Why are there no Walmart Spartans?

Submitted by J.W. Wells Co. on September 29th, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Last week (in UV?) Brian mentioned the fact that 40 years of continued beatdowns and general success is why there are so many Walmart Wolverines.  Little Brother's fans are just jealous that people who attended neither school seem to be more willing to pick a much more successful program for their rooting interests.

So I thought I'd go further into the numbers.  It's pretty staggering.  Let's look at it in a thinly veiled hypothetical.

Suppose there are two schools, A and B.

A and B are both large, long established, public universities roughly 70 miles apart in the same state.

A and B have played each other in football 41 times since 1969.  During that period:

  • A has won 30 games in that series, B has won 11 games.
  • A's winning percentage over B is .732.
  • A has outscored B 1100-659.  That's an average game of 29-16.
  • A has shutout B five times, and has allowed only three points in two additional games.
  • A has never failed to score at least a touchdown against B.
  • A has won 1 national championship. B has won none.
  • A has won 21 conference championships. B has won 3.
  • A has appeared in 35 bowl games, including a streak of 33 straight, with 15 wins.
  • B has appeared in 16 bowl games, with 5 wins.
  • A has appeared in 16 Rose Bowls, 2 Orange Bowls, 1 Sugar Bowl, and 1 Fiesta Bowl.
  • B has appeared in 1 Rose Bowl.
  • A's players have won 2 Heisman trophies. B's have won none.
  • A's winning percentage against all opponents is .756.
  • B's winning percentage against all opponents is .509.

Since 1898, A and B have played each other in football 102 times.

  • A has won 67 games in that series, B has won 30 games, with 5 ties.
  • A's winning percentage over B is .681.
  • The all-time series between the schools includes a score of 119-0 in favor of A.

National Statistics:

  • A is the NCAA FBS leader in all-time football wins with 881, 33 wins better than second place.
  • B has 621 all-time wins, good for 32nd place among all FBS schools.
  • A is the NCAA FBS leader in all-time football winning percentage at .737, .005 (roughly 3 whole games) better than second place.
  • B's all-time winning percentage is .592, also good for 32nd place among all FBS schools.

National Championships:

  • A has earned 11 consensus national championsips.
  • A has been selected as national champions in 5 additional years by various recognized selectors on the idiot fringe of college football opinion.
  • A claims only its 11 consensus national championships.
  • B has earned 3 consensus national championships.
  • B has been selected as national champions in 3 additional years by various recognized selectors on the idiot fringe of college football opinon.
  • B still claims a total of 6 national championships.

Conference Championships:

  • A has won 41 conference championships.
  • B has won 6 conference championships.

Which team's football program would YOU root for?

A is the University of Michigan.  B is Michigan State University.

Is it any wonder that there are so few Walmart Spartans?  Little Brother indeed.

Okay, so there's also that basketball thing.  A few years ago ESPN ranked the top all-time basketball programs.  Michigan was ranked 13.  Sparty was ranked 16.  Yes, MSU fans: basketball actually existed as a sport separate from the exploits of Magic Johnson and Tom Izzo.  U-M men's basketball actually owns a 91-74 record over MSU (84-71 adjusted for vacated games).

Hockey?  Let's not even bother to share the stats. MSU has a good hockey program historically, but U-M is far and away the most celebrated hockey program in history, with its record 9 national championships and current record streak of 20 straight years in the NCAA tournament.  There's acutally a guy in my hometown who claims that Sparty has won more championships and has had more tournament success than U-M.  So okay, let's go to the stats anyways since thinking about that guy has pissed me off:

  • National Championships: U-M 9, Sparty 3.
  • NCAA Frozen Fours: U-M 23, Sparty 9.
  • NCAA Tournaments:  U-M 33, Sparty 23.
  • CCHA Regular Season Championships: U-M 10, Sparty 7.
  • CCHA Tournament Championships: U-M 9, Sparty 11.  WOO-HOO! GO SPARTY!



September 29th, 2010 at 11:28 AM ^

Why there are no walmart Spartans.
<br>You could have just saved the trouble and said because walmart wolverines sounds good whereas walmart Spartans sounds stupid.
<br>State fans are spartan Spartans (of Sparta!)


September 29th, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

The bottom line is that a large majority of people who don't attend either school end up following Michigan because Michigan is better and more relevant.  All of the PR work done by the "objective" instate media and even the success of Izzo's basketball team hasn't changed the fact that more people like Michigan than MSU. 

Even Izzo's success at MSU can be attributed more to being there while the Ed Martin scandal paralyzed Michigan for ten years than anything positive about MSU.  Izzo was in the right place at the right time; all he had to do for ten years of recruiting against Michigan was say "Ed Martin" or "dirty program" and parents and coaches steered their players to EL. 

Izzo had THE program in two areas (Detroit and Flint/Saginaw) that have traditionally produced tons of NBA players since the scandal was unearthed.  I think a better coach would have pulled another NC or two out of such a great recruiting advantage.  Izzo is very good, but he would never be percieved as "great" without the help of Ed Martin.

So, really, even MSU's shining crown jewel isn't as bright as it may appear.  They have nothing to offer, no tradition, no banquet hall full of alums who have had high-profile success after graduating, and people who aren't affiliated with either school choose to cheer for Michigan.  All MSU can to is wallow in their envy.  It's no accident that they wear green uniforms.


September 29th, 2010 at 1:10 PM ^

Izzo has twice taken a 5-seed to the Final 4.  It's true that in one of those years *everything* fell into place, but still ...

Look closely and you'll see that he's had far less talent to work with than people like Roy Williams and Coach K.

I won't get into the details here (unless someone is interested), but the differences between UM and MSU basketball recruiting (as measured by Rivals, at least) haven't been that great over the past ten years.  MSU has had an advantage, yes, especially in the middle of the state, but it's not like that area has yielded a long-time NBA'er every year (or even close).

No, I think Izzo has done some pretty outstanding work at MSU.


September 29th, 2010 at 4:10 PM ^

Izzo has been phenomental at MSU by any measure, but let's be realistic about his recruiting.

Last year MSU was #11 nationally, #14 in 2007, #18 in 2006, #11 in 2004, etc.  Never worse than a top 3 Big Ten class.  All Rivals ranks.  Less talent than Duke, than Kansas on a regular basis?  Absolutely, though not less  than most other top teams.  For some bizarre reason, you claim:

"[T]he differences between UM and MSU basketball recruiting ... haven't been that great over the past ten years."  Wrong.  In all of that time, we NEVER had a top 25 ranked class.  MSU has had its pick of instate players 95% of the time (see Morgan, Raymar, which seemed like more of a thumb in Michigan's eye at the time).  This continues to the present day, even though JB is moving us in the right direction.

Landing an NBA player every year is something 3-4 programs are doing, and since many of those kids leave early, there isn't a big difference between their freshman-sophs and MSU's barely lower-ranked seniors.  And comparing that to Michigan's players over the same period is a joke.

I give Izzo a TON of credit and respect, but acting like 1) Michigan's had the same caliber players or anything close, or that 2) the scandal had nothing to do with it, is ridiculous.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:47 AM ^

I think another reason there are so many “Wal-Mart Wolverines” (Myself included) is the fact that the University of Michigan is a difficult school academically in which to be accepted. I am a Wayne State graduate and lifelong University of Michigan sports fan. Unlike my sister who went to U of M, I sort of always knew it wouldn’t be in the cards for me due to my grades and test scores. I don't think this should make me exclusively a Wayne State athletics fan and somehow ineligible to be a Michigan fan.

How many Spartans were Michigan fans until they attended MSU and changed their allegiance?

This, combined with a very successful, perennial conference powerhouse football team with a VERY large fan base, makes Spartans envious of the fact that the fans who did not attend either university choose the traditionally more successful of the two.


September 29th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

The term did not originate with Michigan alumni. I believe its origin is as an MSU put-down of Michigan's fan base, which contains a large number of people with no direct connection to the school.

The implication is that these are not legitimate fans, i.e., they are bandwagon fans, but allow me to point out that these people, at least the ones I know, many of them fans since childhood, have been more supportive and loyal than some of the impatient alumni I know over the past two years as the program has struggled to win games.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:49 AM ^

But asking "why are there no Walmart Spartans" is like asking, "why are there no Nickelback groupies?"  Easy answer, even if you ask the question of a few brosephs.

Fresh Meat

September 29th, 2010 at 11:54 AM ^

I'm curious what the definition of consensus NC's is.  Is it your definition or the NCAA's or the Athletic Department's?  The reason I ask is that all of the ND students/fans get all high and mighty about how they only have CONSENSUS 11 NC's and Michigan's aren't.  To be honest I just blow them off and never took the time to look into it.  Is their definition of consensus then different than what you are saying we have 11 for?  Are they just ignorant and incorrect (please God be so)?  Just curious.

South Bend Wolverine

September 29th, 2010 at 12:05 PM ^

Yes, ND claims several conflicted National Titles, as of course do we, esp. from the early 20th century when there were about 10 different org.s that identified champions, and none had really separated themselves out yet.

The most controversial of ND's so-called titles is the 1947 championship, which they simply did not win.  They were #1 at the end of the regular season, which was when polls were taken at the time.  However, they declined to play in a bowl game, and we curb-stomped USC 49-0 in the Rose Bowl.  The AP writers held an unprecedented post-bowl poll, awarding Michigan the Title, b/c the USC game gave us 3 common opponents with ND, all of which we beat by significantly wider margins than ND did.

I can understand at the time objecting to a new form of voting, but to stand here in 2010 and say that a post-bowl poll is invalid is really pretty silly.  Also, their on-campus monument to the coach at the time claims 1947 as an "undisputed" National Title, which is a bald-faced lie.

J.W. Wells Co.

September 29th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

Well, post-1950 it's pretty easy: the NCAA record book, in addition to listing national champions as determined by all recognized selectors, lists consensus national champions as well.  The interesting thing?  Sometimes there are more than one consensus champion.  Generally, if a team after 1950 finished first in one of the two major polls (AP and coaches), it was a consensus champion.

Beside the polls, there are many many NC selectors recognized by the NCAA -- anything from mathematical systems to historical researchers to single individuals way back in the day considered authorities on college football.  For instance, in 1997, the AP and most of the other selectors lined up behind U-M, and the coaches and a few of the other selectors lined up behind Nebraska.

Because the NCAA record book doesn't explicitly note consensus championships before 1950, things get murky for that timeframe, although it's possible to look at the various teams and see how many selectors lined up behind them as champs. (Also, take into account selectors who actually existed at the time; for instance several somewhat recent mathematical formula selectors have been retroactively applied back many years, often resulting in the naming of a champion that was not recognized as such at the end of whatever season.)

Pre-1950 it's common to have two, three, or four schools recognized by somebody as national champions, because of eastern vs. western regional bias in sportwriting, among other factors. For many years, the National Championship Foundation waded through the historical muck and recognized a list of consensus champions, but often even the NCF named co-champions.

For the record, U-M claims National Championships in 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918, 1923, 1932, 1933, 1947, 1948, and 1997.  Michigan shared these championships as follows, according to the NCAA record book:

  • 1901 - with Harvard and Yale (Michigan consensus)
  • 1902 - with Yale (Michigan consensus)
  • 1903 - with Princeton (co-consensus champions)
  • 1904 - with Minnesota and Penn (U-M and Penn co-consensus champs)
  • 1918 - with Pitt and Texas (U-M and Pitt co-consensus champs)
  • 1923 - with Cal, Cornell, and Illinois (U-M and Illinois co-consensus champs)
  • 1932 - with Southern Cal (co-consensus champs)
  • 1933 - with Ohio State, Fritz Crisler's Princeton, and USC (Michigan consensus)
  • 1947 - with Notre Dame and Texas (U-M and ND co-consensus champs... see other commenter's discussion re: unprecedented post-Rose Bowl AP Poll)
  • 1948 - Michigan all alone!
  • 1997 - with Nebraska (co-consensus champs)

Michigan's unclaimed and non-consensus national championships (with selectors noted) are:

  • 1925 - by Sagarin Ratings (Alabama consensus)
  • 1926 - by Sagarin Ratings (Alabama and Stanford consensus)
  • 1964 - by Dunkel System (Alabama, Arkansas, Notre Dame consensus, though Alabama finished first in AP and coaches; ND doesn't claim 1964)
  • 1973 - by National Championship Foundation and Poling System (Alabama and Notre Dame consensus; Ohio State and Oklahoma also recognized by selectors)
  • 1985 - by Matthews Grid Ratings (Oklahoma consensus; Florida also recognized by selectors)

Michigan State's six claimed national championships are:

  • 1951 - Tennessee consensus (Georgia Tech, Illinois, and Maryland also picked by some selectors)
  • 1952 - MSU consensus (Georgia Tech also picked by some selectors)
  • 1955 - Oklahoma consensus (MSU picked by one selector out of 16)
  • 1957 - Auburn and Ohio State consensus (Oklahoma also picked by a selector. MSU picked by one selector out of 16)
  • 1965 - MSU (UPI) and Alabama (AP) co-consensus
  • 1966 - MSU and Notre Dame co-consensus (Year of the tie; both AP and UPI-coaches named ND as national champions; Alabama also picked by some selectors)


September 29th, 2010 at 12:09 PM ^

I think that sparty is so proud of the term wal-mart wolverine because they actually created something that has traction in their circles. The term is obviously for people who didn't attend the school, but love the program.

The logic is funny considering that sparty thinks that everyone in their little stadium is clearly a grad from MSU. They also love this because one of our most prominent players in the last 10 years (Mike Hart) coined the term little brother. (GOD I LOVE MIKE HART)

They know its true based on results on the field, but also there is a "Michigan is the bettter school" aspect that they know about and will never admit.

The most annoying thing about MSU fans is that every year if sparty takes a 3 point lead on the first drive my phone will get 34897385904738954 texts messages talking trash. Whats even better when we win the game I say nothing back and they feel like douches.


September 29th, 2010 at 12:09 PM ^

Personally I am a life long Michigan fan but did not go to UM (I decided to play D3 football instead) and furthermore am not a native or resident of the state.

Ithink a lot of the non traditional out of state fans have more to do with a hatred for their home state team. At least in my case, when I was younger, I could not stand the way Ohio State fans act. I developed a deep hatred for them and their pompous ways such as putting a t in front of OSU.

So when I learned that there was a team and most of a state that despised them as much as I did, I instantly became a follower. 18 years later, I still live 50 miles from Columbus, and love the Wolverines more than ever. 


September 29th, 2010 at 12:53 PM ^

I find the whole thing hilarious.

I have a lot of friends that are "MSU fans" and they call me a Walmart Wolverine because I didn't go there.  If you ask my parents, I was a Michigan fan for as long as they can remember.  I annually donate to Michigan, purchase season tickets, buy additional football tickets and buy tickets for other sports and follow just about all Michigan Athletics (including the non-revenue sports).

Yet my friends that are "MSU fans" didn't go to MSU, don't donate, never buy tickets or go to games at all and only follow football and basketball.  Whenever stories come out about MSU sports and I bring it up, I always seem to know about it first and know more about it than them and I'm not even a fan (ie I knew about Dantonio's heart attack WAY before any of them did).

But somehow I'm a Walmart Wolverine....


September 29th, 2010 at 1:06 PM ^

Damn it we need to give Little Brother his proper due. I am sure you have all seen the Big Ten network highlight on the space program, and the all Michigan flight crew. Extremely impressive and proud of that fact, my chest swells for the orbital prowess of "our school". We do need to credit those who made that incredible feat possible. It is possible some may see us as "arrogant asses" for not acknowledging the "little people".  For instance the paint job was tremendous and we all know how proficient with spray can are the folks from down south where they grow small hairless nuts. But more important is "Little Brother" no one and I mean no one can clean like sparty, I defy you to find any dust in the Space Shuttle, and the windows, OMG they are spotless and streakless. Without good clear vision flying a Space Shuttle would be dangerous and give you a headache. So for all you do a case of Milwaukees Best for you, carefull drinking don't want you to set the couch on fire.


September 29th, 2010 at 1:17 PM ^

I was a Michigan fan for as long as I followed football and I really wanted to attend the University of Michigan.  Through a screw up at my high school, my application got to U of M late and I was conditionally accepted or something like that (namely if a spot opens up, you're in).  So I applied to Eastern Michigan and got in with a scholarship (full tuition but not the full ride scholarship).  I was going to transfer after my freshman year but I liked it at Eastern (small classes  and good professors) so I stayed there.  I still followed Michigan football (don't really care for basketball) and when I graduated I followed it with more gusto.  So if that makes me a Wal Mart Wolverine...so be it.

I would be willing to believe that the fan base among non-grads of either schools in the state of Michigan is about split.  I get cut off by as many "S" plates as I do "M" plates and I'm not willing to believe that all those people are grads.  So whatevah.....And while on the subject of "Wal Mart" fans...I'm willing to be that Notre Dame probably has the most hangers on of that category since it's like a sin or something to root against them.


September 29th, 2010 at 3:28 PM ^

And one more point., since Sparty likes to think that they only have students and alumni as fans (doubtful), I wonder what their opinion of these two gems would be....

It was about 15 years ago, my dad and I went to an EMU game at Sparty stadium (guess who didn't win) and we were sitting in front of a pair of Spartan fans.   After every Sparty touchdown (there were many that day), one of them would cheer and it sounded kind of like Al Bundy cheering.  Anyways, around the third quarter one of those fans says, "Hey, their colors are green and white too".  Wow....Genius.  It only took him three quarters to recognize colors.


September 29th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

the Pontiac challenge cup...nuff said.

I still think that MSU's biggest problem is that we refuse to put them up there with OSU and ND as football rivals. They beg for respect but refuse to earn it.

Mercury Hayes

September 29th, 2010 at 2:05 PM ^

Your numbers are a bit off. What counts as a consensus national title? Even in the 40s and 50s there were shared titles. This wasn't a new thing that sprouted up in the 1997 aftermath.

So while State shared their titles  in the 60s, Michigan shared many of theirs in the 30s and 40s.

There's just no way to say one team is consensus. In some years there were 4 or 5 polls selecting national titles. Maybe we should go by AP, or Harris poll, but still, each scenario would work in Michigan's favor some years and not in their favor in other years.

I'm sure I will get negged for being critical but it is the truth,

J.W. Wells Co.

September 29th, 2010 at 2:27 PM ^

No, what you've said is basically accurate.  But looking back at the NCAA lists of national champions, it's fairly easy to see which are the consensus or even co-consensus champions.  See my comments in response to a similar question from MGoUser Fresh Meat below.

For instance, in 1901 and 1902, Michigan "shared" its title with Harvard and/or Yale. But Harvard and Yale were named by only one selector each, while Michigan enjoys the opinion of several selectors.  My comment below spells out all of U-M's claimed and unclaimed titles.  For all of U-M's claimed titles, U-M can easily be called the consensus or co-consensus champion.  This isn't at all the case for three of Sparty's six claimed titles, also spelled out below.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_Football_National_Championship for a full list of all champions by year and selector.


September 29th, 2010 at 2:11 PM ^

While it's clear that UM has been more consistent over time, when it comes to winning it all, it seems the two teams are closer than I would like. I sometimes hear MSU fans ask what we've done post-1950. Sadly, they may have a point.

Football: MSU 3 (1952, 1955, 1966) to UM 1 (1997)

Basketball: MSU 2 (1979, 2000) to UM 1 (1989)

Hockey: UM 8 (1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1996, 1998) to MSU 3 (1966, 1986, 2007) (in the past 25 years, it's 2 vs. 2).

It's a shame with our success year-in and year-out that we weren't able to hang a few more banners along the way.