Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Shuttering Stadiums

The effects of the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as swine flu, have already been felt at athletics events across North America, with Mexican soccer teams playing to empty stadiums, and high schools in Texas and Alabama postponing sports games.

Now that some schools have begun closing in Michigan, it's fair to wonder what might be in store for MSU athletics.

Certainly this would be a terrible weekend for events to get canceled, given that baseball's McLane Stadium is to be officially dedicated. Two thousand five hundred seats, 400 of them with chair backs, all could be empty.

I think it's worth noting, however, that there have been precisely two instances of swine flu found in Michigan so far. Yet folks are shutting down entire school districts after even one student shows signs of flu-like symptoms.

It's an abundance of caution, and it's hard to say at this point whether or not that's justified. But the odds are good that if this continues MSU might take a long hard look at postponing some athletic events.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bring Your Binoculars

Izzo is still going to Broadway! And now maybe you can afford to join him!

Evidently, someone at Wharton Center noticed the issue we pointed out over a week ago: Tickets aren't selling!

So, to fix this, Wharton Center announced yesterday that some tickets will be reduced to $25, or as we call it, "the bad seats at a Big Ten Tournament game" level, as opposed to the earlier (and still available!) tickets which we call "the bad seats at a NCAA Tournament game" level.

Now, it should be noted that these seats are pretty bad. They are called the "Spartan Faithful" seats, which is similar to Spartan Stadium renaming the "End Zone" seats the "Family Section." These $25 seats are in the back of the Grand Tier. "Grand Tier" is to theater goers what "upper deck" is to sports fans. It wouldn't surprise me if Magic Johnson's retired jersey blocks some of your view (I can only assume they would bring those over from Breslin). But, with 840 tickets still available (as of Wednesday morning), something needed to be done to start getting people in the seats, and this is probably second best thing to actually shaving Izzo's head on stage.

Photo courtesy of

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nick Saban is Returning to MSU...

... as the head coach of Alabama, when the Crimson tide come to Spartan Stadium in 2017 for the return leg of a home-and-home series. (Scared ya for a sec, didn't I?)

MSU announced three future non-conference opponent deals
today, including the Alabama tie. The others are an extension of the Notre Dame rivalry through 2025, with two 2-year breaks (2014-15 and 2020-21). That first break, in 2014-15, will be filled by West Virginia.

This marks a significant upgrade from the future games that had been announced for the next few years. State is scheduled to play Florida Atlantic in 2010 and 2011, South Florida in 2013 and 2017 and the odd date with the three-headed not-quite monster known as "Directional Michigan".

State fans should see right through this. It's a chapter straight out of Tom Izzo's book titled "Play anyone, anywhere." It shows Mark Dantonio's not content to Montana State his way to victory (I'm still pissed about that scheduling decision, by the way). And it shows he won't accept the program being content with beating up on kids when there are giants to fell.

I, like every other State fan, have been praying for nine years that MSU would schedule a Nick Saban-coached team. Finally, we can exact some measure of revenge from him leaving in the dead of night for Baton Rouge and the LSU job. Getting a chance to stomp a mud hole in the lore of the vaunted SEC, right in its most storied stadium, is just icing on the cake.

We've waited this long. What's a few more years? Let's just hope Saban doesn't turn tail and leave before we get our chance.

Skandalaris' Selling Point

I had a chance to tour the Skandalaris Football Building on my visit back to MSU for the spring football game, just me and a friend inside - apart from a bunch of recruits. We didn't talk to them (heck, I don't think we really made eye contact), but it was interesting to observe how they went through the building.

For those who haven't been inside, the place is palatial. The national championship trophies sit at the front. On the walls are photos of the glory days, past and present. The skill trophies, including Charles Rogers' Biletnikoff as the nation's top wide receiver, stand proud in their own cases. The center even has an elevator shaft shaped like a football.

That was all fine well and good, but the thing that really caught these recruits' eyes was the helmet display. Each NFL team's helmet is on the wall above the names of every Spartan who played for them. The kids lingered there, one eying the Pittsburgh Steelers segment, another fixated on the Bears.

It was an instructive moment. For all the selling point of State - the Michigan and Notre Dame rivalries, solid academics, the chance at a bowl game - the best chance to land your average recruit is to convince him that this is the best place he can go if he wants to play on Sundays.

Which brings us to this past weekend's NFL draft. More specifically, how just one Spartan was drafted - Javon Ringer in the 5th round to Tennessee. QB Brian Hoyer, ranked as the number four QB in many draft previews, now sits as ESPN's #8 best guy not drafted (he was signed as a free agent to the Patriots).

But keep in mind, MSU isn't selling kids on John L. Smith's recruiting prowess. They're selling the new sheriff in town, Mark Dantonio. And at last check, Cincinnati (his former school) had six kids drafted.

Which brings us back to those kids and those helmets. You could see it in the way their faces lit up. Maybe, they must have thought, just maybe, if I went here I'd have a shot.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Final Four Friday: Best Seats in Spartan Stadium

One of the greatest and most underrated things about the spring football game is the ability to sit precisely wherever you want to watch the game. Every seat in the house is free, as opposed to gamedays during the fall when some seats require scholarship contribution donations on top of the normal ticket prices.

I've sauntered over to the seatbacked section on the home sideline, put my feet up on the rail and soaked in the good life. But I've also used the time to scout my seat selection for the upcoming year - which has worked out by finding great views I never knew existed within my price range.

So here's one man's list of the best seats in Spartan Stadium (that a student or recent college grad could actually afford).

Section 10, behind the tubas

Without a doubt the greatest seats in the student section, bar none. You won't have a problem seeing over the tubas because you'll be standing all game, as are all the rest of the die-hards that show up hours early to get these seats. You'll never be alone, as these die-hard fans don't leave early - ever. And sitting there long enough, one learns the band songs well enough to issue requests to the conductor during the game (that they sometimes take). If you're the guy who can count off the quickstep, there's simply no better seat in the stadium.

Section 124, front row

Some of us like the view from above, where you can see the whole field no matter where the ball is. These seats are a bit tougher to get - they're typically held by long-time fans who can't afford to move to better ones - but once you see the view you'll wonder why anyone would pay more. I certainly wouldn't.

Section 16, 1/3 of the way up

I'm a side guy, I'll never be in the corners or on the end if I can help it. However, I've got to admit that my favorite pre-MSU football memory was sitting behind the goalpoasts in the Orange Bowl for the University of Miami's "Wide Right III" victory over Florida State. You could see the ball hook as it left the kicker's foot, a hook usually reserved for my golf swing when there's water on the left.

Granted, you'll be watching the video screen when the ball's across the 50 from you, but you're in perfect position for extra points and game-winning field goals.

Section 5, row 15, on the aisle

I had these seats for two seasons at the end of the John L. Smith era, and they were by far the worst seats in the building. Literally just across the aisle from you is the visiting fans section, where, during our come-from-ahead monsoon loss to Brady Quinn's Notre Dame, it literally felt like the world would end. Ditto later that season as we were blown out by Ohio State.

So why are these seats on the list? Well, MSU's winning now. 'Nuff said.

And the winner is... Student section, right behind the band. It's the only seat on this list where fans actually cheer the whole game.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Expanded Breslin Parking?

More parking should soon be available for Breslin Center, as well as Spartan Stadium and the west side of campus in general. This is because the State Police, who currently occupy the building just to the west of the Breslin Center on Harrison Road, are expected to move into their new headquarters in downtown Lansing in January 2010.

The State Police have occupied the 23 building complex since 1917, but they technically lease it from Michigan State University. When they move to their new facility, control of the sixteen acre complex will revert back to the Michigan State University Board of Trustees. From there, the best bet for its use will simply be a parking lot.

According to Campus Planning & Administration, the site is "earmarked for peripheral parking" consistent with the Campus Master Plan. "The university has informally conceived numerous land use options for the site," said Steve Troost, Campus Planner. "I do not know of any final plans at this time other than, some or all of the site will be used for peripheral parking."

A sticking point for the University may be what to do with the main Administration Building and Mapes Hall. While the entire site is technically listed on the State Register of Historic Sites, those are the two most visible and historic buildings. Because of their age, it is doubtful that the University would have any suitable use for them, and will most likely seek to demolish them rather than pay for the upkeep of unused buildings. But, because of their historical significance, there may be some opposition to this plan.

Regardless of the final outcome, once control of the site is returned to Michigan State, fans should expect an expansion of their gameday parking options. This will be especially useful during basketball season, as the site will provide closer parking than the lot at Spartan Stadium, where many fans who cannot park in the lots to the east of Breslin currently go.

Photos courtesy State of Michigan and

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Farm Lane May Not Be Ready For Football

Get ready for another season of parking and traffic headaches, MSU football fans. Or at least be ready for issues the first few games. The Farm Lane project, which closed the road all of last football season to create two underpasses at the railroad crossings, is behind schedule and may not be open in time for the start of the 2009 football season. Thousands of season ticket holders generally park in the MSU commuter lot each game, and ride buses or walk to Spartan Stadium. With Farm Lane closed last season, the bus ride became longer, and walking was almost impossible.

At this month's Construction Junction on April 9th, an update was given on the status of the project, where it was announced that the project was behind schedule because of "challenges this winter."

"It appears the Farm Lane project may not open now to traffic until late summer/early fall which would put it after fall semester begins," said Karen Zelt, of the MSU Physical Plant. "We are still hoping that the roads will reopen before school begins in August, but the project currently is slightly behind schedule."

Fall semester is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, September 2nd. The first MSU football game is that following Saturday, September 5th against Montana St. The Spartans play again the next Saturday, September 12th, against Central Michigan.

MSU's football schedule may actually end up looking pretty lucky with regards to parking and traffic. Playing the first two home games against smaller schools means that there should not be the enormous crowds coming to campus that some Big Ten games generate. And after those two opening games, officials will have a little more time to open the road. MSU is away for two weeks until they return October 3rd against Michigan.

Photo courtesy of MSU

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spartan Stadium out of World Cup running

Ford Field and Michigan Stadium are the only two stadiums in Michigan left in the running to host games in the 2018 or 2022 World Cup after Spartan Stadium bowed out of the bidding process.

The Detroit Free Press reported that State "never received a survey and would not have pursued the matter anyway," citing an unnamed university spokesperson.

It's an unfortunate development, to be sure, but at least we've got the Cold War to remember.

The Prowess of Athletics

Oh how great it would have been as a fly on the wall of this pitch meeting...

"Sir, I had an idea last night, and I think you are going to love it," said Greg.

"Alright, try me," responded the Wharton Center guy.

"I want to produce a show about a guy with a winning spirit who puts it all on the line to make his dream come true," Greg continued.

"Go on..." said the Wharton Center guy.

"It will be an evening of song and dance!" Greg said, even more enthusiastically.

"I'm liking it so far..." mused the Wharton Center guy.

"We'll bring in performers direct from Broadway!" Greg continued, almost yelling and waiving his arms.

"Yes, this is good," the Wharton Center guy thought out loud, leaning back in his chair.

Greg leaned in close and spoke faster, saying "And our star will be Tom Izzo! It will be called 'Izzo goes to Broadway' and there will be all sorts of special guests, and..."

"STOP!" yelled the Wharton Center guy, jumping up from his chair. "You had me at 'Izzo goes to Broadway!'"

And from there, the rest is history. "Izzo goes to Broadway" debuts for one night only on May 6th. Tickets range from $55 - 150, with a sizable amount from each ticket going to one of Tom and Lupe Izzo's favorite charities, the Coaches vs. Cancer program run through the American Cancer Society.

So, this is a can't miss idea, right? Well, evidently it can miss. Tickets have been on sale since February 13th, and yet there are still 1,133 tickets available as of this posting. The Great Hall, at its best, can seat about 2,400 people, meaning that if something doesn't happen quick, this show is looking to be about half empty.

I can't imagine why the locals haven't keyed into this marketing tagline: "Izzo goes to Broadway blends the prowess of athletics with the passion of the arts."

Perhaps everyone is just afraid of showing up to find Izzo singing and dancing with a big bald head.

Photo courtesy of Wharton Center

Monday, April 20, 2009

MSU's Draft Legacy

Michigan State has become legendary in the first round of the NFL draft, but not in the way most Spartans would like. Unlike schools like Southern Cal and Miami, which are known for phenomenal first round successes, MSU has developed a reputation for high-profile draft busts.

As proof, I give you ESPN's Mock Draft for the Ages: A hypothetical account of how an NFL draft, with every player throughout history available, would go today based solely on their own draft stock coming out of school. MSU was the only school with two top-10 picks. State tied USC for first with three first-round picks. But ugh, what picks.

Pick 3 (Chiefs) - Bubba Smith, DE

This is the one slightly redeeming pick of the three. Smith played nine seasons in the NFL, going to two Pro Bowls and winning the 1970 Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts. It's a very good career. A career most NFL players would kill for. Hell, he's still a legend among older football fans in Baltimore. A solid if not spectacular pick at number three, given that Smith didn't quite have a Hall of Fame pro career.

Pick 6 (Bengals) - Tony Mandarich, OT

Had it not been for a certain young whippersnapper from Washington State named Ryan Leaf, Mandarich might be viewed as the biggest draft bust of all time.

Mandarich was a beast in college. 6'6, 320 pounds of pure brick muscle. He flattened opposing players. He flattened opposing players while they were doubling him up.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, he did it all while ingesting enough steroids to stun a dead mule. And then there's the pain killers and booze he turned to in a futile effort to dull the constant pain in his freakish body. Mandarich told ESPN in a recent article (see link above) that he was drunk each and every day for four seasons with the Green Bay Packers and taking in up to 70 painkilling pills a day. That's a little more than an ENTIRE BOTTLE of pills each day.

Suffice it to say, NFL scouts aren't high on drafting the next Tony Mandarich.

Credit to Mandarich though, he eventually got his life back in order. He made a comeback with the Indianapolis Colts and now is trying to convince young people to not go the same route he did.

Pick 20 (Lions) - Charles Rogers, WR

I think this is ESPN's idea of a sick joke at the expense of Lions fans everywhere. Rogers, who at just 27 years old is in his prime as a receiver, should have spent late March and early April this year getting ready for the upcoming season. Instead, he spent it in the Oakland County jail for violating probation in a domestic violence case.

It's the latest in a long storied fall for Rogers, the "fire" part of the ill-fated "Smoke and Fire" partnership between himself and QB Jeff Smoker at the end of the infamous Bobby Williams era. Both dealt with drug problems in their own way - Smoker got suspended from State, came back and is now playing in the Arena League. Rogers got suspended in the NFL and, well, never made it all the way back.

The drug and behavior problems, his oft-injured collarbone, it all adds up to a big-time NFL draft bust.

It's not that MSU hasn't had good pros. Joe DeLamielleure is a Hall of Famer. Flozell Adams may get there. Morten Andersen is the best kicker in NFL history. Plaxico Burress, despite his recent dalliances, gave the Giants their last Super Bowl win. But we'll need a sure-fire first round stud or two to shake the Mandarich-Rogers legacy.

Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

It's Game Week

Well everyone, it's been a long and painful off-season, but finally football has arrived! For a day anyway...

MSU Spring Football is here, and it's finally game week! It's a little different, obviously, because no one is sitting here breaking down an opponent, or trying to figure out a good hotel in Madison. Regardless, lets preview game day:

Time and Date: 1:30 p.m. on April 25th

Location: Spartan Stadium

Parking Lot's Open: Early! As this is not an official game, there are no special tailgating rules. This means that the tailgating lots should be wide open like they are any random Saturday.

Tailgating: Do it! However, as there are no special tailgating rules, normal MSU laws are in effect. This means that technically no alcohol is allowed anywhere. Past experience suggests that as long as you don't cause a problem, you won't have a problem.

Admission: The game is free!

Spirit Shop and Garage Sale: In past games, the MSU Spirit Shop in the stadium has been open. MSU has no plans to do an athletic garage sale this year.

Weather: As of today, the forecast for East Lansing, MI is a high of 76, Partly Cloudy.

Food: In past years, some concessions in the Stadium have been open. If grilling at a tailgate isn't your thing, my suggestion would be to grab a quick lunch up at Panchero's on Grand River, and after the game, head down to Leo's Lodge on Jolly. This is where you are most likely to run into me anyway...

Stadium Seating: Because there are no tickets, feel free to sit where ever you want! Some people prefer their regular seats, or just sit where their season tickets are out of habit. Others head right for the "Best Seats," those down closer to the field around the 50 yard line. My suggestion is to try someplace where you couldn't normally ever sit. Not many students come to this game, so check out their view from the student section. Ever wondered what the worst seat is? Check out the top corner of the upper deck! Or for $50 bucks, sit in the press box.

Kids: There is a free youth clinic 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. on game day at the grass practice fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Football Building. Kids 8-12 years old. Parents should come along, no registration or equipment is required. There will be an autograph session afterward.

TV: No live TV. Unlike last year, the Big Ten Network is not showing any of the Spring Games live. They will have highlights on later that evening. There is also no live-steam on the internet.

Radio: Spartan Radio Network will broadcast the game, although it's not entirely assured that every affiliate throughout the state will carry the broadcast.

Other Stadium Thrills: Don't expect much. Past games generally lack most of the normal game day traditions, such as the Marching Band or Thunderstruck. Some years, band members have shown up and played from their spot in the stands (Awesome!). There will be a short halftime show with the start of a charity bike ride to Mexico which will include some former Spartan players, including NFL Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure.

So, everyone attending should look forward to an exciting event. Good weather, free parking and admission, tailgating... all in a very relaxed, casual atmosphere because there is no stress caused by 1) Sold out crowds or 2) Fear of losing. It should be a beautiful day for football!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Welcome to the New Site!

This is a big day for The Other Side of Spartan Sports, as we have moved to our own site away from Our rising popularity encouraged us to make the move, so thank you all for reading!

We anticipate no issues with the move, as a quick check suggests the RSS feeds are working, links to specific posts are forwarding correctly, and anyone who heads to the old site is automatically redirected here. However, if you do experience any issues, please let us know ASAP, either by comment or email.


Kevin and Derek

Friday, April 17, 2009

Final Four Friday - Non-Revenue Sport Success Stories

The Crosstown Showdown got us thinking about how a large group of Spartans come to the banks of the Red Cedar, give their all for four (or five) years in relative obscurity and graduate to, as the NCAA commercials say, go into a career that's not sports.

Occasionally, however, an MSU non-revenue sport athlete goes out and does something amazing. Like, say, qualify for the Masters (Jack Newman, I'm lookin' at you). With that in mind, here our our top four Spartan athletes in non-revenue sports, as judged by their success outside of MSU.

Rashad Evans, Mixed Martial Arts/Wrestling

Evans wrestled for MSU but found his niche in MMA, compiling a professional record of 18-0-1 en route to winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in December. Evans, who started out as simply a standout wrestler, has become a knockout artist, thanks to thunderous KO wins over former champion Chuck Liddell and former Ohio State wrestler Sean Salmon. The scary part is that at just 29 years old, he's just now reaching his prime.

Kirk Gibson, Baseball

Gibby's a no-brainer for this list, because while he was a great wide receiver for MSU's football team, most in Michigan know him for his World Series-clinching home run for the Detroit Tigers in 1984. The rest of the world will always have his 1988 hobbled homer. Gibson, who was held out of most of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series with serious leg injuries, was inserted as a pinch batter with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning. Gibson hit a homer for the ages and the Dodgers went on to win the series. That homer has become one of the most-watched baseball highlights of all time.

Jack Newman, Golf

Newman became the first Spartan ever to qualify for the Masters, quite simply the most prestigious tournament in all of golf. He didn't make the cut, finishing with a four-over-par 72, 76. And I know it's only one tournament. One shining moment of glory. But the reason Newman's on this list is that qualifying for the Masters is simply miles beyond any other success any other MSU golfer has ever had, ever. That sort of separation from the field is nothing short of spectacular.

Kenneth Walsh, Swimming

Don't recognize the name? Don't worry, most readers of this blog weren't watching the 1968 Olympics when Walsh earned two gold medals, one for the 4x100 freestyle relay and the second for the 4x100 medley relay. Those two wins make him MSU's all-time leading gold medalist.

And the winner is...

I'm really tempted to put Gibson here, really tempted. But I'm going with Evans for one key reason. Both Evans and Gibby reached the pinnacle of their sport, but Evans did it while getting hit in the face. I get that baseball is a tough sport - some say that hitting a baseball is the single-hardest skill in sports - but I'd much rather take my chances against Goose Gossage than stand in a cage with Liddell looking to rip my arms off.

And Rashad put him to sleep with a thundering right hand. Imagine what he'd do to me if I didn't let him with this one.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Three More Years

Michigan State announced today that its annual baseball game against the Lansing Lugnuts has been renewed for three more years.

One of the biggest concerns when the game launched was that MSU wouldn't be able to hang with a group of professionals, even at the A-class level. Those concerns were quieted after the Lugnuts pulled out two close ones, 4-3 and 4-2 in the first and second games respectively. No one's talking about it tonight after the Spartan baseball squad delivered a 12-2 horse whipping to the Lugnuts to record their first series win.

The game has become a massive success since its 2007 inception, a guaranteed sellout on one of the last Thirsty Thursdays when students are still in school. It's easily the biggest "home" crowd the Spartans play in front of all year, and it's an extra ton of cash for the Lugnuts, counting concession and ticket revenue. This renewal, to me, was a no-brainer.

However, just because something makes sense doesn't mean it always happens. It makes a ton of sense to move a spring grass sport into Spartan Stadium for a one-off game before spring football, but that doesn't happen. It makes a ton of sense to have MSU volleyball play in Breslin before Midnight Madness, but that doesn't always happen either. And it makes sense to broadcast MSU baseball's biggest game of the year, and if you read yesterday's post you know how that turned out.

So kudos to both the Lugnuts and Spartans for getting a sensible deal done.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hope You've Got Tickets...

Because if you don't have tickets to Thursday's Crosstown Showdown, well, you won't see it.

The Big Ten Network, unlike last year, will not be broadcasting the showdown between the Lansing Lugnuts and MSU baseball team. Instead, they'll be showing a replay of the Big Ten wrestling championships.

The game won't be broadcast on the Lugnuts' official TV partner, WILX, either. According to the Lugnuts, no games have yet made the broadcast schedule.

I'd love to tell you why the expected broadcast isn't happening this year, but emails to BTN and the Lugnuts' press offices weren't returned by press time.

A Tough Decision

It had to be a tough decision for Mike Kebler of Okemos. Before the Final Four, he had to make a choice to either dress for the game against UConn, or to dress for a possible National Championship and hope MSU made it there. This is because MSU has 16 players on the team, but can only dress 15 of those players for any game. Kebler chose to dress for the UConn game, letting fellow walk-on Jon Crandell wait for the National Championship.

Kebler told the Detroit Free Press,
"Once the tournament started, I simply picked the first one of each weekend. The first one was Robert Morris. I picked that one so I could get in. I figured we'd blow them out. I got, like, a minute of playing time.

"The next time, I picked Kansas. One of the main reasons was that I wanted to be a part of everything that went on.

"Then I picked (the Connecticut game). I didn't play, but I wanted to be a part of the Final Four. It's definitely a dream. So when I had that choice of taking the first game or the second game, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make sure I was on the court for the Final Four."
Because Kebler didn't play in the game, he is not included in the official box score. Crandell, however, made it into the box score of the championship game because of his 1 minute of playing time at the end.

So, Kebler got to dress for a MSU win in the Final Four, but not play. He does not get to be immortalized as officially playing, but he, his family, friends, and other Spartans remember an experience that cannot be taken away. Crandell lucked out and not only got to dress for a National Championship game, but play. Kebler made the "safe" choice, but was it the better one? What would you have done?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Turning Green in to Gold

What if I told you that if you gave me $370,000, I could get you $4 million? Assuming you know I'm not some exiled Nigerian prince or seller of some misspelled erectile dysfunction drug (V1agra anyone?) , you'd have to take me up on that offer.

Well, that's basically what Michigan State did this past year. Sparty spent $370,000 on lobbying at the federal level and, in return, was awarded more than $4 million in earmark spending, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

That number may actually be a little low. Rep. Mike Rogers inserted more than $10 million into the last budget for projects State is "heading up", though not all of that will be spent at MSU. In addition, the university stands to gain from federal stimulus dollars spent on transportation projects in East Lansing.

And let's not forget the indirect gain State banked thanks to stimulus rules that prohibit the state of Michigan, which is facing a huge budget deficit, from cutting higher ed spending. That's saving an estimated three percent of MSU's state aid - which had been estimated at about $9.1 million.

Dollars spent: $370,000. Dollars received or saved: More than $19 million. Not a bad return on investment, eh?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Greg Jones on Lott Watch List

Spartan Junior Linebacker Greg Jones was named to the Lott Trophy watch list earlier this week. Jones, an All-Big Ten First Team selection in 2008, led MSU in tackles for the second straight season. He is expected to play a major role on the MSU defense in 2009.

The Lott Trophy honors the "Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year" and gives equal weight to personal character and on field performance. You can view the complete watch list here.

Fans can next see Jones in action during the MSU Spring Football Game, April 25th at 1:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What a Game at McLane!

What a way to open a new stadium!

In the opening game at the new McLane Baseball Stadium last Saturday, Spartans Pitcher Nolan Moody threw a no-hitter to defeat Northwestern 2-0. He had a perfect game going into the 8th inning, when he gave up a walk. Mr. Moody was honored as Pitcher of the Week by the Big Ten for his efforts. It was MSU's first no-hitter since 1993.

The Spartans held their home opener at Oldsmobile Park earlier in the spring. So far, the Spartans are undefeated in their new stadium, with a 3-0 record. The Spartans play this weekend at Ohio State, with their next game back on campus Wednesday, April 15th vs. Western Michigan at 3:05 p.m.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Final Four Friday - Spring Sports Spectaculars

We're beginning a new tradition here at TOSSS by rolling out a recurring feature we're calling Final Four Friday. Each Friday we'll take a look at the top four of various and sundry MSU venues, traditions, experiences and memories.

The entire feature is wholly subjective and purely for fun. This week, in honor of the warm temperatures that have enveloped most of the United States, we'll take a peek at the Final Four MSU spring sports events. In alphabetical order...

Crosstown Showdown

This is the third year of the baseball matchup between MSU and the Lansing Lugnuts, the class A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The game is held Oldsmobile Park, which seats more than 12,000 - and every seat is filled. Oh, and did I mention it's on a Thirsty Thursday, when tap beers (including Molson and Labatt) are just $2? Admission, or "cover", as some over-21s call it, is as low as $7 for the cheap seats. Even though MSU is 0-2, keeping it close twice in this event has probably done more for casual fan support of Spartan baseball than anything else.

Munn Field "mudball"

Sure, the spring thaw brings out the folks with the frisbees, cornhole and other tailgate games. But nothing beats the south campus tradition of heading to Munn field and playing a game of full-contact tackle football. Sure, receivers have to dodge ice on the field, defensive blitzers who miss the QB have to keep running to avoid slipping and it's hard to tell who's on which team because those who played in white shirts and those who played in darks are both coated in mud by the second possession. But you've got the rest of the summer to play in perfect weather.


Technically it's known as the "final exam" of MSU's beginning sailing classes, but how cool is this test? Head out to the lake and, well, go sailing. If you keep a positive attitude and don't crash the boat, you pull a 4.0. Plus, it's a day on the lake. For some classes, there's an overnight portion, where you get on the boat on a Saturday afternoon and leave Sunday mid-morning. Slightly better than a blue book, no?

Spring Football Game

You didn't honestly think this list would be complete without spring football, did you? It will have been almost a full six months from the last home tailgate, the last kickoff, the last touchdown. That ends the last Saturday in April with the Spring football game. It's a great time for the about 20,000 fans who file in for the free look at MSU's returning stars. There's nothing like football on the banks of the Red Cedar, and this is the perfect taste to whet one's appetite until September.

And the winner is... The Crosstown Showdown.

If the should-be annual MSU athletics tent sale actually did precede each spring football, this might be a different story. But spring is made for baseball. And it's not just any old game, we're talking about a sold out crowd at the best single-A baseball stadium in America. The grass is green, the beer is cold and, best of all, even the most remote Spartans - like me - can see it in high definition thanks to the Big Ten Network.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spartan Stadium makes World Cup shortlist

MSU's Spartan Stadium has been selected as a finalist for inclusion in U.S. Soccer's bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Seventy stadiums, representing 31 states and the District of Columbia, were picked for the list. To be considered, stadiums must seat at least 40,000 people. Venues must top 80,000 (which Spartan Stadium doesn't, topping out at 72,000 and change) to get the World Cup opener or final.

Spartan Stadium would be considered a big - no, make that massive - longshot to make the cut considering a) how far East Lansing is from a major global airport (Detroit) and b) that two other Michigan stadiums are much closer. Those other two are Ford Field in Detroit and Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The Pontiac Silverdome, which hosted games during the 1994 World Cup, was not on the list.

Other Big Ten/Midwest stadiums on the list include:
  • Beaver Stadium, State College, Pa.
  • Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisc.
  • Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
  • Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisc.
  • Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
  • Metrodome, Minneapolis
  • Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
  • Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
  • Soldier Field, Chicago (which hosted the opening match in 1994)
  • TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis (still under construction, will host Minnesota football beginning this year)
U.S. Soccer will trim the field to 12 - though two of those spots will be for the final and opening game, which Spartan Stadium isn't big enough to host. One ray of light in this: The press release does note that the list includes stadiums in "college towns", meaning that the federation may have already made a conscious decision to host at least one series of games in a college town. And Lansing does have an international airport...

Click on this link for the full list of 70 finalists.

Spartan Golf Master Goes for Green Jacket

Today is one of the biggest days in recent memory for Spartan Golf, as Junior Jack Newman tees off at The Masters. Mr. Newman is the first Spartan to ever play in The Masters, one of golf's most prestigious tournaments. According to MSU, "Jack currently leads this year's squad with a 72.4 stroke average and for his career, is fourth in MSU history with a 74.1 average. An All-Big Ten second team choice as a sophomore, Newman has won three collegiate events - the 2007 Fossum Invitational, the 2008 Western Intercollegiate and the 2008 Spartan Classic - and has seven top-5 finishes."

He is an automatic qualifier for The Masters, as he is the current 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links Champion. He tees off today at 12:02 p.m. and Friday is 8:55 a.m. with Rocco Mediate and Fred Couples in his playing group. In the Masters Par 3 Tournament held this week, Mr. Newman finished tied for 2nd.

Mr. Newman's weekend could have long lasting effects back in East Lansing. "Jack's teammates are now working harder than ever. They are now believers that this can also be them if they continue to do the right things and work hard," MSU Men's Golf Coach Sam Puryear said. "Recruits are able to see that you can make it to the largest stage in golf while playing collegiately at a northern school. If your goal is to make it on the tour, MSU is your place."

Mr. Newman's accomplishments may already have made him one of MSU's most recognizable golfers ever. While the MSU Hall of Fame has three Women's golfers and a Women's golf coach inducted, there are no representatives of Men's golf yet inducted. Of MSU's four Big Ten Championships in golf, Mr. Newman has helped earn two, in 2007 and 2008. Still, Coach Puryear warned that speculation on Mr. Newman's place in history may be premature. "His resume will look great, but he has a lot of collegiate golf left."

For Mr. Newman, the focus is just about playing well this weekend. After all, if he pulls off a miracle win, he'd get - appropriately - a green jacket.

Photos courtesy of &

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Last Night's One Shining Moment

One of the annual highlights of the NCAA Basketball Tournament is CBS's presentation of "One Shining Moment" at the conclusion of the National Championship game broadcast. Because of MSU's deep run in this year's tournament, they are featured multiple times in the montage, including:

A closeup of Travis Walton with the ball (2:25)
Isaiah Dahlman celebrating by jumping on Goron Suton's back (3:04)
Kalin Lucas hitting a shot and getting fouled against Kansas, then slapping hands with Chris Allen (3:34)
Korie Lucious yelling victoriously (3:47)
Durrell Summers' "Dunk of the Tournament" over UConn (3:49)
Kalin Lucas fired up running down court (3:52)
Tom Izzo hugging Marquise Gray (3:55)
Travis Walton's jump ball against Tyler Hansbrough (4:09)
Multiple shots of North Carolina scoring on MSU in the Championship (4:11)
Tom Izzo sighing (4:18)

*Timestamps are unique to the video linked above.

It's always a great montage, and this year is no different, highlighting some of MSU's best moments in the tournament. One other positive: Unlike some years, there are hardly any clips from the championship game, only about 10 seconds of highlights with another 12 seconds of the celebration. Most of the highlights are from earlier games, when MSU looked awesome.

Construction Junction Tomorrow Morning

The next MSU Construction Junction is tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. The meeting agenda does not have any specific athletic facilities to be discussed, but there is an update on the Farm Lane project, which impacts football parking. The announcement is below:

Engineering and Architectural Services, a branch of the Physical Plant Division, continues “Construction Junction” Construction Planning and Progress Meetings. These meetings serve as monthly opportunities for the campus community and its neighbors to offer input and ask questions about planned construction across campus.

Construction Junctions are at 8:30 a.m. the second Thursday of the month. Meetings are in B104 Wells Hall.

· Emmons Hall Renovation

· Life Science Addition

And updates on various projects, including:

· 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 Grand Rapids


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to Bob Murphy, winner of the inaugural TOSSS March Madness Bracket Pool! Mr. Murphy, a 2006 MSU graduate in Poli Sci and History, told us that his grand strategy was to "Just pick what felt right at the time."

"If there were a grand prize, it would definitely go towards the purchase of a new car."

The Final Four in the pool:

1. Bob Murphy, Lansing, MI
2. Eeda Shemke, Baltimore, MD
3. Scott Moore, Holt, MI
4. Nick Romley, Detroit, MI

Thanks again to everyone who played, and keep on the lookout for other fun games from TOSSS in the future!

Monday, April 6, 2009

One Shining Moment

The final whistle blew, the nets were snipped and the music played. It was One Shining Moment, and unfortunately for Spartan fans, its final scenes had the hue of Carolina blue.

It's the first time Michigan State has lost in an NCAA men's basketball championship game, and it certainly stings given all the storylines around the game - how MSU was playing for the state of Michigan, a silver lining to the clouds of economic storms that have swirled over the state for years now.

Still, it's hard to not be proud of how hard this team has worked, and I think that will be expressed in the papers Tuesday morning and beyond. How do I know?

Well, here's some reaction from folks in the media, as expressed on Facebook this evening:

Stephanie Angel, managing editor, Lansing State Journal... ":( The run is over, but the Spartan spirit is alive. 2010 here we come."

Amy Bartner, reporter, Indianapolis Star and former editor-in-chief, State News... "sigh"

Bob Benenson, reporter/editor, Congressional Quarterly... "Our very young Spartan team held its head up in the second half. There is only one team in the country, loaded with upperclassmen, that is better -- and last year it was where we were tonight. So congratulations to UNC, and enjoy that victory/going-away party. Our guys will be back, and so will the Michigan State team. Go Green, and thanks for a season of thrills."

Brian Fisher, former editor, NOISE magazine... "Spartans should be proud of themselves. And from a glass half full perspective, they did win the second half. So there's that."

Denny Kapp, producer, WDFN radio Detroit... "UNC may have won the game but Detroit won the PR battle. The select national media can rip this city all they want but we put on another stellar national event - the umpteenth one this decade - and yet again, it was damn near flawless. Stand up and BE PROUD Detroit!"

Laura Leslie
, capitol bureau chief, North Carolina Public Radio... "respects MI state for a valiant game, regardless of the outcome. They're the definition of 'never say die.'"

Scott Moore, voice of MSU Hockey... "is bummed by the outcome, but incredibly proud of the journey."

My sentiments exactly.

Inside Ford Field

TOSSS contributor John Kreger is inside Ford Field, and called in with these observations:

10:10 p.m. "I feel like I am attending a church service, it's very quiet. The crowd is definitely out of it."

9:47 p.m. "It's much quieter here now. There have been a few fan disturbances already, with Detroit Police removing people from the building, no warnings. They are making sure no one is hassled."

8:55 p.m. "The Temptations just finished the National Anthem, the first group to ever sing. They honor the 50th anniversary of Motown. When the Spartans took the court there was a massive 'Go Green Go White' cheer that echoed around the building."

8:30 p.m. "There is a palpable energy inside this building. There is just an energy inside this building unlike anything else I've seen in sports. The Spartans seem very aware of their surroundings, but so is UNC. The Izzone now takes up the whole endzone, and they are rockin, and have been from the moment the doors opened. The white out doesn't seem like a great success, but I've never heard it this loud an hour before tipoff for any game in here. By tipoff it will be a madhouse. It looks like the UConn and Villanova sections were bought up by Spartan green. The Spartan fans seem to be here on a mission, everyone here watching warmups."

Forbes Picks UNC

As has been the case most of this NCAA Tournament, the experts seem to be rallying around whatever team is playing against MSU, and picking them for the win. Going against a preseason favorite and team who already beat MSU in Ford Field by 35 points this year is not helping MSU's case.

Even Forbes has gotten in on the UNC love. Before the tournament, Forbes released their rankings of the 20 most valuable college basketball teams and rankings of America's best college basketball coaches. MSU came in as the #14 most valuable team in the country, behind several other Big Ten schools including Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State and Wisconsin. All of the Big Ten schools were helped by their share of the Big Ten Network revenue. But UNC? They were #1 overall, relying on over $3 million in merchandise sales.

On the best coaches list, we fared about the same. Tom Izzo ranked a respectable #6, with consideration being given to his 4 (at the time) Final Fours. Roy Williams? Again, #1 overall.

That said, Kansas and Louisville were both ranked above MSU on the Forbes list, as was Bill Self. And that worked out just fine.

A couple notes:

The LSJ Bleeding Green blog has a warning about fake tickets that were sold for the Final Four games on Saturday night. The tickets are supposedly very realistic, with most fans only realizing the deception when the bar code would not scan upon entry to the stadium. Watch out for this and leave the fake ticket buying to the UNC fans!

For those of you going to the game, MSU has asked for the game to be a White Out. So, wear your white tomorrow!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Celebrate State!

The final horn sounded, signaling an epic Spartan victory over UConn and an exodus of delighted State fans onto the streets of East Lansing.

Just like previous years, a throng of about 2,000 packed Cedar Village, hooting and hollering. Just like previous years, the police were out in force, arresting those morons who threw stuff or tried to knock over stop signs.

But unlike previous years, that's where it ended. No riot. No tear gas. Just a proud celebration of what was a great day to be a Spartan.

And that's how it should be. Go out, have fun, scream your head off, but don't be an asshole and besmirch yourself, your community and your university's reputation. The CedarFest riot in 2008 was a black stain that will linger on for years. The best we can all hope for is that a lesson was learned.

With one more safe celebration Monday - win or lose - we'll know it has been.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


It's time Spartan fans! I hope that most of you are either in Detroit (maybe in one of MSU's extra hotel rooms) or on your way to Detroit... Keeping it simple, here is some light reading for the day that we thought you would find interesting.

Larry Lage discusses the 30 year anniversary of the 1979 Championship.
Tom Izzo appeared on PTI's Five Good Minutes back on Monday. Video.
Joe Rexrode of the LSJ talks about Izzo receiving the Good Guy Award, and Lucas to NBA rumors.
The Spirit of Detroit won't be wearing a Spartan jersey today.
MSU had a magical public shoot around at Ford Field yesterday.
Rep. Mike Rogers is getting in on some action supporting MSU.
And finally, the LSJ brings you all of today's vital information about the big game.

Go Green!

Friday, April 3, 2009

MSU's Other April Tradition

"If we win, I think we will have a good night. If we lose, I'm not really optimistic at all," said Tom Wibert, Chief of Police for the City of East Lansing.

If you have been around East Lansing for any of the recent trips to the Final Four, then you know that besides basketball, MSU is also closely associated with another tradition this time of year: riots. This has been going on for years, from Vietnam era protests and the old tradition of Cedar Fest to the late 90's football related incidents, including one embarrassing night after a victory over Western Michigan. Students even rioted after the University banned alcohol on Munn Field, a move meant to curb rowdy behavior.

But then came our basketball success. Starting with the loss to Duke in 1999, MSU has rioted after every Final Four loss. Our only Final Four where we didn't riot was in 2000, when MSU won the National Championship. There were still many people out in the streets, but that year it was more like a big party.

In 2005, the situation was just as out of hand for the police as it was for the students. Many citizens complained that the police went too far in their handling of the situation, and the City of East Lansing created a commission to review policies for future incidents. East Lansing Police Chief Tom Wibert (who took over after the 2005 incident) and MSU Police Chief Jim Dunlap, as well as MSU Vice President Fred Poston all apologized for police actions during that night.

The commission produced a lengthy report that has served as a starting point for the East Lansing police in preparing for future incidents. (Full disclosure, TOSSS writer Derek Wallbank served on this commission, and this writer testified to that commission). The 43 page report listed 29 recommendations for future events, in areas from planning to implementation. Focus areas included communication and protection of personal rights. In 2006, the chiefs of police visited MSU's student governments, ASMSU and RHA, to review their revised "Use of Force" polices. This presentation outlined the steps that both the crowd and police would take before there would be any release of chemical munitions. The following chart was among the materials presented that day.
While these preparations were made for the 2006 NCAA Tournament, MSU has not advanced far enough for there to be any basketball related incidents since 2005. However, in 2008 a group of students were able to resurrect a version of Cedar Fest using the internet to help encourage attendance. Around 1 a.m. the evening of the event, the crowd turned violent and was declared an "unlawful assembly," legalize for riot. Police then used chemical munitions to disperse the crowd. Unlike in 2005, most people agreed with the police actions in 2008.

Since that incident, officials have been preparing for this year's tournament. Chief Tom Wibert and East Lansing Assistant City Attorney Tom Yeadon visited RHA on March 4th to discuss the incident in 2008 and its differences from 2005, as well as to discuss wording changes adopted by East Lansing to it's riot ordinance.

"In '05 we had over 280 police officers compared to 80 (last) year, in '05 tear gas was the first resort whereas last year we used it as the last resort," Wibert told the assembled students. "In '05 we sent off 300 rounds and last year we used 13." Wibert continued, "We are shifting towards taking the sportiness out of the event and making it a personal thing. People who were throwing things like bottles and bricks should be arrested. We will have the folks available to take these people to jail in the future."

"People go to observe, but I've prosecuted people who went there with that intention who got caught up in the activities and ended up doing something stupid," Tom Yeadon cautioned. "If you haven’t heard an announcement, don’t assume it’s not a riot. If the crowd is violent, it’s a riot. We are going to take some measures to run warnings on a loop, so people are continually fed the notice."

"ELPD and MSU PD don't have the numbers to deal with a large crowd. We have requested help from several area agencies and the State Police," Wibert said this week about preparations for for this weekends games. "We started working on our plan months ago. Our focus will continue to be reducing the amount of chemical munitions and increasing individual accountability. We will be capable of arresting mass quantities of people if necessary."

This weekend's plan is based off of recommendations and lessons from both 2005 and 2008, according to Wibert. "We are using a better sound system. (In 2008) it took 20 minutes to get the unlawful assembly announcement out. That's way too long. Also, we made 50 arrests that night and it caused all kinds of havoc in the jail." Wibert stressed that this weekend they will be ready to handle large numbers of arrests.

He cautioned that one significant recommendation of the 2005 report has not been adopted, dealing with crowd decontamination. "We can't get MSU or Olin to help. Our fire department can't help because they are busy with riot related fires and injuries."

"We plan for the worst and hope for the best," Wibert said when asked if he was optimistic about this weekend. "In 2000, we had a huge crowd after winning the title, but it went really well. I think that the best thing that could happen is if we win and have a huge party."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This is Perhaps Not Paul Davis' Best Night

So I'm flipping through the channels on TV and what do I see? Paul Davis, former MSU star and current would-be NBA player (he's recovering from injury and is currently without a team). And what is Mr. Davis doing for himself?

He's on Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker, a really REALLY trashy show where rich guys try and find love with what I can only assume are women who are looking for love and, oh who am I kidding. I can't say that with a straight face.

Davis starts out the episode getting described as "boring", a guy with "no personality". So it can only get better from here, right? Um... not quite.

The person Davis gets hooked up with is a young lady named Kimi, who agreed to clean his place wearing nothing but a French maid's outfit after losing a bowling game. It looked to me like she was aiming for the gutter, but maybe it's just that Davis had a great source of motivation to throw strikes.

Mr. Davis' best line of the night, when summing up his lucky lady: "I just think you're trying to be like yourself, you know what I mean?"Of course, it's said in that deep Paul Davis monotone - great for downplaying how he just waxed Michigan on the court in post-game interviews, not so good for describing his feelings on national television.

If you've ever watched anything on Bravo, you know how this ends up. Davis gets told off by the "Millionaire Matchmaker" for being too sex-obsessed and leading Kimi on, when he just wanted to be in the "friend zone." And after he broke it off with Kimi via text message, the matchmaker dubbed him an "asshole", "player" and a "baby boy".

Cue credits.

Needless to say, I don't think reality TV is exactly Paul Davis' strong point.

Tickets, Tickets, Tickets

There are plenty of stories floating around out there about tickets to the Men's Final Four this weekend, and to sum them all up, "You can get tickets if you have money."

Beyond that, there are actually a couple of interesting story lines involving tickets. The first is the Izzone snafu mentioned in the last post. This story isn't a big deal to many people, but to members of the Izzone, it most certainly is. Apparently when the Student Alumni Foundation sent an email to Izzone members about tickets, it contained a faulty link to the online ticket site that was contracted by the NCAA. The situation was fixed, but not everyone could be notified in time (or it was not fixed for everyone, do we ever really know when it comes to computers?). This led to a number of eligible Izzone members who felt they were not given a chance to get tickets. The situation was compounded by unconfirmed rumors that because SAF members knew the correct link first, they and their friends, and their friend's friends were the ones who actually purchased all of the tickets as the link spread by word of mouth. While not confirmed, this is not an unrealistic scenario.

Obviously this made many students upset, and members of SAF (which is overseen by the Alumni Association) worked with the Athletic Department to see what could be done. The NCAA was able to release an additional 79 tickets, and those tickets were allocated by lottery to eligible members. Problem solved...

Another situation is involving the number of allotted tickets and hotel rooms. According to the Lansing State Journal, each school's overall ticket allotment is 3,250. This is down from 4,500 in 2005 even though Ford Field holds many more people than any previous arena used to host the Final Four. This simply means less tickets for everyone associated with the program, including students families and friends, MSU administration, donors, past players, local celebrities, etc. Compounding the problem is that each school is on the hook for 500 hotel rooms for four nights each. It seems that many of the State fans don't really feel like spending that much time in Detroit (or simply don't need the room and don't want to pay for it). Unless MSU can work something out, the athletic department is on the hook for the cost of those rooms. It was suggested to me that they could offer the rooms to fans of other schools who do need to travel, but then again, wouldn't that hurt our home court advantage?

Finally, Tom Izzo was asked in his Tuesday press conference about ticket requests. He said that he has been overwhelmed by ticket requests, and has found an easy way to handle it. He said he has basically stopped checking his email and phone messages, using the theory that he doesn't have to say no if he never gets the message in the first place. So if your work buddy promised you a ticket because he's got that "awesome connection with Izzo," you might just want to look into plan B.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Missing Media: Part Three

There's no better way to prove the point I'm about to make than to just list examples. So in no particular order, here's my unofficial highlight reel of MSU Final Four coverage so far:
  • For starters, I'm loving the Lansing State Journal's video coverage, including the basketball team's departure to Detroit Wednesday afternoon.
  • Their interactive Q&A with eight MSU fans - Sparty and Trustee Melanie Foster included - was a masterstroke, both in design and execution.
  • Once more with the LSJ, how could I leave out Joe Rexrode's blog, especially the live chat he did Tuesday?
  • The State News has been covering an Izzone ticketing controversy like white on rice.
  • There have been many takes on what State in the Final Four means for Michigan and Detroit. ESPN's Jemele Hill (an MSU and Detroit Free Press alum herself) has one of the better ones. Though my favorite one is by the Freep's Drew Sharp.
Six examples of great coverage. Four are online only, the other two (Sharp, SNews) were online before they went to print.

Folks, this is the future of how MSU will be covered, from here to the foreseeable future. Online. There is no going back. Only further.

For example, Elaine Kulhanek, the LSJ's community conversations editor, told me the LSJ this Friday will hold their first online pep rally via Twitter (search #spartyon - the RSS feed will run on the Green and White section of If it works, no doubt it will be repeated and copied. Trial and error, that's the name of the game. Because to try nothing is to fail.

The question, however, is not whether print media will adapt to the online world and drive coverage in new, innovative ways. Clearly they have, at least the folks who cover MSU sports for a living. The question instead is will they be able to make money off it?

Because that's the big hurdle. For most newspaper firms today, print operations account for 80-90 percent of revenues, versus 10-20 percent online. So if there's trouble on the print side, like say how newspaper ad sales nationwide fell by an average of 16.6 percent last year, the online side currently isn't remotely close to making up for it.

Hence, layoffs. Furloughs. Dramatic cutbacks in publishing. And some papers just simply stop running altogether.

Michigan State needs the Joe Rexrodes of the world, the Drew Sharps, Wojos, Shannon Sheltons and Steve Grinczels. Good reporters and analysts who, though we might disagree with them at times (or in Sharp's case, almost all the time), serve the fan above all. We can't go to all the practices. We can't pay to travel to each road game. We don't miss our son's birthday or our daughter's dance recital because there was a freak snowstorm in State College and mommy or daddy can't catch a plane flight home.

The reporters who cover MSU athletics connect us to the games, our teams, our alma mater. But if there's no money, if their employers can't pay the bills, there's no coverage.

This is the part of our three-part series where I'm supposed to write a conclusion. To tie this all up with a nice, neat red bow and tell you all how this problem could and should be solved.

Well that's not going to happen. I don't have the answer. I don't think anyone does right now.

And They're Off!

The Michigan State Men's Basketball team heads out today for the Final Four in Detroit. According to the State News,
The team bus will travel from the tunnel of Breslin Center north on Harrison Road to the Michigan Avenue intersection. It will then drive through downtown East Lansing on Grand River Avenue to Okemos Road, where it will head for Detroit via 1-96.
MSU is encouraging people to come out and line the route to show support for the team.

Then, Friday at 5:30 p.m. is the official Pep Rally at Somerset Mall in Troy. Many officials are expected to speak, including Tom Izzo, and the Spartan Brass will also be in attendance.