As part of welcoming the Michigan State Spartan website The Only Colors onto SBN, I discussed Sparty football culture with Only Colors contributor Ground Zero East Lansing...
GF: Alright, as a football fan, give me your level of insanity...and as a State guy too...like, 1-10, watching State football...
Ground Zero East Lansing: I'd say an 8, which would put me around a Ted Bundy level. I love looking forward to when Phil Steele puts out his preview, and I make it to every tailgate I can, but I'm not really the personality type to scream and swear at every play
GF: Wow, for MSU football, that's pretty damn high...Ted Bundy is one of my fav's by the way, great reference...
GZEL: Thanks, I try to keep up on my serial killers. Also, I've seen people much higher than me...just because MSU was down for a few decades doesn't mean our fans aren't as fanatical as the rest. Spartan Stadium does bring in at least 70,000 each game you know.
GF: Easily. It's just known as a bball school.
GZEL: I'd agree with that, but I'd say that representation is associated at least somewhat with the product on the gridiron. That and the circus that went on before Dantonio. How soon we forget that John L. was actually BIG TEN COACH OF THE YEAR IN 2003.
GF: Wow. My ideals are shot. You know what he's doing? Special teams at Arkansas.
GZEL: Oh yeah...Ryan Mallett as a punter...I wonder if he'll tear his ACL like Stanton did Freshman year doing kickoff coverage during the Alamo bowl. JLS...putting the "special" in special teams since 2003
GF: Well, ripping on John L is so...nevermind its timeless. So when you watch MSU football, do you watch individual matchups (DE v OL) or do you watch the game in general?
GZEL: I watch the game in general, and sometimes the individual matchups will reveal themselves. For example, during the MSU-UM game this year, Brandon Graham was running over Jesse Miller in the 2nd half. It was screaming for a double team.
GF: Me too. That's hysterical. He had 3 sacks and 4 hurries or something. Ok so bear with me here...I'm going to take Ringer down a notch. I just think, he was good, but not spectacular. And, against good teams, he didn't do anything. What changes this year, with Anderson, Caper, etc?
GZEL: First, Dantonio's come out and said that Ashton Leggett has a small edge on the other RBs, but that could easily change this Fall...This year there will be a bit of a learning curve for whoever gets the job (for both the OL and RB), but I don't think anything will really change in that respect this year...MSU will have to wait until 2010 I believe to really get going.
GF: Brilliant, that leads me towards my next question. Your recruiting class that received a lot of media coverage, Maxwell, etc...What is their impact this year?
GZEL: I don't think there will be that much of an impact. Surely either Baker or Caper will get some playing time, maybe Chris Norman (6th best LB in the country coming in). Maxwell will most likely redshirt, and MSU's other huge recruit, OL David Barrent, hopefully won't receive time. If that happens, he's either the second coming of the Incredible Hulk, or something tragic has happened to the OL, because as we all know, freshman on the line is never a good thing
GF: Yes, we do. What was the impact on the program to have a class like this? In-state, I've heard Dantonio is making strides to ingrain himself with the coaches, while RichRod isn't putting as much effort.
GZEL: Maybe it wasn't as much national as it was regional, but I think it was a pretty big impact. It legitimized MSU as a 1st choice and not a 2nd choice (a 9-4 season didn't hurt either). As for the coaches thing, the fact of the matter is that typically if Michigan doesn't get in-state recruits, they can go out of state and be fine for the most part, not so with MSU. However, I think with the contrast in styles between the two coaches, (athletic vs bigger OLs, speedster vs bruiser RBs), that unless the player's a 4 star talent, the overlap between the two schools' recruiting definitely will not be as much as it once was.
Is that you Richard Nixon?
GF: Right, the RichRod system changed things up, we'll see how the 3-4 defense affects things also. Ok...Dantonio. Your boy. He's got a name now (Chief Scowl) and hes got a rep (hard ass, serious, doesn't take shit). Obviously you like him, but whats something you see that gives you hope for his reign...or gives you pause? Oh and your thoughts on the PSU game, when he got angry...over the late TD.
GZEL: It's hope, and it comes in the fact that MSU just went to back-to-back bowl games for the first time this decade. MSU went 9-3 this season, and they definitely overachieved to get there. During the Iowa game, the team got 3 turnovers and a late 4th quarter stop to beat them by 3, and during the Wisconsin game, I saw Bielema self-destruct and MSU take the opportunity and capitalize on it to win. The point I'm trying to make is that past MSU teams would have found some way to not win those games and probably a few more from last year, but this team didn't cave. They're more consistent, and if he can change their mindset in that way, if definitely gives me hope...Ok, about the PSU game...First of all, Cousins threw that touchdown to Dell...both were in their first year of playing football. I can see how the timeouts pissed people off, but it's still game experience, and for a team that just lost it's 2 year starting QB, I saw it as a chance to make something out of a butt-kicking, but I could see what ticked people off about it.
GF: Of course. I liked some aspects, others bothered me. I did like that Dantonio sort of said, "f*** you, i'm going to bring effort no matter what"
GZEL: Yeah, essentially he's trying to defeat the culture of losing in football at MSU, and that's just one of things I think you have to do to accomplish that.
GF: Exactly. Ok I've got enough Sparty info for 10 lifetimes...So lets play the "first impression" game...Ill say a term...you give me first thing that comes to your mind...first one...Greg Paulus.
GZEL: Hype over nothing.
GF: Javon Ringers NFL chances.
GZEL: Decent, but not as great as they seemed in October.
GF: UM v MSU, Matchup 2009 in Sparty Stadium
GZEL: MSU by 10.
GF: Thought that MSU might be turning into the dominant Michigan team in sports.
GZEL: Let me know after 3 more years of sustained winning.
GF: Andre Rison.
GZEL: Left Eye burning down his mansion
GF: hahahahah...exactly...Man thanks for this, I appreciate it.
GZEL: Hey no problem.