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Friday, January 3, 2014

MSU FOOTBALL FRONT BURNER: The Game/Results - Beyond the Rose Bowl, Part 1

Our weekly feature on MSU Football brings diverse responses to
a variety of questions related to the Spartans program. 

Front-Burner was published in three parts between the B1G Championship and the Rose Bowl

Part 1. B1G Championship Game Discussion
Part 2. MSU 2013 Season Discussion
           2A. ATownAndDown Feature
           2B. MSUSpartan76 Feature
Part 3. Rose Bowl Discussion
           3A. Pre-Game Discusison
           3B. The Game/Results (This Edition)
           3C. Beyond the Rose Bowl

ATownAndDown (Follow A-Town on M-Live)
MSUSpartan76 (Follow '76 on M-Live)
SpartanMan82 (Prophesy and New Reality, By SM82)

1. People are calling the Spartans win at the Rose Bowl a "program win" and a "defining moment". What background stories surrounding that game/season do you find most interesting?

SpartanMan82 (Prophesy and New Reality, By SM82)
I'm still impressed with the way MSU could lose two Seniors, one a fifth-year and the other an All-American, and still win the Rose Bowl. The post-game focus on Kyler Elsworth is almost a bit much, but not really when you consider the circumstances. Most teams have a huge drop-off from "starter" to "sub", but Mark Dantonio gets so many players into every game that the Spartans have exceptional depth all across the field on both sides of the ball.

When all of the skeptics and nay-sayers start to count-up all of the guys Michigan State will be losing to graduation, keep in mind that the players taking over for the dearly departed may be ready to play. How will we replace them? The same way that we replaced Ringer, Caulcrick, Hoyer, Jones, Thomas, Cousins, Gholston, et al.

ATownAndDown (Follow A-Town on M-Live)
Awesome, awesome, awesome win for MSU but I do find it interesting how the huge story line leading up to the game is getting buried now. We won and our defense stepped up and performed despite not having Max Bullough on the field. This goes to show the depth that MSU has built since Coach D arrived. Could you have imagined in 2009, finding out that Greg Jones was part of the Rather Hall incident and would not be playing against Texas Tech? Because losing Bullough was essentially the same impact but look at the depth and talent around that position that we have now. In my opinion that just shows how far we have come. It used to be a starter would get injured and there would be a panic of who is going to fill in and now its next man up and everyone else will be that much better too.

MSUSpartan76 (Follow '76 on M-Live)
Technically, the expressions "program win" and "defining moment" apply. Any significant win is a defining moment, but the Spartans in 2013 had 14 defining moments, and yes, that includes the Notre Dame loss. The Notre Dame loss was the end of the beginning, to borrow from the wisdom of Winston Churchill. Or, to put it in a more modern context,

"It's not over and it will never be over here. It's just starting." 
-- MSU Head Coach Mark Dantnonio, Nov. 6, 2007

What is most interesting is the amount of negative media coverage, the backhanded compliments, the constant assessing the Spartan defense as unproven or not legitimate because the had played "nobody" even after the B1G Ten Championship trouncing of then No.2 tO$U. What is interesting is the ABC introduction of the UolM at MSU game as "Michigan versus Little Brother Michigan State." What is interesting is the ESPN commentators, during the B1G Ten Championship game, using the "Little Brother" insult as if it were perfectly acceptable.

And, now? The media have all jumped, en mass, on the Spartan bandwagon. MSU is not a "little" anything to anyone anymore. MSU is now on the national stage. MSU has (finally) played someone (notice that it was not a B1G Ten opponent) and proven themselves. Now, everyone loves the Spartans, even quite a number of chUMps who have nothing better to do than make derogatory comments on

The big story I wish to relate concerns me. While I was watching the Rose Bowl, I watch Stanford push MSU around and chalk up a 10 point early lead. My thought was that I was about to witness another Alabama-isque shellacking. I shook my head and said to myself, "If those kids believe they can win, how can I do anything less." Literally. I reposed myself with positive thoughts about winning and watched the drama unfold.

We Spartans do have to raise the bar for ourselves. 4 decades of disappointment are hard to shake, but NOW is the time to gain a new mentality, a new outlook, a new expectation.

This answer continues with the next question...

2. Is the 2013 Spartan football team a flash in the pan, or is it the beginning of a new era?

MSUSpartan76 (Follow '76 on M-Live)
We now have a new definition of "Same Old Spartans" and it is one that we will delight in going forward. Same Old Spartans now means Championships. The team brings back a solid core for 2014, there will be no speed bump in that transition. The team will continue or improve on the 42 wins in 4 seasons.

It is the beginning of a new era. Like the Phoenix, the Spartans have risen. Biggie Munn, Duffy Daugherty, Chester L. Brewer, Charles W. Bachmann, and John F. Macklin are all smiling. So is everyone who bleeds green.

SpartanMan82 (Prophesy and New Reality, By SM82)
I would say it is the end of a new era, the ascendancy of the Mark Dantonio Program. The past seven years, now completed, were the transition phase from the "old ways" (SOS) to the "new ways" (Champions) of playing football at Michigan State. We are now officially done with the past.

Dantonio said upon his hiring that he would probably coach for about 10 years. He looks solid for three more, and maybe beyond, but we are entering the middle phase of the Mark Dantonio Program. In this era, he can tell a guy like Drake Harris to just go away and stay away if you want to flip-flop all over the place. He can find other players now.

MSU is poised now for a great run at the brass ring, and we all as fans have to be careful not to become those whom we despise for their arrogance. If we become just "another Michigan", shame on us. I'm sure the team will not turn into "those guys", but we as fans need to be vigilant as we maintain our core values in the midst of new found success.

The end of this era will be marked by the identification of the successor to Dantonio. I would not be surprised to see an official transition period of a season or two to maintain program continuity as the Head Coach position is changed.

ATownAndDown (Follow A-Town on M-Live)
I think its a continuation of the era. Last year there was a lot of talk of could MSU win without Kirk Cousins and Co. on the team. This year shows that team wasn't that far off being a 9-10 win team too. A few less injuries and a couple of breaks could have easily made things different. There has been a general progression throughout the Dantonio Era. The first couple years were getting the team on track and getting to bowl games. That transitioned into competing in the conference and winning bowl games. And now look where we sit.

3. Which game was bigger for MSU, the 2000 basketball championship/season or the 2014 Rose Bowl win/season? Is Dantonio approaching Izzo-like status in East Lansing, not in results, but in status within Spartan Nation?

ATownAndDown (Follow A-Town on M-Live)
Hands down the 2000 National Championship was bigger. As I pointed out in a previous post, while this has been an awesome season for MSU football, its comparable to the 2011-2012 basketball teams success which is hardly one that goes down as the greatest ever. A national championship or being in the mix for a championship is the ultimate goal for every program. Kentucky basketball doesn't set its goal on winning the SEC. FSU football isn't happy with just winning the ACC. Winning the Rose Bowl and this season might be one of the (if not the) best seasons in football but there are bigger fish in the sea. There were no bigger fish in 2000.

I think Coach D is nearing Izzo status. He is taking the MSU Football Program to new heights and he does a ton for the school. The thing that makes Izzo so much of an icon is what he does off the court. Coach D is having the on the field success and I think he is loyal to the university and becoming an institution here.

MSUSpartan76 (Follow '76 on M-Live)
The 2000 NCAA Basketball Tournament Championship was great, but that is ancient history. We really do not want to use chUMps are role models.

Connor Cook said it best. You are only remembered by your last game. That makes this easy. The 2014 Rose Bowl is bigger for MSU... until March.

SpartanMan82 (Prophesy and New Reality, By SM82)
A national championship, earned by winning a tournament rather than an election, remains bigger than what the football team did this year. It's roughly equivalent to one of the Final Four years in which we weren't expected to get there. That makes it a great season, without question, but not the same as cutting down the net for Coach Izzo to wear as a necklace.

Dantonio has made great strides in public reputation this season, but with all due respect, he's no Tom Izzo. I would rate Dantonio at this time as similar to Izzo at the end of the 1999 season. That's pretty darn good, as we all were thrilled with what Izzo had done in four years.

But to answer your exact question, I would say "yes, he's APPROACHING that status".

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