.

I am a fourth-generation Spartan. My great-grandfather helped plant the pine trees between Dem Hall and Jenison Fieldhouse in 1916. My grandparents met in a 1946 Marriage and Counseling class in Morrill Hall. My father helped lead a pep rally around a borrowed cow in South Neighborhood prior to when Michigan State played Michigan  in 1975. My family has had season tickets to MSU football since the 1950’s, so my attendance to Spartan Stadium on fall Saturdays has been expected since I was able to walk. Now I am following my family’s footsteps of Spartanhood– a proud Izzone Section Leader and Spartan sports writer. One requirement of Spartan fandom, aside from a feverish support of the green and white, is a profound, deep, passionate hatred of the maize and blue. After all, the list of Spartan grievances against that school in Ann Arbor is longer than our Founding Fathers’ against King George III.

This is the story of an indoctrination of a Spartan fan.

At the ripe age of six years old I vividly remember the first time I heard a curse word. On one particular random Fall Saturday, someone decided to post up outside of the southeast gate decked out from head to toe in Michigan regalia simply to cause a raucous– and cause a raucous he did. Following my dad through the crowd I noticed he was a bit agitated by the perceived pollution on campus. A few four letter words fell harshly on my young, raw ears. As a little boy taking cues from my father, I learned how I should treat Wolverines.

A few years later, I remember watching the infamous 2004 game in our rivalry, where the  Spartans lost in triple overtime. My heroes had been vanquished. How could this happen? How do I deal with such devastating emotions? I looked to my grandfather sitting somber on the couch after the final whistle, begging for answers.

“Being a Spartan helps you build character,” he told me.

This was life, I learned, as a Spartan. I had no choice in this family. Laying on the ground with my face buried in a pillow, and the tears tasting nothing like sugar, I learned that we simply must go around in this world as a perpetual underdog coping with torturous emotional strain.

The indoctrination was not only because of my family, but from experiences on my own. Some of the fiercest banter happens at middle school lunch tables across America. Growing up in the small town of South Lyon, MI, in the shadow of Ann Arbor and the hometown of former Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, it was not a friendly environment for a Spartan fan. It was at a middle school lunch table where I took flak every day about how horrible my Spartans were and that Michigan was going to destroy us. I do not exaggerate when I say every single day. It had been seven years since the green and white had won the rivalry and in the fall of 2008,  I could not take it anymore. The game coincided with my birthday but I did not care about any new video games or clothes. My only wish was a Spartan victory. Coach Dantonio brought home a win, my wish came true and I walked into lunch the following Monday with an excessive amount of cockiness.

One year later, my dad felt I was fit enough to take me to my first Michigan State v. Michigan game at Spartan Stadium. I was old enough to hear any bad words that might come out of others’ mouths (not that I hadn’t before) and I properly loathed Michigan. As the game went into overtime, I thought it was time for another heartbreaker. Instead, a Larry Caper bulldozing run put Spartans everywhere into ecstasy. My indoctrination was complete; the experience of many defeats along with countless vicious encounters with Wolverine fans gave me spite, and finally, the Spartans are winning, and all those experiences were worth it.

Now, having won six of the last seven encounters, Spartan fans are supposed to cower in fear of the vaunted Jim Harbaugh machine in Ann Arbor. I am calling on all of my other fellow indoctrinated Spartans: do not fear, throw away your self-doubt and cheer on the green and white until victory is for MSU once again. [/su_expand]

Beyond the Narrative of Rejection 

By: Zane D’Souza

Rejection is no reason to fuel a rivalry.

[su_expand height=”50″] Growing up I always leaned towards the green and white. Since basketball was my favorite sport, and MSU dominated in it, I saw them as the team to root for. Nobody in my family attended either University of Michigan or Michigan State, so I had no prior allegiances.

While other kids rooted for one school because of family ties, I chose based off who was good at the sport I loved: basketball. At the time, this happened to be Michigan State. Yes, this is the stance of a fair-weather fan, but it is what I did. It was purely a love for winning.

As time went on and college neared, I wanted to put myself in a position to succeed. I applied to only three schools, MSU and U-M were two of them. Confident I would do well at either university, I was excited about my future. I was set on being a sports broadcaster, and I wanted to go where that goal would be realized. However, after doing some more research (after applying and paying application fees of course) I soon realized that Ann ‘Arbaugh– as Michigan fans now like to call it– does not offer much in the area of sports broadcasting. Though this was a sad reality, I still applied because I thought success could be had there. Growing up in Michigan, U-M is known as a great school. Everyone talks about how their brother or cousin went there, and how great it is. At my high school it seemed all my friends – and everyone else in the state – were applying. We were all vying for the chance to get into the school that seemed  like the long shot of our lives.

After my applications went through and I waited with bated breath for my decision, I began to think more on the idea of being a Spartan. Of course I wanted to get into U-M; everyone who applies does. Although the thought of being around the amazing students already at MSU, combined with actually getting a program that would assist me in my future profession seemed more and more like a no-brainer. Nonetheless, I was naive and fell for the whole “no matter who you are you will get rich after going to Michigan” spiel you hear over and over. I had big dreams, and hearing this piqued my interest.

Much quicker than I expected, however, I received an email from MSU admissions saying the decision was made. Quickly checking it, I learned that I was accepted. I remember  throwing my hands up in class from excitement. This was a joyous moment for me, as the school I always followed accepted me. My thoughts immediately turned to what it would be like to actually be at MSU. The more I thought of it, the more it seemed like the right fit for me, but, the other decision was yet to be made.

To make a long story short, I did not get into U-M. At first, thoughts of bitterness ran through my mind, as they do for most students. However, once I got passed that, I realized that this could be the best thing for me. As the saying goes, there is a reason for everything. If one school was not the best fit for me, this was the best way to find out.

Rejection is something that everyone faces. Many MSU students faced the stereotype of being upset that we did not get into U-M , and that we are bitter and hate the school. This is not true. We all chose MSU for a reason. We felt this is where we belong and where we would thrive the most. After being here we see that there really is nowhere like this. This is what fuels the rivalry between the school. It is about our differences. We could not imagine being at the other school, yet we respect what each side does.

This week has reminded me of what happened only months ago. That fact that everyone is doubting us to win this game is nothing new for MSU. Once again the Spartans are being doubted as good enough. That is fine with us. On Saturday we will come together in cheering for our team. Win or lose we will leave knowing we did our absolute best to win.

Knowing all this, there is nowhere else I would rather be then Michigan State. This is and always will be home.[/su_expand]