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Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Dantonio Prophesies

Flashback to November 3, 2007, East Lansing.
It's midway through the 4th period. Michigan State had rallied from a 0-14 halftime deficit to take a 24-14 lead. Chad Henne went down with a twisted ankle. Ryan Mallet came in, botched the snap which bounced once right into the hands of Mike Hart who eeked out a 1st down. Momentum shifted. Michigan took the ball down the field and scored. Michigan State punted on the next possession, a 3 and out. Michigan drove down the field and scored to take a 28-24 lead. Michigan State drove to the Michigan 42 and turned the ball over on downs. All in all a good game with lots of on the field drama. A lucky bounce of the ball, which could have gone either way, decided the game.

After the game, Mark Hart on national TV, inferred that Michigan had just been playing with the Spartans like an older sibling might do.

“I thought it was funny. They got excited. It’s good. Sometimes you get your little brother excited when you’re playing basketball and you let him get the lead. Then you come back and take it from him.”

Watch the video. Watch his shifty eyes. He knew exactly what he was doing and knew it was wrong. It was classless. It was unsportsman like. Rivalry or not, one does not embarass or humiliate the team or person you just beat. His comments reek of arrogance.

What were the reactions to insult? The school? Crickets. Lloyd Carr and the UM coaching staff? More crickets. If there was anything said to Hart about it, it was kept quiet. The UM fans? They embraced it. Why, now, they had a new, creative insult! The media? They had a field day with it. Some prime examples: Going into the UM-MSU game last season, ABC announced it as "Michigan versus Little Brother Michigan State." The expression popped up during the B1G Ten Championship game and again in the Rose Bowl by the commentators. The UM players? Over the past 7 years there have been numerous uses by them.

On the Spartan side, when asked about it, Coach Dantonio responded with 2 memorable quotes.
"The pride comes before the fall."
"It's not over. It will never be over here. It's just starting."

People often do not understand that pride in the context of that paraphrased scripture quote is not a good thing. It is conceit, hubris, arrogance, or a lofty and arrogant assumption of superiority. The full verse from Proverbs 16:18: "Pride comes before destruction, and arrogance before the fall."

Dantonio's quoting that passage has proven to be a prophesy of Biblical proportions.

Lloyd Carr ended his coaching career. Rich Rodriguez was brought in and brought NCAA sanctions down on Michigan. Brady Hoke was brought in and with initial success using the Rodriguez team and playbook has led the Ann Arbor squad to lower levels of success each year. Lots of individual, team, and program records set -- all negative. Players have been arrested and convicted. Recruits are turning away. The current coach and athletic director are under fire. The students and fans are in revolt.

In fact, the Michigan football team record looks like Hart's little brother, " let him get the lead. Then you come back and take it from him."

3-4 (season in progress)

We have seen the UM arrogance for decades. In 1978, Darryl Rogers refered to UM as:
"Those arrogant asses in Ann Arbor."

Now we are seeing the fall. Starting after the Hart Insult, MSU has racked up a 5-1 record versus UM. The sole loss came as hundreds of thousands of UM fans held their breath for 2 minutes while their team made a last second field goal to win 12-10.

A digression:
Funny thing about the UM arrogance. I was at a sports bar watching the game. There were some 20 UM fans and me. When the field goal was made, they cried out, "Little Brother." So relieved were they that the Spartans hand not won a 5th in a row that they totally forgot it was the 900th program win. Think about that. It was more important to them to beat MSU than it was to set an all-time NCAA record.

During those 6 years, UM scoring has steadily dropped, reaching a 10 year low of 6 points (-48 yards rushing) last year.

Since Coach Dantonio arrived, it has started.
6-1 (season in progress)

7 consecutive bowls. 3-4 record.
Currently on a 3-game bowl winning streak
2 Division Championships
2 Conference Championships
1 Rose Bowl win
13-game conference winning streak

There's a lot more: Individual, team, and program records; vastly improved recruiting; ever increasing numbers of players starting in the NFL; and near-zero off-the field issues.

This will be the 7th year since the infamous Hart made his disparaging remarks.

And 7 is a number of Biblical significance.

The pride comes before the fall.
It isn't over.
It's just starting.

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