This is Michigan-Michigan State week where Spartans and Wolverines trade barbs and make fun of each other right up to Saturday’s noon kick off at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
It is one of my favorite weeks of the year because it is a build up of an annual civil war that I’ve enjoyed a unique observational perch. I’ve been welcomed and ridiculed on both sides of the aisle as a journalist that got to peek inside both programs.
I also did a radio show for 13 years with one of the biggest Sparty boosters and bashers in Mike Valenti. I also did a radio show with Art Regner who lived and died with every Michigan win and defeat. I’ve lived in Ann Arbor, married into a Spartan family. Both sides have pushed for me to root for their programs. I refuse.
I remain a state of Michigan man. In other words when the state of Michigan does well I do well. My view of the rivalry is simple. Give me one entertaining football game a year and two entertaining basketball games a year. I don’t care who wins.
If Michigan wins on Saturday my day will be made. If Michigan State wins this Saturday my day will be made. I do not cheer for Michigan touchdowns. I do not groan following MSU fumbles or interceptions.
Just entertain me.
I’ve been told I cannot think that way, that everybody in this state takes sides and rides with a team. That is simply not true.
Most people in this state pick a side. But there are thousands in the state who do not. There are even folks who don’t know when the game is being played.
College athletics did not play a major role in my childhood. Adults did not talk about Michigan or Michigan State. The kids were more focused on the Pistons and Tigers. I only went to one Michigan game as a youth. And No Spartan games.
My Spartan family can become annoying at times. My brother in law Big Ralph wears maize and blue Appalachian State T-shirt to poke fun at the Wolverines historic 2007 loss. Sometimes my wife Abs screams “Go Green” to me. I guess I am supposed to retort with an enthusiastic “Go White”. I simply pat her on the head and go about my business.
She gets mad at me.
One day she suckered me into attending a Michigan State pep rally in Chicago before a MSU-Northwestern game I was assigned to cover. She wanted me to clap when they sang the MSU fight song. I refused.
She got mad at me.
I dated a Wolverine who was studying to be a doctor. She screamed “go blue” until she turned blue in the face. I never said “Go blue” back.
She got mad at me.
Now here is where you get mad at me. I am going to list a few Michigan-Michigan State trade marks and tell you which school is best.
BEST FOOTBALL STADIUM: Michigan Stadium: The seats are too small, but a slight edge goes to the Big House. There is just something about seeing the big oval packed with fans on a Saturday afternoon.
BEST BASKETBALL ARENA: Breslin Center: This is a great arena that is enhanced by the product on the floor and the rabid fans in the Izzone. Michigan’s Crisler Arena is too dark and too quiet. Even players admit it. I do a podcast with Fab Five guard Jimmy King and he told me they were the ones that pushed for the student section to be moved from the upper deck to a lower tier to liven up the place.
BEST GAME TAILGATE: Michigan: This one is really close. The tie breaker is the parking lot at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and the university golf course. They could be cooking prime rib and lobsterniversity . It used to be more lively in East Lansing but MSU has cracked down with no fun party pooper policies.
BEST FANS: Michigan State: There are too many butt wipes in both fan bases and they can both be annoying. Here is the tie breaker. Hang out with Spartans at a spots bar. And then hang out with Wolverines. You are likely going to have a better time with the Spartans. They buy more shots, sing the fight song more and tip better.
The Wolverines are more responsible, but are less fun. A piece of advice. Loosen up your polo shirts just a tad.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: