As I posted on Facebook earlier today, "Sweaty palms: check. Racing heart rate: check. Loads of nervous energy: check. Yep, it must be an MSU/UM gameday".
When I woke up this morning, I wasn't thinking about the Super Bowl; I was thinking exclusively about the Spartans' game with the Wolverines. I attempted to think of ways I could both rationalize and live with a fourth straight loss to Michigan, and I came up woefully short. For some time this morning (and yesterday, for that matter) I was considering wimping out and not watching the game. Thinking it was on ESPN, my wussy plan was to not watch the game in real time, but if the Spartans won I'd catch the replay on ESPN3. As it turns out, the game was on CBS and I finally decided to just "man up" and watch the damned game AS IT WAS BEING PLAYED.
As I often do with particularly intense games, I decided to watch in my basement. My underground lair, which more closely resembles the basement on "That '70s Show" than it does any fancy mancave, features lots of room for me to pace and allows me to occasionally yell at the television without scaring my dog or children.
With nerves calmed by a glass of pinot grigio (yes, I know that doesn't sound the least bit manly), I did not utter a single F-bomb the entire game...okay, I may have exclaimed, "You've got to be f***ing kidding me!" on a phantom defensive foul called on Derrick Nix, but for the most part I was well behaved. As it turned out, I really didn't need to get too excited or angry, as the Spartans were in complete control the entire game.
It was a huge win for the Spartans, and the guys exhibited a tremendous amount of passion. Draymond Green was incredible, the bigs (Nix and Payne) were dominant, Appling looked better than he has in several games, and Brandon Wood and Austin Thornton were unsung heroes.
Speaking of Brandon Wood, I just learned that his stepbrother was shot recently, and this has probably greatly affected his play, to say the least. Thankfully, his stepbrother is going to recover, and that may explain why Wood's play greatly improved today. We as fans tend to forget that college athletes are also human beings who have lives outside of the sports they play. We have no idea the pressures and personal difficulties that may adversely affect their performance. These athletes are also students who, in addition to the pressures of intercollegiate athletics, have classes to attend, papers to write, and tests to take. They also have family and romantic situations that may cause them stress. So the next time you wonder why a player from your favorite college team has suddenly seen his (or her) performance suffer, keep in mind that there may lots of extenuating circumstances, off the playing field, that may be the cause.
Let me close by congratulating the MSU women's team on their road victory over UoM. The Spartan women's game started just as the MSU men were polishing off their victory, and the topped off not only a "super Sunday" for Michigan State, but a great weekend. (The Spartan hockey team swept Ohio State on Friday and Saturday).
Congratulations also to former Spartans Greg Jones and Devin Thomas, who now have Super Bowl rings.