Fact of Michigan life: University of Michigan people hate Michigan State people, and vice versa. Of course this is an overgeneralization, but it’s a big, big rivalry. (Are you listening, Ohio State? People just don’t care all that much about you.) The differences break down along the usual lines, but the shorthand version is this:

U of M people are effete, nose-in-the-air, self-satisfied liberal intellectuals who think Ann Arbor is really just a smaller, snowier version of Athens (Greece, that is), and that they, as its residents, are so, so special.

MSU people are knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing lummoxes whose interests range from hockey to football. Anyone with a pulse and a nasal Michigan accent can get into MSU. They are, well, the dumb school.

MSU also has a vet school (because they’re so earthy, you know), and most of the vets who practice here went there. The dog had his first vet visit today, and we met the tremendous Dr. Larry. I was giving him the little man’s health history, and mentioned our stay in Ann Arbor, because the vet there had a different philosophy about treating his flea allergies than our Fort Wayne vet. (Short version: She considered our Fort vet a knuckle-dragger.) He listened, chuckled, and mentioned the MSU-UM thing. I told him my favorite Ann Arbor vet story, about when I took the dog in and he was doing his usual waiting-room act, boiling at the end of his short leash, moving back and forth, panting, getting all terrier-ific.

“Excuse me,” another man in the waiting room said. “Would you mind picking your dog up? I would hate for him to arouse my dog’s prey instinct.”

Dr. Larry chortled with satisfaction. “Tell me that again,” he said. “I want to write that one down.”

Grist for amusement at the next alumni gathering, no doubt.

Posted at 1:19 pm in Uncategorized |

15 responses to “Spartans-Wolverines.”

  1. Mindy said on March 3, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    Do Spartans marry Wolverines the way Hoosiers marry Boilermakers? I know so many people who are reasonable folk until IU plays Purdue and the nyahh nyahh nyahh-nyahh nyahhs start. This has kicked the joy out of many a fine winter Saturday over the years, and I pledge no allegiance to either flag.

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  2. John said on March 3, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    lummoxes? or is it lummoxen or even lummoxi?

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  3. alex said on March 3, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    IU and Purdue aren’t all that different, actually, and I can fairly say it as an IU alum. The difference is that IU students are knuckle-dragging partiers and Purdue students are knuckle-dragging geeks. Or, as countless unoriginal wags have written on the stalls of IU’s student union since time immemorial:

    Purdue–where men are men, and the women are too!

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  4. Connie said on March 3, 2005 at 2:30 pm

    Um, OK. I was born at U of mich, my dad was in grad school. I was raised a Michigan fan. My BA is from MSU. My Master’s is from U Mich. I married into a seriously multi-generation MSU alumni family. Upon receiving my master’s I took a job in Upper Arlington (Columbus) Ohio, where I took a great deal of abuse just for having state of Michigan plates on my car. So who do I root for? Whoever is playing Ohio State of course.

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  5. Nance said on March 3, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    Half-breed! That’s all I ever heard

    Half-breed! How I learned to hate the word

    Half-breed! She’s no good, they warned

    Both sides been against me since the day I was born…”

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  6. mark said on March 3, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    Do Spartans marry Wolverines

    Only if their daddy has a shotgun…

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  7. humble reader said on March 3, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    One of my memories from the center of the universe, is the Ann Arbor Cat Clinic-a vet practice that treat only cats.

    Effete Ann Arborites + cat lovers. Oh my.

    I still hold the vision of a middle-aged man, (wearing plaid Burmuda shorts, brown socks and sandals) holding a 20-year old, 80lb. long haired Siamese cat named Fred in the lobbry of the clinic. Seems Fred had a host of medical problems and needed $300 worth of Hills prescription (yes, prescription) cat food.

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  8. jcb said on March 3, 2005 at 3:41 pm

    Some (Ohio University) Bobcats marry Spartans.

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  9. colleen said on March 3, 2005 at 4:22 pm

    so out of curiosity, who was your knuckle dragging Fort vet?

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  10. Nance said on March 3, 2005 at 4:23 pm

    Whenever we see those cat-only clinics — and they are proliferating — Alan mimes a phone call where he rings them up and asks, “Do you take dogs?”

    And then I hiss.


    Our FW vets were the ones at the Westside Animal Clinic, and I never had a single complaint about them. They were competent, on time, friendly and could usually see you the same day.

    The only thing I didn’t understand was why they kept a potted ficus in the waiting room. Spriggy, who normally would rather die than pee indoors, ALWAYS walked right over to that thing and hiked his leg. The receptionist would get her bottle of cleaner and a paper towel and say, “Oh, they all do that.” Which is probably why mine did.

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  11. Jeff said on March 3, 2005 at 4:24 pm

    I thought the standard graffito in Bloomington was “Purdue — where men are men, and sheep are nervous,” speaking of which school has the DVM program (and from which, if not admitted, one applies to the IU Med School as a tolerable second best).

    Pax, Jeff

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  12. harry near indy said on March 3, 2005 at 6:35 pm

    my uncle worked for upjohn in kalamazoo.

    if he doesn’t hate u of mich alumni, he sure as hell dislikes them a lot. he’s called them arrogant.

    i didn’t know it was that strong. the iu-purdue thing is more or less friendly goofing by people — at least with the folks i know, and that’s even when they play each other in football and basketball.

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  13. harry near indy said on March 3, 2005 at 6:37 pm


    my uncle when to a small school in florida for his bachelor’s degree and got his MBA at northwestern. that might explain the grief he got from wolverines.

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  14. Eric Zorn said on March 4, 2005 at 12:40 am

    As a UM alum I can testify that this rivalry/dislike tends to be felt much more strongly in East Lansing than it does in Ann Arbor. They loathe us, we have a patronizing disregard for them. The same is true with the University of Illinois,where one can buy “Muck Fichigan” shirts and detesting Michigan is a hobby because they see us as their big rivals. Heh. We reserve our rivalry energies for Notre Dame and, particularly, Ohio State. We’d much rather beat ND and OSU than MSU.

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  15. Gerry Prokopowicz said on March 6, 2005 at 10:38 am

    OSU, ND, MSU, Wisc-Ill-everybody else is the correct order of UM rivalry. I was recently interviewed in my office by a reporter from my local paper (the Daily Reflector, Greenville, NC- they wanted to know if Lincoln was gay). She saw some U-M item on a shelf and mentioned that she was an Illinois grad. “You guys are our big rivals,” she said brightly, and then added a bit more thoughtfully, “I guess we’re not yours though.” I confirmed this as politely as I could.

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