Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Oddly enough, the second bit was easy, but the first, I was told, would be tough. "There may not be enough room in the press box" was the message back from MSU athletics. After a bit of haggling we finally got it secured, but with a message back to me and my editors: We'll approve this one, but you all need to know that you're asking a lot.
It turned out that they could have given me a whole row to myself without displacing anyone. That's because we weren't in the dingy, cramped, old MSU football press box, we were in the new Spartan Stadium press box, a gorgeous two-sided cathedral of media heaven complete with cushy seats, outlets galore and uninhibited sightlines.
Only trouble is, it was built for a press corps that doesn't exist anymore.
There are three rows of seats in each of the Spartan Stadium press boxes. The north side, or "home" side, is, on average, packed. Or, at least compared to the south side.
On row one of the north side sits the print media, starting with a bank of seats for the most regular outlets, like the Lansing State Journal, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Associated Press and State News. The second row is for "others", various producers, TV folks who weren't involved in live coverage and the occasional guest of University Relations staff.
The third row seats, well, I have no idea. That's because almost no one ever sits there. And unless it's a big-time, out-of-state opponent like Ohio State, the visiting side is even more barren.
Football isn't the only sport to suffer an absence of coverage. Time was that three reporters would show for almost every Spartan volleyball home game. One from the Spartan Radio Network, another from the LSJ and a third from the State News. Now, the voice of the Spartans on radio sits alone.
Likewise women's basketball, which had begun to build a traveling press corps, has seen its numbers shrink. No one sent a reporter to Cancun for an early-season tournament during the 2007-08 campaign aside from Spartan Radio Network, which is paid to broadcast it. It's not because Cancun's not a nice place, it's simply a matter of dollars and sense.
However, that's not to say that coverage of all Spartan sports has declined. In fact, I'd argue that coverage of the big two - football and men's basketball - has actually improved.
Once upon a time, stories that were big enough went in print. Those that weren't died, unless someone wrote a years-back retrospective. Now, every minute detail about the two kingpin sports is chronicled in outlets like LSJ ace Spartan reporter Joe Rexrode's blog, SpartanTailgate.com, MLive's Gang Green blog, ESPN's Big Ten football blog and on this blog.
MSU had just one men's basketball game not televised this year. One. I got to see women's basketball and MSU hockey in Baltimore thanks to Big Ten Network. And I love listening to John Kreger's call of Spartan volleyball (most underrated broadcaster in the state of Michigan, in my book) from miles away thanks to my internet connection.
If anything, MSU sports actually gets more play now than it ever did before - just not through the traditional outlets.
Now, it's worth noting one point. MSU, like many universities, has a policy against credentialing online-only news sources. If you're a reporter for ESPN.com, your credential is issued because of your TV affiliation, regardless of the fact that your article will likely be one of the most read of any produced in the nation that day. I'm sure the policy has been overruled once or twice, though for the life of me, I don't recall it during the 2007 season.
Given the troubles print and local TV are having - and the success of online - that policy may need to be reviewed soon.
Coming Wednesday: It's undeniable that print coverage of MSU athletics has changed. But what, will this mean for the fans at home? Will you even be able to get a keepsake newspaper the next time MSU wins a Rose Bowl?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Option A: Michigan State heading to the Final Four in Detroit. Option B: The advance details of President Obama's autos restructuring plan - including forcing GM CEO Rick Wagoner to resign.
Folks in Detroit who want the answer will have to either drive to a store and buy a paper or click online. That's because neither the Free Press nor the News were delivered to Detroit doorsteps this morning.
Both papers have been losing money in recent years as more people stopped taking newspaper delivery, advertising plummeted and the demand for instant news pushed readers online - where they could find their papers' handiwork available for free. That's why they've decided to just deliver a few days a week, to cut costs in a desperate bid to avoid closing all together.
Look folks, we all know the newspaper industry is in big, big trouble. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rocky Mountain News and Baltimore Examiner all closed this year. The Ann Arbor News, Flint Journal, Bay City Times and Saginaw News are all printing part-time. The San Francisco Chronicle and Tuscon Citizen are on their deathbeds. Staffers with Gannett, which owns the Freep, Lansing State Journal (Full disclosure: My former employer), USA Today and others, already took one furlough week this year, and have to take another during the second quarter. Those were the lucky ones - they survived 10 percent layoffs in December that axed all but one of the LSJ staffers working on NOISE magazine.
So what does all this have to do with Michigan State athletics? Plenty.
It's not cheap to cover athletics. The LSJ, for example, paid for writer Joe Rexrode and photographer Rod Sanford to go to Indianapolis this weekend for the Indy regional. Transportation, hotels, all that, plus their salaries, were covered by the LSJ. But unlike a few years ago, there was no local columnist to provide the in-depth analysis of the weekend's events. That's because Todd Schultz, who left a few years ago to pursue a church job, was never replaced - one of many cost cuts the paper has had to make in recent years.
Over the next two days, we'll take a look at the state of the media covering MSU athletics, how it has changed and what's in store for the future. What is the future of media around MSU? And if papers go away, who's going to pick up the slack?
Update: The Freep led with the autos plan. The News went with Sparty.
Coming Tuesday: Change has already come to sports media. From fewer staff to fewer stations, the size and scope of the Spartan press corps has shrunk. We look at the changes so far, and what it means for sports and coverage today.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
We'll have more - much more - on this throughout the week, but we wanted to flag a bunch of things for ya right away:
- There's a pep rally tonight at 10 p.m. at the Breslin Center to welcome home the Spartans. It's free to go.
- Final Four packages, hotel included, are available here.
- Show up in style with Final Four shirts, hats and miscellany.
- Tickets, through StubHub, start at $300 (as of this writing) for the semifinals and finals. Expect those ticket prices online to soar through the week before crashing Saturday. Tickets "found" outside Ford Field will likely be priced MUCH higher - they were $2,000 a pop in 2005.
- The Free Press has a great feature on what to expect when you're inside Ford Field, including details the elevated court, student seating and a photo gallery from the court installation.
Saturday came, and the mood for MSU fans changed somewhat. Everyone was still excited, but the realization that those people wearing red were no longer friendly was evident. "Go Green Go White" and "C-A-R-D-S Cards!" could be heard echoing throughout the downtown buildings.
On the day off in Indy, fans of both schools headed out into the city to see the sights and have some fun. It was a busy day at the NCAA headquarters and Hall of Champions, where an MSU student ID would get you $2 off admission. There, you could see exhibits about all NCAA sports, view banners honoring current NCAA champions, and even shoot some hoops. On the second floor, replicas of the trophies that the Men's and Women's teams are hoping to win are in a display case for fans to see.
Another option for some of the more restless fans was the Civil War reenactment taking place outside of the Indiana State Museum. There, about 15 actors portrayed soldiers from the North and South on the museums large front lawn. Crowds of Michigan State, Louisville and Kansas fans were gathered around, trying to stay out of the way of the gunfire. Michigan State fans quickly started rooting for the north, leaving the South as Louisville's only option. We all know how that worked out... Visitors to the Museum could see a traveling exhibit on African American imagery, or learn about the history of Indiana.
Some of the more adventurous fans ventured out away from the downtown area, and saw famous Indy landmarks such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While there was no race today, there were still crowds of fans taking photos.
Late afternoon shifted fans attention back to basketball, where fans packed bars both downtown and in Broad Ripple to watch the Men's games first, and then the MSU women's game against Iowa St. While a evening rainstorm tampered down the mayhem slightly, crowds of fans still could be seen on the street well after 3AM.
Saturday was fun, but Sunday it is back to business. MSU tips off against Louisville today at 2:20 p.m.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
These photos were provided by TOSSS reader Tom Edwards. The one on the left is during the Louisville-Arizona game. The one on the right is before the MSU-Kansas game. Click them for a much larger image.
My guess for tomorrow's game is that Louisville fans will slightly outnumber MSU fans, but I hope I am wrong.
On the venue, Lucas Oil Stadium was very impressive. I believe it would be a fantastic place to watch a football game. The issue with hosting basketball in these venues is that so many fans are very far from the court. It makes the game very difficult to see, and many fans have to rely on the jumbo screens in two corners of the stadium. However, many fan's sight lines of these screens were blocked by the scoreboard lowered over the center of the court. The stadium also swallows sound, and at its loudest it seemed much quieter than an average game at the Breslin Center.
Friday, March 27, 2009
- Detroit - Michigan State vs Kansas
- Chicago - Michigan State vs Kansas
- Los Angeles - Gonzaga vs North Carolina
- Washington, DC - Gonzaga vs North Carolina
- Baltimore - Gonzaga vs North Carolina
- New York - Gonzaga vs North Carolina
- Denver - Michigan State vs Kansas
- Indianapolis - Michigan State vs Kansas
- Minneapolis - Michigan State vs Kansas
- Miami (Fl) - Gonzaga vs North Carolina
- Atlanta - Gonzaga vs North Carolina (Michigan State vs Kansas on Multicast)
- San Francisco - Gonzaga vs North Carolina
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The university, which most call KU, is a bit less than half the size of Michigan State. Admission is relatively easy - about 92 percent who apply get in - but don't take that to mean that this is some cupcake U.
KU is either the best in the nation or very close in both special education and urban and regional planning. Its medical center is top flight and the university also deserves high praise for its psychology and political science departments. The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics acts as a not-quite presidential library for the long-time Kansas Republican senator who got closest to the White House during his 1996 run against Bill Clinton.
The campus is simply gorgeous. It's a hilly campus, although the word "hilly" doesn't seem to do justice to some of these climbs, especially in inclement weather. It's not uncommon for a first story building to actually be the top of a three-story building set in one of those hills. It does have a quirky library, which actually has half-floors (and very low ceilings).
Beyond the university, Lawrence is actually a pretty cool town. Massachusetts Avenue is the downtown drag - think of Lansing's Old Town, but larger and without the scary bits a few blocks away. Lots of quirky shops and good eats.
In fact, it's such a nice place that U.S. News and World Report named it one of the best places to retire - due in part to all the former Jayhawk students who eventually retire there.
Their Jayhawk nickname came from pre-Civil War times, when a group of abolitionists Kansas used it to describe their militia. The mythical bird is supposed to be half blue jay and half sparrow hawk, jay and hawk, Jayhawk. See?
KU is very proud of their "yell", the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant. The chalk, in this case, is chalk rock found in western Kansas and, somewhat more famously, the White Cliffs of Dover.
KU is a very nice place. So nice, in fact, I'm hoping the Jayhawk players won't mind going back after tonight. Because I know Tom Izzo's Spartans want to send them home early.
Not lost in the discussion of MSU's victory was this question: Why did #1 seed Duke have to play at their opponents home court? McCallie insisted that the game location could not be blamed for the loss, but it still raises interesting questions of fairness and logistics. According to ESPN:
So basically the NCAA has to weigh fairness for the schools against paid attendance and television contracts. And while fairness is great, it doesn't pay the bills...
The women went to a field of 64 in 1994, with all games in the early rounds at the better-seeded team's gym. The next year, the setup for the first two rounds was that the top four seeds in each region would host. So four teams would play at 16 sites, with home-court advantage being rewarded because of your seeding. The only time that didn't happen was if a school had a conflict with its home arena or some problem with hotel-room availability. But those circumstances were rare.
Then, in 2003, the system was changed to make the first 16 sites predetermined. The reason given was supposedly to allow schools to market the subregionals all year, rather than waiting until they knew for sure they were hosting when the bracket came out.
However, promotion of games was far less a factor in having big crowds than just plain having the host team playing. There was no evidence that predetermination did anything to boost attendance.
What it did do -- and the reason behind its being used still -- is to pave the way for television to broadcast all 64 games of the tournament. It was neither logistically nor financially feasible to do that if TV had to wait until the bracket came out to know where the 16 sites were.
In 2005, a switch was made to try to create more neutral games: having eight sites with eight teams each. That system stayed for four seasons, but it had a negative impact on early-round attendance.
So this year, the tournament went back to 16 predetermined sites, and that's why there was a situation where a No. 1 had to play on a No. 9's home court. At the time bids are accepted for schools to host future games, it's obviously unknown whether their team will even be in the tournament, let alone where it might be seeded.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Option A: Commit to go to Indianapolis for the men's Sweet Sixteen matchup against Kansas, and possible Elite Eight game against Louisville or Arizona.
Option B: Take your chances on the women beating top-seeded Duke, with a trip to the Berkeley Regional as the reward if they do.
Now obviously the call has to be guaranteed trip over possible trip. But it got me thinking: What if they'd had until this morning to pick? Assuming MSU is picking up the tab for your trip, where should you go? Let's break it down in five key categories:
1) Chances of Success
The women are already giant-killers, having beat the best team in their regional. Correction: Having horse-whipped that team and sent them back to Durham with their tails between their legs. But it doesn't get any easier from here.
Iowa State is a four seed, and a win brings the winner of two-seed Stanford and three-seed Ohio State. If it's Stanford - and that's my bet - you've got to beat the Cardinal in California. Not an easy task.
The men's side shapes up somewhat more simply. First up is Kansas, the defending national champions and three seed. With a win you get the winner of Arizona and tournament number one Louisville.
Since you can only go to one, you've got to take your best odds at seeing a second State game - and MSU's men have already beaten Kansas once this year. Edge: Indy.
2) Location, Location, Location
Indianapolis is close, Berkeley is far, but since in our scenario MSU is footing the bill, cost to get there doesn't much matter. So now it's a question of where you'd rather be.
And this is easy. No offense to the Hoosier State, but would you rather be in the San Francisco Bay area or smack-dab in the middle of Indiana?
Easy. Edge: Berkeley
Nothing tops an arena full of screaming fans, but unfortunately that's just not usually what happens at any regional in the NCAA Tournament. You're not quite at the Final Four, where people move mountains to get there, nor at the sub-regional, which is often just a cavernous arena full of empty seats.
Instead, the regionals really key off of how many of your own fans you can squeeze into a building - and as well-developed as MSU's alumni groups in San Fran and southern California are, nothing will get fans there like cheap tickets and a short drive.
4) Vacation Time
Out in the working world, vacation time is somewhat at a premium. Some folks get two weeks, some lucky ones get three. Others get one week, including sick time and some get none at all. College, therefore, can be your last best chance to do something you ordinarily wouldn't.
And who randomly picks up and takes off to California for the weekend?
The key here is repeatability. Anyone can go to Indianapolis any time. Shoot, for most in the Midwest, you can make it to Indy on a day trip. Not so with Cali. It could be a case of not now, not ever.
In other words, peer three or four years into the future. Where do you want to be able to tell your friends and family that you went. In 20 years, what about your kids?
From my own personal experience, having been there in person for everything from the 2001 football win over Michigan to the 2005 men's Final Four, nothing - and I mean nothing - even comes close to the 2005 win over Tennessee that the MSU women engineered in their 2005 Final Four game. They weren't expected to be there, they weren't supposed to win, but they did.
And as loud as the Breslin gets for some men's games, the loudest I've ever heard that building was a few years back for a women's game against Ohio State. Some friends who went to the Duke game said it was even louder than that on Tuesday. That's the sort of passion you can get in MSU women's basketball for a truly huge game.
Look, it would be great if the men went to the Final Four in Detroit, but quite frankly it's well within their expectations. Both of us contributors to this blog have Sparty in the championship game (with one winning, the other falling short). But almost no one outside of the Spartan locker room thought that the women would be where they are right now. Now they've got a chance to keep shocking the world.
And you can't miss that. Edge: Berkeley
Winner: Berkeley, by a score of 3-2. It's close, and while the trip to Indianapolis would be great, how could you pass up a free ride to Berkeley?
That having been said, location is just one small piece of the puzzle. The Spartan men and women could play in Vladivostok for all I care, so long as they represent the university well and get the W.
Sure, you could go through StubHub or some scalper, but why? MSU, through Ticketmaster, has them on sale for $150, $120, $90 or $60, depending on your seats. It's a great deal, because that covers the Louisville-Arizona match and the Elite Eight game as well.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
There are reasons supporting both reactions. Her departure days after signing a contract extension reminded many of the sudden departure of football coach Nick Saban. The confusing situation surrounding her husband's arrest only added to the drama of the move.
However, her tenure at MSU was incredibly successful, with five NCAA Tournament appearances which included appearing in the 2005 National Championship game.
MSU junior Mandy Piechowski, one of McCallie's recruits and former players, told the Lansing State Journal, "You have to remember, too, if it wasn't for her, we might not be where we are right now."
So I pose this question to you: When Coach McCallie is introduced tonight, should she be booed, or cheered?
NOTE: The game tonight tips at 7:00 p.m. at the Breslin Center. The first 500 students to attend tonight's game will get in free.
Nix is MSU's 10th Mr. Basketball.
Past MSU winners include:
2004: Drew Neitzel, Wyoming Park (Michigan State)
2002: Paul Davis, Rochester (Michigan State)
2001: Kelvin Torbert, Flint Northwestern (Michigan State)
2000: Marcus Taylor, Lansing Waverly (Michigan State)
1999: Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill (Michigan State)
1993: Jon Garavaglia, Southgate Aquinas (Michigan State)
1990: Anthony Miller, Benton Harbor (Michigan State)
1988: Matt Steigenga, Grand Rapids South Christian (Michigan State)
1981: Sam Vincent, Lansing Eastern (Michigan State)
Well, technically it's called Spring Football, but it is still an important time for the MSU Football program. The first practices since the season ended at the Capitol One Bowl begin today. According to the released schedule, the team will play this week in shorts and limited pads and will be in full pads at the start of next week.
There are several positions battles of interest, notably the battle for QB between Keith Nichol and Kirk Cousins. The fight to replace RB Javon Ringer may be just as important, but most likely will not be decided at all in spring ball, as two of the top contenders for the position are incoming freshmen who will not arrive on campus until fall.
Keep an eye on the newcomers who are already enrolled and should participate: DE Corey Freeman, WR Donald Spencer, and WR/CB Patrick White, and transfer TE Brian Linthicum.
MSU's Spring Football game is April 25th at 1:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Now, if you were watching online, at a bar or you bought the March Madness package on DirecTV, this wasn't an issue. But many Spartan fans are in a tizzy over missing those last few seconds. I mean, it wasn't altogether likely that USC would pull five points out of their jacksies with just more than 10 seconds left, but it's certainly not impossible.
That hopefully won't be an issue with the next game, as the tip-off of MSU-Kansas (Friday at 9:37 p.m. ET) is a full 20 minutes before the game after it, Gonzaga-North Carolina, begins.
It reminds me, though, about the Heidi Game. I'm referring, of course, to the 1968 AFL Championship between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders where NBC cut out with just over a minute to play and the Jets up three to go to a regularly-scheduled broadcast of the movie Heidi. The Raiders came back to win, a classic ending that no one in the eastern or central time zones saw. Now, in order to avoid another Heidi Game, networks typically stick with the sporting event until it's over. But obviously there are still kinks to work out.
The solution, however, is simple: If you've got a game that's still reasonably close and right at the end, you can't cut away from it to go to another game that's reasonably close and right at the end.
So here's hoping MSU blows KU out of the water and so the good folks at CBS have plenty of time for Gonzaga-UNC, 60 Minutes, or whatever they please.
29 members of the Spartan Brass left campus late Wednesday with their director, John T. Madden and the rest of the MSU delegation to get to Minneapolis for MSU basketball's win Friday over Robert Morris and their game today against USC. For the team, Thursday includes practice and preparing for the game. For the band, Thursday was a trip to the Mall of America to shop and ride the roller coasters. Each member was given $120 for food and expenses to last through Saturday morning. They were given another $80 because of the MSU win, to last through the game today.
Preparations for the trip started long before Selection Sunday told MSU they were heading to Minneapolis. Anna Robinson, a Senior trumpet player, had been through this before. "If you wait, you will only have one or two days to talk to your professors. I went up a month ago and let them know. I have three exams next week, and (if MSU wins) would either have to make them up or have a proctor. It's amazing to have professors understand and work with you to allow you to go."
While Thursday was a day for sightseeing, Friday was more about business. Band members mostly stayed close to their downtown hotel, getting ready for the MSU pep rally and that night's game. "Normally we get there at halftime of the previous game, but (Friday) one of the cheerleaders forgot her pom poms, so we were seven or eight minutes late," said Robinson. "We then set up quietly during timeouts of the game before, to not disturb anyone."
The win Friday meant that Saturday would be another off day in Minneapolis.
According to Madden, Saturday for most members would include catching up on homework, taking any tests (where he might have to serve as a proctor), sightseeing, or watching MSU at their free open practice. Saturday night for Madden included a trip to see the Minnesota Orchestra concert.
Robinson said that her Saturday would include studying for those tests next week. "Today is a study day. Some people went to explore the University of Minnesota campus. I might go out tonight."
Win or lose, the band will return to campus immediately after today's game. Bags will be packed and loaded up before they even go to the arena. Then it is a straight trip to the airport for their flight back to Lansing. If MSU wins, the members can look forward to doing this all again next week, in Indianapolis.
- Detroit - Michigan State vs USC
- Chicago - Michigan State vs USC
- Los Angeles - Michigan State vs USC
- Washington, DC - Siena vs Louisville
- Baltimore - Marquette vs Missouri
- New York - Siena vs Louisville
- Denver - Marquette vs Missouri
- Indianapolis - Michigan State vs USC
- Minneapolis - Michigan State vs USC
- Miami (Fl) - Michigan State vs USC
- Atlanta - Siena vs Louisville (Michigan State vs USC on Multicast)
- San Francisco - Michigan State vs USC
Saturday, March 21, 2009
While most of the 20+ scouts were focused on running back Javon Ringer and his recovery from a knee surgery before the NFL combine, an increasing focus seems to be on the prospects of quarterback Brian Hoyer. The Detroit News ran an article about how former Spartan Devin Thomas returned to catch passes for Hoyer during the event, in which Hoyer evidently impressed scouts.
Other MSU players who participated included offensive lineman Roland Martin, linebacker Ryan Allison, Safety Otis Wiley, and defensive lineman Brandon Long (pictured above), who had a discussion with the scout from the New England Patriots after the event.
The NFL Draft is April 25th and 26th.
A young girl at beginning of the video in a Michigan State Cheerleader outfit
Mateen laughing in joy
Mateen diving for a ball going out of bounds
Charlie Bell hugging Morris Peterson
Izzo with a crying Mateen during the 2000 National Championship celebration
After the video, Greg Gumbel asked for the "biggest upset predictions of the 2nd round." Greg Anthony chose USC over MSU.
Friday, March 20, 2009
You may not know him by name, but if you've ever been to an MSU basketball game, you've seen him. Greer stands on the floor, just in front of the band, conducting his heart out, game after game. As he has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Greer's arms when conducting don't exactly move in sync with the music. But his heart is pitch-perfect.
Greer has been helping John Madden to direct the Brass since age 6, and everyone in the Spartan Basketball family - and the State News talked to just about all of them - loves the guy. Although he is unable to travel with the band to NCAA events, he will surely be watching tonight's game from his South Lansing home. Let's hope he - and the rest of us - will get treated to a W.
- Detroit - Michigan State vs Robert Morris
- Chicago - Wisconsin vs Florida State
- Los Angeles - Wisconsin vs Florida State
- Washington, DC - Wake Forest vs Cleveland State
- Baltimore - Wake Forest vs Cleveland State
- New York - Ohio State vs Siena
- Denver - Wisconsin vs Florida State
- Indianapolis - Michigan State vs Robert Morris
- Minneapolis - Wisconsin vs Florida State
- Miami (Fl) - Wisconsin vs Florida State
- Atlanta - Wake Forest vs Cleveland State (Wisconsin vs Florida State on Multicast)
- San Francisco - Wisconsin vs Florida State
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Robert Morris University
Location: Moon Township, Pa. It's a small Pittsburgh suburb a stones throw from the airport.
Enrollment: Private school. About 5,100 total; 3,984 undergrads
Namesake: Robert Morris. He's the somewhat pudgy gentleman to the left. Born in 1734 to a working-class family, Morris grew to become a self-made mogul in the shipping business, and during the Revolutionary War the de-facto commander of a navy of privateering vessels - his own reconfigured trade ships.
Imagine you're a revolutionary big-wig, the war is raging but the colonies you're hoping to make free are hurting for cash. What's a rich guy with an independent (or independence) streak to do? Well, if you're Morris, you hound each of the soon-to-be states into paying their taxes while taking out a line of credit to basically finance the fight yourself.
He's also an interesting asterisk to the story of George Washington's presidency. The first family, needing a place to stay, borrowed Morris' house while he moved next door for eight years.
Academics: US News and World Report lists Robert Morris among their "Tier 3" colleges and universities in the northeast. The school isn't overly selective, admitting more than 75 percent of its applicants. The university's calling card is its business school, although it has diversified recently with a focus toward fields like nursing, actuarial sciences, engineering and information technology.
Tuition cost: Between $19-20,000 a year, on average.
Long Lost Sibling: Think of Robert Morris as something like a Ferris State, only private. Ferris has that one or two outstanding program(s), but is otherwise unremarkable. Kinda small, but not in a bad way. A bit suburban with an actual defined campus but not one that would blow you away.
There is free popcorn and the games are on a large HDTV. Donations benefit the Comm. Arts Department.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
When moving MSU into the Sweet 16, President Obama said "Izzo always has great teams." He followed that a minute later saying "Michigan State's gonna win again" as he wrote them into the Elite 8.
He picked North Carolina to defeat Louisville in the National Championship game.
Last season, President Obama picked MSU to lose in the second round to Pittsburgh.
MSU's APR and Graduation Success Rates in the 2009 report are as follows:
Overall Student Athlete: 79
African-American Basketball Student Athlete: 80
White Basketball Student Athlete: 86
Overall Basketball Student Athlete: 85
MSU was not included in the 2008 report as they did not make the NCAA Tournament.
The MSU women have a slightly lower APR than the men, but their GSR is 15 points higher. Their APR is well above the 925 cutoff for possible probabtion, so overall they are in fine shape.
Now to look at some of MSU's possible opponents in the tournament, as well as some Big Ten teams:
Middle Tennessee State: APR - 917 GSR - 79
Austin Peay: APR - 903 GSR - 83
Duke: APR - 984 GSR - 90
Iowa State: APR - 975 GSR - 93
Iowa: APR - 977 GSR - 92
Minnesota: APR - 950 GSR - 67
Ohio State: APR - 993 GSR - 100
Purdue: APR - 941 GSR - 89
If either the Men's or Women's team reaches the Sweet 16, there should be a follow-up report coming.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
A pep rally will be held Friday in the atrium of the Minneapolis Marriott City Center. That's the Spartans' team hotel for the first two games of the NCAA Tournament. The event kicks off at 4 p.m. local time.
Confirmed attendees include:
- Tom Izzo
- President Lou Anna K. Simon
- Athletic Director Mark Hollis
- Spartan Brass
- MSU cheerleaders and the dance team
- Sparty (of course!)
The sale in 2007 featured items from the MSU Bookstore, as well as surplus athletic apparel including shoes and warm-ups, as well as football jerseys.
MSU's Spring Football Game is scheduled for April 25th at 1:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports has just released their annual report on the Graduation Success Rates (GSR) and Academic Progress Rates (APR) for teams in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and as should be expected, MSU fared quite well. The report is focused on the NCAA as a whole, as opposed to specific schools, although its appendix does list the individual scores for each school in the tournament. The report focuses mainly on the disparity between white basketball players and African-American basketball players, and like many schools across the country, MSU exhibits these issues.
MSU's APR and Graduation Success Rates in the 2009 report are as follows:
Overall Student Athlete: 79
African-American Basketball Student Athlete: 43
White Basketball Student Athlete: 100
Overall Basketball Student Athlete: 60
For comparison, here are MSU's numbers from the 2008 report:
APR: Not reported (4 years of data required)
Overall Student Athlete: 79
African-American Basketball Student Athlete: 50
White Basketball Student Athlete: 100
Overall Basketball Student Athlete: 67
While the numbers seem to have regressed slightly from the previous year, what is important to note is the APR number. MSU, sitting at 963, is in pretty good shape. Any school that gets a score under 900 may be subject to sanctions including a post season ban. MSU is one of only 18 teams in the tournament with a score higher than 960, so from that perspective we should be pretty proud.
Looking at GSR, MSU is also in alright shape. MSU is one of 30 teams in the tournament with a graduation rate of 60 or better. It would be good if this number goes higher in future years, as it is considered borderline for acceptability, and will drag down the APR if not improved.
Everything considered, MSU can do better, but should be pretty proud of where they are right now. Just to keep it interesting, lets glance at some of the teams MSU could face in the tournament, as well as some familiar Big Ten opponents (APR and Overall Basketball Student Athlete GSR):
MSU: APR - 963 GSR - 60
Robert Morris: APR - 925 GSR - 100
Boston College: APR - 944 GSR - 70
USC: APR - 863 GSR - 37
Kansas: APR - 981 GSR - 64
Louisville: APR - 941 GSR - 42
Illinois: APR - 989 GSR - 80
Michigan: APR - 927 GSR - 46
Minnesota: APR - 910 GSR - 36
Ohio State: APR - 909 GSR - 53
Purdue: APR - 894 GSR - 77
Wisconsin: APR - 938 GSR - 86
In past years, the Institute has also put out a report for the Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament, as well as an update once both tournaments reach the Sweet 16. Look for those updates in a future post.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Also, please join our NCAA March Madness pool! I'd like to say that there will be cool prizes for the winner, but really there probably won't be... We will feature the winner on the blog however!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Clearly, winding up in Indianapolis would be Michigan State's preference, given its proximity to East Lansing: It's just a hair longer than four hours' drive. The town has been good to Sparty in years past - MSU's 2000 national championship victory took place in Indy's RCA Dome, as did the MSU women's epic Final Four victory over Tennessee.
The stadium they'll be using this time, however, is the new Lucas Oil Stadium, which has its own plusses and minuses. On the positive side, it's brand new, got great amenities and all that. Not only that, it's sight lines were actually designed for basketball. There is one big drawback to the stadium, however. It wasn't designed to be a loud facility, thus any traveling Izzone impact would be muted, literally.
Saturday's loss, which basically eliminated any chance of a 1 seed, actually helps MSU get closer to Indy. There's little chance Sparty would have leap-frogged Pittsburgh or Louisville, both of whom are seeking a Midwest Regional #1 berth. But there are fewer teams on the 2 or 3 seed lines that fit better in this city, so the odds are good State will land in Indy with two wins. The one possibility that could push MSU out is Memphis - they're hosting the Memphis regional and will thus get placed somewhere else. This is their natural landing spot as well, and the higher of the two between Memphis and MSU should be rewarded with a trip close to home.
Chances of landing here: 80 percent.
Of the non-Indy cities MSU could wind up in, I'm going to come right out and say that Memphis is the best landing spot. The drive, at about 11 hours, is doable in tandem or with 3-4 in a car. But flying here is just plain easy, considering Memphis International is a hub airport for Northwest. The trouble for State is that several other potential twos and threes - Duke, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and LSU, just to name a few - would be much better geographic fits. That's why, even though this would be the second best possibility, it's also the least likely.
Chances of landing here: Maybe 1 percent, but probably not even that.
Glendale, on the other hand, is the exact reverse of Memphis. It's the worst possible option for Sparty, but the most likely for State outside of Indy. The reason for this is simple: There isn't a Pacific coast team that's a good option as a 1 or 2 seed. UCLA and Gonzaga, probably the best Pacific hopefuls, are projecting as four seeds, according to ESPN's Joe Lundardi. So that means someone's traveling.
Other teams make better sense for every other region than MSU, which puts the committee in a bind. Do you make everyone travel just a bit, or do you instead make three teams happy and send one packing? Easy, you send one packing. And that one is most likely MSU.
Chances of landing here: 15 percent.
Aside from a love of the color green, Michigan State has practically nothing in common with Boston. There's not a huge alumni base there, plus it's a 13-hour (plus two border crossings) drive away. But the thing that could land Sparty in Boston is the same thing that could take them to Arizona: Relative proximity. UConn is an obvious choice for Boston, but aside from that, who do you put there? Every contender from the ACC would likely rather go elsewhere, as would Big East contenders Pitt and Louisville. So while there's no compelling reason to put State in Beantown, it could wind up there by default.
Chances of landing here: 5 percent.
By any criteria, this is the best possible site in America for a Michigan State Final Four team. It's not even close.
Ford Field is an hour to an hour and a half drive from East Lansing. It's even closer for metro-Detroit alums, who (by far) make up the largest population of MSU boosters outside the Lansing area. Add to that the fact that many tickets were bought way in advance by fans on a whim figuring MSU might be there, and it all adds up to a big home field advantage.
Of course, you have to get there first.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Four hours and eight minutes south of East Lansing lies the favorite (and most likely) landing spot for Michigan State this year. The town has hosted Sparty many times in the past, so many State fans are familiar with the area. The town has a very active alumni club - for my money one of the nation's best-organized small alumni groups. Because of its central location, Dayton is a likely destination for any Big Ten team this side of Wisconsin, given the NCAA Selection Committee's preference for putting teams within traveling distance, even if it creates a lopsided home field advantage for the lower seed.
It's not unreasonable, then, to think that schools like Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan and Illinois could land here. Big Ten fans (aside from arch-rivals like MSU-Michigan or Michigan-OSU) have a long history of cheering for their fellow conference mates. It happened at the 2005 Final Four with MSU and Illinois, and it would happen again. Hello home field advantage.
Chances of landing here: 80 percent
For some reason, I keep seeing national bloggers popping MSU into Minneapolis. I don't get it - there isn't another team slated for a 1, 2 or 3 seed that makes more geographical sense, but what do I know? Anyhow, despite the 10 hour-and-change drive time from East Lansing, Minneapolis isn't actually a terrible place to wind up. For one, it's close to the number-one alumni base outside Michigan, Chicago. For two, flying is easy given that Minneapolis/St. Paul is a hub for Northwest Airlines which just so happens to be the biggest airline in Lansing and Detroit. And that Big Ten mutual cheering arrangement would kick in here as well.
Chances of landing here: 20 percent
Greensboro, N.C. Kansas City, Mo. Philadelphia, Pa.
I'm lumping these three together because, for our purposes, there's no difference. Each is a 10-12-hour drive from Michigan, and none of them really make sense as a destination. However, each of these locations has a very huge upside - they're great "foodie" towns. Either cheesesteaks in Philly or barbecue in Carolina or Kansas City would be a great condiment to a Spartan basketball win.
Chances of landing here: <1>
Portland, Ore. Miami, Fla.
Miami has great weather in March, and I hear the public transit in Portland is nice.
Chances of landing here: Nil
Friday, March 13, 2009
Jay Vincent, 1981
Scott Skiles, 1986
Shawn Respert, 1995
Mateen Cleaves, 1998
Mateen Cleaves, 1999 (Coaches)
Morris Peterson, 2000 (Coaches)
So can Lucas rest easy now, knowing he is destined for Breslin immortality? Not quite...
All of the players who won POY were also national All-Americans, as was every other player who MSU has recognized.
Will MSU's Big Ten Championship help Lucas's case? Perhaps!
Of the ten players MSU has honored in the rafters, only two never won a Big Ten Championship at some point in their career. Those two were Scott Skiles and Shawn Respert.
Skiles made his case by leaving MSU as career leader in total points (since passed by Respert and Steve Smith), career field goals (passed by Respert), career assists (passed by Cleaves), career steals (passed by Cleaves), and career games started (now tied for 7th). Respert made an equally strong individual argument, and still leads MSU in career points, career field goals, and career 3 point field goals.
It's too early to tell if Lucas will be able to put up the career statistics to rival these other Spartan greats, but his POY award and Big Ten Championship have gone a long way to getting his number up high. If he can finish this season strong and earn recognition as a national All-American, it could be all but guaranteed.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
While I am starting this overview with the original plan, it is important to note that an update to the plan was released in 2007 showing completed work and reflecting changes in several areas specific to athletics. Links to both the original plan and the 2007 update are located in the sidebar to the right.
The plan was developed with the input of over 50 MSU officials. Specifically from the athletic department was Gregory P. Ianni, Associate Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. Many other university officials who work with the athletic department were also involved.
The first mention of the future of the athletic facilities in the plan occurs in Section IV: Facilities Program. Here, the plan proposes specific additions of space to the university. Over 20 years, the plan calls for an additional 3.6 million gross square feet (GSF) of space to be built, at approximately 180,000 - 200,000 GSF per year. Only a small amount of this will be athletic space. According to the plan,
The facilities program has been organized into two time frames. The first is made up of projects currently in planning that would likely be implemented in a near-term period of up to five years. The second time frame consists of future projects that have been identified as long-term needs or goals over the next 20 years and beyond.
The details of the program will surely change over time for both the near-term and long-term elements, due to internal and external considerations that cannot be foreseen.
Athletic projects that were listed in the near term plan (which would have been through 2006):
- Breslin Center Addition, 31,000 GSF (Berkowitz Center, completed 2002)
- Jenison Field House Addition, 3,000 GSF (Renovation completed 2001)
- An additional project on the short term plan that affected athletics was the Shaw Parking and Transit Ramp Addition, 70,000 GSF (Completed 2002)
Athletic projects that were listed in the long term plan:
- Varsity Baseball, Softball and Soccer Game/Practice Fields, 10-12 acres (DeMartin Soccer Complex, 2008; McLane Baseball Stadium, 2009)
- Stadium Expansion, 100,000 GSF (Expansion completed 2005)
- Stadium Parking Ramp, 260,000 GSF
The plan then discusses proposed renovation projects. These projects were not grouped near and long term, but rather suggests a goal to have the projects completed within 20 years. Athletic projects on this list include:
- Demonstration Hall, 86,627 GSF
- IM Sports Circle, 179,956 GSF
- IM Sports West, 233,049 GSF
- Jenison Fieldhouse, 201,207 GSF
The plan finally proposes buildings to be demolished. Like the renovations, these are projects that may be completed within 20 years. There are no athletic buildings on this list, but there are buildings that would affect athletics include:
- Central Services (Building just east of Spartan Stadium, where commuter lot buses operate on football gamedays.)
- Shaw Lane Power Plant (including the famous MSC smokestack visible from inside Spartan Stadium.)
A later section proposes over 20 campus road projects, many of which are major redesigns. Many of these projects affect the athletic experience (driving, busing, parking and tailgating). Many of the major projects on the list are already complete or are currently underway, and include the redesign of the "Sparty" intersection, the Trowbridge extension onto campus, the removal of many traffic roundabouts, and the Farm Lane railroad underpasses.
Parking spaces are also discussed in this section, and the most relevant part of this to athletics is the location of two possible parking ramps. As discussed earlier, there is a proposal for a Stadium Parking Ramp as well as a proposal to demolish Central Services. As you may have inferred, the current location of Central Services is the proposed location of a Stadium Parking Ramp (as well as an additional Spartan Stadium expansion, similar to the west side expansion). The second proposed ramp location is south of Spartan Stadium, on the south side of Shaw Lane where a surface lot now exists. Both of these proposals could significantly affect the gameday tailgating experience.
A final note from the plan that concerns athletics is its protection of open space. In the plan, current open spaces around the athletic complexes are maintained and protected. This includes the areas around the new baseball and soccer complex, and Munn Field. Additionally, the plan mentions the creation of new intramural fields to the west of campus as part of the University Village redevelopment (completed last year).
I hope that this provides a good framework for a continuing discussion of the 2020 plan. Part II of this series will look at the 2007 master plan update, specifically changes between the two plans that affect athletics.
Maps from 2020 Plan.
And then afterward, the Izzos unveiled a mural honoring the late Frances Cleaves, the mother of Michigan State star Mateen Cleaves, on a wall outside of the Spartans' locker room. They officially renamed the players' lounge next to the locker room the Frances Cleaves Family Center.
The Izzos paid for the mural themselves. Frances Cleaves died in 2007 following a swimming pool accident. She was the glue of the "Flintstones" road show during those early championship seasons, organizing the bus rides to Madison, Wis., and Bloomington, Ind., for the players' families.
When the Spartans retired Mateen's No. 12 jersey two years ago, the "Izzone" student section at the Breslin Center gave Frances Cleaves a standing ovation.
This sense of family, and the tangible benefits it creates, can only help the program. Part of the recruiting process is selling the program to a prospect's family, and this shows MSU's commitment to family in a specific, brick and mortar way.
Other original Flintstones moms prominently featured are Dabora Smith (mother of Antonio Smith), Valerie Peterson (Morris Peterson) and Belle Bell (Charlie Bell). Current Flintstone Marquise Gray, a senior from Beecher, helped with the actual unveiling, pulling down the brown-paper covering.
Photo from mlive.com.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The next MSU Construction Junction is tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. While the meeting agenda does not have any specific athletic facilities to be discussed, there are several road projects that may impact those attending athletic events, as well as an update on the Farm Lane project, which we all know impacts football parking. The announcement is below:
Construction Junctions are at 8:30 a.m. the second Thursday of the month. Meetings are in B104 Wells Hall. (http://maps.msu.edu/interactive/index.php?location=wh).
The agenda is as follows (subject to change):
- MDOT: US-127, I-96 Road and Bridge Work (for more information and to subscribe to project listservs, visit www.michigan.gov/mdot).
- City of East Lansing: Mt. Hope Road Reconstruction (from US-127 to Lot 89), and Harrison Road Reconstruction (from Red Cedar bridge to Trowbridge Road intersection)
MSU Food Stores: Alterations to freezer walls
The meeting will also provide updates on various projects:
The New Farm Lane: Underpasses Construction
Wilson/Birch roads — Steam Distribution and Road Reconstruction
Wharton Center — Addition No. 1 and Renovations
Cyclotron — Office and Low Energy Research Additions
MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Facility
Secchia Center — MSU College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids
That said, these shoes are sweet.
I want to take a moment and explain the idea behind this site. Simply enough, I wanted to create a place to discuss all things about MSU sports, expect for the actual play of the teams on the field. There are plenty of other sites that discuss wins and losses. I believe there are a number of fans who are interested in other aspects of MSU, the sports and teams, and workings of the athletic department. While I am sure that this idea will evolve over time, this is the foundation from which we will grow.