When you visit East Lansing for a game, you should try out Green Label Bourbon from Red Cedar Spirit Distillery in East Lansing. I (LPW) am a huge fan of sampling the local breweries and distilleries of any college campus I visit.
Spartan fans might need a drink after last year (we’ll discuss that more in detail until tomorrow, bear with me) because the Big Ten east has changed a bit since last year:
James Franklin finally shed the “hype” label with an outright Penn State Big Ten Championship last fall. Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines will be fierce competitors, and obviously Urban Meyer’s OSU Buckeye squad will be in the running for the division crown any and every year.
On the other side of the division, Indiana head man Tom Allen is hungry to build on the success of Kevin Wilson, and also Rutgers HC Chris Ash and Maryland HC DJ Durkin are eager to build up their programs from the ground up, and take advantage of the rich recruiting ground their programs hope to lock down.
Long story short, how do the Spartans fit into a (IMHO) tougher division going forward?
LPW: Good luck. Dantonio will have to recruit and coach up even harder. He’s not as showy as Harbaugh or as accomplished as Meyer (natty-wise), so he’ll have to sell his record of past success to recruits going forward. Dantonio (fwiw imho) seems to run a fairly clean program, but last season’s football related news from http://www.offtackleempire.com/2017/2/10/14575542/timeline-michigan-state-offseason-scandals-and-suspensions-larry-nassar-demetrius-cooper doesn’t seem to help.
Coaches Allen, Durkin and Ash of Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers will be eager to establish themselves in their debut (or second) seasons and challenge the established powers. (heh, good luck)
Dantonio obviously has to keep above water from the three aforementioned rookies/rising sophomore coaches and get his team back together to challenge the the triumvirate of Harbaugh/Franklin/Meyer.
GF3: Franklin shed the hype label? I wasn’t aware that was official. One fluke win in the division and dick-tripping by Michigan isn’t the strongest case for being a Great Coach™. I mention that because there are a few vocal folks on OTE who are all-too-ready to crown Dantonio as a dunce after one season fell apart on him. MSU is in the mix for division titles and will be until Dantonio is gone. I’m the first to laugh at a good “Corch ‘em up” joke where his recruiting is concerned, but success breeds success and Dantonio put MSU on the recruiting map in a serious way. Do I think they’ll beat OSU more times than not? Hardly. Do I think they’re relegated to being the middling also-ran they were for 4o years before Dantonio? Not a chance. The Spartans will provide us with plenty of “Sparty Noooo!” moments going forward...but they’ll also ruin many a season for their B1G East foes.
GF: Good to see GF3 has been eating his usual breakfast of dissent and hardtack.
Sparty’s monstrous success of the past 7 years was made from coaching stability, a good solid defensive system, the ability to start a Michigan pipeline for recruiting...and the Michigan downturn. Now Michigan is back, stabilized, and recruiting high-grade players. The legendary coaching stability is no longer legendary, with side-eyes being thrown at the coordinator position and the special teams coach. And the Spartan recruiting, if you believe in **** rating, is behind Michigan, OSU, PSU and will always be behind those three sexier programs.
MNW: Graham and GF3 have both hit it on the head here. All that’s happened is MSU has, in rather dramatic fashion, slid not-so-gently back into its comfortable second-tier status with Penn State and Michigan in the Big Ten East. They’ll lose a crossover game occasionally to one of the best in the West, they’ll turn in 8- or 9-win seasons, and they’ll end a run here or there for the Buckeyes. Nothing more.
I don’t want to turn today into a Penn State-Michigan State dick-measuring contest, because dear god I am not allowed to bring booze into the archives and the first one that lets me will earn the distinction of me living there and writing a dissertation on Gladys Jeppeson’s petunia photography collection, but why has Franklin suddenly passed Dantonio on our list of coaches in the East? Has one season of chuck-it-and-pray really turned PSU into a contender and MSU into a pretender? If you’re taking one coach, straight up, to win you a game...I take Mark Dantonio and it’s not really even a decision.
WSR: I think Sparty’s going to slide comfortably into the middle. You’ll occasionally be able to fight for a title, you’ll occasionally get pulled into the shit with teams that don’t belong in the B1G, and you’ll make a bowl game nearly every season. It’ll be tremendous.
As an aside, who other than PSU fans is saying that Franklin is actually a coach? Because...uh...I didn’t see anything that really impressed me last year, other than taking advantage of wisconsin’s wisconsineyness in the B1GCG.
Stew: I’ll go ahead and add my voice to the echo chamber in stating my belief that Franklin is still not a very good coach. That all said, one of my favorite local reporters, Marc Morehouse, likes to compare B1G football programs as polar bears fighting over pieces of ice. OSU has theirs, and it seems Michigan and PSU are now putting up more of a fight against MSU, and Dantonio hasn’t had to defend it too much most of the last decade.