Why Sparty Hates to be called Little Brother

Submitted by OldBlue74 on September 27th, 2009 at 10:31 AM
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All Wolverine faithful are familiar with Mike Hart’s “little brother” jab and the indignation it generated among the MSU fans and their football coach.  But why did that comment produce so much more resentment among fans of the green and white than all the other epithets (cow college, Spartoons, CMU punching bag) thrown at them over the years?  In order to understand this, we need to do an objective comparison between the two institutions.  Following mgoblog tradition, this comparison can best be viewed in chart form.

            Michigan                                                        Michigan State

Founded in 1817 as the University of Michigan

Founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan

Home:  Ann Arbor, the intellectual capital of Michigan

Home:  East Lansing, a suburb of Lansing, the dysfunctional political capital of Michigan

Nickname:  Wolverine, the state animal of the state of Michigan, known for its strength and ferocity.

Nickname:  Spartan, named after a city state 5,000 miles away that ceased to exist in 195 BC.

Criminal notoriety:  Hash Bash

Criminal notoriety:  Burning sofas

Founding member of Big 10 conference in 1896 [Edit, from 1885 typo]

Joined Big 10 in 1949, replacing the University of Chicago when the latter quit intercollegiate athletics.

Most wins in college football history

Some good football teams back in the 1960’s

Defeated Stanford in first Rose Bowl game (1902) by a score of 49-0

Defeated UCLA in 1955, their first Rose Bowl, by a score of 28-20

20 Rose Bowl appearances, most recently in 2007

4 Rose Bowl appearances, most recently in 1988

3 Heisman trophy winners

No Heisman trophy winners

Mascot:  None, thank goodness.

Mascot:  “Sparty” a roided-up hulk made of plastic and felt, wears a skirt.

Fight song:  The Victors, “The greatest college fight song ever written” said John Philips Sousa.

Fight song:  MSU Fight Song, the tune is based on the hymn “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”*

The most famous helmet in all of football.

Helmet design changes periodically, most recently in 2007

Home field:  The Big House, capacity 106,201 this year, 108,000+ next year

Home field:  Spartan Stadium, capacity 75,005

We could go on, but you see the point.  Whatever MSU does, Michigan has done it first, and better, just like an older brother.  It’s not about one game, or even one season.  It’s about all of the ways that Michigan is superior to MSU.  And this is why the little brother epithet is so devastating.  Because deep down, in the depths of the Spartan soul, they know that it’s true.  They are the little brother! 

And here’s what makes it even worse for Sparty.  MSU is a pretty good school, with a successful basketball program, renowned academics in such areas as veterinary medicine and agriculture, and an enrollment of over 40,000 students.  In fact, in many states in this country MSU could be the leading public university. 

But…they are in Michigan…where they will always be second… to the Wolverines…and it DRIVES THEM CRAZY!!!

So, Michigan fans, enjoy the game on Saturday, which I am confident will be another Michigan victory.  But no matter what happens, keep your head high and remember “It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine” and not the little brother.

* https://www.msu.edu/~carillon/fitesong.htm



September 27th, 2009 at 4:34 PM ^

I think he was referring to some indication in your post that you were joking, exaggerating, or making some sort of allusion. I've re-read your original rant a couple times and am still missing the <hyperbole> tag that would make it non-crazy, and that's even with the help of the poster who pointed out your Animal House allusion.


September 27th, 2009 at 2:48 PM ^

excuse for me realizing 90 of those yards were given up on a single play and 6 of their points were gifted to them care of a Tate INT and botched snap. Continue drinking the green and white kool aide. The facts of the matter, that the only defense worst than ours in the big ten is sparty. If they let CMU drive at will using our offense, what do you think is going to happen when they face the same offense with much greater talent. Hmmm....

My prediction Michigan 90, spartoons 3


September 29th, 2009 at 10:25 AM ^

I did not know I had write with the same level of grammar as do I for my academic publications. It is not that hard to figure out who I am, considering I gave which department I am housed and my research interests.

What does it say about MSU who also offered me a fellowship for both the physics and biochemistry programs?

Here is a joke for you spartina, What do MSU and UM students have in common?
A. They were both accepted to MSU.

dr eng1ish

September 27th, 2009 at 12:33 PM ^

Right on all counts except for the mascot. Sparty is without a doubt the best mascot in all of sports. Just look at him, he's hilarious. We can sit on our high horse and say we don't need a mascot all day but secretly we know mascots are part of the awesomeness of college football and we're jealous that we don't have one. Especially not one as awesome as Sparty if that's even his name. JMO

DC Dave

September 27th, 2009 at 12:35 PM ^

I'm going with him next Saturday. I was considering bringing a sign thanking my "little brother" for taking me to the game - a rather innocuous gesture of goodwill, I thought. He threatened to organize a drunken lynch mob (not an idle threat in E.L.) if I brought any signage to the game referring to him in that context. These Spartans are a touchy group.

The best part is that my brother invited me to attend the game with him before the season started. He completely bought into the storyline about MSU as a program on the rise supplanting UM as the dominant team in the state and made no secret about wanting me at the game so that we could witness together confirmation of the new pecking order. Regardless of Saturday's outcome, that whole "best in state" dynamic is no longer on the line for the Spartans after the CMU game.

I actually think that State has a great chance to win the game, but my brother is convinced that I'm being disingenuous when I say this to him. He seems to think that my expressed lack of conviction in Michigan's prospects next week is a false front intended to position me better for post-game taunting. My citing of the MSU-CMU game as proof that you have to throw out the records in these hotly contested intrastate rivalry games did not improve his view of my sincerity.


September 27th, 2009 at 1:35 PM ^

Jehuu Caulcrick, on hearing that Michigan had lost to Appalachian St.: "Wow, it's like we won twice."

The difference between UM and MSU is succinctly put: Michigan's success does not depend on the failure of Michigan State.


September 28th, 2009 at 9:34 AM ^

I'm a Spartan fan, and I'll talk as much trash as anyone in a spirit of great good fun, but no program can develop if it's fixated on another, constantly using that program as a yardstick. If the best you can say is 'we finished better than UM this year', what the hell good is that? Spartan fans should be saying, 'Our program, which was in the seventh circle of hell thanks to John L. Smith, is progressing on a good schedule. The next step is winning a bowl game.' I don't care about the fans, mind you, let them obsess about whatever the hell they want to, but you see these things coming out of the mouths of people in the program, and that's worrying. Put another way, when was the last time you heard an OSU player or coach (shut your hole, Boren, both of them) talk smack about UM? They are worried about competing for national championships, while the MSU program still contents itself with obsessing over Michigan. Get a larger goal, please.
Like you (sorta- I hate copying) said, Michigan State has to control the controllables.

Eck Sentrik

September 27th, 2009 at 2:05 PM ^

Sparty hates it because it’s another Saint Dantonio talking point that came back and bit him on the ass.

DoctorWorm’s comments are textbook examples of Sparty’s culture of FAIL. Why would we want to go to the Rose Bowl indeed.

st barth

September 27th, 2009 at 2:11 PM ^

when it comes to the spartans, i generally figure that we own them in ann arbor and are about 50/50 in east lansing. this rationalization helps me deal with the fact that about once every 4 years the spartans beat us...i quietly let them enjoy the moment with all of there silly trash talk and then the following week when they inevitably shit the bed, i can't help but enjoy it.

last year aside, i kind of feel like we are due for an east lansing letdown (haven't we won a few in a row there?)...and maybe that would be a good learning experience for our kids.

having said that, i get the impression that tate & the boys are more interest in wins than learning experiences. if we can get some luck on turnovers (and maybe pass interference calls too) then i think we can get another win. we'll see. should be an entertaining game. go blue!


September 27th, 2009 at 4:26 PM ^

The RCMB link in the mgo.licio.us box is another awesome example of littlebrotherism.

Like I said in the game thread, last year was great and all, but here we are, once again back to getting destroyed every week, watching UM struggle mightily until the end, and then snatching victory from the jaws of defeat...all because of their savior Jesus Forcier.

Hahaha...they even just went 3 and out...so now the defense faces adversity, will persevere. Tate apparently has a hurt shoulder now too. This game is aligning perfectly.

Those posters have got to be about the most self-loathing prophets since Cassandra.

And who knew anybody was still complaining about the goddam pylon from the game MSU won 35-21 last year?


September 27th, 2009 at 5:47 PM ^

It wasn't until this year that I actually had a high disdain for MSU football. About half my family on my mom's side is located in the Lansing area and they are all MSU supporters and I used to work with some MSU fans. They used to be only a minor nuisance, but they beat us on our way to the worst season in our history, and on top of that lost 4 games including a bowl.
At Michigan that is a mediocre year at best. The Spartans beat us and go to a Jan. 1 bowl game and they think they are Michigan's team and blow everything out of proportion. I used to hope Sparty won before we pounded them annually, but I want Rodriguez to absolutely take every opportunity to run it up on Saturday because of the headache Spartan fans put me through all through the off season.
I know it's unlikely, but I've wanted Michigan to blow MSU out this year since the gun sounded last year. Maybe it will only be a one year thing, but this year at least, MSU has moved past Notre Dame on the rivalry list IMO. I don't hang out with Notre Dame fans, but I think the closeness of the MSU rivalry hit home last year. I only want to beat the Ohio special needs college more.


September 27th, 2009 at 5:49 PM ^

The list is endless. Really, they are little brother to me because of Michigan's academic prowess in the state.

However, the largest reason why they are little brother? Because of the way you react when you say it. It hits them so deep because they KNOW its true. Last year, MSU beats Michigan at the big house, and a group of MSU students chanted "little sister." I just laughed.


September 27th, 2009 at 5:52 PM ^

was actually trash talking me last night at a party. I asked him what their record was. "well, 1-3," he said. "Oh, we're 4-0," I said. At this point, I walked away and people around the situation laughed.


September 27th, 2009 at 6:57 PM ^

They should put your chart on the back of the Little Brother t-shirt, except that next year the total capacity of Michigan Stadium will be over 110,000 (it won't go down to 108,000 until they widen the seats and install handrails).


September 27th, 2009 at 7:04 PM ^

Minor point: The Big Ten was founded in 1896, not 1885.

And not to be an ass, but the tone of this diary is a little bit too arrogant for me. If we were that much greater than State then we wouldn't really occupy ourselves by drawing the comparison between the two. Just my opinion.


September 28th, 2009 at 6:42 PM ^

Not quite, but I've had this argument before: http://mgoblog.com/content/history-winged-football-helmet#comment-4581

In summary, leather winged helmets were offered by Spalding and had been used by other universities before Crisler introduced them at Princeton (including at Michigan State, then known as M.S.C.). The three striped versions could only be ordered from Spalding in black and tan, so Crisler painted them in Princeton's colors. When he came to Michigan, he did the same.

Most schools that were using the winged helmets did not keep the design after Riddell introduced the plastic helmet. Michigan did and turned it into an icon.


September 27th, 2009 at 9:50 PM ^

The MELODY of the TRIO of The Victors is very, very similar to the MELODY of the TRIO of Spirit of Liberty. The counter and bass lines are definitely very different as is the rest of the song and a few parts of the trio as well as a some of the style of the trio . I would never condone plagiarism and technically even if Elbel didn't know about Rosey's march (arguable, he was a music student and his family owned a music store, but, as a musician, I've never heard of Rosey/played anything by him before just now and I'm sure back then it was harder to transport things than is it now, leaving less copies in fewer places of Rosey's work and who knows how popular he/classic music/marches were in their time?) it is (as it's defined today) plagiarism, so perhaps something should be done to credit Rosey, though this was also before Copyright law, so we have no obligations. Regardless, it is pretty clear that whatever inspiration he drew from other places, The Victors, as a whole is Elbel's own work. Aren't there arguments that somebody came up with some of Newton's/Eistein's/Galileo's/other famous peoples famous theories/laws before said famous person did? Not that it's right, but it's life. It's interesting to note that despite all the negative press about U-M recently, that has never showed up in any sort of newspaper article about this which, to my opinion, could be spun to take a crack at the entire foundation of Michigan tradition and not just the unlikeley-but-possible actions of one coach.
Also, Sousa published a work called Hail to The Spirit of Liberty March that is the only work of that name on YouTube. It sounds completely different than either work, but it's kind of an interesting tidbit.

Audio for The Spirit of Liberty March is here, in case anybody else wants to take a listen.

Thank you, RedCedar87 for being so unbiased about this issue, completely reading the article, thinking just a tad bit, listening to the song and listing a citation so we could easily look this up ourselves. I guess I should have gone to State, I could be as hyper-competent as you.


September 27th, 2009 at 11:53 PM ^

"Plagiarism" as we conceive of it today did not exist when The Victors was written. In fact, it had been a well-established tradition in the Western musical sphere for centuries. Virtually every composer "borrowed" melodies and arrangement styles from one another (you may have heard of some of them... Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky). My favorite example is Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture," the performances of which are often advertised with such pompous terminology as "Triumphant!" "Glorious!" etc.

It was based off of German beer-drinking songs. It was a joke. It's all part of the way things were done, though many have forgotten.

It's a ridiculous point, to begin with. In fact, I'm not entirely sure what the point is, other than, "The piece isn't totally original" which, y'know, DUH... nothing in music is. I guarantee you, every chord progression has been done before.