The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Thursday, November 1, 2007 - SA
Rival columnists duke it out
Hello, my Michigan State
friends. I'm back.
You may remember
me from having the same assign-
ment last season - a dueling col-
umn with a Spartan writer, talking
up my school
out your flaws.
I know at
least 147 of you
many hate e-
mails I got. SCOTT
Most of the BELL
ed, some had
threats tied in and a couple (OK,
nearly all) had glaring gram-
Was I upset? Hardly.
To be honest, I was pretty excit-
ed to learn that Moo U had at least
147 quasi-literate students.
But after sifting through all the
hate mail and deleting all of the
extra spam I got when a bunch of
anigry Sparty students signed me
up for ridiculous mailing lists, I
realized why I was actually pretty
excited to get all that mail (and
no, it has nothing to do with the
spam about refinancing my home).
And I have to admit, it was fun
at first. Cute, even.
Who doesn't have a special spot
in his heart for a bunch of loyalty-
blinded fans standing up for their
joke of a team. I'm a Lions fan. I
know how it goes.
But the cuteness is rub-
bing off. At some point,
reality needs to set in.
So, on this 100th
schools (I almost
said that with a
I swear), I
no longer a
phy? Keep it.
We didn't want it
in 1953 when then-
Governor G. Mennen
two teams play for it in
hopes that people actually
care about the game.
Fifty-five years have
passed, but one thing
remains the same: We still
We already play a pretty
awful team (Minnesota) for
a trophy - the Little Brown
Jug - and that, at least, has
some real history behind it.
We already have a rivalry
with ateam with actual tra-
dition (Notre Dame).
And we already have a
rivalry with a team that's
actually good (Ohio State).
Sorry, there's no room for
little brother anymore.
Plenty of teams have bet-
ter records against us than
Penn, Princeton, Syra-
cuse, Washington - we
lead all four of these teams in our
all-time series', but each is a lot
closer than you are.
I'd list more teams that have
better records against us than you
do, but I'd run out of space.
Instead, I'll use this space to
remind you rioting isn't a major,
crushing beer cans over your head
isn't a minor and there's more to
do on a Friday night than burning
But I'm a uniter, not a divider
- let's part from this rivalry on
We can remember all the fun
times, like all one of your wins this
century (a tainted one, but hey,
you'll take what you can get).
But you need to hold up your
end of the bargain, too. You need
to let big brother go play with the
big boys. Don't go pouting, though
- this could be a blessing in dis-
If you can get over your small-
man syndrome and reevaluate
yourselves, you could find a great
niche. Being a slightly below-aver-
age Big Ten team is nothing to
scoff at (well, at least according to
And maybe you can get a win-
nable rivalry out of this, too.
Give Lansing Community Col-
lege a shot. You live close to them,
according to you guys, that's crite-
ria for a rivalry right there. Your
Mark Dantonio could get a clock
counting down to it, too. Now
we're onto something!
So repeat after me: You're not
our rivals. You're not our equals.
You're like an obsessed ex-girl-
We're dumping you -
leave us alone.
But like any reasonable
ex-boyfriend, we'll give you
a chance to redeem your-
Show up on Saturday.
Throw all the stupid count-
down clocks out the win-
dow and just try to make it
Maybe little brother can show
Or, more likely, you'll see why
this "rivalry" is just another
- Scott Bell is a football writer and
the managing s ports editor for The
Michigan Daily. His spam filters are
prepared for the barrage ofte-mails
you can send to email@example.com.
B lack 2001 Saturn SC2. won the National Championship
That's the car I drive (and when I say "I believe," I mean
- and if Michigan State "We did").
beats Michigan, look for iton Main You will callus uneducated farm
Street, blast- hands, and I stress that yes, our
ing the Michi- university does have an agricul-
gan State fight tural program - but we're good at
song. it. And hey, if we're farm hands, at
There's my # least we go to college for it, unlike
picture (out- the millions of Wal-Mart Wolver-
dated, but my ines out there. Oh, and how is that
picture none- journalism degree working out?
theless), right ZACK You will call us thugs, cit-
by the headline ing senior linebacker SirDarean
of this column. COLM AN Adams and sophomore cornerback
Look for me in T.J. Williams's unarmed robbery
that car. charge. You won't get a response
And here's another bit of con- to that because, well, really, I don't
tact information: colmanzl@msu. have one.
edu. That's my e-mail address, and Congratulations, you got one
I don't want to take the chance of point over me.
you missing it at the bottom of this You should thank me, though.
column. You needed to be taken down a
If Michigan State loses - well, peg or two. The State News foot-
tough luck. It's not like we're not ball reporter from last year, Ethan
used to it. But Michigan isn't used Conley, was just too nice to Michi-
to losing. I will drink Wolverine gan fans. He was "fresh out
tears as if it was the sweetest nec- of ammunition," as he
tar in the world. penned in his col-
Let me debunk the ad hominem umn. Well, I've got
attacks by Michigan Daily colum- an M-
nist Scott Bell last year that will
probably be, in some way, recycled.
(for lack of creativity) in this year's
Michigan Daily column.
You will callus stupid, but
at least I chose to attend a
al journalism degree.
You will call us
drunkards and drug
addicts, but what
You will -call
us pathetic in the
realm of football, evi- denced
by the 66-28-5 all-time series
record in favor of Michigan. That's 16 with an
all nice, and it's a fun statistic to ample sup-
use, especially when you don't ply of ammu-
recognize the fact that Michigan nition.
was in the Big Ten a whole 53 years And look at that
before Michigan State. The series - I did all of this without an
is lopsided since 1953 but consider- Appalachian State joke.
ably less so: 33-19-2 in favor of the This seems awfully boastful
Wolverines. for the state of Michigan's eternal
You will call us ignorant for football underdog. But hey, Ican do
using the line, "Just wait until bas- that. There are no repercussions
ketball season" if we lose. But isn't for Spartans fans or me because, by
it all relative? Wouldn't you say all accounts, Michigan State should
that, too, if the tables were turned? lose this football game.
Don't even think about refuting But if it doesn't...
that. Oh, and how did your hockey Imagine the hysteria in Spartan
team do last year? I believe ours Stadium. No, we're not Michigan's
biggest rival, but Michigan is our
biggest rival. If I were a Wolver-
ines fan, I'd shut my cell phone off
if the final second (or second-and-
a-half) rolls off the clock with the
Sheer bliss. That's what a Michi-
gan State victory would be.
Maybe it's a little sad that at
least a major portion of a lackluster
season can be salvaged by one win.
But we're used to football disap-
And, truthfully, we're easy to
pick on for paling in comparison
to the Wolverines' football prow-
ess. We're easy to pick on for cit-
ing close games we lose as a mark
of improvement. We're easy to
pick on because, in all likelihood,
Michigan State will lose this game.
Actually, you probably don't even
need to watch the game because
the victor will almost certainly be
But if you don't watch the game,
look for that black 2001 Saturn
SC-2 and listen for the Michi-
gan State fight song - that
should give you some indi-
cation who wins.
hear it, I'll put'shy wind-
shield wipers on.
Given the circum-
stances, the Ann
Arbor forecast is
sure to be a tor-
Trophy has a history as big as its namesake
By JACK HERMAN
Daily Sports Editor
The first time Michigan won the
Paul Bunyan Trophy, the Wolver-
ines cared so little, they didn't even
engrave it. If Michigan had its way,
the award probably wouldn't even
But if you want to hear the story
behind the unwanted trophy, don't
ask Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
"I have no idea," Carr said when
asked why Michigan and Michi-
gan State play for the trophy. "I've
never researched that, and I don't
think I will."
By not looking, Carr is missing a
history full of controversy, politi-
cal intrigue and even a little cam-
pus mischief dating back to 1953,
when the four-foot statue of leg-
endary logger Paul Bunyan stand-
ing on a map of Michigan atop a
five-foot stand was first conceived.
But if you took a trip through The
Michigan Daily archives, you
would find some fascinating sto-
ries surrounding the trophy's ear-
liest years collected here.
A bumpy start
The trophy's origins rest with
a rivalry just as, if not more, bit-
ter than today's. Despite playing
the Spartans all but two years
since 1910, Michigan had fought
year after year to keep its intra-
state rival out of the Big Ten. But
in 1953, Michigan State was finally
admitted to the conference.
About a month before that year's
matchup, Gov. G. Mennen Wil-
liams took the advice of a reporter
and proposed the teams play for
the Governor's Trophy in honor of
their first game as Big Ten oppo-
nents. He commissioned a Chicago
jeweler to carve the $1,400 trophy
- designed to symbolize the rival-
ry - out of wood.
That idea thrilled the Spar-
tans' athletic department, but not
the Wolverines'. Some worried it
would reduce the excitement of
playing for the Little Brown Jug.
Purists in student government and
on the football team argued tro-
phies should spring spontaneously
and from students.
Politics muddied the trophy,
too. State Republicans called it a
"typical Williams political trick."
They said Williams's proposed
one-minute unveiling prior to the
game was just an excuse to appear
in front of the national TV audi-
ence. Cameras ended up not show-
ing the trophy before the game.
Although a Fritz Crisler-led
Board in Control of Student Ath-
letics suspiciously stalled in hold-
ing a vote to approve the trophy,
an assistant to the governor said
Michigan would accept it if it won
the game. To this day, Michigan
insists it would have refused. In
either case, history will never
know the answer. Spartans 14,
An unwanted reward
Controversy continued head-
ing into the 1954 game. Crisler
refused to say whether Michigan
would accept the trophy, claiming
there were too many "ifs" in win-
ning. After Michigan won 33-7 in
Ann Arbor, it left the trophy on
the field for half an hour, appar-
ently not realizing it actually had
to keep it.
"We'll find a place for the tro-
phy," Crisler told The Michigan
Daily after game.
And not much else.
Whereas Michigan State cen-
trally featured the trophy in Jeni-
son Field House, Michigan kept it
in the locker room. It said it had no
Even after winning the trophy
the next year, the Wolverines did
not engrave their winning scores.
So intent to kindle the tradition, in
1956, the victorious Spartans did it
Caught in a tie
Believe it or not, things got
worse. In 1958, the teams tied.
Still thumbing its nose at the
ugly mass, Michigan refused to
take it. The heavily favored Spar-
tans were so embarrassed they
didn't win, they wouldn't either
(eventually they relented). The
Daily labeled the trophy a flop.
If a trophy goes missing, will
Although the Paul Bunyan Tro-
phy is not as loved as the Brown
Jug, the two do have one thing in
common: At one time or another,
the Michigan Athletic Department
lost each of them. No one knows
why the Little Brown Jug disap-
peared for atime in the 1930s. Paul
Bunyan was taken as a joke.
On Jan. 10, 1955, Michigan's
equipment manager discovered
the trophy missing. In a note
sent to Michigan State's student
newspaper, a group of supposed
Michigan State (then College)
students calling themselves
"Operation Rescue" claimed to
have taken it to save it from the
"shabby" treatment it received in
By the end of the week, though,
The Michigan Daily uncovered
the truth: Michigan students had
taken it asa prank.
But even absence could not
make the heart grow fonder. As the
Daily later quipped, "Fortunately
or unfortunately (it is a matter of
debate)," the trophy reappeared in
time for the game.
A trophy forgotten?
By the early 1960s, contempt for
the trophy appeared to die, but
no excitement bubbled. For years
after, stories in the Daily, even
those specifically about the inten-
sity of the rivalry, make no men-
tion of the trophy.
Today, players and coaches say
they want to win the trophy even
if it is one of the ugliest in college
But with the trophy's checkered
past, perhaps it's no wonder Carr
doesn't (or won't aldmit to) know
the story behind it.