Illinois fans hate Michigan?

Submitted by FingerMustache on September 13th, 2010 at 8:42 PM

So i was out wearing my michigan stuff, and i was approached by a kid who told me he was a recent illinois alum. and i have to say, i was rather enlightened by our conversation. among the many bombs he dropped on me, a few notable ones were:


"I f'ing hate michigan"

"The students at Illinois hate michigan more than you guys hate OSU"

"me and all my friends wear Muck Fichigan shirts"


First of all...your cool. Second of all, am i the only one who didnt realize that there was a michigan/illinois rivalry. if i had to list our rivals in order (among our regular opponents) it would probably be something like this:







Minn (yeah its got a trophy but come on)





Honestly id put nebraska ahead of illinois and we havent even played them yet. illinois fans should spend there energy hating indiana and Minn, since those are the games that will decide the big10 basement.



September 13th, 2010 at 10:13 PM ^

Bo never lost to Illinois in the early part of his career, and in the late '70s Illinois hired Gary Moeller off of Bo's staff. Moeller was a complete flop and was fired after three years. This completely enraged Bo, who thought Mo got a raw deal. To make matters worse, Illinois hired Mike White to replace Moeller, and Bo apparently had no respect whatsoever for White, and I gather the feeling was mutual. In White's second season in 1981 Bo put an absolute shellacking on Illinois and White in the Big House in a 70-21 victory. White may or may not have been a sleazebag, but he put together a great Illinois team in 1983, beating UM 16-6 and going to the Rose Bowl. There's a story that's been around for years that as a motivational ploy White brought a Wolverine helmet into a pre-game players meeting that was allegedly filled with urine. It was also under White that Illinois acquired a reputation as a dirty team, to the extent that some Michigan people started calling them the "Biting Illini." The wife of a very good friend of mine is an Illinois grad, and she confirms that Illinois fans really do hate Michigan with an intensity that is certainly not reciprocated on our end.


September 13th, 2010 at 10:08 PM ^

I went to the UM-Illinois game in Champaign-Urbana in 1994 and observed the Michigan hatred first-hand.  As others have said, it was indeed comparable to what you see out of OSU or MSU fans.  I am familiar with the history behind it, but I think it most of their hatred is related to the fact that Michigan doesn't really acknowledge Illinois as a serious rivalry.  If the Spartans are "little brother," then Illinois is "cousin who still wears diapers at age nine."


September 13th, 2010 at 10:09 PM ^

Illinois was good in the early 80s, then again from 1988-1992.  They never beat Michigan in any of those years except one, 1983, when they played in the Rose Bowl.  My theory is that beating Michigan is for them one of those once-in-long-time wins that marks the very outer boundaries of Illinois fans' hopes and dreams, football-wise.   


September 13th, 2010 at 10:23 PM ^

I don't know, it seems like everyone hates Michigan except the people who go or went there (and my husband, who went to a small school in Wisconsin). They hate our absolute certainty that we're the best. We're kind of easy to hate because up until now, we haven't been self-effacing. We've just been unyielding in our superiority. If I hadn't gone to Michigan, I probably wouldn't like us either. 

Fortunately, that didn't happen. I'm proud to say the U of M Alumni Association is the only group I've ever officially joined. And MGoBlog. Go Blue! 


September 13th, 2010 at 11:17 PM ^

I think it's kind of the opposite.  We have a following elsewhere in the Big Ten region (maybe not as vocal the past two years, but it'll come back), and I think that's why they hate us so much.  No one in Michigan roots for Wisconsin, but there are some people in Wisconsin that root for Michigan.  And you can imagine that with Denard, we're going to be one of the trendiest schools to follow now.


September 13th, 2010 at 10:24 PM ^

Yeah, I just met a girl in grad school that did undergrad at Illinois, and apparently all of her undergrad friends think she's a traitor or something.

I don't think many Big Ten Teams are too fond of us though.


September 13th, 2010 at 10:26 PM ^

when they mention Michigan being a rivalry game and you start laughing. You know the laugh, the one that begins with a small smile which cannot be contained, eventually turning into a chuckle and then a full fledged, can't stop, can't help myself laugh. A heartfelt laugh at that. I just chalk it up to them being overly sensitive.


September 13th, 2010 at 10:40 PM ^

I got my Masters from Illinois, and it is true they hate us. Before the game they would take about Michigan being their biggest rival. I was like "What? Minnesota is a bigger rival for us." I had to hide that I went to UofM from  the undergrads. The grad students didn't care but the undergrads hate us.



September 13th, 2010 at 11:10 PM ^

Hmm.  I'm waaaaaay late in answering a history question.  But everyone seems to have covered everything.  The hatred goes back to the early 80's.  Gary Moeller, Mike White, Illinois futility against Michigan even when they were cheating, etc.  Bo finished his career 19-1-1 against the Illini.  That didn't sit well with their fans.  And they're still ticked that we knocked them out of the final four in 1989. 

Mike White has been gone for many years but Illinois fans are just as nasty.  Probably the second worst fan base in the Big Ten after Ohio State.  You couldn't pay me to watch a game in Champaign.  Their fans treated Michigan tailgaters so awful several years back before a game that their president wrote UM a letter of apology. 

While on the topic of Bo owning Illinois, here are the Michigan Replay videos from the 70-21 game from 1981 and the 69-13 win from 1986.  Bo made some good points about Illinois making mistakes and us scoring with the second and third stringers but he despised Mike White so much, you know he enjoyed these ass kickings.


September 14th, 2010 at 5:30 PM ^

The intro the show back then was incredible.

I love that our two-minute drill in the '81 game consisted solely of running plays.  Steve Smith had some wheels. 

BTW, #32 in the '81 video, our fullback, was Stanley Edwards - Braylon's father. 


September 13th, 2010 at 11:16 PM ^

Truly, the greatest one sided rivalry in all of sport.

The vitriol spewed by Illinois fans about Michigan is, in my opinion, the result of constantly being lol wut'd by Michigan fans when they attempt to engage in any kind of typical rival fan banter. In their minds, Michigan fans secretly hate them and have come up with this mass "uh, what rivalry?" stance to spite them. It's really kind of fascinating.

You can have some friendly banter with ND fans and Sparty fans and OSU fans, but Illinois fans are thoroughly irrational... if you dare claim not to care about them, they will go off like an effing sparkler. It's something ever Michigan fan should experience. I used to love torturing my (now ex) uncle who went to Illinois... he lived in Columbus and hated us with a passion that few of his Buckeye neighbors could match.


September 14th, 2010 at 12:16 AM ^

I was grabbing a slice of pizza  somewhere in Wrigleyville after a night of drinking with some friends and  two guys sit at a two seater next to our table.  One guy is wearing an Illinois windbreaker and he is obviously intoxicated.  We start talking football and I casually mention how I thought Notre Dame was an overrated program.  This clown in the Illinois windbreaker takes offense to this comment because he apparently had just gotten accepted to law school at ND.  That was weird enough but then this guy goes on this absurd rant about how Illinois kicked our ass this year and how much Michigan sucked.  I bought up the fact that they have beaten us like three times in last 35 or so years and then we leave the pizzeria.  My friend and I are walking down the street a couple of blocks away when this same asshat in the windbreaker comes sprinting down the street screaming at me about how he was " a former state champion wrestler" and how he was going to kick my ass.  That's when my friend ( who just happens to be in the Army and very good at his job) decides to step in on my behalf.  After my buddy threatened the guy and took off his coat, the Windbreaking Illini casually retreated and even apologized.  


September 14th, 2010 at 12:41 AM ^

and i don't get it.  I went to the PSU vs IL game in Champaign last year (tix were cheap...imagine that!!).  About 60% of the student section from what I could see were wearing the Illini orange shirt that said "Ann Arbor is a whore" on them.  I couldn't understand it since they were playing(read: getting pounded by) PSU.  Also, I am pretty sure I heard them chanting the Muck Fichigan after the game was over.  They seem to take the anger of getting beat down in all games out towards Michigan.  I am pretty sure there is a term for this (oedipus complex??).


September 14th, 2010 at 1:31 AM ^

But that was a LONG time ago and most people who remember it are old like me!  The ILLINI's problem is that they are never consistently good to be considered a rival.  But I loved the way Bo got fired up playing them, specially after they fired Mo!


September 14th, 2010 at 1:57 AM ^

I've been going to UM road games in Champagne for years and never had any problems with their fans.  The IA fans are worse, when I attend UM road games in Iowa City they give me more flack, and at both stadiums I where my UM jersey and M cap!

Gulo Blue

September 14th, 2010 at 10:43 AM ^

...for the schools that think we have a rivalry with them.  Something like:

At least 'little brother' gets a nickname.


Thanks, but we all ready have a rival.



Four School


Feat of Clay

September 14th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

I too was taken aback to meet Ilinois alums spewing vitriol.  I was like, Seriously?    And they were knowledgeable about U-M's team, history, and traditions!  Which was surprising, because I could not give less of a crap about their program, and assumed the feeling was mutual.

I have since been schooled on their mysterious belief in a long-standing (but entirely one-sided) Illinois-Michigan rivalry.  There have been many insightful and hilarious things written in the forums about it.


September 14th, 2010 at 2:16 PM ^

I hate Illinois and I hate their fans.  I have no problem admitting this.  Of course, I was born and raised in Illinois, and 18 years of Illni dumbassery will begin to annoy you over time.

The long and short of it is that Illinois is mostly irrelevant.  The football team sucks, the  basketball team has picked up a perennial knack for playing way under their talent level the last five years (2005 obviously excepted, where, frankly, they played over their talent level), and that leaves them with...wrestling?  Field hockey?  I'm sure they have a program of note, but I've never heard of it.

Their fans, deep down, are aware of their irrelevancy and choose to take out their anger on teams that are traditionally successful, especially teams that routinely curb-stomp them.  Michigan is one of those teams.

There is probably more to it than that though.  There is an annoying under-current in being a Chicago sports fan (I am one) about hating all things Michigan.  I understand the hate for Detroit, geography, competitive teams, blah blah, but putting it on the entire state is absurd.  Not to mention that you rarely hear about Illini fans disliking our favorite irrelevant program, Michigan State.

No, those shirts will never stop being sold, and no, Illini fans will never be able to competently explain to you why they hate Michigan so.  Just pat them on the head and move along.  Not worth our time.


September 14th, 2010 at 3:00 PM ^

I wonder if some of it stems from the fact that so many Chicagoans vacation along the West Michigan coastline during the summer.  A lot of people that live there grumble about the Illinois influx (though of course they'll still take their tourist dollars).   Maybe there's a twinge of envy on the part of Illinois folks over the fact that Michigan has this long, beautiful coastline while Illinois just has a little sliver.  Coupled with the fact that UM has historically dominated UI in football (and is a little more prestigious of an academic institution), and maybe it adds up into a full-blown case of the green monster.


September 14th, 2010 at 5:23 PM ^

As one of those FIPs (F'in Illinois People), I don't get a lot of conversation about U of I or U of M while there.  Maybe because it's more Sparty/Hope/GVSU over there or maybe because people are more focused on being out on the beach, I'm not really sure.

I do agree on the academics thing though.  One of the easiest ways to piss off a U of I grad is to talk about academics.  Because, you know, they went to such a difficult school, what with being able to go out almost every single night all four years.


September 14th, 2010 at 3:36 PM ^

Meh, I don't see it as that weird to transfer the hate from pro teams to the local major university. Michigan is Detroit's home team in much the same way Illinois is Chicago's, so once you hate Detroit in every single sport it's not hard to transfer that hate to college.

I'm sure there are some Illini basketball fans who hate MSU.


September 14th, 2010 at 4:12 PM ^

I met a lot of people who hated Detroit sports teams (The Pistons hate was really big at the time), but didn't have much of a problem with Michigan.  Those that weren't that involved in the college scene, I'm sure.

Michigan is Detroit's home team, but I doubt the majority feel Illinois is Chicago's. (And it's not Northwestern either). Traditional Chicago rooting interests have been around Notre Dame. It's far closer than U-I is, and has been a recruiting base for ND for forever. One of the reason Illinois is never really great at anything is they're not even the biggest recruiter in their own state's biggest city. Champaign is more a part of Missouri than Chicago. It's like the UP to Michigan...and just like how there are Green Bay fans up there, even though it's in a Lions state, technically.


September 14th, 2010 at 5:28 PM ^

Agreed 100%.  Notre Dame is, very sadly, Chicago's favorite team.  As much as that pisses me off to no end, the proximity to the campus, the many, many blue collar folk that never went to college, the large Irish population, and a lot of the general ignorance in regards to the rest of the college sports world (and by that I mean people genuinely still think Notre Dame will win a ton of games every year in Chicago) adds up to a Domer town.

It's disgusting.

Tim Waymen

September 14th, 2010 at 2:17 PM ^

Welcome to Strange Michigan Fan Experience #2594: finding out that Illinois really hates UM a lot.  Sure, many Big 10 fans love to hate on UM, but Illinois fans actually seem to harbor an almost obsessive hatred toward UM, in many cases even considering UM a major rival.  While some people here have had decent experiences with IL fans (btw aren't Iowa fans supposed to be saints??), quite a bunch of people have experienced strong anti-UM sentiment and rude fan behavior from Illinois.  MZone even listed IL as the 3rd-worst fan experience behind OSU and MSU.


January 28th, 2013 at 12:06 AM ^

I apologize for bumping such an old thread, but I wanted to take the opportunity to explain this from the perspective of a U of I student. I have been following college sports for a while and, growing up in Chicago, always knew that UIUC alums and fans hated Michigan. However, I, like all of you, never knw why. Now that I am a student at U of I, I have not only discovered why you are hated by ILLINI, but I have also found myself despising you as well (sorry). Here are the reasons why UIUC alums and fans don't like UM:

1) No one does. Honestly, you may not know it, but every Big Ten school hates you on the inside. It might be your success, it might be your attitudes, it might be your history; we will leave that to each person to decide. However, it is undeniable that all Big Ten fans reserve a little hatred for the U of M.

2) You are a step above. U of I is one of the best academic institutions in the Big Ten. Northwestern is above everyone, but that is excuseable because they are very different. Madison is about even with us. U of M, on the other hand, is very similar to U of I, but is always one step above. Not so far above that we are separated, but you always have that edge.

3) Rejection. Going along with (but different than) #2, many U of I attendees have been rejected by the University of Michigan.

4) Our friends. Many of us have friends from high school that go to U of M and every trip home and encounter with them is a reminder that U of M is the greatest institution to grace the earth's soil. I ran into a UM student from my HS class over winter break. He asked me how U of I was and I said good. How was Michigan, I asked? "Better."

5) The 80's. There was a considerable amount of competition in the 1980's between our athletic teams in both football and basketball, and chances are that some UM alums from the 80's would consider us a rival as well.


January 28th, 2013 at 2:48 PM ^

But the search engine here is kinda wonky, so I understand.

1 and 2 don't really answer the question. We realize that all the Big Ten teams (and others) hate us. (Secret: We kinda like it.)  But it doesn't say why Illinois considers us their biggest rival. I mean, I don't doubt Iowa hates us. But I don't think we're #1 on their list of dislike. Maybe the biggest game for them to win, but I'd imagine Wisconsin and Iowa State (and maybe shortly Nebraska) are nastier games. I could do that with a lot of the teams.

3 and 4 might have something to do with it. I imagine particularly the Chicago contingent, there's a lot of people who know or maybe tried to go to Michigan. More than you'd get out of Wisconsin or some of the other schools. So that could go a lot towards it.

5 Sorry, but that's the whole point of this thread. We don't. Didn't then, didn't after, don't now. I mean, you matter, but would fall behind Ohio State, MSU, Notre Dame...and in the 80's Iowa, and maybe USC.  And more recently, behind Penn State, Wisconsin and now Nebraska. You were just another Big Ten team. We didn't consider those games big. Still don't. Sure, the '89 Final Four was big, but because it was the Final Four. It could have been anyone. But Illinois fans feel we beat their best team ever that year. And the only time we cared about football was after Illinois fired Moeller and hired a big cheater. So Bo dropped 70 on them, and it was done. It's more a funny footnote than animosity. 

So you've helped explain Illini dislike of Michigan, but the reason it's not a rivalry is we don't feel the same way.  And that's why we find it so strange. Because a lot of teams don't like us, but only a few hate us, and most of them we pretty much don't like either. But Illinios? Meh.


January 28th, 2013 at 6:19 PM ^

First of all, we don't consider you our top rival, just one of them. In basketball, most would consider Indiana a bigger rival and in football, most would consider Northwestern bigger. However, you are definitely 2nd or 3rd on both of those lists. I understand that you don't feel the same way, and that is why I aimed at explaining it. All of the reasons that I gave, with the exception of 5, are one-way reasons, meaning you would not have any reason to hate us back for it.

One thing I will say is that I do wish you guys hated us with the same intensity. A rivalry with UM would be a lot of fun, but I get that we are not playing up to your level, and therefore we really can't develop a rivalry.


January 28th, 2013 at 7:33 PM ^

Thank you for your honesty.  I gave you a +1.  I recently did a survey of Illini fans on one of your blogs.  I received basically the same responses; however, a majority of those that answered said we were the #1 rival with NW a close second.

The term "rivals" has been debated on this blog for years.  Most of us believe we have only one rival.  That team says they only have one rival which is us.  It is the number 1 rivalry in all of sports per ESPN.  I think that has a lot to do with it as well.  

We are proud of our school (best overall public school in the US)  We are proud of those coaches who came before us (Yost, Crisler, Elliott, Bo, Mo. Lloyd, and even RR).  We proud of those players that came before us (Willie Heston, President Jerry Ford, Desmond, Chuck, Tom Harmon, the Wistert Brothers, Jim Harbaugh, Brian Greise, Denard and several hundred others).  We are all proud of the fact that we support our teams (Every Varisty Team, All 29 of them).  We are all proud that we support our teams through think and thin, even in a 3-5 Big Ten Season, we still sold out every game.  We are proud that we hold the records for most spectators at a football and hockey game.  I bet we could fill the Big House in a BB game too.  I could go on and on but you get the point.

So in my opinon, jealousy is a huge factor in the "hatred".  If those who were rejected told the truth, they would say they love Michigan and that is why they applied.  You are welcome on our blog anytime; just as long as you are NOT RDT.


January 28th, 2013 at 7:52 PM ^

Might be another one of those things where they don't acknowledge it back. Everyone hates Indiana basketball because they've been a big dog.

And maybe I'm showing my age, but my college roommate went to law school at DePaul, and all the Illinois guys I knew hated Michigan first and foremost. But that was when Northwestern was just starting to get good, so no one would call them a rival without being embarrassed. But I can see how that could easily have changed for a new generation seeing only decent Wildcat teams and not the joke they used to be.


January 28th, 2013 at 1:01 AM ^

Illiinois is one of those teams that, if you don't live in Illinois, you are not likely to be a fan.  I live in North Carolina and encounter a lot of "fan gear" from a lot of teams.  I have Chem with a guy who loves his Penn State gear, for instance.  I see a lot of Ohio State, Oregon, and a plethora of SEC/ACC teams (naturally).

In my almost 2 decades of Michigan fandom, I've encountered THREE MSU fans and ZERO Illinois fans.  

Giving you Michiganders a view from the outside looking in.  Luckily for me, Michigan was dominating the world when I was between the ages of 8-13 and very impressionable.