Fifteen years ago, then-player Mike Hart changed the dynamic of the Michigan-MSU rivalry with just two words — “little brother.”
What was at the time a simple post-game jab has since become one of, if not the defining moment of the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy in the 21st century. An uncountable number of signs, memes and merchandise have been created from that moment. And like clockwork, the clip of that is put on a loop the instant the rivalry week begins every year.
It’s also perhaps college football’s biggest lesson in how far “bulletin board material” can take a life of it’s own, and as the Michigan Wolverines prepare for this year’s edition of the game, Hart and the rest of the coaching staff have taken that lesson to heart.
“Things come up, we talk about it, we move on,” Hart said on the Inside Michigan Football radio show Monday. “I tell them, ‘Don’t be like me.’”
While it’s impossible to completely avoid making comments than can be turned into motivation — MSU coach Mel Tucker claimed he had already “rolled out” some to his team in his Monday press conference — these days it’s easier than ever to make a mistake and to dive too deep on peripherals.
When asked about avoiding the bulletin board, Blake Corum and Cornelius Johnson shared a common sentiment, though approaching it in different ways.
“We’ve talked it about this week, like that game isn’t gonna be won on social media,” Johnson said. “It isn’t gonna be won with whatever you guys say or what’s tweeted out there, what’s posted on Instagram. All the hype videos I feel like that’s not gonna win the game obviously. What’s gonna matter is what happens at 7:30 on Main Street.”
Corum was similarly dismissive of bulletin board material, but from the opposite direction of not letting what’s said on the other side shape his week.
“I just want to win,” Corum said. “That can be my bulletin board material. I don’t need them to say anything to get me hyped up, I just want to win.”