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Saturday, December 12, 2015
LETTER FROM "STEVE" SCORES AGAIN
Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press is the best sports reporter in the State of Michigan, and is on a professional arc that may well land him among the national "elite" of sports journalism. He is excellent at his job, and we admire him, respect him, and appreciate him for that. No jabs at Joe.
But nobody's perfect, and Rexrode has a glaring weakness when it comes to understanding the rivalry between Michigan State and Michigan, along with the inherent BIAS of the Detroit sports media as it relates to their long-standing love affair with UM. The latest bash-job against MSU came with the complaints against Connor Cook for leading his team to victory in the conference championship game and winning the Most Valuable Player award afterwards. Those story-lines were set aside by the media in favor of some "slight" against Archie Griffin that was conjured up by the Wolverine apologists who were incensed at the idea that the Spartans could be better than their own adopted sports programs.
Rather than openly dismiss the nonsense of those claims against Cook, the sports media "ran with it" and than disavowed any support for it, as Rexrode did when he wrote this week that the whole thing was "so overblown". Joe's comments came in his "Mailbag" or "Hey Joe" blogs, not as a regular news article with a clear headline about the subject.
So we give Rexrode credit for printing another long letter from "Steve", who once again lays out the situation so clearly that we are simply stepping aside to give "Steve" the spotlight on our web site for this article. His summary of the sports media is excellent, and if you want to read the Rexrode response, you can find it here.
*Joe -- don't you think it's way past time for the Detroit media to apologize en masse (excluding a certain MSU beat writer who seems to try to actually be a straight reporter) for its treatment of the Spartans, and particularly of Mark Dantonio vis a vis Jim Harbaugh? Let's examine this … and why MSU seems to have a much-ridiculed, but very well-earned "chip on its shoulder."
First, let's look at the record Dantonio has established in East Lansing -- the Spartans have appeared in three of the five Big Ten Championship games ever played so far. They have won two of those over teams ranked nationally in the top 5. The third they lost in a dogfight, on a roughing the kicker penalty, to eventual All Pro and Super Bowl QB Russell Wilson and his Wisconsin team. MSU has lost FOUR GAMES in the last three years. Two of those were to last year's playoff finalists, Ohio State and Oregon. The other two were both tainted by officiating -- at Notre Dame, where I believe FIVE pass interference penalties were called against the Spartans, almost all questionable, including in the end zone, in a game that prevented MSU from going undefeated that year. And this year's travesty at Nebraska, on the running out of bounds TD catch, that prevents them from being unbeaten THIS year. Oh, and by the way, within the last eight years, have totally dominated their in-state rival Michigan, losing to them ONCE.
In the last three years, MSU has been ranked in the top 5 twice, and this year, No. 3 -- so far. They have won the Rose Bowl against a Stanford team that is a perennial power, and the Cotton Bowl against Baylor. Now they return to the Cotton Bowl as Big Ten Champion once again, and as one of the four teams left standing in 2015. Dantonio's alums populate the NFL from Darqueze Dennard and Le'Veon Bell to Kirk Cousins and Trae Waynes, from Jeremy Langford to Brian Hoyer.
That's a pretty amazing resume. But not good enough to really get the full respectful attention of the Detroit media. The Spartans are picked against over and over and over in pre-game articles. They are voted in a dismissive way by media members who have poll votes. But, worst of all is the amazing, fawning, sycophantic, drooling, uncritical, softball coverage of Jim Harbaugh -- not only as it relates to his actual coaching, but to what he had for breakfast (does he like waffles or pancakes better?) or whether he took his shirt off, or what advice he might have for the President about how to achieve world peace. Day after day, leading from his hiring to the beginning of this season, if you didn't know better, you would think these articles were being written for some U-M booster publication, or as promotional tools for Harbaugh's recruiting efforts. All Harbaugh, all the time. Down to him cracking a nut on former coach's GRAVE before the OSU game.
Now, that might be OK if it was 1920 and Michigan football was the only game in town for college ball. It might be OK if just down the road there was not a program with Mark Dantonio running it, with THAT resume to talk about. It might be OK if Harbaugh had actually WON ANYTHING with his new team. But Dantonio, for all he's done, has not gotten a tiny fraction of the attention given to Harbaugh in the local media. It's a hugely embarrassing bias, it's unprofessional, and the effect it has on how MSU is perceived nationally and on its recruiting can't be over-emphasized. The respect and admiration this program richly deserves should begin at home. Yet, even with a huge MSU alumni base as a big part of the newspaper reading public in Michigan, a guy who got run out of pro football on a rail, who is a hired gun (no matter all the warm stories about his Wolverine past, down to being a ball boy, etc., he is here for a HUGE PAYDAY....bigger than any other coach in America) gets all the attention. Harbaugh won what he did this year largely because he bypassed the traditionally established way of recruiting and developing players and went and got a fifth year "free agent" QB from Iowa, Jake Rudock. Along with his salary, this development just brings a more and more professional look to the college game -- completely the opposite of the long-term, patient approach Dantonio has taken in East Lansing. Yet never a discouraging word was heard by the media.
The bottom line is that a guy who lost almost as many games THIS SEASON as Dantonio has IN THE LAST THREE, has been the one who has been incessantly lionized. It's time the Detroit media took a long look in the mirror and felt humiliated about that.
To "Steve", whoever you are and wherever you are: WE COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT ANY BETTER THAN YOU. Please feel free to contact us and send us your thoughts at any time.
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