Earlier in August, reddit released the college basketball and football versions of the Hate Map. Unsurprisingly, North Carolina hates Duke. Ohio hates Michigan, and Minnesota harbors the purest hate for Wisconsin, since you can only absolutely hate something that has no idea you even exist.
Most hated college football team by state pic.twitter.com/8BUutO2HP9— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) August 7, 2014
The map is telling, however, that Wisconsinites can't stand Ohio State more than any other Big Ten team (I get that the map says Michigan for Wisconsin in football... but that has to be an error, so I choose my truth over their truth). This in and of itself isn't all that revolutionary. I myself have always envied OSU's program, while never wanting to become the Buckeyes. They always are in the national title conversations, they always get the benefit of the doubt from analysts and they've always drawn big recruits. LeBron James loves hanging out there. Lebron Jr. will probably get a full-ride scholarship from Thad Matta when he turns 13. Wisconsin gives Jason Bohannons scholarships when they're 13. OSU always seemed to be on a different level.
But my dislike for Ohio State was challenged in the past four or five years. I could never really grow any dislike with the wide array of issues the OSU program has seen in the past few years, not to mention the great moments we've had against them. "Oh, how I hate" is a common chant of mine on gameday, but true resentment is born from sorrow.
Enter Michigan State. The Badgers suffered a controversial defeat at the hands of the Spartans in 2011, when Kirk Cousins chucked a 44-yard Hail Mary to Keith Freakin' Nichol. Chris Borland summoned all of his He-Man strength to keep Nichol from crossing the plane... the play was reviewed, UW get screwed and MSU hails it an amazing and well-deserved win.
Following some trash talk with strangers on Twitter and a serious birth of dislike, I was looking forward to basketball against Michigan State. The first step in growing hate is always wanting to stick it to the other team. The Badgers teams of past were usually overmatched but they were always scrappy enough to eek out a win. That's what the Badger basketball team has been in analysts' eyes for years; scrappy and over-achieving, a testament to Bo Ryan's coaching.
But now that's where things get interesting. Our beloved Badgers no longer are only "scrappy." They're legitimate. This past Final Four run was only the beginning and I couldn't be more excited. As the popular saying goes, Bo [Ryan] knows. He's found success by recruiting talented, hard-working kids, who have flown mostly under the national radar. I think he knew that it was only a matter of time before a class struck and made a run deep. Now that he's had one, the recruits should be lining up
I think Gary Andersen knows, too. I've already loved what I've seen from him in his first year. It's nice to see him using his established recruiting pipelines to bring in kids from the south. It's nice to see him admit he wants to use a dual-threat quarterback, since that's where football is headed right now. He seems smart, and the type of guy I would rally behind. He looks like he can jog for a couple miles... unlike some coaches.
The thing for me is that Michigan State and Wisconsin have been on similar paths. Both were below the Michigan and Ohio State tiers, but hungry and ambitious enough to close the gap. That's why I think my hate for Michigan State is both different and healthier than my hate for Ohio State. It's because we're equals; like neighbors who grew up playing the same sport, pushing each other to be better. I respect the hell out of MSU. This past year's Big Ten Championship Game featured the two teams that I "hate" ... and it couldn't have been an easier decision to want the Spartans to make the Rose Bowl. Michigan State is substantially easier to stomach.
And that's where I border on being insulted from seeing the hate map. Only Minnesota hates us? Damn it! What about Iowa? Indiana? You mean my hate for Michigan State is one-sided and no one else hates us other than Minnesota? Are we not being taken seriously enough? Are we less hatable than other places? Do people think we're a fluke?
Preconceived ideas about Wisconsin are losing their validity. I think this is the Badgers' year that we really string together a reputation-turning run. These Badgers want to be noticed; not for their luck, but for their dominance. It's time to hate the Badgers for being good, America. We look forward to the salty looks.