MSU "Little Brother" Mantra likely not going to die

Submitted by inthebluelot on November 12th, 2012 at 3:40 PM

I didn't see this discussed yet, but a slight mention by Brian regarding this weekend's half-time show by the MMB got me thinking.  As you may recall if you were in attendance, and not stuck in a line waiting for some stadium grub or a restroom, the MMB performed a pretty creative and funny show during the break of the NW game.  I found the content relavent since we have debated several times on this blog about the necessity of some to continue to refer to MSU as "little brother".  For all of the humor and back-and-fotrth that the matra has created over the past 5 years, it seems there are enough who wish it would just go away.  The balance of power has been restored after this years win, and there is no logical evidence that suggests that Sparty will have another 4 game run like they enjoyed since Mike Hart graduated.

With all of that being said, it is fair to think that perhaps the moniker will not die.  When the MMB uses it as a half-time feature to denigrate the school that's located "North until you smell it, West until you step in it", you know that it's use and understanding has escaped the control of the former players, current coaches, and casual fans of the rivalry.  Evidenced by the laughing and obvious applause that the comments received by the crowd in attendance on Saturday, I think that, for better or for worse, it is now permanently part of the Michigan Football Lexicon.  So, like Spartan Bob so famously started nearly a decade ago... let the debates begin.




November 12th, 2012 at 3:43 PM ^

to smell it, East until you step in it has been around for decades.  They used to sell bumper stickers at the stadium with that saying.


Also, little brother won't die because.........well, they are and act like it.


November 12th, 2012 at 3:46 PM ^

In an attempt to change things up, this year's game was the first one since Mike Hart's infamous post game comments that I had not gone to social media during hate week to either post the video of or glorify the little brother line.  And we won.  That in itself is enough for me to retire from personally using it.  I'm sure there are other valid reasons, but mine is one of pure superstition.


November 12th, 2012 at 3:53 PM ^

It's just that they keep doing things to perpetuate it.  Such as the Narduzzi post game presser where he mentions Denard is not faster than U. Bolt, or the tweets from the MSU players about Denard and the Alabama game.

I really do think they had to chance to ditch it if they acted like "they had been there before" when they tasted a little bit of success.  But alas, they did not.  I do not see this attitude changing especially after this year's horrible performances by MSU; coupled with our return to dominance, I feel the tag line is here to stay. 

Edit: I admit, I'm not even really a fan of it - and have personally tried to distance myself from the phrase.  However, when any nickname, or stereotype for that matter is basically perpetually reinforced - it's hard to let it go.  And as such, I've just decided to keep using it... forever.


November 12th, 2012 at 3:46 PM ^

Largely unrelated, but I couldn't help but laugh when I read this quote following Michigan's win over Slippery Rock this weekend:

"It's actually really refreshing where you see a big school like Michigan, who has everything, who reaches out to a school like Slippery Rock, and kind of -- I guess the best word to use is `adopt' us -- as a little brother," Slippery Rock coach Kevin Reynolds said. "I think it's great for us to have that affiliation, and it's nice for Michigan to embrace it. We don't get this opportunity to play in this type of arena and in this type of atmosphere, and we're very thankful."

 MSU really should embrace it too, They should be happy that, everytime we play them, we bring them a little slice of national relevance they wouldn't get otherwise. 


November 12th, 2012 at 3:52 PM ^

MSU affiliation of the phrase aside (and I would bet Slippery Rock's head coach probably doesn't know about the meme) that's actually a really cool thing for him to say. I'm glad they enjoyed the experience and got a little more recognition for their efforts than they usually do. I actually have a couple friends at Slippery Rock and they really think it's a cool little "quirk" or whatever you want to call their relationship with Michigan. Good for their program.


November 13th, 2012 at 12:00 PM ^

Thanks I hadn't hear dthat about slippery rock. Good attitude for them and us. 


On the our true little brother. They embrace it because UM is their boogeymen. Season colaplses, big brotehrs fault. Trash tornado, Denards fault. Student section doesn't show up, Big brotehrs fault. Just blame it on big brother. It is very useful for Dantonio to deflect blame from him, his team, and their fans.

BOX House

November 12th, 2012 at 4:59 PM ^

I don't think it has anything to do with that. I for one, have family and good friends who go to MSU, so I don't believe all the hoopla that all of them are trash. I'm just not a fan of stereotyping whole fan bases. Just as it's wrong to identify all Michigan fans as arrogant, it's wrong to identify all State fans as ignorant and trashy.

Blue since birth

November 12th, 2012 at 5:56 PM ^

I think you're kind of making my point. As far as insults go, I think a little smirking condescension is pretty tame. It's the kind of thing that family and friends can use against each other in good fun. Unless they're afflicted with the aforementioned stick... Or with "little brother syndrome".

It's real bite is in how/when Sparty plays the part so well. I'm not sure how it equates to ignorant or trashy either? That's an entirely different stereotype, no?

Michael Scarn

November 12th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

People always forget the most important part of Mike Hart's quote - "they think that, so of course we think that."  The moniker comes from their atittude.  It will never die because they will always compare what they do to what Michigan does.  


November 12th, 2012 at 6:48 PM ^

The obsession over this whole comment cuts to the heart of the current Spartan UM issue.

The UM being the older institution (since 1817 and nearing it bicentennial) and the one which has long been more influential (politically, economically, socially) can be looked upon as the "old firm" establishment and MSU as the upstart. It began as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan - becoming later the State Agricultural College. The school predates East Lansing as a municipality. By the early 1900, it had evolved into Michigan Agricultural College. By the 1920's it was Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science. It was not until 1964 that it actually became Michigan State University (MSU).

Historically with the many name changes and an ever evolving mission one can see that a fixed identity has only been recent development. Interestingly the Spartans had a long period of football prowess which dominated the 1950's and early 1960's. The only joined the Big Ten in 1949 but the Duffy Daugherty era (1954-1972) saw them finish first in the Coaches Poll twice in 1965 and 1966.

So why aren't the Sparty Fans more magnamimous given a pretty decent football history? The end of Daugherty era saw the rise of Bo and with that, years of 0.500 or so teams and the 1970's ushered in the Big 2 and the Little 8. It was also a period when college football on TV became really big with color TV penetration overtaking black-white broadcasts and those "in color" notices on TV programs started to fade out.  The reach of TV, the vast size of the UM alumni, and the expansion of the student body coincided nicely with Bo's great period. Vast pools of people now followed the Wolverines who had no actual ties with the school.

Most of the current Sparty fans are too young to remember when they were good for a long time. In contrast most of the Michigan fans who are younger lived through the Bo/Mo/Lloyd era when Michigan was usually very good to great. The much older fans who remember the fallow period between 1949 and 1969 are only a smaller slice of the fanbase and they have lived to see the Wolverines become dominant again.


November 12th, 2012 at 3:50 PM ^

My little brother actually is a Spartan, so...

In all truth, I kind of wish Mike Hart had kept his mouth shut with that one.  Or that it hadn't turned into "a thing."  Or something.


November 12th, 2012 at 6:41 PM ^

This thread makes me wonder what the average age of the posters on this board is. Mike Hart didn't invent the "little brother" concept. That interpretation of the relationship has been around for as long as I've been alive at least (I'm 30), and probably a lot longer. And as Michigan Arrogance noted, it's not even particularly unique to the Michigan-MSU rivalry. It may be unique as far as the B1G is concerned, since AFAIK neither Indiana & Purdue nor Illinois & Northwestern have this particular dynamic, and no other B1G schools share a state. But you look at, say, Oklahoma-OSU, or Washington-WSU, or even Texas-TAMU, and it's the same relationship. Expecting the "Little Brother Mantra" to "Go Away" is tantamount to expecting Michigan State to somehow permanently overtake Michigan as both the flagship academic instititution in the state, and the preeminent athletic program in both football and basketball. It isn't going to happen.


November 12th, 2012 at 6:49 PM ^

Anyone stating that Mike Hart invented the tag for MSU. But to say that his statements in the post game presser and the retaliation by Dantonio was not the genesis to why it was played up by the marching band this weekend is completely naive. The fire was always there, but Hart dumped a supertanker full of jet fuel on it... No doubt about it.


November 12th, 2012 at 3:53 PM ^

I think of them as my embarrassing cousin that occasionally would beat me in hoops at family events. He would ultimately make a fool of himself and always be a stones throw away from jail. Still he was fun to go out with once in awhile when not embarrassing me.


November 12th, 2012 at 3:54 PM ^

People liked that halftime show? I guess I missed that but I like the little brother moniker just because it annoys them so much.


November 12th, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

like most memes when repeated ad nauseum it starts to become lame. 

I'm also of the opinion that:

a) it was mean-spirited and therefore (even if it elicited some chuckles) you just don't want to doggedly repeat it forever and

b) it bit us in the ass more than it helped us. 

I guess it's because our cousins all went to MSU and my family all went to UM that I've had a hard time ever completely hating them. I also understand some of their resentment when our endowment is the seventh biggest and they're begging the legislature to keep them in Bunsen burners and repair their t-squares. 

snarling wolverine

November 12th, 2012 at 5:19 PM ^

I don't buy that Hart's comment actually hurt us.  It was a coincidence that he said it right before we went through a difficult coaching transition that set our program back.  That comment did not make Dantonio become obsessed with us.   He hated our guts long before Hart said anything.  In fact, I recall Dantonio mocking us after the Appalachian game.


BOX House

November 12th, 2012 at 5:39 PM ^

Not a judgment, just an observation: I think those of us who have friends and/or family who go to MSU are the most reluctant to adopt the "Little Brother" theme. For what it's worth, I found that my out-of-state friends tended to embrace "Little Brother" the most. 


November 12th, 2012 at 6:21 PM ^

"Bit us in the ass more than it helped us?"

The only thing that "bit us in the ass" was a temporary shift in the balance of talent due to a lot of infighting, which resulted in so-called "Michigan men" telling instate coaches not to send their players to Michigan.  This allowed Sparty to build a decent team.

Getting instate players won't ever win Michigan a national championship, or even beat Ohio, but it will keep enough of them away from Sparty to keep them down where they belong.  The fact that everyone is on the same page is going to make sure that Sparty wins the Sparty Super Bowl three times every ten years, as they did for the previous four decades.



November 12th, 2012 at 3:59 PM ^

Unless I missed it in an earlier post, does anyone have a link to a vid of the halftime show?  Couldn't find it on Youtube.  It was definitely funny.


November 12th, 2012 at 4:00 PM ^

Didn't you hear, they aren't little brother because they should be 8-1. They only have 1 legit loss this year. Just ask their players. See, the most mature thing to do after losses is complain about the refs and blame them for a shitty season. If you ask their fanbase, they will also tell you there is a conspiracy against them. First the refs and the B10 were just favoring OSU and Michigan. Then Wisconsin started winning, so they joined the conspiracy. Then Nebraska joined the B10 and started getting calls, so now the B10 wants them to win! All of this is so....little brother. From the players to the coaches to the fans, none of them know what to do after two great seasons bookended by possibly 2 losing seasons


November 12th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

But it's true. Literally Michigan is definitely older more established, and bigger in every way imaginable. Figuratively State has spent the entirety of their existence in Michigan's shadow, and they act the part. I'm not sure if any has ever been more appropriate. Also I don't care if your little brother grows up to be bigger and better than you in everyway he is still your little brother.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:31 PM ^

As a former MSU student, this is entirely true. The only thing the school was self-assured in was basketball and the rest of it was comparisons to Michigan. The worst part about it is that because of this, the school's identity suffers from an envy that defines its character. It would be a much better school and probably have better sports if it stopped always trying to compare itself to U-M and just accept that it is a different place.


November 12th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

Im an M grad, and abhor the hypocritical hatred by MSU towards us.... however I gotta point out a few things here...

1. as much as it pains me to say,  the balance of power that you refer to, has not yet returned to us... we'd have lost in East Lansing this year.  But next year with Gardner, I think we have a very good shot.

2. the said balance of power will return to us if we win next year, or at very worst with Gardner in 2014 if he gets his redshirt, or Morris in 2015, FOR CERTAIN.


Monocle Smile

November 12th, 2012 at 4:20 PM ^

By your arbitrary standard, the "balance of power" never shifted away. We won 6 in a row before the current streak (which happened largely against the worst teams M fielded in decades) and it should have been 8 without Spartan Bob.

C'mon man. Just make ONE post where I don't feel compelled to neg you. Just one.


November 12th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

It should stick around as long as it's true.  And since my dad went to U-M something like 40 years ago, it hasn't changed, so I don't see it happening any time soon.  Everything we talk about now - them constantly measuring their worth against us and acting like rotten babies half the time - is the same shit my dad has said about them for twenty, thirty years.


November 12th, 2012 at 4:30 PM ^

I was a freshman in 1969 and had many Spartan friends from High School. The little brother thing was around then and had been around quite a while. They did not get the opportunity to attend UM. The difference then was limited success by Sparty in most sports. Their success in basketball came later. As did occasional success in football.