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Posted on Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

'We've infiltrated': Ann Arbor Spartan fans prepare for U-M-MSU basketball game in their backyard

By Kyle Feldscher


MSU fans, like these members of the Izzone, will be out in force for Sunday's game at Crisler Center. file photo

Green, for lack of a better word, is good. Green is right. Green works.

And, there’s a good chance you’ll see a lot of green in the Ann Arbor area Sunday as local Spartans don their favorite color in anticipation of the big game at Crisler Center.

Approximately 8,000 Michigan State University alumni reside in Washtenaw County, making it one of the largest groups of Spartan alumni outside of the East Lansing area. I’m proud to count myself among them. With the Spartans set to take on the University of Michigan Wolverines in their second showdown of the season, I set out to see what some local Spartan alums experience in our area.

Are Michigan fans thumping their chest with all their recent success (save for the last month)? Are Spartan fans talking more trash to their colleagues after the thumping delivered to the Wolverines on Feb. 12 in East Lansing? Is there going to be a full-on dance war in front of Crisler, a la the video for Michael Jackson’s Beat It, before Sunday’s game?



Resident Spartan, cops and courts reporter Kyle Feldscher.

Joseph Tobianski | file photo cops and courts reporter Kyle Feldscher is a Michigan State alumnus and unabashed Spartans fan who occasionally chimes in on the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry from a Spartan living in Ann Arbor's perspective. Check out his previous work:

“Ann Arbor is a great town and the University of Michigan is a fine university,” said Dave Holzman, vice president of the Washtenaw County chapter of the Michigan State University Alumni Association.

Looks like we won’t need any one-gloved mediators in this showdown.

Truth be told, Spartans and Wolverines both seem to have fun with the rivalry in these parts. Holzman and Athena Trentin, two Spartan alums living in the area, are a part of a group who regularly get together to watch MSU games at local establishments. While they usually stick to Spartan-owned bars and restaurants, such as The Arena and Weber’s Inn, the number of MSU supporters in the area helps them feel comfortable.

Trentin said there’s a large group of Spartans employed by one of the last organizations you’d expect: the University of Michigan itself.

“We’ve infiltrated,” she said, laughing. “It was a really nice place to work and the rivalries were fun.”

In the spirit of cooperation, Trentin said she worked directly with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan alumni during her time at the university. She now works at the University Research Corridor, a partnership between U-M, MSU and Wayne State University.

Trentin is a regular at the game viewings put together by the alumni association, and she said the green-clad crowd usually gets a fine reception from the maize-and-blue loving locals. Well, for the most part.

“I’d say it’s 50-50 wherever we go,” she said, recounting a few instances where people have told the group to get lost (I’m sure in those exact words). “We just blow them off.”

The group plans to get together at the Ypsilanti Township Aubree’s, 2122 Whittaker Road, to watch Sunday’s game. Davonn Robinson, a manager at that location, said they could expect a mostly-warm reception from the regulars.

Robinson said a large, mixed crowd is expected for Sunday’s game, just like most other times when the two schools play each other.

“It’s pretty friendly around here,” he said. “A couple guys might rag on you.”

In MSU circles, the respect for the Michigan basketball program is growing, albeit begrudgingly as I wrote last month. Then again, MSU beat Michigan so badly on Feb. 12 that the Spartans played guys who don’t even have names on the back of their jerseys.

And, Michigan just lost to a Penn State team that was previously 0-14 in the Big Ten.

Despite those things, most MSU fans expected to split the season series with the Wolverines. I know that’s what I thought would happen. Holzman agreed with me, but I think he speaks for most Spartan fans when he said it’s hard not to dream.

“I predicted at the beginning of the Big Ten season the two teams would split,” he said.

“I just don’t know now. MSU is better than I thought they’d be, even though the past week has been a letdown. They’ve rested for a week, hopefully Keith (Appling) gets some rest and hopefully they’re motivate to play Michigan. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Spartans win and sweep the season series.”

Time will tell. Go Green.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Terry Star21

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 12:25 a.m.

Wow, 8,000 fans ! And they've been disappointed and playing catchup for over 100 years; 2-4 the last three years and 76-96 overall in BB. Then 4-7 the last eleven years and 32-68 in FB. Welcome to Ann Arbor.....


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

Yes Terry but little brother always wants to be near big brother even though he is always annoying,


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

How many championships does UM have since WWII when college football finally became a more common place and kids were back from the war for full rosters? It's 6-6 so pump the brakes instead of going nuts over inflated numbers when you spent 30 years beating Albion and West Ohio Catholic.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Ann please fire Kyle Feldscher NOW. Desecrating the hallowed grounds of the Big House is just not acceptable and should be an offense worthy of instant termination. Hanging that crap sparty flag anywhere near the Big House is certainly an act of total disrespect and shows a total lack of class!!!! GO BLUE!!!! SPARTY SUCKS!!!!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:45 a.m.

No sarcasism about "SPARTY SUCKS" that is just fact!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

Engineer, once you outlaw holding Spartan flags outside of the Big House then only outlaws will be holding Spartan flags outside of the Big House.

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

I'm really hoping this is sarcastic, and just good natured ribbing in the spirit of the rivalry.

Terry Star21

Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

Most of us never heard or saw them in the area - until RR arrived on campus. Thank goodness, in a few more years they'll disappear again......


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Turtleneck Tommy was a real star too.


Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

Are there any comparative statistics on UM alums in the EL area vs MSU alums in the AA area? I think it'd be interesting to see how it breaks down. Or maybe not even alums, but just fans. Go Blue!


Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Who cares? Go Blue!


Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

Bring out the couches!


Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

Of course they are in Ann Arbor. Have you ever been to E.L.? Can't imagine anyone of sound mind or otherwise wanting to live there.


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

I can't imagine someone of sound mind going to moo u unless thay want to be a farmer.


Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

Spartans in Ann Arbor? OK, who showed them how to use their GPS?


Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

Brad, it sure wasn't me. I'm reminded of the Michigan-Michigan state game, I was standing on the corner of Huron/Third waiting for the bus, when 2 Spartan Fans, easily recognizable because they were wearing white/green from head to foot, face paint, the whole works. one of them was holding a palm pilot. they asked me for directions to Michigan Stadium......I am chuckling to myself as I remember the directions I gave them....;)


Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

A sports bar in Ann Arbor is owned by Spartans. Egads! :)

Ann English

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

Why not? There's a grocery chain called Spartan Stores, and it has its own grocery brand sold in an Ann Arbor-headquartered grocery chain named for the Busch brothers. Going on their thirty-seventh year in business.

Matt Lang

Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

Did you mean Webers Inn? The only Webers grill i know of is in Chicago

Kyle Feldscher

Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Good spot, I've made that adjustment.