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Saturday, November 1, 2014


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Dueling Column: U-M arrogance keeps program clinging to past






O'Brien

O’Brien

MSU head coach Mark Dantonio might have said it best.

“I think you’re green or blue in this state by the time you get to age 14,” he said Tuesday. “Maybe 10.”

And once that affiliation is determined, as Tupac Shakur once said, “It’s on for life.”

There’s no denying the University of Michigan is one of the nation’s premier institutions — as I’m sure you might have heard this week from at least one student, alumnus, faculty member or middle-aged band wagoner who happened to pick up a $5 Michigan T-shirt when Steve & Barry’s had their blowout sale.

The football team is storied. The institution itself has produced several Nobel Prize winners and an American president. So what makes it so hard for the Wolverines to count to four?

You might not remember the last time Michigan beat MSU in football, which is understandable. Back then, you probably had more important things on your mind, such as remembering the right order of dance moves to “Crank That (Soulja Boy).”

Of course, that hasn’t stopped Michigan from continuing to allege its dominance over the Mitten state.

In case you’ve been living under a rock — or just happen to be one of the many Michigan fans living in denial — it’s been four years since the Wolverines last beat MSU.

Of course, those games don’t really count. I mean, 2008, 2009 and 2010 were all rebuilding years. And last year, MSU only won because they cheated, and because then-sophomore defensive end William Gholston is a “thug.”

It’s the same old rhetoric. And as we all know, excuses are like excrement — it all stinks, and Ann Arbor’s full of it.

With each new season, I get the pleasure of hearing about the Wolverine resurgence, how this will be the year they’ll run over the Big Ten and the Spartans — and then get to watch Michigan’s season fall apart following a loss at the hands of “nonrival” MSU.

Each season, I get to hear about Denard Robinson’s Heisman candidacy before Michigan has played a game, how the sophomore, then junior, now senior quarterback will shatter every NCAA Division I record en route to New York for the trophy presentation. And each year, Robinson blows up in spectacular fashion — though this season’s fall from grace was my personal favorite, when he threw four interceptions on four straight passing attempts against Notre Dame.

But please, tell me again how “Shoelace” torched an 0-6 Massachusetts team for 402 total yards and four touchdowns. That impresses me.

So what does Michigan have that the Spartans don’t? Aside from a quarterback who throws the ball with the type of accuracy usually displayed by the male clientele in a Rick’s bathroom.

Well, Ann Arbor is home to a fanbase so inflated with self-importance, they refuse to acknowledge the past four MSU victories without prefacing the conversation with “Well, what about the previous six?”

This is the same program that insists MSU isn’t a real rival, yet when the Wolverines preposterously found themselves playing in a BCS Bowl, a group of fans took it upon themselves to remind the nation that “Spartan tears taste like Sugar.”

And although the Wolverines were able to stumble backward into the Sugar Bowl last year, they still needed overtime and a bungled touchdown reversal to secure a three-point victory over an 11-3 Virginia Tech team that finished second in the ACC.

This is the same program that plastered the words of MSU head coach Mark Dantonio on its own weight room wall, but will tell you Saturday is just another game. That’s like Kanye West visiting the site of Occupy Wall Street while he’s in the middle of promoting an album titled “Watch the Throne.”

Whether or not you want to admit it, ”Little Brother” is in your head. You’re the Johnny Drama to MSU’s Vincent Chase. You’re Donnie Wahlberg.

You’re Tito Jackson.

The truth is, a whole graduating class has come and gone since the last time Michigan beat MSU in football.

That’s 1,812 days, if you’re keeping track.

And come Saturday, that will be 1,813 — and counting.

Jesse O’Brien is a State News football reporter. He can be reached at obrie151@msu.edu.


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