Landslide: Confessions and Carnage in Ann Arbor

My Dearest Sparty,

There is a thought, amongst a certain type of quadragenarian, detached Michigan football fan, that the rivalry between my beloved Wolverines and your Michigan State Spartans is worth little, or no consideration; that indeed this “rivalry” exists only inside Sparty’s insecure, covetous hive-mind, as a way to pass time before his precious basketball season begins. To be strictly fair, there have certainly been times in the glorious history of the Michigan football program where this has been absolutely fucking true; there’s a reason MSU students celebrate “Hate Week” in the lead up to the Michigan game, while their counterparts in Ann Arbor choose to celebrate that most blessed of college football traditions only against the Ohio State Fuckeyes – if they deign to invoke the phrase at all.

“One and Six? Against State?! Bo smash!”

Unfortunately for those of us raised on the gospel of the mighty and wise Schembechler however, our protestations of State’s obvious unworthiness to breathe the same air as Michigan, do ring somewhat hollow when you’re on the wrong goddamn side of a one and six record in this game since the Caesar-esque fall of serial Spartan slayer, Lloyd Carr. You remember Lloyd Carr don’t you Sparty? Ten and three overall in our little inter-state square dance – of course you do, forgive me for asking. As I was saying; no my dear friends, no matter our arrogance and open disdain for all things Sparty on the outside, the truth is that the past seven years have not been a spectacular goddamn time to be on the maize and blue side of the war between the people of the burr oak and those of the red cedar. There is a deep-seated, soul shattering fear and loathing inside the Michigan fan base; a sense that the entire order of the bloody universe has somehow been upturned by deals with the devil for the likes of Rich Rodriguez and a hasty shotgun marriage to a depressing fat failure vaguely connected to our prior, glorious history. We are, to borrow a phrase from a fellow wayward drifter, hopelessly in love with the past, “way down in the hole.”

Further adding to our excruciating pain, and perhaps not coincidentally, the fall of Michigan as even a quasi-relevant goddamn national football power has coincided with the steady, workmanlike rise of the wretched, downtrodden enemy we never deigned to consider – your Michigan State Spartans. It would of course, be too much to state that Michigan fans envy Spartan nation; when you’re the winningest mutherfucking program in college football history, you don’t envy anyone for fuck’s sake. It would however, be fair to say that hidden inside every wise crack about agricultural schools, couch-burning townies and the educational standards of a State college, there is an overwhelming frustration and bitterness that improbably if not impossibly, Sparty has managed to usurp our rightful place as the northern power in the natural hierarchy of college football – however temporarily, or surprisingly not temporarily as our current drought drags onward; a never ending, multi-coach, carnival of humiliation and righteous indignation from which there appears to be no escape.

Gaze upon our champion and know fear Sparty
Gaze upon our champion and know fear Sparty

This past Saturday afternoon, as you are no doubt already aware, another chapter and one of the most dramatic (or traumatic, depending on your point of view) finishes in the annuls of college football history was added to our little pigskin disagreement. I will spare you the fanatical, lunatic ravings of a devoted Harbaugh worshiper with the exception of noting that we believe in Jim, and we are fully goddamn aware that you rightfully fear him in a way that you never feared oily, bloviating imposters like Rich Rod and Brady fucking Hoke. I say this not to insult you, but to explain that we went into that damn game with a tremendous outpouring of hope, if not certainty, that we would finally beat you mutherfuckers and restore the balance of state football supremacy.

Furthermore, I will also spare you the intricacies of comparing and contrasting each of the stunning myriad of obviously blown calls by the group of mind-blowing incompetents the Big 10 sent to officiate our football match. You know full well that Joe Boldin’s accidentally-on-purpose love tap on Conner Cook should never in a million fucking years have lead to a targeting ejection; I know that our secondary was clinging to Burbridge like groupies trying to fuck a rap artist on almost every other third down pass in the second half. I will, of course, insist that you be uncharacteristically reasonable enough to admit that the horrid officiating hurt the Wolverines more than the Spartans in the final analysis, but I will concede that it was a function of the crew’s overall gob-smacking ineptitude rather than any open attempt to influence the results of the game. I will not blame the loss on the goddamn refs however; real champions know better than the place the outcome of the game in the hands of our conference’s notoriously abysmal officials in the first place and as my favorite Doctor of Journalism once opined – if you “buy the ticket, you take the ride.”

Chin up son, there will be brighter days than this
No shame, but for one play O’Neill was our best weapon all day

Finally, my dearest Sparty, I will spare you the official blow by blow recounting of a game that we both watched in rapt fascination. Inside each of our still-inflamed, blackened hearts, we both know the truth of what went down this Saturday and what it means for the rest of the season. Through grinding perseverance and in the most miraculous, chaotic, improbable way possible, you somehow won that thrice-cursed game. I will not stand here and declare you unworthy champions, the scoreboard tells few lies and the post-Carr tally now stands at one and seven. What I will tell you, my green and white companion, are things that deep in your terrified psyche, you already know:

  • If the long-snapper gets that ball to Blake O’Neill cleanly, we almost assuredly beat you.
  • If O’Neil catches that snap, we almost assuredly beat you.
  • If the goddamn punter simply falls on the ball, we almost assuredly beat you.
  • If Harbaugh just decides to fucking go for it on 4th and 2 with Smith up the middle, we almost assuredly beat you.
  • If Jourdan Lewis had won that absurd 50/50 ball against Burbridge late in the 4th quarter, we almost assuredly beat you.
  • If, after six and a half weeks of goddamn practice, the quarterback-like substance known as Jake Rudock could finally hit a mutherfucking wide open streak pattern, we almost assuredly beat you.
Dear Big 10, this shit is on like Donkey Kong - make your time.
Dear Big 10, this shit is on like Donkey Kong – make your time.

I say these things not to impugn your beloved Spartans as the luckiest goddamn bastards in the state of Michigan, despite my desperate, rage-inspired temptation to do precisely that. We both know however, that nothing can take away MSU’s win this past weekend, so I will not insult your intelligence, be it as it may, by suggesting otherwise. No, I say them to remind you that the mutherfucking party is officially over Sparty – there will be no more embarrassingly easy wins against an over-proud, underprepared mockery of all that Wolverines football fans hold sacred. If there ever was a time when Michigan looked past your heathen hides and towards more promising prey in the state of Ohio; that time is fucking over my friends – the vengeful, slightly wounded look in Harbaugh’s furious eyes after the game all but guarantees it. When, not if, but when, Michigan defeats the goddamn Fuckeyes at the end of this season; every man, woman, and mutherfucking house pet attached in some way, emotionally or officially, with the football program will stop and think of you Sparty, and finally, after all this time – their hearts will be filled with hate.

In closing, I should like to say that I write you this letter at grave peril to both my psychological well-being and my personal self esteem; but also in the interest of full and honest disclosure – for if we are to have a war, a true and open conflict of college football fanaticism, it is important that you and I comprehend the essential truth of our now shared malice. I want you to understand, in whatever crude way your kind is capable, that I do in fact, now hate you Sparty; with every cell in my body, nay, with the very mutherfucking core of my being, I detest and despise you. I proudly present to you, Michigan State football, my full and unrelenting, spiteful enmity. You wanted a rivalry, you wanted Wolverine nation to care as much about you as they do Ohio State – oh boy do you got it, brother who’s apparently not so fucking little anymore. I wish you the kind of ill only having someone march into your own stadium and destroy your title hopes on national TV can bring a fan base Sparty. Enjoy your moment, take care of your wounded and salt your fucking fields MSU, because the turning of the worm is nigh at hand – three hundred and sixty-two days and counting; the Wolverines are coming for vengeance on a wave of righteous fury. Game on Sparty; game fucking on.

Yours with unwavering animosity,

Nina Illingworth