Podcast: On Michigan's defining performance vs. Ohio State, and Michigan State's last gasp

Pennsylvania has Pitt in it though. Who aren’t some mega threat, sure, but are still a legit power conference school.

Fair’s fair with that positioning within the state though. Where else you going to learn ethics from a celebrity professor like Urban Meyer? Oberlin or Case or wherever simply lack the resources to give students that kind of learning opportunity.

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I think, to be fair, there are more than 100 Ohio state universities, each with a reputation and a brand to protect. Sometimes that might mean keeping your distance from others. Take Youngstown State University, for example. It’s president is a person named Jim Tressell, and he was let go from his previous position after some serious ethical breaches that really cast doubt on his suitability as a person involved in higher education. If you are an Ohio state university, you might not want to play Youngstown, so as to keep your distance from institutions willing to employ people like that.

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The OSU-Cincy situation is the most painful point for them, I think - they’ve met almost as many times in the National Championship game as they have in the regular season. And the Bearcats went 2-0 in those meetings…

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As a sidenote: this ‘flagship’ thing is interesting. About a decade ago, the Florida legislature, with what I understand was a lot of opposition from UF, decided to designate FSU AND UF as the state flagships, and to funnel more money to both. (As in AL and other states, the state legislature sometimes looks like a football game, with grads from the major schools jousting for funding, offering silly resolutions. . .) This has lifted FSU’s stature hugely; it was gone from being a public u in US News rankings from the low 30s to number 20 currently. (Other attendant issues helped.) UF is currently five and has benefited too.

This is somewhat different from the state of Michigan, interesting given the prevailing political climate in both states. From what I understand MSU has been very hard hit by cuts, and UM has dug deeply to raise its own endowment, lower dependence on public funds. Which I am ambivalent about.

One of the points here–legislative funding could alter the dynamic. Part of the issue in FL was that FSU, despite being less regarded, had a lot of legislator graduates, and FL–to attract business and raise the profiles of two schools seen to lag a little, in a kind of interesting initiative–altered the balance.

Of course, those schools play each other in all the major sports, which is as it should be, IMO. In refusing to play other Ohio schools, OSU deprives them of revenue, and the public of a certain kind of fun.

This dynamic in Michigan is not a recent phenomenon. Michigan has been significantly less reliant on state funding than MSU or most public universities for as long as I’ve had visibility which is since 1991. State funding for the 20-21 FY is only responsible for 4% ( $376m out of $9.3b) of the annual budget for Michigan while it was 17% for MSU.

What the continuing cuts in public funding has done with both universities is to increase their reliance on out of state and international students as well as tuition increases to make up the gap, which Michigan has had a major lead on and have always been more successful at than MSU. Adding to this Michigan’s massive advantage in securing federal and corporate research grants and far more successful fundraising efforts (larger and deeper pocketed donor base helps) makes the the difference in stature between the two schools nearly impossible to narrow regardless of what happens with sideshow of college athletics or state politics.


Yes, which might speak to the desperation to keep up, and cut corners, in athletics at MSU, to some of the dislike in various quarters. Maybe that’s stating the obvious.

That’s just ridiculous. And should be embarrassing to OSU.

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