Compare and Contrast - Random Encounters with MSU & OSU Fans This Past Week

Submitted by mGrowOld on March 30th, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Last week I took my family on a train trip from Chicago to Seattle for Spring Break.  This trip was planned months ago and as luck would have it our flight from Cleveland got into Chicago early last Saturday and the train didn't leave until 2:15pm CST so I had time to find a bar and watch the Michigan-VCU game.  We selected "Mother Hubbard's" because it was fairly close to Union Station and had good reviews for their food & beer selection and was considered "kid friendly (I had our 8 year old with us) and we had a great time.  I wore my Michigan warm-up jacket and Sugar Bowl hat and both my wife and son had Michigan gear on as well.  We were pretty much the only Michigan fans in there that day based on the cheering (just us mostly) and people were friendly and supportive.

On our way out after the game we passed a big table of MSU fans who had recently arrived to watch their game against Memphis.  They were all dressed in their finest Sparty gear and as we passed their table I said "good luck today guys - keep the B1G domination rolling" and smiled. I was greeted back with "whatthefuck-ever dude" by one guy and some chick giving me the finger.  Everybody at their table laughed at that (the girl flipping me off) and they all basically turned their back on me and said nothing after that.   I was way too happy to let a bunch of MSU fans bring me down so I just left and reminded myself that they truly just hate us in all situations no matter what and left.

On Thursday of this past week we were winding up our stay in Seattle and getting ready to fly home the next morning.  By the way - if you haven't spent time in Seattle I HIGHLY recommend doing so as it's a fantastic city with more to do than we could squeeze in four days but that's another story.  Anyways we decided to go to a Sports Bar near our hotel to watch the OSU & Indiana games and cheer for our fellow B1G schools while enjoying a few beers and some food.  Shortly after the OSU game started I heard a roar coming from the other side of the partition and when I stood up I saw about 200 OSU fans all decked out in scarlet and grey with a giant "Seattle Buckeye Club" banner hung beneath the biggest TV in the place.  I live in Cleveland and somehow I manage to run into the largest collection of Buckeye fans I've ever seen some 2,000 miles away from home.

Well the difference between the Buckeye fans and the MSU fans was pretty stark.  I was dressed basically the same (full Michigan-wear regalia) and other than some good-natured teasing about why I picked THAT bar I was welcomed and to a person, told they were going to root like Hell for us tomorrow.  No snide comments, no smug laughs and certainly no one-finger salutes like I got from the Michigan State fans earlier last week.  And mind you Ohio State was losing most of the game Thursday and Michigan State was killing Memphis when both encounters occurred so I couldn't attribute their reactions to me on the score of the game they were following.  

To me it summed up and confirmed what I've thought about how the respective fan bases view Michigan and our fan base.  OSU dislikes, but respects Michigan and generally roots for us to win unless of course they are playing us.  MSU, on-the-other-hand, dislikes us period and would like nothing better than to see us lose every game no matter what.   Oh, and one last thing.  If you ever get the chance to take a cross-country train trip I would recommend that experience as well.  You will get to see parts of the country you just can't see any other way!

UPDATE: I got about six congradulatory text's from OSU friends of mine here in Ohio after the game yesterday.  A couple of guys were texting me mid-game telling me they were very happy that at least one B1G team showed up large for the tourny. 



March 30th, 2013 at 10:07 AM ^

Lots of them.  Do the Duck Tour if you have kids (they will find the driver absolutely hilarious), drive out and see Mt Rainier up close and personal, eat a double bacon cheeseburger with a side of oniion rings at the Red Mill, go whale watching, visit the Fremont Troll (look it up - you'll understand why), walk the Public Market, take a ferry ride to the islands, take the Boeing tour and watch them build jumbo jets and of course, view the city from the observation deck of the Space Needle.  

The city is insanely clean and has a ton of street art everywhere (city ordinance apparently) and the people we encountered were very friendly and helpful.  Absolutely LOVED Seattle and completely understand why so many people want to live there.


March 30th, 2013 at 10:49 AM ^

Went out there to look for a job after I graduated, and I was hooked before I left SeaTac (their airport)—it was amazingly clean, with beautiful green shubbery and plantings everywhere; the contrast with Detroit Metro couldn't have been more stark. I stayed with a friend who knew the city inside and out, and I couldn't believe what a great place it was. Its easy proximity to the ocean and the mountains is the clincher.


March 30th, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

Man... I was in the area, would have said hi if I knew.

You picked a nice time to come out.  The weather was great.  A clear day in Seattle is as, if not more beautiful than any place in the country.

That being said, the place is expensive.  I've met plenty of nice MSU fans here.  I suspect the group you met is filled with Microsoft and Amazon employees.  Not exactly the coach burning/cooler pooper types.


April 1st, 2013 at 12:50 PM ^

I was in Seattle this weekend for a concert and spent the day on the waterfront. Stunningly beautiful on a sunny day. First thing I saw when we walked into our hotel was a guy in a Sparty sweatshirt. Very polite and was rooting for a UM-MSU final. Confused me a little.


March 30th, 2013 at 10:01 AM ^

I have said this often: as much as we "hate" OSU, the rivlary is built on mutual respect.  With Sparty, there is nothing to respect.  


March 30th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

While my first reaction is to agree with you & condemn all Sparty fans, you must admit these 2 encounters are just that: 2 encounters. I feel as if I have seen the same 2 reactions by the opposite fan bases--Sparties proclaiming mutual respect with Ohio fans hoping our team dies in a fire. Living in West Michigan, I come in contact with far more Sparties, and, in general (at least in these parts), they tend to lean towards the "I respect Michigan" side of things. I'm sorry you had to interact with such rude fans. Even if you truly hate the other school & fanbase with all of your soul, you should at least act civil in public (& with kids present!). Personally, I think all B1G schools are fine institutions, so why not hope for their success when it doesn't affect Michigan?


March 30th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

Maybe a chart will make it better?

# of encounters this past week with MSU fans behaving badly:  1

# of encounters this past week with OSU fans behaving badly:  0

# of total encounters: 2

% of bad MSU encounters: 100%

% of bad OSU encounters:     0%


March 30th, 2013 at 11:05 AM ^

Two encounters is a pretty small sample size to draw sweeping conclusions about a "fan base" as a whole. Personally, I've had the exact opposite experience where the Buckeye contingent went out of their way to be jerks while the Spartans were good natured. Depends on the nature of the individuals at issue. I've run into jerks and nice people representing every rival fan base, as well as many Michigan fans who were complete assholes to visiting fans as well as other Michigan fans. In the end, I believe that all fan bases have pretty much equal proportions of all types with some perceived variation due to commonly held beliefs that are perpetuated by the media. You'll notice Nebraska fans being nicer because they have an established rep for it; same with Michigan fans being arrogant and Buckeye fans being a bit too "extreme." This corroborates what you've "heard" and you tend not to notice the other variations. We think MSU fans are classless, but that's not an opinion that the MSM has perpetuated, so it's not a universally held perception, just a regional one. They're status as always being in Michigan's shadow is well known, but that's nothing unique; see Texas/Texas A&M, Oklahoma/Oklahoma State, Alabama\Auburn... Personally, I have this perception that OSU fans are the absolute worst despite the fact that I grew up in Lansing and have seen much more atrocious Spartan behavior. It doesn't make much sense.


March 30th, 2013 at 11:22 AM ^

Agree last week was a small sample size but it did reinforce for me anyways what I've witnessed over my lifetime.  I lived in Okemos for about two years in the late 80's and have lived in the Cleveland area ever since so I've been exposed to both fan bases "up close and personal" for the  better part of the last 25 years or so.  

It was been my life experience that if given a choice, the typical MSU fan would rather see both MSU and Michigan lose a game as they get more enjoyment out of our defeat than they do their own victories.  OSU fans, on the other hand, I think if given the same choice, would select seeing both teams win as they get more enjoyment out of watching the Buckeyes win than they do us losing.


March 31st, 2013 at 2:19 PM ^

I watched the Michigan-IU game a couple weeks ago at BW-3 in downtown East Lansing. Several hundred people were packed in there to watch a long evening of hoops. Rather obviously, most of the place was decked out in green and white. There were at least twenty maize and blue-clad  fans as well. As far as I know my wife and I were the only IU alumni there. I heard a little talking, but all good-natured, between MSU and M fans.

The swirls around that game were complex; on the one hand MSU fans generally do not root for Michigan (talk on campus earlier in the tourney tended to the conference-love position, but maybe 60-40 so), but at that point a Michigan win would get MSU a share of the conference title. Finally, everyone in conference seems to be a little down on IU since the Hoosiers have rebuilt things. Not much Crean love, to be sure.

For the most part, though, State fans basically wanted to watch a good game. It was loud throughout, and louder whenever someone from either side made a play. In the final minute, I'd guess the noise swung a little to Michigan, but I could be wrong.

In my thirteen years in East Lansing, I've seen some unpleasant treatment of fans in M gear, but by in large interactions I've actually witnessed have not seemed uncalled for. My dad visited for a game (the OT win over J.L. at Spartan Stadium), and we walked down through student neighborhoods and across campus in maize and blue... and received a few comments, the worst of which was, "you're going to lose today!". And nothing on the way back after a tough loss. That said,there are places I'd avoid on game day in my Michigan sweatshirt (looking at you, Cedar Village).

Drunken idiots of course, are drunken idiots, and, though State sometimes seems to specialize in that, no university can claim to have cornered that demographic. I witnessed some stuff on St. Patrick's Day in Ann Arbor just the other week that rivals any stupidity I've seen up here.


March 30th, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

As Meeeeshigan noted, sample sizes are important. I don't doubt the OP's account, but I've had the opposite experience a few times. Examples:

* Sparty fans in Grand Rapids. Good, mostly. Civilized place.

* OSU fans in Youngstown. Surly goons. That is all.


March 30th, 2013 at 12:40 PM ^

There's also going to be a different vibe among Chicagoans and Seattleites, truth be told.  

In general, though, I'd say that OSU fans are only douchenozzles when liquored up or acosted on Facebook or in their natural habitat.


March 30th, 2013 at 1:04 PM ^

I have run into OSU alum clubs on gamedays in Seattle, San Diego, and San Francisco. Not once can I remember a bad experience. It has always been a lot of good-natured ribbing. The few MSU fans I have run into outside of the midwest have also not been that bad. It probably has something to do with not being in the midwest where, as an OSU or MSU fan, it is accepted if not outright suggested that you act like jackasses. Mob mentality I guess. 


March 30th, 2013 at 2:01 PM ^

I think in general, alum fans are better than non alum fans.  Also, Big 10 alums need a good reason to move to San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle... namely good jobs.  There's little upside to being a douche at bar when you're pulling in 6 figures, feeding a family and living on the west coast.  

(unless you're a Wisconsin fan)


M Fanfare

March 30th, 2013 at 6:22 PM ^

I agree. By and large, the polite/nasty encounters tend to fall along the alum/non-alum fan split. There are exceptions, but having grown up in Ohio, the majority of my encounters with OSU alums were exactly as described, some good-natured ribbing but polite. The people with no connections to the university tended to be some of the nastiest motherfuckers you could dread to find.

So glad I don't live there anymore.


April 1st, 2013 at 2:45 AM ^

I needed about 2 minutes in San Francisco to move here, even with no job i was gonna do it. My roommate was a Cal grad and set me right. By the way we have a very large group of ex-pats out here, but more because to live out here you HAVE to be competitive. The UM diploma is far more of an asset than the MSU one.The MSU grads out here tend to have worked somewhere else before and only gotten here after a lot of work. They tend to be MUCH more mature than those at home. I think the same is true of OSU grads out here. As i tell them all the time, if Ohio is that good, why do you live here ?


March 30th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

Honestly, I find your MSU encounter hard to believe.  I was at the Palace last Saturday when both our teams were playing in the round of 32 and there was no animosity at all.  MSU fans quietly watched us play VCU and we quietly watched them play Memphis.  Yeah, MSU fans can be incredibly obnoxious if they're playing against us, but when we're playing other opponents they usually are not.  If you really got that reaction, you must have sounded a lot differently than the way you describe it.




March 30th, 2013 at 2:42 PM ^

Honestly it happened exactly as I described it.  I was encourging a table full of MSU fans for their team to do well and got a load of shit back in return.  And the finger.  So as hard as it might be to believe that MSU fans would act that way they did.

That's why I posted this.  Unlike the much larger contingent of OSU fans I ran into just a few days later the MSU fans acted like jerks with a Michigan fan in their midst and the OSU fans did not.  


March 30th, 2013 at 10:02 PM ^

The Spartan reaction seems like something you'd get from early twenty year old who are in Chicago, a haven for recent Big Ten grads. I imagine a whole alumni association group is probably made up of a bigger cross section, and those all the way out in the west coast (and in it) are probably more established and older.


April 1st, 2013 at 2:53 AM ^

I agree, the farther one gets away from one's alma mater , the less the surroundings support that kind of  bad behavior. One is not a MSU or UM fan out here just because one grew up in the area. You actually went to college there or your parents did. Out here the  big rivalry is Cal  vs Stanford. Of course both are top universities and nobody burns couches or poops on cars when there is a big game. It is truly a gentleman's rivalry, like Harvard vs Yale. There is nothing like a UM vs MSU or OSU hatred here.


March 30th, 2013 at 2:57 PM ^

If I told him that my MSU brother in law and MSU buddy texted me during the comeback last night saying, "Go Blue."  So I won't share that cool story, bro, with you guys.


March 30th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

It's cool.  FWIW - I'm not quite sure what constitutes "diary material" other than when I've got a long post people generally say move it to the diary so I did.   Anymore it seems the diary's have become the haven for charts and graphs so i tried to include one!

And I'm sure there were lots of MSU fans saying "go blue" yesterday just like I'm sure there were a lot of OSU fans saying "muck fichigan" during our comeback.  I'm just saying I didnt see any of them this week and the difference between the two groups I did run into was pretty dramatic to say the least.


March 30th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

For the record, I'm just irritated that you made me feel the need to defend MSU grads.  Now I feel gross.


Also, I second your Seattle opinion.  Next time you're in Chicago, if you're near Wrigley, head to Rock-It on Clark; the Diag in Lincoln Park is another UM-affiilated bar.


Go Blue.


March 30th, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

I do think many Sparties are especially sensitive about basketball in comparison to Michigan.  That is one of the few areas they have had that they could legitimately crow about.  I see it in the message boards all the time.  The thought that Michigan might just be catching up to State's basketball success of the past decade or two drives them nuts.  I suspect mgrowold happened by the table after some Michigan bashing was already going on, and he suddenly became the focal point for their group inferiority complex.


March 30th, 2013 at 5:32 PM ^

Northern Ohio has sent a lot of football players to Michigan. My high school (Akron Buchtel) has sent more players to Michigan than OSU. 


March 30th, 2013 at 9:04 PM ^

There was poop on my car after the 1996 game in Columbus, the game they scored no touchdowns. Poop on my car, human or dog, I do not know, but someone put poop on my car. However, I refused to go to a car wash in Columbus, so I washed my car in Dundee.


March 31st, 2013 at 12:13 AM ^

I've had good and bad experiences with both, though having lived in EL for a couple of years and seeing the younger fanbase, I will say that they are far more combative the closer to their home base than they are the farther out.  In NYC, the MSU fans are fewer and far more respectful; same with OSU fans.

I think the difference is probably the people; Seattle is going to have mellow fans regardless IME.  Chicago, which sometimes feels like a huge Big 10 campus, is probably going to have a larger-than-expected number of bro-sephs and douches.


April 1st, 2013 at 8:18 AM ^

My wife and I flew yesterday from Columbus to Burbank.  I was wearing a Michigan jacket and ran into a bunch of OSU fans along the way. I talked hoops with several of them and their loss to Wichita State. Almost all of them wished me good luck against Florida.  

I believe most of the people I ran into were alums.  They are vastly different than the average non-alum OSU fan you meet around Columbus.  Even on 11 Warriors, which I look at on occasion, there was a lot of respect given to Trey for "the shot" and the comeback.  On Red Cedar, just the opposite.  


April 2nd, 2013 at 10:19 AM ^

A friend at work (and a very good guy) who is an OSU fan told me he just couldn't bring himself to cheer for Michigan.  Something about it being written on his birth certificate.

My younger brother, an MSU grad, was genuinely pulling for us to win.  Went on and on about how much he likes Beilein, Burke is spectacular, holy crap McGary, etc.  And he is not shy about smack-talking Michigan (esp during football season, he loves Dantonio). 

To be fair with my OSU friend, I tried to root for OSU against Wichita St and I just couldn't make myself do it.


April 2nd, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

Your story reminds me of when I was living in LA. There are certainly contrasts between Spartans and Buckeyes. While I never had the full "Sparty" experience, I've accidentally found myself in bars for both fanbases.

The Sparty experience wasn't particularly memorable, in the sense that I probably got about the same response, but then struck up a friendship with a few people I met at their bar. Their bar is Big Wangs in Hollywood (at least it was in 2008). I was there with one of my coworkers, a native Ohioan and huge Buckeye fan, so that we could watch The Game in somewhat neutral territory. After the awful drubbing, I stuck around for the MSU/PSU game. Like I said, about the same reaction to start off, but MSU started getting down, and some of their fans chilled out a bit.

My favorite story, however, came the next fall. I went to the newly christened Michigan bar, South in Santa Monica, to watch Tate Forcier's late game heroics against Notre Dame. I had already witnessed Sparty losing to CMU, so with an MSU loss, coupled with the good guys beating ND, we were on the way to a banner day. I was also wearing my favorite piece of MGoBlog clothing related paraphernalia: my Worst State Ever shirt. In the meantime, my aforementioned coworker texted me and said I should come and meet him at Happy Ending in Hollywood to watch the Ohio State/USC game. We usually watched football together, so this wasn't out of the norm. I obliged.

On cloud nine from our team's win, I arrived at Happy Ending. They have valet only service, so I pulled up and got out of my car, only to have the valet start laughing almost uncontrollably as soon as I stepped out. "Your shirt is priceless!" he exclaimed. I moved on, and got to the door guy. As I handed him my ID, he immediately burst into laughter. "Dude, your shirt is AWESOME! Have a great time in there." I pretty much felt like I was the king of the world.


I walked into the bar and saw the sea of scarlet and gray. About 200 of them. Yes, I had unknowingly walked into a Buckeye bar donning a maize and blue shirt proclaiming that their state was the worst ever (it's true, but I didn't need them to know that). Instead of running or being apologetic, I just owned it.

To my surprise, I got a lot of light-hearted ribbing, and no real animosity. Met a lot of people, and not one person threw any animosity my way.

Thus ended the perfect sports day. Thought this somewhat exemplified your story of the two fanbases.

Wolverine 73

April 2nd, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

Conicidentally, I live in Cleveland too.  And I know a number of MSU fans from my time in Michigan.  I get way more unprovoked, gratuitous cracks from Buckeye fans than I ever get from MSU fans, who in my experience often tend to support Michigan when State is out of something.  Now, you can't generalize from that either, but your extrapolation from two experiences is wholly unwarranted.