Michigan-Michigan State: Rivalry a Blessing and a Curse


I have a confession to make. I love college football. I am sure you are shocked. No, that isn’t actually a bid deal. But I also hate college football in this state. Which, as a sports blogger in the metro Detroit area, is a much bigger deal.

You see, we are both blessed and cursed in this great state of ours to have two great college football programs. And if you grew up in Michigan, you generally were forced to choose between the two. You chose it based on where you grew up, or where your parents went, or whether you liked cows or weed or Wal-Mart. And we all generally agreed that we would play hard against each other, hate the team from Ohio, and coexist peacefully the other 364 days of the year we weren’t playing each other.

But times have changed. You see, the one program was pretty arrogant. They were pretty good (but probably never as good as they thought they were) but they were labeled the winningest team in college football, with the biggest stadium. And they got pretty loud and disrespectful about it.

It didn’t matter if some of their historical victories were against teams such as the “College of Physicians and Surgeons” or the “Drake Bulldogs”, or that their super big stadium never seemed super excited. They ruled the state for long periods of time and kind of assumed that they always would.

The other program just kept trying to get better. Not always successfully. But they kept trying. And getting more and more angry and obsessed about the big bully down the street. And to their credit – and the credit of their coaching staff – they finally did it. They beat up the bully. They dominated the state. And the success went to their heads.

They turned into the same big bully they despised all those years. They became loud and brash and laughed at the folly of their former foe…never minding that in some ways they have become the enemy they hated. Never mind that success in college football is fleeting. Never mind that the team from Ohio still kicked both their asses last year, and went on to win the National Championship.

And the problem is that – as a person who didn’t go to either college – I have to listen to them bitch at each other throughout the entire football season. It has ruined talk radio for me. It has ruined any hope of going to a house party to watch the two play each other without hearing the snide comments and trash talk between the two fan bases.

You can’t wear a Michigan shirt without someone asking you if you went to school there (because if you didn’t you aren’t allowed to root for them, apparently). You can’t wear a Michigan State shirt without someone from U of M assuming they are better than you.

I miss the old days where we hated each other for a day, but kind of hoped for the best for the other team the rest of the time. I miss rooting for both teams without anyone questioning your loyalty. I miss being proud of both programs during bowl season.

I wish we could go back…and get back to hating the team from Ohio again.

Next: Long-Standing Feud Alive and Well

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