October 27, 2008
Under normal circumstances, a team like Michigan State, still clinging to reasonable conference championship hopes, would treat a win over a 2-6 bottom dweller on a three-game losing streak -- one of those games to a subpar MAC team -- as just another routine rung on the ladder. When that bottom dweller is Michigan, though, even when the Spartans expect a win, it's never routine:
That Web site, if you didn't catch it, is "MichiganIsOurLittleSister.com," a play on Mike Hart's "Little Brother" jab, which has put up a digital billboard outside a shopping center in East Lansing with the final score of MSU's win in Ann Arbor and customized taunts on a loop for the rest of the week. The site also encourages Spartan partisans to send their Michigan "friends" customized greeting cards, calendars, puzzles, playing cards and the like for Christmas, or, you know, any time you're feeling like a quick, vicarious pick-me-up.
I thoroughly support the idea of intra-state hate mongering in all its non-violent forms, even if it's mainly one-sided hate (it doesn't really make sense to put up a billboard when you win every year, as Michigan had for the last six since 2002; the Wolverines might consider a very tasteful placard campaign when they finally break the string against Ohio State). The real problem here is with the lazy execution. Given decades to stew as "the other team" in the state and at least half a dozen message boards on which to toss around quasi-clever puns, putdowns and interchangeable inbred jokes, the wordsmiths came up with the following:
• "Leaders and Best? In Your Dreams Maybe"
• "Where's the Arrogance Now?"
• "Leaders and Best? Seriously?? Lately?? You've got to Be Kidding"
• "Holy Toledo! Bye Bye Bowl Streak"
• "Oh Well. There's Always Men's Basketball. Oh Wait. My Bad."
• "Roses are Red. Violets are Blue. Your Football Team's Terrible. And Your Basketball Team, Too."
• "It's Not Over. And It Will Never Be Over. It's Just Starting."
• "Pride Comes Before the Fall -- Mark Dantonio, Nov. 5, 2007. He Tried to Warn You."
Holy Toledo! isn't all bad, but overall, this is a just a mess: multiple mentions of basketball (men's basketball, that is, if you were confused) on a clearly football-based taunt; two separate, head-slappingly generic scoffs at "Leaders and Best," both falling extremely flat;
"Just Staring" in print, as if the words were an approximation of actual staring [My speed-reading mistake; see comments -- ed.]; and who is completely devoid of irony enough to taunt someone else for "arrogance" on a billboard? I know it's been a while for the Spartans, but when you earn the right to be arrogant yourself in one of the most public possible fashions, act like you've been there before.