Circle your calendars for Oct. 20, 2012. That's when the next installment of Great Lakes State rivals Michigan and Michigan State will take place, this time at the Big House in Ann Arbor. In case this intrastate battle needed anymore ammunition, Spartans running back Le'Veon Bell made sure to keep the fuse lit.
In the same fashion as former Wolverine Mike Hart and his "little brother" comments aimed at East Lansing some years ago, Bell put in his two cents on Michigan's 2011 season via Twitter:
Now, depending on which side you root for, Bell's comments do carry some truth. Michigan's schedule was arguably one of the more favorable in the Big Ten this season. The Wolverines played Ohio State, Nebraska and Notre Dame at home while avoiding Wisconsin and Penn State altogether. The toughest game Michigan played was its loss at Spartan Stadium in October. Virginia Tech was probably a little bit better than Bell gives it credit for, although Michigan was probably lucky not to face the likes of Stanford, Oklahoma State or Oregon in a BCS game.
On the flip side, Michigan State's two regular-season losses came at the hands of Notre Dame and Nebraska, two teams the Wolverines disposed of.
So does Mr. Bell have a point? Was he right to open his mouth (or his Twitter app)?
For me, the comments come off as slightly petty and come from a place of inferiority. By this I mean it feels like Bell (in his own way) is trying to prove why Michigan State has elevated to the same level as, if not surpassed, the Michigan program. This is likely fueled by the fact that despite beating the Wolverines this season and playing in the Big Ten Championship Game, Michigan found its way into a BCS bowl game while the Spartans did not.
Bell's comments are unlikely to faze Michigan anyway. Considering the previous three miserable years under Rich Rodriguez, it would take a major scandal or NCAA violation to bring the Wolverines off the high that 2011 provided for the program.
The reality is that anyone who has watched the Big Ten these past two seasons knows Michigan State is likely the better team. Its defensive numbers suggest it. Its win totals suggest it. Its four straight victories over Michigan suggest it.
As great as it is when collegiate rivalries are ignited—or, in this case, re-ignited—I am not sure Bell accomplished much with his tweet.
I won't even say Bell gave Michigan the cliche bulletin-board material. The Wolverines can look at four straight years of game tape in case they were lacking motivation to beat the Spartans.