Note: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
*In addition to the above, this piece was all in good fun and is 100% intended to make Michigan vs. Michigan State Week a little more exciting for the fans!
*Originally written in 2015
My disdain for the University of Michigan runs deep. There are a myriad of personal reasons why I despise Ann Arbor, why I will never wear blue and yellow, and why I will forever wish for their demise. Part of it has to do with being one of very few Spartan fans in Metro Detroit in the 2000's, but part of it has to do with many still-prevalent factors. Hail to hell, Michigan fans; let's get down to business, here are the top ten reasons why the University of Michigan football program is a joke!
Criticism frightens you
Criticism can really be tough. I understand that fully; especially considering that I braved the John L. Smith era. But there comes a time where truth can seep through and one has to be introspective. Every critique or accurate assessment about your program is seemingly met with extreme defensive behaviors. You cite your wins, your national titles, your eras of dominance, and your bright future under Jesus Harbaugh. That seems a little harsh considering most of the time these criticisms are not waived against your history, but against the current state of your football program (or at least before Harbaugh got there).
As a Spartan fan, I can admit my program had been inept for a very long time. We have had stretches of sheer humiliation and still need to pry hard to get ourselves into the national relevance conversation. Spartan Nation doesn't like to be slighted when we deserve respect, but we can also accept very relevant criticisms that have to do with the hole Mark Dantonio had to dig us out of (and is seemingly digging us back into as well). Then again, we basically let it seep inside, brush it off for a little bit, and then turn around and use it to dismantle your team. So maybe we aren't perfect at it either, but it still is something that Michigan fans need to work on.
Those colors are hideous
The “Maize and Blue” color scheme is overdone to the point of exhaustion. What exactly makes your colors so great aside from having a disgusting palette of knock-off gold and navy blue? Every time I see that color combination ‘out in nature' it's like a bull to red cloth. Your colors bring out a physical reaction from me, and it isn't one of respect or jubilation. Even if the “Maize” color were actually something one could look at without inciting vomit, I still wouldn't like the colors. But hey what do I know, we just have the most iconic logo in all of college sports.
You tried to kick us out of the Big Ten!
You read that right. Even before MSU was in your conference, you were already trying to discredit our program. Here's the proof of this accusation. That is a pretty severe effort to dismantle a program that “you guys don't care about”. We tried to get into the Big Ten and almost didn't because the good ole Maize and Blue tried to block us.
Ironic how that worked considering the dominance Bo Schembechler had over the Spartans.
The “Big House” is an empty, uninspired bowl of boredom
What has always been a bragging right for Wolverines seemed like a hollow cry for attention to me. Just because you have a stadium of 100,000 people doesn't mean it's the best atmosphere in college football. Places like Bryant-Denney Stadium, Death Valley at LSU, Camp Randall Stadium, and Death Valley at Clemson all could be argued as far more terrifying and electric atmospheres than the “Big House.” Size seems to matter all too much to the Michigan faithful, and we know where that goes.
My point is simply that adding size to your stadium doesn't make it the best. The Washington Redskins have the largest stadium in the NFL, but that doesn't make it the best either. I definitely respect the Big House for its historical and cultural relevance to college football, I just think it has a little too much hype compared to others in its “weight class.”
“The Victors” is torture to the ears
There is nothing worse than “The Victors.” While I would easily argue in an objective debate that it is one of the most iconic in college football, it's still damn annoying to hear. This weekend could come with mountains upon mountains of that inept tune ringing through Spartan Stadium as well. But every single time I hear it, all I can think of is a constant reminder of the insatiable hate myself and many other Spartan fans feel when we hear this song.
Hail to nothing, I hate this song.
Your players are insufferable and great at the same time
I will admit one thing, Michigan has some damn fine players in their storied history. You have some all-time guys and arguably the best quarterback in NFL history went to your school. However, there are those that seep through the cracks and have that right mix of greatness and detestability. Guys like Dennard Robinson, Mike Hart, Jabrill Peppers, and Desmond Howard all drive me insane. Hart, in particular, draws my ire not only by his infamous comments but simply how he carried himself.
There was a smugness when it came to Hart like he deserved all the success he had instead of staying humble. Robinson is on this list because of the hype he received. September Heisman, he was and it drove me insane, especially considering the guy couldn't keep possession of the ball to save his life. Peppers is on here due to the fact he is the product of the Michigan media. He was a great player no doubt, but he wasn't the best defensive player in the country like Mark Schlabach has stated or as dynamic as one would think. Enough of this overhyping when so many other players on the team are better than him. Howard is the worst of them all, though. More on him later, I absolutely promise.
Your history is not nearly as impressive as it seems, and you know it
This is a territory that doesn't get touched very often, but it is something all Spartans know all too well. Your program has innumerable accolades. There are the 11 national titles, the all-time record for wins, and the incredibly stable run by Bo Schembechler. Under further analysis, those numbers aren't as impressive as they would seem.
All of those national titles were won before the 1950's except for one SHARED title with the University of Nebraska. Those 11 national titles are touted as such a bragging right, but unfortunately six of them were won before the second World War. How can anyone take that number seriously? Especially when you have schools like Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Texas, USC, Florida State, Miami, and Nebraska all winning multiple titles since the 1970s.
Now, this is where I get a little dicey for your tastes.
Bo Schembechler was an extreme under-achiever. Here's a few stats just to prove my point: during his tenure as the Wolverines head coach from 1969-1989 Schembechler was 5-12 in bowl games, never finished No. 1 in the nation, finished in the top ten 16 times but only won three bowls in those years, and here's the kicker, ZERO national titles.
Before you jump down my throat about what I just laid out, I would like to admit that Schembechler was a great coach, the best in Michigan Wolverines history. But he simply didn't get the job done despite a ridiculous amount of opportunities to do so. By comparison, his counterpart Woody Hayes compiled a record of 6-6 in bowl games, five bowl victories in his 15 years in the top 10, and five national titles.
“The Big Ten needs Michigan to succeed” and “MSU will fall back to ineptitude with our rise” arguments
Both of these sentiments are utterly absurd. If we take into account the advent of Michigan's mediocrity from Rich Rod's beginning to Hoke's end (2007-2008 season to 2013-2014), the Big Ten didn't have many issues nationally. In those seven years, all but one of them had two Big Ten teams in the BCS. To add to this, seven of the twelve Big Ten programs (at that time before expansion) had reached a BCS bowl game. And to close this point, here are the results of the final Top 25 poll for the Big Ten in each season: 2008-four teams (two in top ten), 2009-four (three) , 2010-three (two) , 2011-three (one) , 2012-four (one) , 2013-three (one) , 2014-four (two).
The second point is equally egregious and also very near-sighted. The concept of Michigan State withering away back into ineptitude completely ignores what Michigan State has done since Mark Dantonio took over. They have been a pillar of consistency for the better part of a decade and have had only one hiccup seasons. It seems like the planets are aligning for a Michigan State demise yet again but let's analyze this a little further.
We have two separate instances in recent years of what Michigan State is capable of, even when Michigan is its typical Michigan self. Under George Perles, the Spartans were able to reach four straight bowl games from 1987 to 1990, finishing in the top 25 three of those years, and attaining three bowl victories including a Rose Bowl win in 1987. Michigan, in the same timeframe, were in the midst of a 30-year bowl appearance streak. The Wolverines finished in the top 25 each year in that four-year span and in the top ten three times.
The Saban era was also proof that State could succeed despite Michigan being the powerhouse we all know it to be. Saban's tenure started out on the mediocre side with .500 finishes in his first four years. In his last year before he cowardly left East Lansing, Michigan State attained its first double-digit victory season since 1965. The Spartans had had their best season their Rose Bowl victory in 1987 and looked to be trending in the right direction before Saban pulled the rug from under MSU. Dantonio is here to stay and despite a hiccup of 2016, has brought the stability that Saban could've potentially had.
The Michigan Media and its byproducts
The Michigan Media horde is large and wide. The school has its reaches in all places in the country and especially in metro-Detroit. The tragic part is that many of the “Michigan media” types aren't even graduates. Ones that actually graduated from the school seem to be more respectable than the wannabes; Mike Tirico and Rich Eisen come to mind. Desmond Howard may be the worst of the bunch with his smug nature on his program and active dismissal of Michigan State in every way. He has no right being on the excellent College Gameday program with his obvious homerism and putrid laugh (I utterly despise his laugh).
My problem with this cult of media personalities comes from all of the narratives that come with it. They perpetuate the two ludicrous statements I already addressed and tout up players that simply don't deserve the level of hype they get. Dennard Robinson and Jabrill Peppers are obvious examples of this. Robinson can be spoken for already, but Peppers is a whole other animal.
Peppers received unbridled praise for his performances while at Michigan. The accolades went from being on ESPN's “Heisman Watch” to being granted the “Midseason Defensive Player of the Year” award by ESPN's Mark Schlabach. Both statements were obviously absurd and equally insulting to better players on his own team. The narrative that is struck by the Michigan Media forces those in opposition to fight over a tidal wave of hype and platitudes despite any evidence that is against their narrative.
The active effort to ill-legitimise the MSU-U of M rivalry
This may irk my very soul more than anything else on this list. You can combine numbers 10-2 and it still wouldn't amount to the sheer deplorability of this asinine activity on the part of Michigan fans. This item outranked last year's #1: Walmart Wolverines.
The idea that you are too good to care about your in-state rival that had even slightly caught up to you. The arrogance that comes with this dismissal is everything that is wrong with the Michigan Wolverines program. You are too stuck in the past and too stuck with the narrative of discrediting the Michigan State program in any way you can.
You all know we care about this rivalry. You all know we hate you and I can say personally there's nothing (outside of obvious acts of evil or tragedies) that I hate more than the Maize and Blue. Two of our writers for College Sports on DSN have added to this attitude. They have continued to act as if nothing is of any consequence against Michigan State and we are simply another Big Ten opponent.
Maybe the worst part about this attitude is that the counter to any semblance of care for the Paul Bunyan Trophy is to tout up the severely overrated OSU-U of M game. “The Game” hasn't been of any consequence in ten years, the Buckeyes have utterly destroyed you guys, and you act as if you two are such severe rivals yet we both are in each other's space 365 days a year. Buckeye fans are only prevalent for a week in the entire calendar year. State fans are your friends, family, and co-workers. You see us and we see you and your baffling, unsubstantiated opinions almost daily.
How can any honest or intelligent football fan in this state ignore the hatred that has come? Michigan State is much more relevant as a program and the rivalry now has its iconic moment with the “Trouble with the Snap.” I saw those faces after that play. I saw the broadcast and all of the Maize and Blue fans after that game had ended for the subsequent weeks and months. If you REALLY didn't give a #(% about this rivalry, then surrender cobra and all of your tears and anguish for that loss wouldn't have happened.
You care. It may never be admitted. But it's much like an old-school father's love: you don't need to say the words for it to be true. See you Saturday you deplorable football fans.