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Posted on Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:28 p.m.

Mike Hart's 'little brother' comment still lingers in Michigan-Michigan State rivalry

By Pete Bigelow

EAST LANSING -- Almost three years have passed since Michigan running back Mike Hart made his now-famous “little brother” comment about Michigan State’s place in the rivalry in November 2007.

Does it still have the same impact?

“For me, it’s in the past,” Michigan State linebacker Eric Gordon said Tuesday. “There’s been way more stuff that’s gone on since then. I’m sure it will get brought up this week. It will be motivating.”

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio didn’t refer specifically to Hart’s comment Tuesday, but he’s been talking about building state-wide respect for the Spartans since the day he took the job in 2005.

“We’re not going to bow down,” linebacker Greg Jones said Tuesday.

Following Michigan’s come-from-behind 28-24 win in East Lansing in 2007, Hart said, “sometimes it’s just like when you’re playing your little brother in basketball. You let him get a lead and let him get excited, but then you take it back from him.”

Dantonio was peeved about the comment.

“I won’t comment on that, you know,” he said at the time, before continuing. “I guess I can’t help myself. It’s not over. I’m going to be a coach here for a long time. It’s just starting.” The Spartans have won the past two years, beating Michigan 35-21 in Ann Arbor in 2008, and beating the Wolverines in overtime last year, 26-20, in East Lansing.

Pete Bigelow can be reached at (734) 623-2556 or emailed at Follow him on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 12:16 p.m.

Sure you're the big brother. Sure you lead the series 67 to now 31 (5 ties). But face the fact you got smacked around in your big house. Heisman? 86 yds and 3 picks later 'shoeless' was left like the rest of Bo-nation....Amazed and Blue!! Always a Spartan!! P.S. I'd ask if you're ready for basketball but I'm gonna ride this victory wave a bit longer. Good luck in Columbus...not!! I still won't be rooting for you.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 7:52 p.m.

TRUEwolverine: So what if Dantonio made a sarcastic comment about UM? UM became the first rankded 1-A team to lose to a 1-AA team. Dantonio knows that, especially in football, MSU has a better chance of being successful when UM is not. It's not as if he'd never had any experience around Michigan before. Dantonio says what he feels, and he doesn't apologize. I don't always agree with what he says. He shouldn't have responded to Hart. But how does that exonerate Hart? He said what he felt. That's fine. It's all the apologizing for him that is sickening. "He's just a kid, and kids say things like that." Let me tell you, my senior year in college I was pretty grown up. UM fans can't stand that their players, coaches, and fans are just like everyone else's. It digs into their sense of superiority. That's why UM cheating in football caused lots of embarassment. It's new for UM. So is losing to MSU. Since UM is favored by 4 or 5, I expect UM to win. But the Spartans have a decent chance. That's why the game is played on the field.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

I don't know if D'Antonio really made a wise decision coming back this week. Between Denard, our defense, and the amount of points we are capable of scoring (and giving up) can make the healthiest of people sick!

Sparty On!

Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.

You Michigan Fans are so's almost as if you're concerned that Denard Robinson can't take on the entire Spartan team by himself. MSU wins 42 - 14. I'll give shoelaces two touchdowns.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

1998pa - I think everyone knows that Dantonio means what he says, and says what he means. If he wanted to show his displeasure with the question, he simply could've said "I don't coach for Michigan I coach for MSU" "I want to focus on my teams victory today" or a host of different responses could've been made. The reporters never asked MD anything, they simply informed him of the loss in which he responded "Should we have a moment of silence?" Clearly, this is sarcastic and derogatory shot at Michigan. The reason why I made my first post was to inform all of the Save-A-Lot Spartans that Mike Hart didn't just lash out at MSU for fun, he was provoked by an act of classlessness of man more than twice his age. Everyone wants to focus on how Hart was the bad guy, when he just responded to Dantonio and his lack of respect. As a Michigan man, I would've liked to have seen a more mature reply on Hart's part. Regardless, Hart made one bad comment, Dantonio initiated it, and then followed Hart's comment with more disrespect. I was trying to provide the facts of the situation for all of the people who like to take things out of context out there, not trying to display how upset that I am that Dantonio said what he did, or being 'insensitive' like you are claiming. I would expect Michigan State fans to be less ignorant.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

zeeba - Let us try and use some logic, okay? You have a good basketball program that has done a good job in beating us throughout the years. Our football and hockey teams have dominated you throughout history. Didn't you enjoy who eliminated the Spartans from the hockey tournament last year in EL? You beat the two worst UM football teams in history. GOOD JOB. It doesn't change the fact that we have always been, and always will be your big brother. Back to football now, shall we? Yes, we have the worst pass defense in the nation. However, in opponents PPG (which is the only thing that really matters, right?) we are 73rd. Still nothing to brag about, but serviceable. Your stout running defense came against who? Western, FAU, ND (a PASS spread team), and Wisconsin who you gave up 6.6 yards per carry to. Wisconsin is a down hill 3-yards and a cloud of dust running team -intended to pound the ball on the inside and then compliment it with the play action pass. Michigan runs a read-option, run first attack, which means the ball is given to the person who will has the best lane to run in based off of how MSUs defense acts after the snap. If you gave up 6.6 YPC to the big, fat runners from Wisco DOWN YOUR THROAT, what will happen when Michigan sends its fast and shifty backs and QB at you around the edges and off tackle when you are spread out and vulnerable? Moreover, we will be better running the ball because we have a better offensive line. They are big and fast, and will surely get to the second level to cover Jones & Co. You have no pass rush against FAU and Western, how do you think you will fare against us? We also have a good defensive line, which will put pressure, if not, get to your QB consistently. Your offensive line is decent, but nothing scary for sure. UM 42 MSU 34


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 7:48 a.m.

First of all, if a school within your conference loses to a Div II school, it has relevance. I'm sure that his comments had a lot more to do with him being irritated at always being asked about the Michigan program. In this situation, I think it was a legitimate question, but I can understand his irritability. Now getting to his response to Mike Hart's comments, two things. First of all, I don't like how disingenuous he is. Do we really believe that he hadn't seen the comment? Why does he feel it's necessary to say that he hadn't? Does he think that it somehow gives Hart's comments credibility, if he acknowledges that he's seen them? I don't get that, but it is very obvious that he had seen them. Secondly, when he finally did get to a response for comments that he had not seen, he could only muster the fact the Hart was short. Really? I get that he's mad enough to want to say that, but that's 15 yards, Coach. You have to be able to control your emotions, right? That's all part of being mature, right? Don't the coaches refer to that as the maturation process. No, he could have easily said, "Yes, I saw it, but I'm not going to get caught up in that". But Dantonio hates Michigan and he's not going to miss an opportunity to give 'em a poke. That's one of the things that stinks about him still recovery from health issues (besides the fact that he had to go through that in the first place). Dantonio's got a lot of spunk and fire and he'll get right out there in the middle of everything. If he was healthy and more available, this week would've been a lot more interesting. We wouldn't have to be pulling up three year old clips to stir up controversy. It should be a great game. Go Blue!


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 7:47 a.m.

I don't think U-M is MSU's big brother. More like Big Daddy. We're better academically, athletically, globally, and in just about everything except veterinary science. Oh, our campus is a lot cooler too. So, one or a hundred games won't change that. We ARE going to win this Saturday though. Go Blue!


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.

Still little brother.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.

To go by Sparty logic, you cannot be a fan of any University until you are at least 18 years old. Because you cannot be a fan of a school unless you attend that university. That is some brilliant logic there!! So all of those high schoolers or other teenagers that attend games cheering for a team should not be there, because only alumni can be fans!!


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 7:11 a.m.

truewolverine, you bring up an interesting point, but if you think about it for a minute, you'd understand Dantonio was not insulting Michigan. When Michigan lost to App State, the media asked Dantonio about it. As an MSU alum, I took his response -- should we hold a moment of silence? -- to mean a couple of things: 1) You're not going to bait me into saying something that can be insulting and, more importantly, 2) Why are you asking me about another school's loss? It makes no difference to my team. I would expect self-proclaimed confident Michigan fans to be a little a little less sensitive.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 1:56 a.m.

"Now to the guy that went to Ann Arbor not Dearborn or Flint, good luck. Your trash talk is welcome. It's a shame there is only one of you posting" I go to The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor right now! Stop making false assumptions. Michigan fans are Michigan fans. People that support the university, support the program, and cheer on the team are no less fans than students. In fact, the majority of the die-hard Michigan fans aren't alum. Michigan alum are too busy traveling outer space or healing the sick to invest countless hours into following the football team religiously. I understand that Sparty wouldn't know anything about that though.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 12:44 a.m.

Sparty wins 38 to 30 deal with it fat sister.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 11:34 p.m.

Michigan wins! 49-28. Deal with it little brother.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 9:53 p.m.

With all the U-M fans bantering about the "little brother" handle, I'm not sure which nickname for U-M is most appropriate. "Big sister" is pretty dead-on, given the whining sense of superiority and the fact that both their football and b-ball teams have played like a bunch of girls since Hart made his remark. But seeing how many U-M fans think they can win this Saturday despite the nation's worst pass defense and facing one of the best run defenses in the nation, I think "The Crazy Aunt in the Attic" takes the prize.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 9:07 p.m.

truewolverine, I had forgotten about Dantonio's comments after the App St game. You are right. Dantonio did start this. While I did not like what Mike Hart said, as we should win with class, he is just a kid responding to an adult. Much like he responded to dear old Harbaugh's ignorant comments about Michigan's academic standards for athletes. If I recall, Harbaugh wasn't the most scholarly athlete I remember at Michigan. And yes, I went to Michigan while he was a student there. Either way.... Michigan 28-24 with the defense stopping MSU to win the game!


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 9 p.m.

Is it only me, or do you guys immediately quit reading and completely disregard any post containing the phrase "walmart Wolverine"? I certainly do. That has to be one of the silliest, most illogical names ever attached to any group of people ever. Because if my understanding of the phrase is correct, the vast majority of fans fall into the "walmart fan" category not only for Michigan, but for Michigan State and any popular university for that matter.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 8:56 p.m.

I think Michigan wins this game. Home field, Denard Robinson, an inspired defense. Michigan State won't slow Denard Robinson down, there is nothing special about their defense or their talent that can hope to legitimately contain our offense, especially at home in such an emotional rivalry game. A Michigan win is only dependent upon whether the offense finds the end zone, and the defense plays inspired, forces some punts and/or turnovers, and doesn't give up huge plays. They didn't give up huge plays to Indiana, but they played soft coverage and couldn't get pressure on Chappell until late in the game, where not coincidentally they started getting stops. Indiana's passing attack is better than what MSU and their mistake-prone Cousins does, and Indiana's wide receivers are better than MSU's. I think we'll do okay versus Michigan State's talented running backs. Denard should utilize the UM wide receivers and pick apart the Spartans' weak secondary. Keep in mind, this is also Michigan State's first road game, unless you count the game in Ford Field against Florida Atlantic (by the way, don't count that game).


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

I don't think Hart's comment is relevant anymore. It reflected one cocky player's point of view shortly after the MSU game. Hart is gone, the coach who allowed him to say it is gone, and U-M's six game winning streak against MSU is gone. I'm sure MSU will try to use that comment for motivation to try to gain an edge, but it's wearing off and is akin to U-M trying to use Charlie Weiss' comments over the years about Michigan to get ready for Notre Dame. It's not the same thing because the combatants are different, at least from the U-M side it is.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 8:28 p.m.

Dead older sister, It hurts when little brother starts to grow up and beat you. Please tell your abusive boyfriend Ohio State to keep the beating down. and who ever posted the over all record must think France is the greatest power in the world since they were at one point. Times change big sis. Lets look at the past 60 years who has more nat. championships? Most of you walmart Wolverines have no clue. Now to the guy that went to Ann Arbor not Deaborn or Flint, good luck. Your trash talk is welcome. It's a shame there is only one of you posting


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 7:35 p.m.

"I do not believe Michigan 'whooped' ND." Denard Robinson, out of the zone-read-option offensive scheme, ran and passed for 502 yards against a stout Notre Dame defense that held Michigan State to 7 points in one half in East Lansing. To argue that their defense played well against this system would be the most absurd argument I have ever witnessed. Understand, I am not talking about Our DEFENSIVE ability to stop ND. I am merely talking about how our offense fairs against a 4-3 defense with large, heavy hitting linebackers like Michigan State. You have to agree that ND's defense is the closest thing to MSU's defense we have seen, no? Did our offense slow down in the second half? Yes. But I would submit that this was due more to Michigan's lack of focus in a hostile environment than anything else. In the fourth quarter when the game was on the line, we moved the ball at will. What changed? Remember, we are dealing with young players still. The point guard of this offense is a sophomore. A TRUE SOPHOMORE!!! The same sophomore that moved the ball for over 500 yards in a game despite losing focus in the 3rd quarter. Do you think Denard would be able to rack up 500 yards out of a Pro-set offensive scheme? Think again. Not even close!


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 7:31 p.m.

What an odd collection of posts. Take the one by boobooman. No one on this site mentioned anything about MSU basketball. I guess MSU's dominance in basketball is firmly on your mind, huh? And where did anyone on this site, or Dantonio, claim that a two-year streak is equivalent to what UM has done in the past? I must've missed that. I think UM will win the game, but there's a good chance MSU wins. Sounds like lots of posters here are truly worried as there's lots of wishful thinking.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 7:23 p.m.

In addition to my last comment... Why do you think Alabama runs a 3-4 defense ALWAYS in the SEC conference? Because Nick Sabin is a SMART defensive-minded coach (like Dantonio except WAY better) and knows that in a conference full of running QBs and spread offenses, you have to run a defensive scheme to counter the metagame of your conference. In the Big Ten, "3 yards and a cloud of dust" is still the mentality of a lot of coaches. Although many of them are passing more often and utilizing a QB hat can run, they still prefer to sit in the pocket or run up the middle. This is why most defenses utilize the 4-3 defensive scheme (and because it is balanced and good). Unfortunately, Michigan's offense counters this scheme BY DESIGN! That's right, the zone-read-option spread inherently grants its offense an advantage over a 4-3 defense. That is why I have always been confused when people say that it can't work in the Big 10. It is a counter to the Big Ten metagame for Christ sake! Why do you think Michigan lost to App St and got BLOWN OUT by Oregon? Couldn't be because they sat in a 4-3 and were slow against a zone-read-option spread could it? If Dantonio doesn't coach up his team to beat a zone-read-option spread (which Michigan couldn't run with Forcier but can with Shoelace) then his defense is going to get burned. It's inevitable. With Dantonio being in and out of the hospital, who knows how much prep these guys are getting? I just hope Michigan's defense shows up to play. They certainly will be more experienced in a 4-3 this week.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.

I do not believe Michigan "whooped" ND. The Irish slowed down the scoring in second half. My gosh people take off the goggles. Remember ND came back and took the lead after getting down playing two very average QB. I don't care what the Maize Rage thinks if Christ plays the WHOLE first half Michigan loses. Does that mean State will win on Saturday? No I just think it will be very interesting to see if MSU defense can slow DROB down or if Michigan Defense will finally figure out that they are out there to stop people.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

LET US NOT FORGET. Dantonio started this. After the App State game, DANTONIO went on record trashing Michigan, claiming that the world should hold a moment of silence for the Michigan football program. Dantonio is a grown man who made immature and disrespectful comments about Michigan. Hart, a kid, responded by leading a moment of silence for MSU after he led his team to victory against them; and yes, he made disrespectful comments about MSU as well. While I am not saying it was the right thing to do, it was well deserved for Dantonio and his program for the lack of respect they displayed to Michigan publicly. After this, when it seemed like everything was said and done, Dantonio throws a Glenn Winston sidewinder at Hart. This is another example of his ignorance, and lack of class. Say what you want about Mike Hart and his actions, but he acted in defense of his program. As a Michigan man, I would've liked a different response, but I am proud of him for sticking up for his teammates and the Michigan brand regardless.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 7:02 p.m.

"Given that State has one of the best linebacker corps in the nation to blunt Robinson's running attack" Those are exactly the same words Notre Dame had when we whooped them in South Bend. Good luck because your slow linebackers aren't going to beat shoelace... SORRY! If you want a chance at stopping the Michigan offense, you have to run a couple defensive backs at linebacker, in a 3-4 (3-5-3 is ideal) formation. You have to put 7-8 in the box every play, and drop them back into coverage just before the ball is snapped. Otherwise, you will get burned, just as every other defense that has tried to use conventional methods of stopping shoelace have. A 4-3 defense will fail every time.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 6:24 p.m.

Well we will see. I am very optimistic at Michigan's chances this year since last year in their stadium, Michigan came back and nearly beat them. I think we should have gone for two points after the tying TD, because we should play to win and not to tie. If you can't get 2.5 yards on a play, the loss is your fault. But the key is defense both teams give up a lot of points, but Michigan's offense is ranked much higher than msu's. So, I guess the best defense wins because, defense wins ballgames.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

Big sister sounds pretty nervous. Then again, with the worst pass defense in the nation, she has plenty of reason to be. Given that State has one of the best linebacker corps in the nation to blunt Robinson's running attack, plus a potent offense against the woeful U-M defense, it's hard to come up with a scenario where the smelly varmints have a chance in this one.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

The funniest thing about some of these MSU fans comments is this: In bringing up their Baskeball program, they already have an idea what makes an elite and dominating state program. If UofM were to win two basketball games in a row vs. State, we wouldn't be foolhardy enough to disregard the other 15 years or so of MSU dominance. But, with the tables turned, and their football team having a bit of success, they wish to eschew all history- pointing to a two game win "streak" and a 6-7 team as some sort of proof of dominance. BTW, the last game was an over-time win at home vs one of the worst Michigan teams in recent history. Enjoy this while it lasts, Sparties...Like 3 more days.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

Why are there so many sparties on our Blogs anyway. Their own team is so boring that they keep joining our conversations.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 5:28 p.m.

And yes, I meant "little" brother...


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 5:26 p.m.

They are still our brother, we just fell down to their skill level for a few years. Our defense is still there, but next year will be our rise to the championship. Go Blue!


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 5:24 p.m.

Everybody wants to blame Richie for not beating Sparty. In reality it is Mike Hart who has jinxed MEECHIGAN. Thanks Mike Hart. I bet him and Bill Martin are hanging out on the beach laughing and talking about themselves..........

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 5:02 p.m.

To my MSU friends....Mike Hart was a 20 year student athlete, who made a comment he probably should not have said. OK, I'll concede that, but Dantonio was a 45 yearold adult, who displayed absolutely no class, whatsoever, and always has had some serious emotional issues! He needs to get a life, and has a basic lack of self esteem. Anyone who thinks a two year run, suddenly equates with UM's long tradition, with the last game, in overtime, at home, in East Lansing, should step back, and ask why hasn't this program won a league title in 20 years. The reason is, that MSU defines themselves, BY MICHIGAN! It is not now, nor ever has been, the other way around. Sparty understands that there is a new sherriff in town, in Ann Arbor, and it will be a LONG, LONG time, before MSU gets close again. Unless of course, they can interfere in the endzone, without penalty, or hold the clock, until they score. But if they have to play it straight up, they are in trouble....BIG TROUBLE!


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 4:41 p.m.

My problem with Hart's comments is that he was obviously making stuff up to draw attention to himself. Anyone who watched that game could see how tense the UM sideline was. Toying with MSU? Yeah, right. I thought Dantonio was find until he made fun of Hart's height. But asking whether Hart has a little brother or was the little brother was Dantonio's way of feigning interest. I love the way UM fans use the "but Mike Hart was just a little student-athlete" excuse. Yeah, the guy was a senior. Was he a man or not? I thought he was a Michigan man. Doesn't that make him twice any other kind of man? Obviously not, or he would've congratulated MSU on a hard-fought game. Dantonio reacted to Hart's unsportsmanlike comments. His reaction wasn't ideal, but it would never have happened without Hart firing the opening salvo.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 4:01 p.m.

@ 3 and out - As of the 2009 season, Michigan leads Michigan State in the series 67-30-5. Verdict: Still Little Brother


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:52 p.m.

Underdog? Michigan is favored by 4.5.

3 And Out

Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

Hart's comment was true in 07 when Michigan had beaten Sparty 6 consecutive times and 31 out of 38... but it is not true now, in fact it has flipped. Thanks to Rich Rodriguez, Michigan is now little brother to Sparty and we all know will be even more so if RR loses to Dantonio again this week.

Alexander John Migda

Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:50 p.m.

... not really. Michigan is the underdog for the 3rd year in a row.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:48 p.m.

Why didn't you mention Dantonio's remarks/gestures back to the STUDENT-ATHLETE? "Does Hart have a little brother? or is Hart the Little brother? I don't know...he is this...(at this moment makes a hand gesture)." Remember, Mike Hart is gone but Dantonio is still involved in the rivalry...his comments making fun of a Michigan player should show how much class he has. Maybe after Saturday's loss, Dantonio can make fun of how short Denard is... Go blue!


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:48 p.m.

Doesn't matter if the spartans beat us this year, doesn't matter if they beat us next year. People are still going to care more about Michigan as a whole than they ever will for state.

thomas h blaske

Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:44 p.m.

mike hart's comment would not resonate as it did and does if it were not oh so true.