Saturday, April 04, 2009

Spartans Have Earned U-M's Respect - Even If Wolverines Won't Give It To Them

Sometimes you're surprised by a reaction. Other times, it's expected. I have to admit I was surprised, while doing my radio show Friday night and Saturday morning, by how Michigan fans are responding to Michigan State being in the Final Four at Ford Field.
Maybe, having lived here all my life, I shouldn't have been.
The idea the Spartans' advancement to the Final Four has turned Southeastern Michigan green is bunk. It's always seemed to me there are more Michigan fans in Metro Detroit than Michigan State. A lot more. It's almost one of those things that people either went to Michigan State or they are Michigan fans.
And those Michigan fans, most of whom didn't go to the school, have reacted in one of the following three ways.
1. They are genuinely happy for the Spartans and are rooting for them to bring home the national championship. They understand the situation and are genuinely happy for our state. This is not the majority, but it is a good chunk of people. They, however, don't rank among Michigan's most feverent fans.
2. They are more than willing to give MSU and Tom Izzo credit for their success, but make it clear they don't like this all that much and won't openingly root for the Spartans. Nor are they willing to give MSU much credit for their recent football success. It appears the majority of Michigan fans fall into this category.
3. The third group hates MSU and everything about it. They don't, really, acknowledge basketball as a sport. They mock whatever success MSU has - period. These don't tend to be students or alums of Michigan. They are also the majority leading the Michigan "got jobbed" brigade, whenever Michigan loses. This is, fortunately, a minority of Michigan fans - but they are probably the most vocal.
There is a bottom line about this. Michigan State has reached the Final Four five times in 11 seasons. Michigan made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. Last fall, MSU's football team was 9-3 and Michigan's 3-9. When the two teams played head-to-head in both sports, MSU won.
That doesn't necessarily mean MSU has buried Michigan. To the contrary. But MSU fans have nothing to apologize for, and there is no reason for Michigan fans not to give the Spartans' credit. It is certainly due.



Blogger Fred Brill said...


My hat is off to the Spartans. Huge.

But then I went to Georgia. And LSU. I find UofM vanity a bit much to take.

The way the Sparty's simply smothered UCONN was even more fun to watch than the Louisville game.

When I was a little kid I thought UCONN was a school in the Northwest Territories of Canada. But I digress.

They truly reminded me (a self proclaimed non-expert of basketball) of the Pistons of several years ago.

They played like a complete team.
They play a smothering defense.
And they depend a bit too much for my nerves on the three point jumpers.

I kept waiting to hear Mason scream "DeeeTroit Basket Ball".

Maybe tomorrow night?

Go Green!

10:37 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
It's not all Michigan fans. The vast majority - especially those who went to school there - are just fine. But do the U-M whiners - a majority - make a lot of noise.

5:38 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...


I have never been a fan of college sports fans who never went to the school they vehemently support. I just don't understand it; especially when they are irrational like you describe.

I root for both Michigan and Michigan State equally, and when they play each other, I root for the team with the most to gain by winning. I went to Detroit, so I don't have a personal stake in either team over the other.

I am starting to become more of a Michigan State fan than a Michigan fan though. I always loved Loyd Carr, and thought he was one of the classiest coaches and maybe the best recruiter in the nation (although maybe he wasn't the best X's and O's coach.) I don't like Rich Rodriquez at all. I don't care if he wins 10 national championships, I won't like the guy unless he shows me that he has more class than he has shown so far.

D'Antonio has really impressed me at Michigan State. I didn't think much of him when hired, as he didn't do anything special before he got there, but he has shown me that he is a good coach. I wanted MSU to pick up Brian Kelly, but it seems like they got the right guy in D'Antonio. One more thing about them; I was always impressed that under John L Smith, the Spartans would never celebrate after a big play or a touchdown. I felt that showed some major class, and I was happy to see that.

As for Izzo vs. Beilein: Izzo is one of the best (if not the best coach) in the country. Not the greatest recruiter, but he appears to get the most out of his players, and always has them prepared for the tournament. Beilein looks like he will consistently win around 20 games a year with his style and track record. I doubt he will ever run a dominant program, but it should be a good one that will make Michigan matter in basketball for years to come.


10:21 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I think a lot of Michigan fans miss the old U-M guard - like Lloyd and Bo. It's certainly an adjustment getting used to Rich Rodriguez, but he will have few problems if he starts to win.

1:34 PM 
Blogger Sandy Gholston said...


I think your Spartan green is showing a little bit. Personally, I was happy for the Spartans and cheered them all the way down to the bitter end against North Carolina.

Just for the sake of full disclosure. I am a native of Detroit and I grew up a U-M fan.

However, after working 11 years as a newspaper sports reporter, I have come to a point where I put aside cheering the way I did when I was younger and before I became a sports writer.

I had the good fortune to become good friends with someone who was on the MSU Board of Trustees and thus got a chance to see some Spartan games up close in personal in Breslin. I've actually seen more Spartan events live than I have Wolverine events.

That aside, I will point out a few things:

1. I am always amused by this notion that so many Michigan fans are people who never attended or graduated there, but are just fans for whatever reason (as if there are no or very few Michigan State fans that are that way and all or most Spartan fans went to MSU). Pat, these types of fans support many of the major BCS schools. Besides, you don't have to have played for the Pistons to support the Pistons. Whether you're a Spartan or a Wolverine ... your money is the same color.

2. I am amazed at how MSU fans are borderline obsessed with getting respect from U-M fans (even in sports where the Spartans clearly are superior).

3. I could flip your post around and say pretty much the same stuff (with regard to your three numerical points).

4. Personally, I think MSU fans hate U-M FAR more than U-M fans hate MSU.

I could make a few more points, but I will leave it at that for now.

1:54 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Sandy Gholston,
I really don't disagree with many of the points you make. It's just the way it is. There is one difference, though. I do wonder what people who went to Michigan - which is difficult to get into and even more so to graduate from - think about so many people acting as if they went to school there. Now, that is not true of most Michigan fans who didn't go to the school, but some are out of control. I just merely pointed that out in the blog entry.

1:23 PM 
Blogger marlon said...

What is the issue with fans who cheer for a school they did not attend? By this logic, only people who live in Detroit are "eligible" to root for the Lions, Tigers, Wings, and Pistons.

10:04 AM 
Blogger marlon said...

I can not understand why a person has to attend a school to be a fan. We are all taxed to support them. Using this logic, one must conclude that people who do not live in Detroit are not "eligible" to be fans of the Lions, Tigers, Wings, or Pistons. Odd.

10:12 AM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home