The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is a fierce one with genuine hate and good reason for hate. In the latest clash, the Wolverines came into East Lansing and decimated the Spartans, 21-7. Jim Harbaugh’s defense held their hated neighbors to fewer than 100 yards.
The enormous and long-elusive ranked road win has been brought back to Ann Arbor. Michigan has a real chance to win the Big Ten, make the College Football Playoff and win a national championship. And they’re still talking about a pregame dust up in which several Wolverines became entangled with MSU players during the traditional Spartan Walk.
Because both sides refuse to grow up and be the bigger man. Or bigger brother. Harbaugh seems most aggrieved, turning a molehill into a mountain during today’s media availability.
“When you host a team, both teams, you share the field. Each has a sideline, each has a half of the field to warm up on. And then Michigan State locked arms and used every inch of the field in their walk with the attempt of going through or over our guys in a physical manner. To call that unsportsmanlike or to call that bush league is putting it mildly,” said Harbaugh, who pulled out a piece of paper with prepared words on them during his Monday press conference. “That could’ve been a real unfortunate incident. And as I said, it’s the opposite of B.S. Coach (Dantonio) said that was BS. But that’s not BS. That’s fact. I think that’s something now the two athletic directors really need to get together and talk about.
“I’ll go one step further and use Coach Dantonio’s words from a few years back. It’s not a product of the team but their program. Again, that’s using his words. That could’ve been an unfortunate deal. And I’m proud of our guys for keeping their cool.”
Again, no one was maimed pregame. There was some light shoving and Devin Bushcleated a painted logo midfield. There were no injuries — except those to feelings.
Here’s the dirty little secret. That conflict happened because both sides wanted it to happen. There were plenty of opportunities to deescalate. Michigan could have moved. Michigan State could have allowed them to move, or avoided them. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to understand the added pregame fire was meant to be fuel.
Maybe, just maybe, we can all be adults and admit it. Dantonio hates Michigan. Harbaugh hates Michigan State. Brothers fight and they choose fighting over constructive dialogue.
To the victors going the spoils.
State fans have been wanting their counterparts to feel the same hatred they’ve felt. Well, be careful what you wish for. It takes a big man to admit it, but I will admit it. Michigan owns the state and will for some time. The rivalry has never been fiercer. And that’s good. This is supposed to be a war.
The Wolverines delivered a fatal blow and have no business playing the victim. If Dantonio and company don’t want Michigan coming into their place and disrespecting them, then show it on the field. The green-and-white didn’t look too interested in defending their turf against Northwestern earlier this year.
So enough already. There was some jawing and sparring but only one team left with a black eye. Michigan should focus on how good their fist feels. And State should stop talking or risk getting another puffy eye on the other side.