This week, University of Michigan running back Fitz Toussaint decided to toss a little gasoline onto the fire burning around tomorrow's annual rivalry match up between the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans by once again deeming MSU as the "little brother" of the seething rivalry.
On Thursday, Big Ten Network reporters were able to ask Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio about his thoughts concerning the comments. Dantonio, who has never once hid his dislike for the Wolverines' program, responded at first with only a wry, sleek smile.
"Is it personal to you?'' they asked Dantonio.
Smiling, Dantonio responded, "What do you think?"
"You tell me, coach."
"Yeah, what do you think?,'' Dantonio said. "I think I'm on record about how I feel about this game.
"I don't think there's any point in going through that. We'll leave it at that.''
Clearly no Spartan fan enjoys the "little brother" association, but with a 4-1 record over the past five years, comebacks are never hard to come by.
Perennial Buckeye, former Ohio State player, and football commentator Kirk Herbstreit talked about the "little brother" comment and Michigan State's continued hatred for their in-state rival in Ann Arbor. Herbstreit views the "little brother" insult from former Michigan running back Mike Hart back when the Wolverines last won in Spartan Stadium in 2007 as the starting point for a renewed intensity in the age-old competition for the Paul Bunyan Trophy.
"I think it goes back to the `They're our little brother' comment from Mike Hart, (and) I think Michigan State plays with a great deal of anger and intensity, and it's because of the way over the years Michigan has viewed them,'' Herbstreit said. "Mark Dantonio has lived that and he makes sure his team understands that.''
Kickoff is tomorrow 3:30 PM (ET) at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. Coverage can be seen on ABC.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.