Even when Sparty wins, he loses
In my story in Michigan Today last week about why the University of Michigan doesn't have a mascot, and past attempts to establish one, one thing I didn't get to address was Michigan State's misguided but lighthearted to create a mascot on Michigan's behalf.
The blue-and-yellow monstrosity, pictured above, was trotted out to the horror of Michigan during halftimes of early 2000s U-M/MSU games. Sparty would tackle the fake wolverine. It didn't take long for everyone to get the joke and, thankfully, this didn't become a regular thing.
As we learned in the visceral and immediate response to U-M athletic director Dave Brandon expressing interest in a mascot, this is an idea Michigan fans aren't the least bit open-minded about. That U-M's lack of a mascot is the exception rather than the rule is a point of pride among Michigan fans, proof of the special something that sets us apart from the pack. It took a certain subtlety for someone in East Lansing to understand and take a poke at that air of superiority.
But even when Sparty tweaks Michigan successfully, Sparty loses in the end. You'll note the jersey the fake wolverine is wearing -- no. 97. You'll also recall that the last time Michigan won the national championship in football, it was after the 1997 season, a season which included a 23-7 spanking of Michigan State, in East Lansing.
Nice try, Sparty. Let's leave the mascot making to the pros.