Thursday, June 14, 2018
Thursday, February 1, 2018
Thursday, January 25, 2018
It has been a time of embarrassment and shame for the entire MSU community. The scope of Larry Nassar's abuse of his patients certainly stupefied and horrified me, and probably everybody else who has been paying attention to the trial. What is even worse is that Nassar was able to engage in this activity for decades without being stopped by anyone.
All of the women who came forward to testify in court deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their bravery, and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina also deserves praise for allowing anyone who wished to speak the opportunity to come forward.
I called for Lou Ann Simon to step down as president, and I am satisfied that she did so yesterday. Though I do not think she should be vilified (at least not yet. Who knows what will be discovered in the independent investigation of the scandal) her leadership has been lacking throughout this ordeal.
It has been terrible to see Michigan State University, a place I hold dearly, raked through the mud in the national news throughout the last several weeks. But I can't say it wasn't deserved. I hope that the university can learn from all the mistakes that were made and begin the healing process.
Saturday, November 25, 2017
Sunday, November 5, 2017
I was at the October 21 Homecoming victory against Indiana: a warm, gloriously sunny Saturday. I have never seen a Homecoming game as festive as this year. The stadium was so packed--and security so tight--that it took us until about midway through the first quarter to get to our upper deck seats. The game itself was painful until MSU woke up late in the fourth quarter to score two touchdowns and sneak out with a 17-9 win.
Last week, very little went right in a 39-31 overtime loss to a good Northwestern team in Evanston. But the Spartans more than made up by bouncing back to beat #7 Penn State 27-24.
There hasn't been anything overwhelming about MSU's Big Ten wins this season. They have won five games by a combined 25 points. Even if it isn't pretty, the team finds a way to win.
My son and I were at the Penn State game, but I regret to admit that after the stadium was evacuated, we didn't return to the see the conclusion. We had prior engagements that evening, so I watched the second half from the warmth of my living room. But here is a salute to the hardy people who stuck around to cheer the Spartans on. Well done!
There is a lot to like about this year's team. Just the fact that they have more than doubled last year's win total is reason enough to rejoice.
Brian Lewerke has thrown for 400 yards in two consecutive games. He established a new single-game passing yardage record against Northwestern and threw for another 400 yesterday against Penn State. Considering he still has two more seasons left at MSU, he could end up as the most prolific passer MSU has ever had.
The Spartans have a slew of excellent young receivers, but Felton Davis III has established himself--at least for now--as the number one guy. He was seemingly all over the field yesterday and made phenomenal catch after phenomenal catch.
So with Iowa blowing out Ohio State yesterday, the Spartans find themselves amazingly playing for the driver's seat in the Big Ten East race next week against the Buckeyes. For the fourth time in the the last five years, it is Michigan State--not Michigan--who goes up against Ohio State with a potential championship on the line.
I admit that after last season's 3-9 debacle, I wasn't sure if Mark Dantonio could get the program back to championship level. How wrong I was. He has to be a prime candidate for national coach of the year.
I fully expect the Spartans to be underdogs in Columbus next week, and I think that's the way they like it. Ohio State has proven themselves to be fallible, and though I don't expect them to look as bad as they were against Iowa, in no way do I think they are a guarantee to beat Michigan State. I have finally learned not to doubt Mark Dantonio.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
I am doing something I should do more often and posting on my phone right after the game.
Well, the good news: the Spartans won.
The bad news: they damned near blew it.
In a game in which it appeared that MSU was in control and cruising to a relatively dominant victory, the bottom almost fell out in the 4th quarter. With MSU up 23-6, I had actually gone to the kitchen to pour a glass of wine. I couldn't have been gone more than five minutes. I came back to the living room in time to see Minnesota score a touchdown and cut it to 23-13.
MSU answered the Gophers with a touchdown of their own and all looked well again. But Minnesota refused to die. They marched down field and scored yet another TD.
It looked as if MSU would respond with another touchdown, but one of the weaker holding calls I have seen negated a great LJ Scott run. The Spartans then missed a field goal and I had a bad feeling.
Minnesota, naturally, drove down field on some improbable plays (including their backup QB faking out one of our defensive players) and scored yet another TD to cut the score to 30-27 with about 1:13 left. They did this with no timeouts left.
Suddenly I had images of the Nick Saban years when his teams seemed especially adept at blowing leads and losing in improbable ways. (Look up "1997 Michigan State/Purdue" to see what I mean).
Thankfully, MSU recovered Minny's on-side kick and that was that. As stated before, the Gophers were out of timeouts.
The Spartans had escaped with what was suddenly an ugly win.
(Did I mention that I spent the last several minutes of the game loudly cursing my television? Some things never change).
The positives are as follows: the Spartans won and are now 5-1 (3-0 in conference); LJ Scott had a truly great game despite his one turnover. It was one of the best games he has had since the 2015 Big Ten title win over Iowa. Another positive: the defense played well for about 80 percent of the game.
The negatives: too many turnovers (though the weather WAS bad); too many youthful mistakes; and the defense was woeful down the stretch.
I contend, however, that this is a young team still finding its way.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
So I haven't written anything since before the Notre Dame game. That one didn't go as I thought, with turnovers doing the Spartans in. The following weekend I was in Seattle and followed the Iowa game on my phone while traipsing around the "Emerald City." We returned to our hotel room when the game was in the fourth quarter and I was amazed to discover that the game was actually on television in the Pacific Northwest. It was a sludgy ugly nail biter, but the Spartans hung on for a 17-10 win.
And then there was Michigan this past Saturday. I thought MSU could and should make it a close game, but I didn't necessarily think they'd win. Well, I have to learn to stop doubting Mark Dantonio and company in this game. Dantonio is now 8-3 against Michigan. Even in the games that MSU has lost, the Spartans have been in every one of them, including last year's game in which a struggling team pushed Michigan to the fourth quarter.
So MSU's win Saturday should have come as no surprise. This is what Dantonio does. He gets his teams prepared to compete against Michigan and they never doubt their ability to beat the Wolverines. In fact, I think they assume they will beat Michigan. And with pompous Michigan alumni like Desmond Howard offering bulletin board material every year, Michigan State players don't lack for incentive to beat the Wolverines.
As someone who has followed this rivalry since the mid-'70s, and experienced his share of Michigan losses, it's still hard for me to get used to this new reality, But believe me, I'm enjoying it.
So now expectations for the season are suddenly elevated. Is this a team that can seriously contend for a Big Ten title? Who knows? Maybe they can. It all depends on how the team handles its big win over Michigan and how the young players mature over the course of the season. The next test is tonight on the road against a beat-up but still dangerous Minnesota Gophers team. It could be a struggle, but I will pick the Spartans to win 23-16.