The Student and His Professor
John Hannah, Ralph Aigler and the Origin of the Michigan State-Michigan Rivalry
David J. Young
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The Student and His Professor: John Hannah, Ralph Aigler and the Origin of the Michigan State--Michigan Rivalry explores the long-standing, adversarial relationship between Michigan State President Hannah and Michigan Law Professor Aigler. Their behind-the-scences feud--based in large part on the controversial "athletic" scholarship--arguably played a major role in eventually transitioning a lopsided, politically mandated intrastate football series into a bona fide rivalry of national interest; one that even included a trophy. The story of that feud and its role in advancing the series to sports page significance is built around four historical events: Michigan State's quest for membership in the Big Nine; the Spartan Foundation Probation of '53; the Paul Bunyan Trophy controversy; and the "name change" civil war of 1954-55. As it turned out, Professor Aigler and fellow Wolverine leaders--obsessed with keeping the newest member of the conference in its rightful place--played no small part in trying to influence each outcome.