November 1st, 2015 at 10:17 PM ^

Michigan is a blue blood power. Every scrappy underdog wants to justify their program by saying Michigan is a rival. I scoff at those propositions.

By the way, why is Illinois such a bad football program? Large state, large school, solid academics, good mix of urban/rural population, no in-state powerhouses... What gives?

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November 1st, 2015 at 10:32 PM ^

They haven't been able to consistently recruit their top talent. Treadwell, Prater (although he didn't pan out ever), etc. Juice & Mendenhall were instate guys, look what happened when they did keep them instate. Over the last decade, we've had our fair share of IL recruits as well (incl Swenson on the way). ND also scoops up guys year after year. Having grown up here, even Iowa scooped up trip of highly ranked 4 stars my HS grad year (incl TE Tony Moeaki. Also, just throw in the fact that they haven't developed anyone -- Zook, similar to Hoke, had big classes and did nothing with the talent. The coaches since have been even worse (and with less talent).


November 1st, 2015 at 10:42 PM ^

Completely fair. It's more important to them than us. But it's all about perspective too. Just like Sparty -- can't question the in state rivalry and all the history, but it's 99% meaningful to folks that grew up to MI. Their recent success makes it currently relevant but, as an out of stater, I went to school caring more about the ND (again, from Chicago so it's terrible with ND being an adopted home team) and OSU rivalries. Arguably, that's still the case for me.


November 1st, 2015 at 11:57 PM ^

I mean this makes sense on a case by case basis of course, but Michigan is at its heart a state school and the majority of our fans are from Michigan and reside in Michigan. So, to compare the MSU rivalry to the Illinois series is absolutely silly. It may not be personal for you, but Michigan State and Michigan are 100% rivals. Illinois is not.


The way I personally rank it: I hate OSU the most as a football program/team, I hate MSU fans the most, and I hate Notre Dame the most as an actual University. They all have different things that irk me. 


November 2nd, 2015 at 12:02 AM ^

Definitely, wasn't trying to Illinois is a rival (currently at least).

And while I get your point about all three big rivalries, you can't honestly tell me that the sparty rivalry is as important. My comments from a personal standpoint, not being from MI, shed light on a POV angle...but even then, it's "silly" to try and equate the sparty rivalry to OSU. And, honestly, bc of all the national attention, the ND rivalry is far bigger as well.

As noted in allllll of our other threads about MSU, they simply aren't as relevant nor garner the national respect that OSU & ND do. It's been decades since MSU has posed a consistent threat to us...and by consistent, it's been 5 years at most...and the national audience can still care less about sparty.

I'm not saying it's not an important rivalry, but it's mostly for the house divided and instate crowd, which is totally fair.

snarling wolverine

November 2nd, 2015 at 12:12 AM ^

It's been decades since MSU has posed a consistent threat to us.

You are aware of how the last eight years have unfolded, right?

Now, I fully expect us to right that wrong in the coming years, but for right now, it's absurd to downplay the series.  MSU has  not only owned the series since 2008 but has been better than us in league play, too, over most of that time.



November 2nd, 2015 at 12:18 AM ^

If you wanted to point to a hole in argument, you were better off challenging my "five year" comment. That said, you're right about 2008...but I was talking more about their dominance. While they've beaten us (no question about it), their significant bowl success and rankings have been more within the last 5 years. Fair?

snarling wolverine

November 2nd, 2015 at 1:01 AM ^

I don't mean any disrespect, but I think you are missing that your own particular circumstances (growing up in Illinois) are relatively uncommon and not that applicable to the average Michigan fan.  

Michigan and MSU are 60 miles apart and compete in the same conference.  Those two basic facts ensure that there will be a lot of competition between the two.  The events since 2008 have kicked it up a notch, but it was always a rivalry.  

I think you are also forgetting how closely-matched the teams actually seemed entering a lot of those games.  Many times in the '90s and '00s the two teams had pretty much the same record going into the game.  MSU had a habit of collapsing after playing us (especially if they lost), which made a lot of their teams look weak in retrospect, but at the time of the game no one could know this.




November 2nd, 2015 at 1:04 AM ^

I've dropped a ton of commentary on this thread (I recognize that), but don't know where you picked up on me ever saying it's not a rivalry. Any one saying that would be delusional.

My entire intentions have been to balance out all the overzealous comments without any regard to context on the "other side"...and then, yes, I've consistently lobbied that the sparty rivalry is less important than OSU/ND and a bit skewed toward M fans simply terrified of losing bragging rights to their instate neighbors.


November 2nd, 2015 at 12:35 AM ^

They're both huge rivalries. But to suggest that MSU must take a back seat to Notre Dame is insane and even with Ohio State it's kind of annoying. OSU will always be the biggest rival due to the storied history, but even so MSU is still very important. A few years ago there was a ranking of most intense rivalries in the US. UM-OSU was #2 (behind the Iron Bowl, a ranking that can be disputed), but MSU-UM was #5. It's a bigger rivalry than most teams in the country have so it's dumb to disparage it.

Honestly, looking ahead to 2016, I 100% view the MSU game as the most important on our schedule. Not a question.



November 2nd, 2015 at 12:14 AM ^

Also, did you edit your original response to mine? My last response was directed at few comments I read but don't show anymore after re-reading your post. I swore you questioned the validity of calling the sparty rivalry a "lesser" one than the other big two.

Whatever the that I'm seeing different comments in your post...I never once said MSU isn't a rival. Nor was I actually arguing that Illinois is. My whole point was to shed light on a different POV.

No doubt, this is not the first time a lesser storied program sees more blood in the water than the opposite side. I was just trying to point that out. As I commented in another spot within this thread, I think recency bias skews our perspectives too. While Illinois hasn't had a huge history of success, let alone against us h2h, their recent struggles make it very difficult to recall their better days. And, similarly, MSU's recent success makes amplifies the overall rivalry. But through the 90s and early 2000s...most of my fandom years...they were absolutely irrelevant to us. At most just the house divided concern.


November 2nd, 2015 at 12:37 AM ^

If by "us" you mean your own family, that could be, but to the Michigan program it's always been an important game, at least since they joined the Big Ten.  Bo lost his first State game and after that, always put major emphasis on it.  From then to the Carr era, if MSU beat us, we would hang an MSU flag in the locker room.  That flag would not come down until we beat them.  

Was/is MSU as big to the program as OSU?  No.  But it's always been a meaningful series.  It's absurd to claim otherwise.  The timeframe you cite included the Woodson interception game (1997), Spartan Bob (2001) and Braylonfest (2004).


November 2nd, 2015 at 1:07 AM ^

Those are all great moments, totally, but let's not sit here and claim that there was extreme intensity in the rivalry due to MSU having legitimate relevance. Again, I'm by no means taking a stab at the overall rivalry. I'm saying folks all too often get overtaken by recency bias. Things ebb and flow.

snarling wolverine

November 2nd, 2015 at 10:09 AM ^

When we played MSU in 1997, we were 6-0 and they were 5-1.  

In 1999, both teams were 5-0 entering the game.  

In 2001, we were 6-1 and they were 5-2 entering the game

In 2003, they were 7-1 and we were 6-2. 

In 2005, they were 4-0 and we were 2-2.

These were big games going in.  If anything, they've become diminished in retrospect because MSU used to always collapse after they played us (something Dantonio has managed to stop).  There were a number of points during the Carr era when it seemed like MSU might be catching up to us, but to Lloyd's credit, his program prevented that from happening.  

Again, I think you are overgeneralizing your own personal experience.  Maybe the games didn't resonate emotionally with you in Illinois, but they were certainly a big deal for the program.  



November 2nd, 2015 at 9:59 AM ^

I don't know how much I really buy this reasoning. How much do kids from outside of Michigan or Ohio REALLY care about the OSU rivalry before they get to campus? Especially kids from outside the midwest, who mostly don't even care about college sports before they arrive in Ann Arbor. These are things that you learn from bring a part of the Michigan experience, there's no reason why State wouldn't be the same. After all, I knew a girl in high school who ended up going to Alabama and she sure as hell learned to hate Auburn.


November 2nd, 2015 at 11:16 AM ^

I don't remember UM-MSU as a thing. Pretty much UM-OSU and random Rose Bowls that UM got beat down in. I am not disputing your point though.

I can tell you for a fact no one knows about Sparty down here. I wore a Michigan shirt my Xmas break during my freshman year to a library here in TN and a random kid told me "Go Blue!" I was taken aback lol.


November 2nd, 2015 at 1:45 PM ^

This ^, my points all along. Again, everyone has been so defensive about protecting the sparty rivalry. I've never once said it wasn't a rivalry. Just lesser than the other two big ones. Nationally and from a true threat standpoint, they simply don't pose the same concern that OSU and ND do.

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November 2nd, 2015 at 2:22 PM ^

this is true, my thinking is more along the line of even if you have no idea what MSU is, it's something that you should be able to learn by the very process of going to school here. Living in Ann Arbor, one is far more likely to interact with Sparty fans than Ohio State or Notre Dame fans, etc. 


November 2nd, 2015 at 12:27 AM ^

I have long wondered this myself as I have family members who are Illinois grads. There are a few factors at play:

Sustained Success. The football program has had success here and there over time but they have not had sustained success in a long time. You have to go back to the late 40's and early 50's to find a period where Illinois won multiple B1G titles in a short time span. Without that sustained success, you don't have any non student/alumni fans nor do you have any kids growing up as Illini fans. Since the kids in Chicago or St. Louis don't know of a successful Illinois football program, they go elsewhere to play football. Memorial Stadium once had a capacity of 71K, now its 60k, and they rarely sell it out.

Location. This is more of hinderance than most people think. Illinois is the only major public school in the state, which produces a good amount of players. However, the bulk of the talent is in the Chicago and St. Louis metro areas. Champaign is 2 hours from Chicago and 2.5 hours from St. Louis, too far for Illinois to claim either as "Illini territory". This is further complicated because Northwestern is just outside Chicago, Notre Dame is 1.5 hours from Chicago, and Missouri is 1 hour from St. Louis. All three programs have had as much, more, or much more recent success than Illinois.

Perpetual coaching changes. From 1913 to 1959, Illinois had two coaches. They won or shared 10 B1G titles. They were basically Iowa under Fry and Ferentz. From 1960 to 2014, they have had 10 coaches, winning or sharing 4 B1G titles. Of these coaches, only Mike White (busted for NCAA violations) and Jon Mackovic (left for Texas atfter 4 years) were above .500. They will soon be on their 11th coach. Hard to be successful when you are hiring a coach every 5 years. It's even harder when you hire coaches like Ron Zook and Tim Beckman.


I Love Lamp

November 2nd, 2015 at 8:23 AM ^

You must have not made the trip to Champaign-Urbana. Campus is ok, not great. Champaign isn't very nice, Urbana is a dump, and after that it's farms for what seems to be forever. I asked myself the same question, and it was answered after that. Just not very appealing.


November 1st, 2015 at 11:37 PM ^

2 M-Ill games in Champagne in the 80s. 85 and 89. The 85 game we tied 3-3 when Mike White's son (son of the coach) hit the crossbar with what would have been the winning field goal and it bounced on the field.

My buddy and I visited one or two local establishments after that game and promptly met a grandson of a guy who played with Red Grange. He was unreserved in his dislike for us--including lavishly profane versions of The Victors that he either heard ahead of time or was making up on the spot. We stuck it out though, and by the end of the evening he was buying us beers. All in all they were a pretty good group.

Year of Revenge II

November 2nd, 2015 at 7:46 AM ^

Sorry all, now that I have had a chance to get to a computer, I can see the game we lost that I attended in Champaign was '83, and that was the one that really intensified the rivalry for us.  They had viewed the game with vigor more than we had prior to that.

They beat us and OSU that year, and went to Rose Bowl.  The rivalry spilled over to Basketball, and for the longest time, we could not seem to beat them in Champaign.

Of course, this never rose even close to the level of MSU or OSU, and was bigger for them than for us, but there is no denying that it was on a higher plane for a while in the 80's.  Kind of petered out since then, and is really nothing today.

snarling wolverine

November 1st, 2015 at 10:20 PM ^

To be fair, for a long time they were one of the four teams we'd play every year, along with OSU, MSU and Minnesota.  We've played all the other Big Ten teams a lot less over the years.

The line about the rivalry featuring "two of the most prominent programs in college football history" is pretty comical though.



November 1st, 2015 at 10:39 PM ^

Outside of the Juice rose bowl year (year after we got smacked by USC as well), they have had a decade+ of irrelevance. But most folks forget that they were very relevant and consistently competitive from Jeff George to Kevin Hardy/Simeon Rice to Kittner/Lloyd. There were plenty of good games between UM-Illinois. The new generation just doesn't have that appreciation for those games. Personally, my UM fandom days have been over the last decade but my local roots and having two brothers that went there give me a better sense of the past.


November 1st, 2015 at 11:25 PM ^

I think your location in Chicago may skew your perspective a bit.  

Illinois has occasionally had good teams and we've had the odd memorable game with them here and there, but in the time I've been a fan (going back to the end of the Bo era) this has never been considered a rivalry.  



November 2nd, 2015 at 12:23 AM ^

I'm not even fully lobbying that this is a rivalry. Can see how I came off that way. As I shared in my second response to SpikeFan2016, was only trying to shed some light on a few different angles and how context plays a major impact. Won't fully repeat what I shared earlier as its all in the other part of this thread, but I just think folks are too quick to just sound off with utter confusion. I obviously think it's a bit egregious to have a full page on a "rivalry" with Illinois but it's not absolutely ludicrous to point to some context about how it may have felt that way for very short, fleeting years.


November 1st, 2015 at 10:43 PM ^

in that write-up, obviously done by an illini nut.   calling it one of the great rivalries in college football is like calling mcdonalds one of the great restaurants in the world just because they've slung a bunch of burgers over the years. 


November 1st, 2015 at 10:23 PM ^

Made it an important game, especially to Bo. UM demolished them so bad that they wore the score 70-21 on their helmets the following year. That's similar to failing an exam and writing an F on your forehead on the retake.


November 1st, 2015 at 11:50 PM ^

This before, but I was at that game. The rumor went through the student section that Mike White put dog shit in a Michigan helmet for his halftime speech, and that Bo heard about it. This is just going from memory, but I think we might have had 14 or 17 points at halftime, and in the 4th Q we were chanting "sev-en-ty! sev-en-ty!" I think that was 86, ajd we scored 69 on them. Trust me, a hundred points wouldn't have been enough for the crowd that day.