Saturday, September 20, 2008

What, another football post?

I am still awake when I should be sleeping, but hey, it's Friday night (actually Saturday morning) and I don't feel like going to bed.

Now, let me gab for awhile about an important issue: college football. Later today, at 3:30 PM, Michigan State and Notre Dame will kickoff at Spartan Stadium. I have never seen as much confidence in a Spartan blowout as I have seen on various MSU sports chat rooms and blogs. Why so much confidence? How long have these people been State fans, I wonder? Yes, it's true that Notre Dame struggled against a weak San Diego State team and Michigan virtually gift wrapped last week's Irish victory (and, at least for now, Michigan is not a good team) but what exactly has Michigan State done? The Spartans lost to a decent, but not great, Cal team on the road, manhandled the predictably woeful Eastern Michigan Eagles, and then escaped the drizzly, rainy slopfest last week against Florida Atlantic. The bottom line is that it's way too early to judge how good any of these teams are, MSU and Notre Dame included. Add to that my reluctance to predict a Michigan State drubbing of the Irish based on my 30+ years of getting my hopes and dreams dashed by the Spartans. I've just gotten too cynical and pessimistic to get the least bit cocky about any Michigan State football game.

We will get a much clearer picture of how good Michigan State and Notre Dame are after today's game. I know that isn't a particularly original statement, but it's true. My hope is that Mark Dantonio's toughminded approach will have the Spartans ready to play, and hopefully come away with a solid victory. So far, I like what I've seen of Dantonio as a coach. He consistently has had MSU ready to play every game since he took over the job, that's a hell of a lot more than I can say for his immediate predecessors, John L. Smith and Bobby Williams.

I'm not a Michigan fan, but as one who has lived in this state his entire life I can't help but to have followed U of M football to a certain extent. Michigan football is pretty much ubiquitous around these parts--you can't really avoid it even if you try. Reports of Michigan's football demise seem a little premature to me--I'll believe it when I see it. It seems to me that Rich Rodriguez's new offensive schemes will make more sense to their players as the season goes on, and their offense will improve. (It is certainly strange to see Michigan running a spread offense, though. To me, Michigan is all about the power running game with the occasional long bomb to one of their long line of great receivers: Anthony Carter, Desmond Howard, Amani Toomer, Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, etc. I also recall Bo Schembechler running the option on virtually every play back in the late '70s. I have wondered about why a team that gets such a bumper crop of 5-star recruits year after year needs to implement a spread offense. I generally associate that type of offense with teams that need to use trickery to compete with the big boys, like Purdue, Northwestern and Michigan State in the John L. era. Am I off-base here?).

Here's another thing I don't understand. If Michigan gets a top-5 national recruiting class every year and is allegedly stocked with great athletes, why have I heard endless whining about RichRod not having the right players to run his system? This is Michigan football, folks! The winged-helmet, the Big House, and Hail to the Victors! Shouldn't the Wolverines have a stable of blue-chippers to run the spread? A veritable cornucopia of gridiron studs to run the new scheme like a fine-oiled machine? Not to drag MSU into this, but I don't recall John L. Smith saying he didn't have the right players to run the spread back in his first year at MSU. Yes, it is true that John L. inherited a senior quarterback in 2003, but it's not as if Jeff Smoker was the ideal spread quarterback. Still, John L. had his most successful year in '03: 8-5 record and Big Ten Coach of the Year. (Wow, I actually wrote something nice about John L. Smith!).

I don't profess to be a football expert, although I am a big fan of the game. If anyone thinks I'm off-base with these opinions and wishes to set me straight, please comment.

I know that no living humans are reading this blog, so for my pretend make-believe readers out there who are depairing of all the football talk, I assure you that I will at some point write extensively and intelligently about subjects other than football.

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