It’s OK, U-M Fans, You Can Say It —Michigan State Is Michigan’s Biggest Rival
Denying Michigan State validation is just as integral to the Michigan experience as reverentially avoiding stepping on the block "M" on the Diag, regularly self-indulging at Zingerman's Deli, and losing seemingly every postseason football game you're involved in.
U-M can't acknowledge MSU. That would legitimize Little Brother, and we just can't have that. Can you imagine the slack-jawed country bumpkins in East Lansing claiming credibility as contemporaries of The Harvard of the West™?
Michigan gets off on triggering State's inferiority complex. It's probably the most venerated, time-honored tradition in Ann Arbor.
That's what makes U-M running back Blake Corum's comments about That School That Michigan Totally Doesn't Regard Let Alone Respect As An Equal Therefore Disqualifying It Even From Consideration As The Wolverines' Chief Antagonist so interesting (and, for the U-M side, problematic).
Sometimes I think it’s the [Michigan State rivalry is the bigger] one because that’s the bragging rights in the state that you live in and the state that you go to school in for the rest of the year.
Oh boy. Corum went and said the quiet part out loud.
It's really no surprise to anyone paying attention. Michigan hasn't exactly kept their near-pathological preoccupation with MSU hidden recently.
To wit: The Wolverines are amid their best run in a half-century, embarking on a very real national championship chase, and yet their fans are more concerned with policing Spartans about who they can and can't want as their next football coach while simultaneously lecturing MSU from the Guinness Book of World Records' biggest imaginary place of moral superiority.
(Sidebar: You've really gotta give it up to Michigan. Their football program is beset on all sides by cheating scandals, their head coach is under NCAA investigation himself, they have team captains doing 50 mph in 25 mph subdivisions while packing illegal heat and so much ammo that Rambo would say, "Woah, too far" only to face exactly zero consequences, an offensive coordinator who was mysteriously fired 10 months ago for alleged "computer access crimes" that led federal authorities to reenact a scene out of "Goodfellas" at his house, a running back who went virtually unchecked for promoting outright antisemitism, a basketball coach who can't keep his hands to himself, a hockey program with cultural problems that would make Kanye West blush, an athletic director who is somehow still gainfully employed despite presiding over more scandal and controversy than a politician from Illinois, a campus that still bears the name and likeness of a man who's been credibly accused by several former football players of enabling and covering up a serial sexual predator for four decades, and a university that's coming off a more recent and worse sex abuse scandal than MSU's with Larry Nassar that's actually directly tied to the football program. And despite all of that, U-M fans have appointed themselves as State's official sponsor to hold MSU to account. Their clinical obliviousness to their complete and utter absence of credibility here is legitimately astonishing. It should be studied at the world's leading institutions on cognitive dissonance. Seriously. Michigan ought to petition the NCAA to officially sanction pathologically shameless hypocrisy as a sport. Then they might be able to call themselves the leaders and best at something and actually not be entirely full of shit for once.)
It's the official position of the University of Michigan that MSU can't have nice things, whether it's a football coach who isn't completely in over his head or recognition as a primary rival. But that doesn't change the reality that U-M has been more obsessed with Michigan State than OSU for a while now. Deep down, Michigan fans know it's true. Even you! Yes, you — the Walmart Wolverine reading these words right now, wishing you could reach through the screen and strangle me, thereby proving me right. That furious, turbulent feeling you've sensed coursing through your veins ever since you began reading this article is further confirmation.
Why not just admit it, Michigan fans? It's OK to do. Nothing will change. Except, of course, that false sense of superiority you've constructed through your superficial relationship with a university you share no tangible connection to. You know, the thing your entire identity is predicated on, the only remaining bright spot in your otherwise hollow, purposeless existence.
Don't worry. You don't have to concede it. There's a preponderance of evidence proving MSU is landlord of the real estate between the ears of every Michigan player, coach, alum, supporter, and fan.