This question arose from the recent trend by the local MSM to predict a renaissance in MSU football under Mark Dantonio. The more bold of the MSU faithful have even dared to predict a reversal in the balance of power of college football similar to what was seen in the 1950s and the 1960s when MSU was a national power and Michigan was a middle of the pack Big 10 program.
Now it's been well-documented that MSUs rise to prominence in this era was fueled by the recruitment of African-American talent from the Jim Crow south. Segregation of southern universities and football programs provided for a vast talent pool of black players that coaches like Duffy Daugherty tapped. Once these southern schools embraced integration, this exodus of southern black talent was reduced and the MSU football program returned to being a mid-tier Big 10 program.
The conclusion we can draw from this is that MSU today is unlikely to surpass Michigan since the special social forces that assisted MSU to prominence before, no longer exist. The inherent assumption in this statement is that Michigan will more often than not, outrecruit MSU for talent based on it's higher national profile.
The contradiction to this assumption though is why wasn't this the case in the 1950s and 60s? Michigan was still Michigan in those days, yet MSU was able to draw talent from the south and Michigan appears to have not followed suit. Researching teams from that era, Michigan did not seem to be segregated as there were black players on both Bennie Oosterbaan and Bump Elliott's squads which would seem to rule out any kind of institutional racism.
I'm wondering is there are any MGoHistorians out there who can answer this question. Did Michigan fall behind MSU because we didn't embrace diversity? Our academic standards were higher for incoming athletes? Lack of institutional support for athletics? Or was it just plain bad coaching/recruiting? Does some sort of silver bullet exist to explain this dark period in Michigan football history?