Monday, August 25, 2008

Michigan State Football: Fool's Gold

It's no secret that I consider the Michigan State Spartans not only the most disappointing team in the Big10, but also the nation. On one hand, MSU always seems to recruit pretty well (at least top half of the conference on average), and they always have solid NFL prospects: Plaxico Burress, TJ Duckett, Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, Charles Rogers, Jeff Smoker, Drew Stanton, and Devin Thomas, to name a few. However, on the other hand, East Lansing has become a head-coaching revolving door in recent years and despite having some of the cockiest fans in the Big10, MSU hasn't had back-to-back winning seasons since '89-'90! And, they've been to only 1 New Year's Day bowl in that span.[Don't mention to those Spartan faithful that Northwestern has won/shared 3 conference titles since then.]

I've noticed two major problems with Michigan State since I started following the Big10 (early-mid '90s):

1) MSU plays second fiddle in its own state. Regardless of what you hear from a Spartan fan, the Maize'n Blue dominate the state of Michigan. Whether it's recruiting, academics, or location, don't let the warrior physique fool you, Sparty is the little brother.

2) Inconsistency. Fact: the Spartans will win a couple big upset games every year, then lose to a couple teams they should beat. I believe this has to do with why MSU fans seem so full of themselves...they only notice the big wins! Is it just me, or does MSU seem to beat Notre Dame a lot lately? Also, they always give the Wolverines a run for their money, often times emerging the victors over The Victors. But, MSU always seems to drop games to inferior talent (Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota, etc.).

I'm sure they wouldn't want to hear it, but I pitty Spartan fans. Expectations are always high in East Lansing, and rightfully so. They recruit in the middle-to-top half of the Big10, even beating out Michigan/Notre Dame/Penn State for recruits their fair share of the time. This recruiting success translates to MSU possessing a handful of dangerous weapons just about every year. That being said, they always manage to lose winnable games. At least when you root for a crumby team, expectations aren't high. I'd probably have a John L. Smith-esque breakdown myself if my team always had high hopes but consistently disappointed.

So can they turn it around this year and add to the momentum from last year? If recent history is accurate, I say no. Sure the Spartans return QB Brian Hoyer, RB Javon Ringer, and Mark Dell (who impressed as a true freshman WR), but they lost their game changing WR Devin Thomas, TE Kellen Davis, and underrated DE Jonal Saint-Dic, to name a few. Head coach Mark Dantonio does seem to fit in East Lansing, but I could've said the same for John L. Smith and Bobby Williams at some point in recent years. Michigan State will finish 5-7, maybe 6-6. They have to travel to Cal and Penn State (both losses), host Eastern Michigan and Florida Atlantic (both wins), and won't win more than half against Nortre Dame (improved), Indiana (improved), Iowa, Northwestern (improved), OSU (best in conference), Michigan, Wisconsin (2nd best in conference), and Purdue. To be honest, this shouldn't surprise any Spartan faithful. Look for them to make a big deal out of potential wins against Notre Dame, Iowa, and Michigan, then totally forget to mention blowing games against Northwestern and Indiana. It happens every year.

No comments:

Post a Comment