I enjoyed a green and white Outback Bowl as the University of Michigan choked away a 24-19 loss to South Carolina.
And there was laughter through out the afternoon.
My wife Abs is a Spartan. Although she attended Western Michigan University both her mom and dad were long time MSU employees who taught their children to bleed green and white.
The host brother in law Ralph, who joined me once on a MSU road trip to Penn State and snored so long and loud that I was barely up for the game, attended MSU and his son is a freshman there.
My son Brandon wears Michigan State gear and wants to attend the school when he graduates from high school in three years. I wore his Spartan skull cap and of course ran into West Bloomfield High football coach Ron Bellamy who wants me to trade in the hat for a Michigan hat. Coach Bell was once a fine wide receiver at Michigan.
Also in attendance was a former Spartan non relative.
There was complete silence as we chowed on ham sandwiches and a batch of greens, black eyed peas and smoked turkey as Michigan piled up a 19-3 lead. The Sparty party was a sullen affair because it looked like Michigan would roll to an easy victory over a disinterested and error prone Gamecock squad.
But the Wolverines began to implode and the roars of glee and laughter grew louder.
“Do you know what’s better than Michigan losing this game,” said big Ralph. “Michigan imploding and losing this game.”
I understand the rivalry. The Spartans root for Michigan to lose. The Wolverines once claimed they did not care if State won or loss. But that all changed when MSU became good under Mark Dantonio. Now both sides are out for blood.
The Big Ten finished 8-1 during the bowl season which made my Spartan family gleeful. The glee became more shining because Michigan sustained the only loss.
I was asked why I wasn’t sharing in the same glee.
I explained that I am a state of Michigan man. I want to see the mitten do well. And after three decades as a sports writer I am programmed to not root for teams. I do not root for Michigan or Michigan State. I do not root for the Lions. I watch as a sports fan, not a sports team fan.
I root for good games more than victories.
Any way Michigan loss and the get together for lunch turned into an outright party filled with sinister laughs and giggles.
I wonder if Wolverines do the same?
There was anger because Michigan (8-5) got a better bowl than MSU (10-3). Bowls are not about rewarding the best teams. They are about filling seats, getting television ratings and getting the most publicity. It does not matter what bowl you are in unless it is one of the playoff bowls. Besides I’d rather spend a week in San Diego this time if year than in Tampa.
My Spartan family hates the term Little Brother. My advice to Wolverines is to stop using the term. The Spartan players play off that and become a little better team because of it. Dantonio uses it as jet fuel and I’m convinced the Spartans are 3-6 points better against Michigan because of it.
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