Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the hate post

Hate is the new love. ESPN decided to do a whole day's worth of talky-talk about it, and it spawned some interesting discussions on message boards far and wide. ESPN semi-arbitrarily decided on 10 teams that fans love to hate, and that not being quite enough hate for one day, had all their conference "bloggers" do a list for their respective conference. The ACC's list can be found here. (Ms. Dinich has also declared UVA-VT the conference's second bitterest (actual word?) rivalry, which is kind of cool.)

Anyway, I have given myself this here soapbox, and damn if I ain't gonna use it. Here are the top ten teams I hate, and yes, they're in order. Keep in mind as you read: I grew up a Michigan fan and still am. Many of these teams are because of that. I'm one better than ESPN, so you get 11 instead of 10. Oh, and we're gonna count down, because it's what the cool kids are doing these days.

11. USC
This is kind of a mild hatred, more of a strong distaste. Growing up these guys fell into the category populated with once-proud and mighty teams that had fallen back with the pack, like Alabama is now. So it was kind of cool to see them rise again. That got old pretty quick though, especially once they became the media's little darlings. And you just know that they're playing faster and looser with the rules than most teams do.

10. Florida
How the mighty have fallen. Florida used to be pretty high on this list, back when the Ol' Bawlcoach was pacing the sidelines and dropping 82 points on hapless teams like Central Michigan just because he felt like it. Spurrier is no longer at Florida, but they're still reasonably obnoxious nonetheless.

9. Michigan State
A fairly innocuous and semi-likable team to outside observers. MSU has a very respectable and classy basketball coach, a pretty campus, and a football team that likes to do this to their fans, every single year. So they'd seem like a strange candidate for anyone's hate list, you might think. Not this one, bucko. Michigan State fans are some of the worst in all of football. Spartans fans also have to put up with the Detroit Lions, which means three months of weekend-ruining football games on both Saturday and Sunday, and it's made them awful bitter. Spartans fans primarily devote themselves not to rooting for their own team, but rooting against Michigan. It fulfills them. Makes them happy. A Michigan loss is the same as a Michigan State win - nay, better.

8. Nebraska
Lingering bitterness over 1997 when the coaches poll gave Tom Osborne a going-away present and took half of Michigan's national championship away. Yes, their Missouri game that year was won on an illegally kicked ball, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Nebraska also was one of those teams that liked hanging 70s on teams and didn't mind scheduling the Pacifics of the world to do it. Running up the score, never a classy move.

7. Tennessee
This one's the result of a hundred little things. For starters, Phil Fulmer is such a stern disciplinarian that EDSBS named after him the imaginary award that goes to the team with the most offseason problems with the lawman. My own teams never seem to do well against Tennessee when it counts, which is annoying; a humiliating Citrus Bowl loss some years back that blotches an otherwise excellent Michigan record against the SEC comes to mind. The tournament game in 2006 follows right after. UT fans have never let it go that Peyton Manning was the second-best college football player his senior year. Charles Woodson won the Heisman, Vols. Suck it up. Completely unsubstantiated rumor has it that Fulmer sent in his coaches ballot after the '97 season with Michigan ranked sixth, so bitter was he over the loss of the Heisman. I don't know if that's true and I don't care, I like the story because I hate Tennessee.

6. Miami
The HurriCons have actually dropped a notch or two ever since that 48-0 smackdown last year that always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I think about it. Still, you don't come into the OB, baby!

5. Notre Dame
Here we're getting into the real rivalry stuff. Notre Dame has some cool stuff about them. Touchdown Jesus and all that. They got some tradition. Most teams have some tradition. Most teams don't shove that tradition in your face like Notre Dame does. Most teams also don't have their prize recruit arrive at the College Football Hall of Fame in a Hummer limousine, wearing a white fur coat and more rings than Vince Lombardi, to announce their commitment.

4. Virginia Tech
True story, and I don't care if you don't believe it because it'll keep on being true, and you'll be wrong: It was 1999 and I was deciding where to apply to college. I had a list, and I was thinking, you know, I want to be an architect, and I have this and that criteria for where I want to go, and I like Virginia and all, and I got Georgia Tech on the list too, and if you combine the two you get Virginia Tech, which seems to fit what I'm looking for and is a Tech school besides which should be good for architecture, right? So I started thinking about applying to Tech.

Three seconds later I was done with that idea. Bleargh.

Two Vick brothers later, it seems I made the right call.

3. Maryland
Two things. I used to think Maryland fans couldn't be all bad. See, they were always pretty damn obnoxious when they came to town for football games. But that's just a small sampling, right? I mean, most people who travel to enemy territory for a game don't do it with the intention of hiding their colors. So it's just a thing. Then I went to the 2006 C****s S****s Bowl in Orlando. My brother is a Purdue grad so we were going to cheer on the Boilermakers. Turns out every Maryland fan, everywhere, male or female, 18 or 58, whether you're in the motel parking lot, outside the stadium gate, or in the seats, wants to start something. It's like a gang initiation: before you get your Twerp fan card, you have to try and start a fight with an opposing fan. Any fan'll do, even and especially a Naval Academy midshipman. (The two teams have a little bit of a history.) Remember I said MSU fans were among the worst in college football? Maryland fans are what keep them from reaching the top.

Second thing. I swear I would have links to back this up because it's really interesting reading, but for some reason the Cavalier Daily's website is down. So no linky. Take my word for the story, and I'll see if they don't bring the site up sometime soon so I can link to it. Anyway. Back in 2003, Maryland's president C.D. Mote spouted off in response to UVA's usual supremely high spot in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. Since I can't get to the story, I don't have all the exact quotes, but this one stands out, if perhaps a bit paraphrased: "Out-of-state students don't know any better than to go to UVA." Remember again where I grew up? So I took that personal, as did a number of friends of mine who also did not hail from Virginia. The jerk.

2. Ohio State
Oh How I Hate Ohio State. (It's what OHIO spells out if you skip some words, like if it were one of those network-acronym signs made for the sole purpose of getting on TV.) You knew this was coming, didn't you? It's not only tradition, it's required. The whole state sucks. State troopers will pull your ass over on the Turnpike for the dual crimes of driving 66 in a 65 zone and having a Michigan license plate. (Can you blame us? The endless soybean fields are enough to drive anyone crazy.) The hatred is intensified because they got rid of John Cooper and he took his Lose To Michigan All The Time ball and went home, and they replaced him with this sweater-vested robot that we Michigan fans just know is having boosters make his players millionaires and take all their tests for them. Ugh. It's not like he's entirely without blemishes on his record (few coaches are, to be honest), but, he is in the Buckeye fan record books, because Maurice Clarett is like the Buckeye Corollary to Godwin's Law: mention the name and you lose the argument. And thus the Holy Sweater Vest remains untarnished. Michigan hasn't beaten them much lately, which obviously makes things worse, so we've taken to poking fun at Terrelle Pryor's decision to attend the "University of Ohio State". Not because Pryor is a mush-head who doesn't even know the proper name of his own school. Because OSU fans love that "THE" that they annoyingly put in front of the school name: THE Ohio State University. As if we were going to confuse it with that other Ohio state university in Columbus that wears scarlet and gray and awards their players stickers with tiny marijuana leaves.

P.S., in case those of you clicking through from Buckeye Planet aren't yet totally offended: Brutus Buckeye is the ugliest mascot this side of that thing Western Kentucky thinks is a good idea to represent the school with. So there :P

1. Florida State
Ah, finally we come to it. How, you wonder, does a Michigan fan come to hate Ohio State less than some other school? It's a matter of respect. Plain and simple. With Ohio State there is an ever-burning, seething hatred, but there is a respect that's equally strong, and the knowledge that somewhere, entwined in the lore that makes both schools truly among the football greats, is the other school.

There is none of that with Florida State. Derogatory nicknames follow the school around and fit like a glove. Criminoles. Free Shoes U. Scandals abound: The massive cheating incident in 2007. Peter Warrick at Dillards in 1996. Free shoes from Foot Locker in 1993. Adrian McPherson's blank checks and possible gambling in 2002. Things like this happen at colleges every now and again. It's part of the game. They don't happen at the same college, like clockwork, every few years. These are just the major things - the minor things that make a headline once then disappear forever are a yearly thing at Florida State. Players getting suspended for things like carrying guns, assault, and theft.

And it's not the occurrences themselves. If there were ever a school that has completely lost insitutional control, it's Florida State, yet the NCAA has never seen fit to punish the school beyond the occasional lost scholarship. Bobby Bowden is hailed as one of the game's legends. No legend ever did this to the game. Florida State is obnoxious (see: band playing tomahawk chop song every. gotdamned. play.), guilty as anyone of running up the score, cowardly (who else would face up to suspensions by scheduling Western Carolina and Chattanooga?), and they win, or used to win, way too damn much. That adds up to some pretty solid hate. Now add the scandal parade, and it's not hard to tell why fans of every ACC school are unanimous in their hatred of the Seminoles.

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