We love Rutgers. Why? Lots of reasons, personal, professional, emotional. But the people we play, their fans, love their schools, too. Why? Each week we’ll tell their story. Today with go with this week’s opponent, Michigan State University. And we look to 1999 Michigan State grad and a friend our Aaron Breitman, Vinay, to do the honors. Go State!
OTB: Why did you decide to go to Michigan State?
Vinay: Well, most Michigan fans will tell you that MSU is just a collection of people that couldn’t get into UofM, the irony being that 90% of Michigan fans have never been to Ann Arbor but for me MSU was always my favorite school from a very early age. Anyone that disputes this, can have a look at me in my MSU Rose Bowl sweatshirt from 1988 (yes, they did have a couple of good seasons in the 80’s). I grew up about an hour and half from the school and I just always saw myself there. Also don’t forget back in 1995, MSU was still known as one of the preeminent party schools in the country, I wanted to make sure I was a part of that long and storied tradition. Let’s also not forget it’s long and storied tradition of having highly intelligent but also very attractive ladies, another obvious pull for a strapping young lad.
Do you love MSU now and why? What makes it great in your mind?
Vinay: I will love MSU until my dying day. Not only did I love it from an early age, but I had some of the best moments in my life on that campus and made friends that I will have forever. Granted some of those memories are a bit foggy but the ones I remember are pretty amazing. I mean I was there for the heyday of E. Lansing riots, I remember walking out of my apartment several hours after they had been broken up and my eyes being stung by tear gas, I mean now that’s a college experience. I think the school has definitely done it’s best to move forward from that part of its past and I commend the commitments it’s made to academics and athletics. Although this has not been a particularly memorable year in football and last year’s exit from the NCAA basketball tourney stung, there’s no argument that MSU has been one of the more successful programs in basketball and football for the last several years.
There are few Universities in the country that have such a vast and diverse campus. Obviously on a campus of 45,000 if you can’t make a couple of friends you’re probably not suited to be around other humans anyway (which means you probably SHOULD have gone to Michigan). The size of the campus can be daunting and those 8:00 a.m. classes across campus were hard to get to (I didn’t get to any of them) but there’s no denying how beautiful of a space it is. I think what will always make the school great to me is that it’s just a fun place that doesn’t take itself too seriously but at the same time gives you the tools you need to go out into the world.
OTB: Were you a sports fan while at MSU?
Vinay: I’ve been a Michigan State sports fan my whole life so I naturally continued to be while at the school. I’m a Chef now and a lot of my love of cooking was cultivated in making food for tailgates or for having people over to watch games. I have very vivid recollections of exactly where I was watching MSU beat Florida in the Orange Bowl after Nick Satan, I mean Saban, left for LSU and especially where I was the year Izzo and the Flintstones won the National Championship in basketball. My twitter handle describes that I had a humanities class with Morris Peterson, definitely a claim to fame of mine.
OTB: What was the best thing about being on campus?
Vinay: Like I said earlier, it’s obviously a beautiful campus with a ton to do, but I’m sure everyone would say that the people you meet and those long crazy nights you have with them are the best parts of the college experience. Those late nights are where I solved all of life’s big questions, became a communist for five minutes because hey why should some people have less than others, spent hours and hours listening to some of the greatest music ever created because think about all the great bands in the 90’s, played drums in a cheesy college rock band, and became a big part of who I am today. The food was not great, but I’ve heard it’s exponentially better these days. Everyone will tell you that ice cream at the Dairy Store is a must do and it lives up to the hype.
OTB: What was the best thing to happen to you while at Michigan State?
Vinay: Tom Izzo becoming the head coach of the basketball team my freshman year is a day that only competes with marrying my wife and the birth of my children. Also any time MSU beat Michigan in anything, which didn’t happen very much in football but happened a lot in basketball.
OTB: Tell me one or two really cool or important things about East Lansing?
Vinay: A really important thing to remember when you are in East Lansing is to avoid the police at all costs, they are not sympathetic or understanding to underage drinking. At least that’s what I’ve heard.
One of the coolest things on campus is the Children’s Garden, I’ve been told that if you’re a little buzzed it can be a wondrous place to spend an afternoon.
OTB: How does/did MSU make you feel a part of the school as an undergraduate? How about now as an alum?
Vinay: On a campus with as many students as Michigan State’s it really easy to feel like you get lost in the shuffle and are just a number but I found that once I chose a major I had many of the same professors for a lot of my classes. I think although the school is huge, the school does a good job of keeping the individual colleges within the University self-contained and in close proximity. Also I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention the greatest tradition in MSU history “Welcome Week”. Welcome week is an opportunity for freshmen to come to campus a week before classes start and spend a week meeting other students and participating in late night activities like bible study and charitable work (I hope the sarcasm can be detected here). It was honestly one of the greatest weeks of my life. I have been told that MSU doesn’t have a Welcome Week anymore and I think that is a grave injustice to younger generations.
As an MSU grad that is now an east coaster, I’m always surprised how many people I run into that either went to the school or know someone that has. Granted it’s not as many as I meet that are somehow affiliated with UofM, but isn’t Michigan the school where east coasters go when they can’t get into Harvard, Princeton, or Yale… Sorry I digress, there are plenty of MSU alumni clubs and bars in the city that are great places to reconnect with fellow alums.
OTB: How important is it to you personally being a graduate of MSU?
Vinay: When you grow up loving a school as much as I did, to know that I will forever be linked to it as more than just a fan is really rewarding. I can say “we” when I refer to its teams or the school and not feel like I’m some wannabee.
OTB: Vinay, you have free rein to write anything else.
Vinay: For many years being a Spartan fan/grad was probably similar to being a Jets or Mets fan. It takes a special person to want to cheer for the team that may not be the most popular or easy choice in a state or city. Granted, the last several years made it a lot easier than it had ever been for my whole life, but some kind of #disrespekt is always right around the corner to keep us going. Things may be swinging back the other way, any chance that Brady Hoke guy can come back, but whatever Harbaugh picks his nose and eats it I don’t care how good of a football coach the guy is. Obviously I never thought playing Rutgers would be a grudge match to see if MSU can stay out of last place in the B1G but alas here we sit. I can only hope you guys take it easy on us and if not it’s ok we still have Izzo and have you seen that kid Miles Bridges dunk a basketball, he’s something else. Good luck guys, this a great opportunity for Rutgers to throw for like 600 yards against MSU’s secondary. Go State!!!!
Michigan State at a glance
Founding: Founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, it was the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions established under the Morrill Act of 1862. First institution of higher learning in the United States to teach scientific agriculture. It became Michigan State University in 1964.
Location: Located in East Lansing, three miles east of Michigan’s capitol in Lansing. It is a 5,200-acre campus and approximately 19,600 acres throughout Michigan used for agricultural and natural resources research and education.
Enrollment: 50,543 total, 39,143 undergraduate, 11,400 graduate and professional
Academics: 17 Degree-granting colleges with more than 200 programs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional study
Athletics: 25 varsity teams: 12 sports for men and 13 sports for women