As a Spartan fan, I have felt the cold, firm grip of the Michigan football program on my school for far too long. Every time my Spartans would beat the spread it was considered a feat, 2004 was simply the best game in the series I had ever seen. U of M was not only a state power, but a national power. Year after year, I endured the bane of living in Southeastern Michigan as a Michigan State fan and year after year, I had to suffer the worst of the worst. 2003 showed me that no matter how good MSU would be, Michigan would always remind us what we really were. 2004 taught me to never trust my Spartans ever again in this rivalry. And 2005 gave me a view of a future that was dark and merciless, getting so close to victory, but still falling short.
Since my youngest days, this rivalry has been both personal and agonizing. I have grown to hate the Maize and Blue with every fiber of my being, sometimes to points that exceed where a sports rivalry should go. From 2000 – 2007 I was given no chances, no hope, and no quarter in a region booming with true Blue fans and Walmart Wolverines alike.
But still, I endured. Then, out of Southern Ohio came a savior that showed me the way to prosperity. Mark Dantonio showed all Spartan fans that this rivalry was going to change. Starting with the words that changed the course of history, Dantonio took the snarky, arrogant comments of Mike Hart and turned it into a revolution, a battle cry heard across the Mitten. No longer would we be stepped on, no longer would we concede the state and let good ol’ blue embarrass and degrade our program, no longer would we let this rivalry destroy us. We cared, and that’s how things changed. We made what, to some, would seem menial into a program statement, a change of the course for good. This period in Spartan history will be defined by one phrase, and that phrase was uttered by no other than a player that owned us for four years.
My point of this whole personal history lesson/heated rant on Blue nation is because this is the real issue with the Michigan program now.The days of past championships and national dominance are long in the past. The Wolverines haven’t won a Big Ten championship in over a decade and haven’t won a Rose Bowl in just as long. For the better part of this century, Michigan has taken a back-seat to its two biggest rivals, and counting Notre Dame, can be argued as the fourth best program in the Midwest right now. The arrogance of keeping things in the past and bringing up greatness from the 20th century will not change the course your school is headed. You, as Michigan fans, must recognize that you are a speck of what you used to be. Yes, you still average over 100,000 fans. Yes, you still get high recruiting classes
But what has that gotten you?
Embarrassing home losses to Appalachian State, Utah, Oregon, Minnesota, and Michigan State, among many others. You have won only two games against your top three rivals in the Brady Hoke era, and don’t expect to be improving that record at all in 2014. Any history buff will tell you the great civilizations fixed their problems instead of dwelling on past success in order to survive. To sustain greatness, you must keep creating it or change the system to create something new.
The road is very long to get back to the true Blue era that was. This rivalry is the first step. Every year, no matter what they do, Michigan State cares about this rivalry. Their fans, their players, their coaches all care about how this game goes. That passion burned into our psyche and that phrase by Mike Hart created what you see before you today. This rivalry is the sole proprietor of the greatness that has been Michigan State football. With the nonchalant attitude and the “we are a better historical program” arguments, you will get nowhere. The home-state is the one battle you need to win to change things, and if you don’t care as much as Michigan State does, then you will never win this state again.
It doesn’t matter how many recruits you bring in or how many seats you fill if every time you showcase yourself to the state, you get embarrassed and look like a bunch of arrogant, stubborn fans that are tied to the past and can’t see the very real present. Your program has been great, arguably the best in college football history, but unless you actually care about what is happening out your front door, you will never leave that house again, and the only people that will remember or care what you are is yourself. The first step to any problem is recognizing you have one, and that problem dear Michigan fans, are the Spartans of Michigan State.