Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obsession.

One of the most arrogant things about the internet portion of the Michigan fanbase is whenever somebody points out how many topics are about Michigan at any given time on a Michigan State message board. It's the old joke about how Sparty is always obsessed with Michigan and would rather see Michigan fail rather than see their own team succeed.

Well, right now, at The Fort, Michigan's premium Rivals message board, there are roughly 30 topics about Michigan State. Now obviously, this isn't the norm, and I WOULD guess that on any normal day, there are more UM topics on MSU message boards than vice versa...but obsession goes both ways.

So, the big debate is was it proper for Michigan fans to cheer for Michigan State against Louisville in the Elite Eight? One side says that an MSU win would bolster the image of the Big Ten in the media, and that would be beneficial for everybody. The other side says that MSU playing in the Final Four in Detroit is damaging to John Beilein's efforts at rebuilding Michigan. I tend to lean toward the latter argument. Michigan and Michigan State always battle over top basketball prospects in the state of Michigan, and in the city of Detroit in particular. MSU, naturally, has won the vast majority of these battles over the past dozen years. So the thing is, how does this effect things? When MSU went to the Final Four in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2005, it didn't really matter, because Michigan was in the toilet anyway; MSU was going to win those recruiting battles no matter what. But now that Michigan is on its way back, and the fact that the Final Four is right there in Detroit...does it matter? Does it really make a difference to guys like Trey Zeigler and Ray McCallum? There might not be a way to tell. If pushed for an answer, I'd guess that the effect is minimal. MSU is already very high on the minds of all the kids in Detroit and elsewhere in the state. If MSU getting to the Final Four is the event that pushes some of those kids to commit to State, then they're obviously the kind of kids that want to go to the established program instead of the building program, and that means Michigan didn't have much of a chance at them anyway.

But there is another aspect of this whole thing, and this is where I have much more resolve. This whole "cheering for the conference business". Ask yourself, do you think MSU fans were rooting for Michigan in the 1998 Rose Bowl? Do you think they wanted Michigan to win a national championship because it was good for the conference? Do you think they weren't cheering for USC and Texas against Michigan in recent Rose Bowls? Do you think they felt bad for Michigan during last year's 3-9 nightmare? Do you think they're upset when Michigan loses or misses out on a recruit because that's bad for the Big Ten? Do you think they were depressed when Michigan basketball was exposed by the rolling SUV and had to remove the banners?

The answer to all of the above is "hell no". MSU fans don't just want Michigan to fail. They want Michigan to fail in the most public, spectacular, and humiliating way possible. That's why Mike Hart called them "Little Brother". That's why the MSU Rivals site employs people who rank William Campbell as the 12th best player in the state and launch personal attacks on recruits who commit to Michigan. They cater to the fringe element of the Michigan State fanbase. Their lunacy is grotesque and an embarassment to "journalism".

But that works both ways, too. The elitist side of the Michigan fanbase doesn't like to admit it, but the schadenfreude flows freely out of Ann Arbor, too. When Johnelle Smith was in charge in East Lansing, Michigan fans loved it. When Memphis had MSU punched out at halftime last year, Michigan fans loved it. The hatred Michigan fans have for Michigan State is different by design but almost equal in intensity. While MSU fans hate Michigan because there IS a sense of inferiority, Michigan fans hate MSU because of that same maniacal fringe element that is much more vocal in the MSU fanbase than the Michigan side. I'm not saying all MSU fans or even the majority of MSU fans are stark raving mad psychopaths...but they're much more noticeable. It burns MSU people up that they're 3rd on the pecking order of programs Michigan dislikes. It burns Michigan people up that the loonies of the MSU fanbase seem to speak for all of them.

In the end, it's all equal. There is strong dislike on both sides for the other, and personally, I think it's an abomination for a Michigan fan to cheer for Michigan State to get to the Final Four. Not because of anything that may come of this in recruiting, but because MSU fans aren't going to do the same for UM. I cheered for Kansas, I cheered for Louisville, and I'll be cheering for Connecticut. I'm a Michigan fan, not a Big Ten fan, and a Michigan fan doesn't cheer for Michigan State.

5 comments:

MMW said...

damn right

Chris in NC said...

I was cheering against them right up to the point when that L'ville player blocked the shot and stood in the corner and glared like he was something. At that point, I switched. Nothing irks me more than the "it's all about me" crap mentality in the "stars" playing. When he stood there for at least 5-10 seconds with this "i'm bad" look on his face, I wanted to see him lose and lose badly.

I agree with you and I'll be cheering UConn because 1, they aren't state and 2, they are a class team with class fans. But if one of their players does that "it's all about me thing" I'll switch in a heartbeat.

Lankownia said...

"because MSU fans aren't going to do the same for UM"...

I'm better than an MSU fan. I can root for them whenever they aren't playing THE University in Michigan.

Steven said...

In all other years, I wouldn't care all that much either way. But, this year, I think it's good for the entire state of Michigan to have MSU doing well when the final four is being played in Detroit. A small "pick me up" of sorts for the residents of MI and those of us who would like to see MI recover sooner rather than later.

LC David said...

I don't believe Michigan fans hate MSU only because of his termination, now other players are there every body have always more then one choices always not depends on one, not full expectation from one, it always diversify..
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