Only Colors: History on the UM-MSU Hate

Submitted by markusr2007 on October 10th, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Very interesting write up on the historical source and origin of MSU hatred and resentment of the Wolverines. 

Henry Tappan may have been a royal bastard back in the day. Maybe there were a lot of powerful oligarchs hell bent on choking the life out of any rival institutions in the state.  But in the end it does read like the perspective of one with a massive, untreatable inferiority complex.

Oh well.  If anything I'm sort of glad they got their shit together and called it "Michigan State University". The Michigan A&M Spartans would have sucked.



October 10th, 2011 at 5:42 PM ^

So the article is about how Sparties hate Michigan because U-M tried to prevent their school from ever existing.  Given the way they behave, I think it's clear Michigan was right to try.


October 10th, 2011 at 5:42 PM ^

The author said it at the very beginning: inferiority complex. Yep, that is what the article shows throughout its entirety. Inferiority complex for MAMU throughout the history of the state and the lives of everyone of them.


October 10th, 2011 at 5:44 PM ^

... and all along I thought it was because all their students were just rejected from UM at a young age. 

Oh wait, it is that. 

The rest just sounds like "an unconscious defense mechanism in which perceived controversial behaviors or feelings are logically justified and explained in a rational or logical manner in order to avoid any true explanation and made consciously tolerable by plausible means".  That's what wiki calls rationalization. 

BOX House

October 10th, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

The author of the article lays out the history of the educational rivalry, but literally everything he mentions happened prior to the 1950's. You can't honestly tell me that those historical events are the reason that anyone born after the 60's passionately hates Michigan. I'm willing to bet that most of my MSU friends don't even know about those historical events.

It's pretty simple: MSU fans hate us because that's what they're taught to do in East Lansing, and because, like it or not, a lot of them didn't get into Michigan (though I do know some who did get in, too).  I sometimes get the feeling that MSU students have to go through some sort of "hate-Michigan" session at orientation. 


October 11th, 2011 at 1:59 AM ^

Not all Sparties are the super-aggressive fanboys, but there is a severe lean toward the "bro" culture in East Lansing. Those guys carry the most hatred for Michigan because they follow the crowd the most. The "bro" I'm referring to brags about having the cops come teargas his apartment complex party. He probably plays way too much Xbox for his own good. He likely didn't get into Michigan due to his lack of effort in high school, presumably due to his desire to be in the popular clique or play Xbox. He will complain about all calls, deny any attempts to reasonably argue, complain about lack of class when losing, and do the exact opposite in the unlikely event he wins. He perpetuates the little brother stereotype who only wants recognition in the shadows of the older, more successful brother, and will fight at the expense of himself to gain it.

I have met far too many people all fitting this description at MSU. Michigan has its share of "bro"s as well, but with the higher standards of acceptance, lots of them don't make the cut. Also, the higher proportion of out-of-staters definitely helps.


October 11th, 2011 at 7:10 AM ^

Bob has always hated his older, more successful neighbor.  One day, Bob's mom tells Bob that his neighbor is in fact the OB that told her she should terminate her pregnancy when she was pregnant with Bob.  Now Bob knows why he always hated that guy.  Seriously?

Before this blog post on TOC, <1% of the Sparties knew anything about this.  Now 100% of the Sparties  that read it are sure this validates their hatred of Michigan.


October 10th, 2011 at 5:54 PM ^

All the incidents in that article were typical bureaucratic turf wars. UM's actions as described were transparently self-serving but I suspect they were hardly unique and that Alabama did similar things to Auburn, Texas to Texas A&M, Iowa to Iowa State, etc. 

Hardware Sushi

October 10th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

I read the first few sections and he was only citing Kuhn up to page 7. I was starting to wonder if it was a picture book.

That's the next-level shit James Madison College is all about.


October 10th, 2011 at 6:32 PM ^

I think I have seen this guy's work before... wasn't he on the production team for "Birth of a Nation"? (misinterpretation/portrayal of history, not racism of course) That is some nice cherry-picking of history right there...

He ignores that UM has not established a veterinary school, does not teach certain languages, and arranges programs alongside MSU simply to ensure that there isn't too much overlap and competition.  UM goes out of its way to prevent conflict by not assigning its massively superior resources to overtaking the programs that MSU has hung its hat on since its inception.  Michigan has allowed MSU to have its niche programs that draws students there, that type of cooperation is entirely ignored and continues to this day.


October 10th, 2011 at 6:48 PM ^

I am trying to imagine the average MSU student walking up to a Michigan student now and berating them because Michigan objected to a change of name over fifty years ago, and the attempted heist of THEIR forestry program, not to mention Michigan's blase attitude about their entrance into the Big Ten, blah blah blah. 

I am not succeeding in this imagining. 

Blue in Seattle

October 10th, 2011 at 7:05 PM ^

I didn't know any of that history. Wich means the rivalry I feel has nothing to do with whether or not there was a lot of competition for state funds to grow one university or the other. In fact, I just grew up knowing that if you wanted to do anything but veterinary, farming or landscaping as a career, your should try to get into Michigan. Then in the four years while attending college, if there was any conflict when someone asked my what college I attended, it usually started from a Spartan who immediately assumed I thought I was personally better. But for the most part the discussion was "MSU is the better party school, and has better looking women." I never really knew how to prove or disprove this, or really cared. Michigan seemed to have both enough parties and pretty women for my needs.

As far as the football rivalry goes, in the Bo era, Michigan has mostly won. When they did not it seemed to be that the Spartans had put a pretty good team together. And I would constantly hear about it from Spartan friends until the following year. But then again, I'm not a fan who gloats, or lives for smack talk. I just like watching the games. Now the games are more exciting, since there is a win streak that needs breaking and since they are a division rival. Considering that the UM solar car team is openly sharing information with MSU, I think these old stories where people twist their mustaches (yep go read the article, and it isn't used as a joke or metaphor) can be left behind as the sensational twist on the history. (I especially like the description of how they "know" Micigan voted against MSU joining the Big Ten, but that it was reported falsely. I mean how do you know things without evidence?)

Anyway, I hope we win, I hope it's a good effort by Michigan, and then We can look towards the rest of the games this year. An extra benefit will be tha no one will be gloating about how many days it's been since the last win. Gloating I guess is something you get to do when you're not arrogant.


October 11th, 2011 at 7:29 AM ^

I, too, missed the part where Tappan twisted his menacing 'stache and said, "We must corner the forestry program market and claim that land grant or we will certainly lose the hot party chicks."

Believe it or not, Sparties, I actually went to Michigan on the advice of a Ferris State college professor who said I should transfer if I could get into Michigan's B-school because it would give me greater opportunities in life. Whether MSU was a better party school or had "hotter" women never came up because she was concerned about advising me about my path to success in life and not just the next couple of years.

Michigan Arrogance

October 10th, 2011 at 7:28 PM ^


Srsly tho, if CMU applied for admittance to the B10, I'm not sure MSU would be too thrilled. UM acted in it's own best interests and has been a good professional partner with MSU and WSU and the other state schools for decades.



October 10th, 2011 at 7:45 PM ^

Speaking from personal experience, NONE of the Spartan fans I know, be it friends, family friends, or my own parents, know anything about the stuff in this article. It's a big strech to say that the rivalry is deeply rooted in the actions of UM, especially when one realizes that the story is similar is just about every state with a dominant University. 

Like it or not. =P


October 10th, 2011 at 8:00 PM ^

Other than the "ANGAR I hate Michigan" slant, it does give an interesting recap of the politics behind the young state of Michigan, and the politics involved at the local level of getting funded provided by the Morril Act. In high school I remember learning about the fight between the Whigs/Republicans and Democrats over what ended up being the Morrill Act - and the fact that it was only able to be passed when the Southern Democrats left Congress for the Civil War. But I'd never heard about the local side of things.

Funding was clearly a problem for the UofM and EMU - which is why MSU was formed. As Michigan got on solid financial footing, they expanded from a liberal arts school and began to include professional degrees like engineering and forestry - and so naturally they tried to acquire the state's land-grant school, which was on weaker financial footing. A large donation ended that. The same thing happened again when MSU's engineering school was on the brink - but another large donation saved them again.

As for the name change "controversy," from this MVictors post ( we know that Western was calling itself "Michigan State" in the 1940s. The author of ToC post points out Eastern was doing the same in the 1850s. Until Sparty appropriated the name for themselves, "Michigan State" was apparently a moniker for any other school in the state that wasn't the flagship. I'd be interested to hear the history of "Michigan State."

Not to say these moves weren't self-serving by Michigan, but I don't think they were "evil." These were political moves made to try to provide top-notch education programs for a young state - and with funding a ton more challenging than it is today. A single university does seem to have some merit as it would streamline a lot of the administrative layers that can eat up a ton of cash.

But I think the end result - of three public research universities in Michigan (including Wayne State) - has been a very good thing for the state, and one of the few economic bright spots of the last decade.


October 10th, 2011 at 9:43 PM ^

There was actually an op-ed in the News a while back basically saying that all the public universities and colleges in the state should fall under either MSU, UM or Wayne State to save the cost on overhead. As the state's funding for these schools becomes more and more difficult, I hope they are willing to at least look at this as a solution.


October 10th, 2011 at 10:07 PM ^

All we originally wanted to do was fill a gap. Do the work UM wasn't doing, educate the students UM wasn't teaching. It's what we still do. And eventually, yes, we wanted to contribute to the fields that UofM was traditionally strong in too, and become well rounded and nationally respected. And we've done that too. But we've had to do it with the University of Michigan throwing garbage and rocks at us, every step of the way.

to quote Judge Smails:  "Well, the world needs ditch diggers too."


October 10th, 2011 at 11:55 PM ^

I tried to read this, but when I got to the part where I realized the junior high school I attended was named after a "historical Wolverine shithead," I was so filled with shame and remorse that I could no longer read it.


October 11th, 2011 at 12:08 AM ^

Sparty poster seems to take a lot of joy in ripping on the fab 5, but somehow I must have missed his mention of George Perles, of cash payments to recruits, of academic fraud that will forever put an asterisk on MSU's football program's record.  And now George Perles sits on their board of trustees.


October 11th, 2011 at 2:21 AM ^

but it must really suck to be a fan of a school where you have to constantly get defensive about everything - msu academics, national attention, lack of casual fans, etc. The comments section was a real fun read.


"Our school has grown from its simple roots to a university where students can feasibly claim they receive an education among the best in the country"

uh, what?

"UofM's 'wine and cheese crowd"

only sparty bro would hate on wine and cheese