While there were many factors that ultimately led to Rich Rodriguez's dismissal at Michigan, one of the key factors was Michigan's inability to beat Michigan State under Rodriguez. The Wolverines went 0-3 against the Spartans under Rodriguez, losing each game by an average score of 32-19.
While Michigan underwent a quick turnaround in 2011 under Brady Hoke, ending its season with a victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, the Wolverines weren't able to get the Sparty off their back, falling to the Spartans 28-14 last October.
It's a trend that obviously bothers Brady Hoke, and he made it clear he harbors no illusions as to what has been happening in the series.
"We play an in-state rivalry game against Michigan State, and they have beat our ass for the last four years," Hoke told a group of 450 high school football players on Wednesday.
"There's no other way to put that. It's been an ass-kicking. Just being honest with you. Pardon me about my language, but it's true."
It's not hard to understand why Hoke would be upset about it, either. Aside from the fact that Michigan State is one of Michigan's biggest rivals, that 28-14 loss last season proved to be pretty costly. If Michigan had won that game then it's the Wolverines who win the first Legends Division crown and go to Indianapolis to play Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.
Michigan and Michigan State will meet in Ann Arbor on October 20 this season, though I doubt anybody has to tell Brady Hoke that.