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 10:46 AM ^

My older brother is a huge Sparty fan. It was a way to rebel against our Dad who was a huge Meeeechigan fan. Not that any of that matters. Anyhow, he sounds like most other Sparty fans I know. That there is a media bias. That there is officials tampering. Any excuse other than Spaty can't field a consistant winner. GO BLUE! Let's shut up Sparty. By the way, all these years later, my brother still won't admit he chose poorly.

Brother Mouzone

September 27th, 2009 at 10:44 AM ^

I love to have them handle the truth. I lived in the Lansing area for ten years, and understand some of the Sparty psyche.

I could silence a room of them when I would refer to them as little sister. I have rekindled this moniker for them since Mike Hart exposed their insecurity with his comment after the game.


September 27th, 2009 at 11:21 AM ^

Why would we have wanted to go to the Rose Bowl last year? We couldn't even win the Capital One Bowl. USC would've embarrassed us, and we knew it. It's not so much that we wanted Michigan to lose more than for us to win; it would've been great for us to win. But the fact that it was such a long shot for both MSU and UM to win their last games leads one to think about Michigan "well, if they aren't going to win, I hope they at least get blown out".

Other than last year's last game of the season, there's really no evidence of this. I'd rather have both teams win than both teams lose. But I'd rather have Michigan lose and Michigan State win than anything else. This is a dumb statement on your part; that's like me pointing at the obvious glee you guys have for a 1-3 start for MSU as evidence to the fact that you'd rather have MSU lose than UM win. It's just not a strong argument.


September 27th, 2009 at 12:10 PM ^

I'm sorry you lost me at:

Why would we have wanted to go to the Rose Bowl last year? We couldn't even win the Capital One Bowl. USC would've embarrassed us, and we knew it.

The games that would have determined whether MSU went to the Rose Bowl occurred on November 22, 2008. At that time all signs pointed to the winner of the Big 10 playing Oregon State University in the Rose Bowl. It wasn't until November 29, 2009 when Oregon killed Oregon State in the Civil War that USC slid into the Rose Bowl slot.

Your argument that you couldn't even win the Capital One Bowl notwithstanding, what team has ever wanted to play in a lesser bowl? Especially when the possibility of playing in a BCS game and the Grandaddy of them all is still on the table. Prestige, national clout, and recruiting visibility are all part of going to Pasadena. Going to the Rose Bowl and getting blown out by SC is still preferable to a lower tier bowl no matter what.

I don't think for one second that it being a long shot is why any Spartan fans were rooting against UM. But then again I'm not a Spartan so maybe I shouldn't speak for you.


September 27th, 2009 at 4:48 PM ^

that's like me pointing at the obvious glee you guys have for a 1-3 start for MSU as evidence to the fact that you'd rather have MSU lose than UM win.

It's not like that at all. He was pointing to this one instance where YOUR HEAD COACH explicitly stated that he would rather have UM lose than MSU win. Your analogy: FAIL


September 27th, 2009 at 8:25 PM ^

Wait, when did he say that? He said he wanted MSU to lose? I don't remember that at all. He said he wouldn't cheer for UM, and he's right. I didn't cheer for UM either. The arrogance in this thread is evidence why. This is exactly the reason I didn't go to Michigan; I couldn't stand the people on campus during football season.


September 27th, 2009 at 8:44 PM ^

He was trying to say that he wants MSU to make bowls like that on their own accord, not to rely on Michigan to help them along. If we win the games, there's no need to cheer for other teams to beat teams that beat us, which is where he wants the program to be. Unfortunately that's looking like a lost cause this year.

Mulletman Dave

September 27th, 2009 at 7:10 PM ^

I'll never forget tailgating at MSU in 2007 and seeing Sparty D-Bags with App. State gear from head to toe.

I got in this one dude's face and asked him to name ONE App St. player since he just spent $100+ on all their apparel. He couldn't do it.

Its just as pathetic as we're all saying. State knows they can't beat us regularly, so they have to root for whoever Michigan is playing.

Also, visit that firedantonio.com site too if you haven't already. Its hilarious and true!


September 27th, 2009 at 10:49 PM ^

I generally root for MSU to lose. If MSU wins, it's not a big deal, but I would prefer they lose. I do generally agree that MSU fans tend to enjoy a Michigan loss quite a bit more than an MSU win. I laughed my ass off when CMU beat MSU, but the focus for me that day was Michigan winning their first game with a legit quarterback. The main reason I enjoy a Sparty loss is because my best friend is a Sparty faithful. He tends to be kind of a dick and sends me texts during any Michigan game when we happen to be losing. Most of the time he ends up looking retarted because we win like in the last game against Indiana. If it weren't for his sometimes dick-like behavior as a Spartan fan, I wouldn't care as much about Sparty at all.


September 28th, 2009 at 9:31 AM ^

I work with an "MSU fan." He went there, he wears a MSU lanyard for his ID card, etc. But he talks way more about UM losing than MSU doing anything.

Before the ND game he put up a lot of ND pictures and logos around my desk. Then, when I come in on Monday to brag about us winning and MSU losing to Central, he says "Oh, I barely even watched the game, I'm actually more of a Lions fan than an MSU fan."

Which bring up 2 points:

1. If you're going to hate on UM, you better be able to take it when MSU loses. You can't just say "oh, well I didn't really care that much"

2. This guy really doesn't root for any good teams. I feel sad for him.


September 27th, 2009 at 11:23 AM ^

MSU can run the ball and has a pretty good offense overall, but so do we. Sparty had trouble against the spread offense against CMU and I don't think they are going to be much better at defending the spread this weekend. It's going to most likely be a high scoring afair, which will probably happen most of the year with Michigan's defense. The one question mark with me for this game is how our defense will react to the way Indiana man handled them. The big key for us was red zone defense, and I've felt like we have done an excellent job in the red zone all year. In the ND game we made some red zone stops that were important and the same with EMU. Right now, I feel like we will win, but maybe that will change after I see what Sparty brings come saturday. On the little brother analogy, it's spot on. It's almost like they are anti Michigan first, then an MSU fan second.


September 27th, 2009 at 10:59 AM ^

Yep, I saw that "in action" last year. I worked with some Spartinas and asked them if they would rather have UM beat OSU so they could have a shot at winning the Big 10 (by beating PSU) or having no shot and UM lose. They all chose not to have a shot at the Big 10 Championship. If that isn't a 'little brother' mentality, I don't know what is.


September 27th, 2009 at 11:01 AM ^

Recruiting for a company. No question their undergraduates in some programs are exceptionally well-prepared for the working world. To the citation of the agriculture and veterinary medicine programs, I would also add the Eli Broad School of Management, the James Madison College, life sciences and their physics programs. Physics is often regarded as the best in the country, better than MIT.

HOWEVAH, they have a massive inferiority complex. It's a kind of obsessive-compulsive thing. We're like the white whale to their Captain Ahab. Buckeyes seem to suffer from it, too, (although I don't think OSU has nearly the academic reputation of MSU).


September 27th, 2009 at 11:28 AM ^

I am a doctoral student in biophysics and MooU's life science research program is not better than Michigan's. I would rank them behind Ohio State. Michigan and Wisconsin have the top life sciences programs in the big ten with Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa far behind that. Michigan has the top NIH grant budget in the country. Penn State has a very underrated life science program. I love their developmental biology program.

Physics, it is depends on the discipline. MooU has a top nuclear physics and astronomy program. I was not surprised when the DOE selected MooU to house the national nuclear physics cyclotron. However, Biophysics, atomic and optical physics, and theoretical/high energy (think string/M-theory) not so much. Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, and Michigan are the top programs for these disciplines in the conference. My specific research lab at Michigan has a few collaborators at Purdue and Illinois.

There is a reason I turned down MooU's fellowship offer to attend Michigan. I did an REU at MSU in biochemistry/biophysics (performing small angle x-ray scattering spectroscopy of protein L). They have some great facilities, but not even in the same ball park as Michigan for life science work. Heck, Michigan is planning on installing a 1 GHz MCD spectrometer, which would be the highest resolution MCD spectrometer (sparty has a 900 MHz spectrometer) in the midwest at Life Sciences Institute on central campus. MooU doesn't even have automated/robotic protein crystallization services, which is for the most part standard at decent life science research program.


September 27th, 2009 at 11:36 AM ^

which ranking service? please don't say US News. Those rankings are garbage and do not take into account # of citations, average grant budget per researcher, and time of completion for thesis programs.

There is a HUGE difference between nuclear engineering and nuclear physics. One is an applied field and one is fundamental science.


September 27th, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

I'm heartened to hear that. I was concerned/saddened that the strength of the program would fade when they closed the Phoenix Lab. I mean, what other school could claim to have a working nuclear pile right on campus? (And it really did glow blue in the dark! That blew my then-8th grade mind.) Sadly, we can no longer claim that either.


September 27th, 2009 at 12:00 PM ^

I thought OSU had a better academic reputation than MSU.
Speaking from experience, they graduate pretty smart engineers. I've worked with a number of really smart mechanical and electrical engineers who graduated from OSU. I don't think I've ever come across a Sparty in the engineering world.


September 27th, 2009 at 4:33 PM ^

Sorry, I had to respond to this as a physics major at Michigan. The only program State is very very well known for is their nuclear physics program. They are most recently ranked second behind MIT in nuclear physics only.

However, it would be more accurate to say that Michigan is a much better school for physics overall:


Just sayin'.

EDIT: Non us-news source if it really makes you feel better:



November 9th, 2009 at 4:48 AM ^

Inferiority Complex...I was thinking the same about UM. First, the 40% out-of-state attendees are Ivy League rejects and the smartest in the pool along with the marginal number of in-state Ivy League rejects. Most of them dont like to talk about their denied Ivy League applications and seek desperately (and embarassingly) to compare themselves by calling Harvard the "Michigan of the East." These highly intelligent and gifted individuals appropriately feel inferior because their choice to attend UM was not even a choice and the unfair advantage they have over struggling in-state "wait list" attendees skews their "high marks" into being nothing better than a self-proclamation of excellence from an arrogant fool.

The remaining in-state attendees struggle to compete, barely make it through, and talk of how they should have gone to community college and transferred or wish they went to MSU because they have such a low grade-point average and struggled so bad in undergrad weeder courses and wonder if they should have ever been enrolled at UM or if they were just there to help UM justify its raiding of state coffers for desperately needed public funding. These in-staters appropriately feel used, mistreated and inferior because thats the exact effect of UM academics.

Then theres the girls...dont worry, when you're done at UM you will be able to afford plastic surgery. UM girls tend to age well - their faces change dramatically - and it isnt something in the Ann Arbor water.

UM is a breeding ground for Inferiority Complexes and I think maybe your perception is bent by your own. No Spartan would correctly feel inferior due to the perceived quality of UM academics. On the other hand, it seems true that all UM 4.0s will invariably feel inferior to any Harvard 2.0.


September 27th, 2009 at 11:40 AM ^

MooU sucks. They have a worst defense than us and people think they are going to roll us??!!?!?!? What the fuck are you people smoking? They had a decent offense last season with ringer, but now that is he is gone...not so much. They are the biggest frauds in the Big ten. We are going to win by over 50 points. Bank on it.

please neg bang me you weak hearted fellow um fans. What the fuck happened to the Michigan I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? This could be the greatest day of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst. "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you wolverine, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Dantonio, he's a dead man! Cousins, dead! Winston...