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A tale of two state schools

Andrew Digan | Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hail to the victors!

Victory for MSU!

We have heard both these phrases under losing circumstances.

I have witnessed the Irish battle Michigan and Michigan State in their respective backyards. I have always regarded our two neighbors to the north as bitter rivals and never knew whom to root for when they played each other.

Now, I have a team to root for in the annual Michigan-Michigan State game.

Go Wolverines!

Before all Irish fans reading this jump on me like the Oklahoma State coach at a press conference, let me make one thing clear. Notre Dame will always be my favorite team. Always.

Instead of hoping for a tie or nuclear holocaust at a Spartans-Wolverines game, I will be rooting for Michigan for the same reason we go to college: class (right?).

At the Big House last week, I witnessed a terrible blowout loss while surrounded by Michigan fans in an area close to the Michigan student section.

When your team loses 38-0 to one of your bitter rivals in their house, you expect a chorus of taunting and single fingers showing you who really is number one. Yet I did not hear a single negative comment from Michigan fans.

I sat next to a man who did not attend Michigan but made the trip up from St. Louis to cheer on the Wolverines. I ended up talking to him the entire game.

Our conversation transitioned from the ineptitude of the Irish offense to my plans after graduation this May.

At the end of the game, my new Wolverine companion gave me his cell phone number and offered me free hospitality if I ever visited his beloved St. Louis.

Rewind one year, back to Spartan Stadium last September.

As we sat in the second row from the top at Spartan Stadium, my friends and I could barely finish our sentences as we were verbally pelted by taunts, mocking our quarterback’s looks, our coach’s waistline, and even the mural on our library.

Sailors don’t hear as many four-letter words as we did over those three plus hours in the rain. And it wasn’t even MSU students digging deep into their dictionaries, bombarding us with locker-room-level language.

They were middle-aged people, senior citizens, and even kids. I think any fan in a diaper discovered their favorite four-letter word that night.

Back to this past Saturday. As I made the trek to Notre Dame Stadium, I walked with three MSU students who began lightheartedly mocking The Shirt.

After a civil discussion about the game with the three Spartan students, I wished them luck. They reciprocated but stated that ND has something that Michigan State lacks: sportsmanship.

The respect I received in the Big House and the utter disrespect I found at Spartan Stadium brought my Great Lakes State football allegiances to Ann Arbor.

Nevertheless, I hope Michigan goes 1-11 every year. Just as long as they beat the Spartans.