Michigan vs. Michigan State: Who Really Has the Inferiority Complex?

Rob CContributor IIJune 25, 2012

Michigan State beat Michigan for a fourth consecutive season in 2011.
Michigan State beat Michigan for a fourth consecutive season in 2011.

"We play an in-state rivalry game against Michigan State, and they have beat our ass for the last four years," said Brady Hoke (via annarbor.com). He is absolutely right.

For the past four years, Michigan State has thoroughly dominated the University of Michigan on the gridiron to the point that one might have wondered if Michigan could ever get a grip on the rivalry again. The beatings have been so brutal and harsh that it almost seems like Michigan State has the right to view the Michigan game as a bye week; after all, the Wolverines certainly have not put up a fight for the past half-decade.  

"It's rights for the title of the state, state champions, who's the best in the state, it's huge, big for the fans, big for the alumni and big for the players and coaches." - Ryan Van Bergen, University of Michigan defensive end (via USA Today).

Of course, as with every story, there are two perspectives:

From Michigan State's perspective, Michigan is a non-factor in the Big Ten at present. Michigan has been a conference bottom-feeder for the past half-decade—much like Vanderbilt in the SEC, Iowa State in the Big 12, or Arizona in the Pac-12—while Michigan State has thoroughly dominated the conference, consistently landing in the top two of the final Big Ten rankings. Why should Michigan State be concerned with Michigan—is Alabama concerned with in-state rival Troy? 

Of course, from Michigan's perspective, Michigan State has become terminally successful due to the timely downfall of their in-state powerhouse rival. Michigan State's success is all due to Michigan's dark age of Rich Rodriguez. Michigan has been the dominant player in the series dating back to the early 1900s and a few years in the 2000s is just a blip in eternity.

Second-year head coach Brady Hoke gives Michigan an opportunity to climb back on top of the Big Ten.
Second-year head coach Brady Hoke gives Michigan an opportunity to climb back on top of the Big Ten.

After all, Michigan State is just little brother; right Michael Hart? "Sometimes you let him [little brother] take the lead, and then you just come back..." Combined with the fact that Michigan leads the all-time series against Michigan State by a count of 67-32-5, it is easy to say that Michigan is, in fact, big brother; right?


With these opinions waging war on each other, it is only reasonable for one to justify the other's perspective in a negative light. Consequently, it has been suggested by the masses of Wolverine fans that Spartan fans have an inferiority complex. 

For the purpose of this article, let's define what an inferiority complex is:

Inferiority Complex: "An unrealistic feeling of general inadequacy caused by actual or supposed inferiority in one sphere, sometimes marked by aggressive behavior in compensation."

Consequently, inferiority complex is often used to describe one who is inferior, and lashes out at those who are superior in aggressive fashion in order to substantiate to themselves—through cognitive dissonance—that they, the inferior, are truly superior to others. It's quite ironic that Michigan fans would propose the idea that Michigan State fans suffer an inferiority complex, isn't it?

For the past half-decade, Michigan State has been the superior team and Michigan has been the inferior team. Have Michigan State fans become big headed with their dominance? Quite possibly. Does that mean they have an inferiority complex? Absolutely not. In fact, it would be more reasonable and logical to suggest that Michigan fans—fans of the inferior team—have a growing inferiority complex. 

Thus, I leave you with these questions:

Who really has the inferiority complex?

The fans of the program that has been inferior for the past several years?


Or the fans of the program that has been superior for the past several years?

Does it make any sense for the inferior program to claim that the superior program suffers an inferiority complex? 

"Society, being codified by man, decrees that their counterpart is inferior; one can do away with this inferiority only by destroying the male's superiority." - Simone De Beauvoir