Yesterday, as I watched Michigan's awful performance against Michigan State, I wondered about who is Michigan's worst rival, Ohio State or Michigan State.
I am precluding this by mentioning that football is the most important, basketball is great, but still just a distraction from football's dead period. Also, we can leave out Notre Dame and Minnesota, the fact that Notre Dame is non-conference, Minnesota has been owned by Michigan recently, and the fact that game is not even played annually.
Call it whatever you want, heresy, channeling Gary Moeller perhaps, but I believe Michigan State is Michigan's worst rival. Maybe I say that because I live in Grand Rapids, west side of the state, where there are almost two State fans per Michigan fans, and not many of those Michigan fans really care. Or perhaps, in light of State's win in football this past year, or the debacle last night, I have a newfound passion for hating MSU this year. Also, there are not really too many Ohio State fans, that I see at least, I do not really know of any that live around here. They might live in southeast Michigan or in the Toledo area where the rivalry is seemingly most heated, but I am not really aware that many Ohio State fans exist in most of the state of Michigan.
I think that the Michigan-Ohio State bloodbath (not that I've had much experience with the rivalry) really is a tremendous rivalry, but to be honest, I believe that it is a rivalry that is based loosely on mutual respect, or at least acknowledgement for the other's program. I did actually just say that. Michigan is a better program by far, more class, dignity, intelligence, etc. but I have to say that Ohio State is a decent program. Also, I think that the Ohio State rivalry is by far the best rivalry in the state of Ohio, with Michigan fans and Ohio State fans going at it constantly. However, in the state of Michigan, particularly in West, North, and Central Michigan, even around Ann Arbor, Michigan State is a bigger rival, not by much more than the Buckeyes, but still more. The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is based purely on the inferiority complex set on MSU by Michigan (which is not without merit, frankly it's true). Michigan State hates Michigan so passionately that it is really amazing. Michigan however, feels that State is just another win, and never gives them any credit for anything; and Michigan State takes that as an insult which only adds to the rivalry. Add to the inferiority complex the annual recruiting battles (especially in Detroit, which Michigan typically wins), the success of michigan now and in the past, and the fact that Michigan State rally does not compare with Michigan in respects to tradition, talent, history, or even fan base. Also, I could say that Michigan-Ohio State is fueled by the ESPN, SI, etc. hype on the rivalry, which is really just an excuse to fill their telecast, magazine, web site, whatever. That really just adds to the perception that Michigan-Ohio State is a bigger rivalry than Michigan-Michigan State, it is still an excellent rivalry, but I'd finally give kudos to Michigan State for once and call them a bigger rival. ESPN in particular hypes rivalries way too much, and I've heard it a few times during the North Carolina-Duke game by Dickie V, how that fits in I do not know. Rivalries are a huge thing, but they are mainly a product of the fans which goes down to the players, coaches etc. but not a national thing, moreover a localized one.
Maybe I say this because I am incredulous that State won this past year, or that they chanted Go Green, Go White, (Can't Read, Can't Write) after winning said game, followed up with a "little sister" chant, at the Big House. Or, maybe I held on to hope that Michigan would upset them last night. Maybe it was recent frustration in most of the recruiting battles in-state as of late (except William Campbell, yes...), or perhaps that I am outnumbered by State fans here in GR. I guess that most of what I am saying is a matter of present circumstance, or maybe I haven't experienced the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry for real. (Note: I have gone to the past four or five Ohio State games at home, and go to almost every home game, so I have seen the fervor in person.)
I guess what I've tried to say is that, at least right now, and around here, Michigan State is a bigger rival than Ohio State. Not by much, but still a little bigger ( at the very least, around the same).
Agree? Disagree? A matter of opinion?
(I am bracing myself for the explosion, so try not to be too vicious here, I am a fellow Michigan diehard, so insults are really not too appropriate).
Go Blue, little brother.