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Monday, October 24, 2011

Does Dantonio Difference make MSU the new center of evil in U-M's universe?

Admit it: MSU's miracle, Hail Mary, lucky-bounce, review-aided victory against Wisconsin felt like a loss -- for Michigan fans.  Obviously not as painful as a U-M loss, but it was disappointing enough that I was bummed by the outcome.  And I don't think I've ever felt that way before about a Michigan State game in which Michigan wasn't involved.

Prior to this year, I didn't really pay much attention to Sparty games outside of one Saturday each fall.  But something has changed.

And no, it's not just State's current four game winning streak.   Part of that, I must sadly accept, is due to U-M's on-field decline that started during The Dark Period.  Another part of it, I must grudgingly admit, is MSU coming into its own.

No, the biggest reason for my growing dislike -- nay, disdain -- for all things Sparty isn't just the "L's", it's due to the head Spartan, Mark Dantonio. 

First off, his perma-scowl makes him look like he's getting a never ending prostate exam.  Even when he wins he comes off as the dicky neighbor who used to threaten to keep your football if it touched his lawn when you were a kid.

Second, any coach that gets into a back and forth in the media as Dantonio did with Mike Hart after the infamous "Little Brother" comment, is a d-bag.  You're the head football coach, are you really going to get into it with some 21 year old college student?  Show some leadership.

Most importantly, there's the way he runs his program.  And no, it's not just the "Gholston Thing (although does anybody -- even MSU fans -- think for a second that Dantonio would have sat Gholston if the B1G hadn't stepped in and suspended him for the Wisco game?  Ha!).  It's a defensive coordinator seeming to condone late hits and injuring opponents.   It's players like MSU safety Isaiah Lewis saying they're going to "hurt" an opposing QB.  Lemme guess -- it's all just a "bad choice of words" as Pat Narduzzi claimed, right?  Nice try.  That kind of cheap thuggery is a reflection of what trickles down from the top.  What a coach lets his staff and players know is okay.

And don't forget last season, when Dantonio reinstated Chris Rucker on the team the day he got out of prison and just two days before the big Iowa game for Sparty.  One gets the feeling that a "violation of team rules" in Dantonio World depends on a) the talent level of the player involved and b) who knows about the infraction outside of the Spartan family.

Again, while losing sucks, my growing disdain is not just because of the current four game slide to Sparty.  During The Dark Period, Michigan lost two in a row to Illinois and squeaked out a 67-65 victory last season.  Whatever.  Back-to-back losses to Purdue -- a team coached by Danny Hope?!  Sucks but what'cha gonna do?  And after Michigan owned Penn State during the Carr Era, Penn State currently has a three-game winning streak over the Wolverines courtesy of the Rodriguez Experiment.  Oh well.

But mix a losing streak with the Dantonio Difference and now we have something to really fan the flames: a villain.

Every story of good vs. evil needs a villain.  Until this season, it was Jim Tressel. His holier-than-thou attitude was a phoney mask Michigan fans saw through and loved to hate.  Of course with Tressel now working the replay booth somewhere, I just can't get that worked up staring across the field at some shitty Scarlet and Gray/Grey Nike Pro Combat-clad Buckeyes surrounding their head coach, Happy Gilmore (which won't matter next year, anyway).

Oh sure, I still despise OSU and want to beat them as bad as ever.  They are still -- and will always be -- Michigan's main rival.  It is, after all, The Game.  But the "hate" has been dialed down a notch.*  And for now, at least, it has been replaced.  It's void filled by the Dantonio Difference, making MSU the new center of evil in U-M's universe.

East Lansing after the latest campus riot

* Don't worry. Just a notch.


DrCatie said...

For me, MSU has always been hated, particularly after Dantonio arrived. All the guys I hang out with for football Saturdays could never understand why when asked, if we could only beat one team this year, who would you want to beat. I would say it is nearly a tie between tOSU and MSU. They are always like "seriously"??? You hate Sparty that much? Yes I do and every year that Dantonio is there, I hate them more. He was a Tressel in disguise from the moment he stepped foot in East Lansing, only I think he may be worse than Tressel. Tressel actually tried to have a cover (the guy with "integrity") Dantonio simply doesn't care, he thinks he is a bad ass and he is going to bring his team to the top.

If that is what it takes to bring a team to the top, I hope we never get back there.

Dennis said...

Funny, I was going to swing by and ask Yost if he felt like he lost the Bye Week since MSU won. Got my answer. The fact they won with zero penalties gives them a chance to say last week was an abberation and to blame the victim and say you bring the worst out in them. :)

I won't know if we won the Bye week until after Saturday night.

Maybe you guys need to work on message discipline. Near the end of the Cooper Era some of your guys came out saying maybe MSU was a bigger rival than OSU. Then you went on to lose 9* of 10. Though I will say we were not holding up our end of the bargain during the Cooper years, except as comic relief.

Mike Hart shoots his mouth off about Little Brother and you guys haven't beaten them since.

And yes, I know our guys say stupid stuff as well. We just haven't gotten the blowback. Yet.

VictoryForMSU said...

I was hoping Dantonio didn't have another heart attack after that one. Whew, crisis averted.

Couldn't enjoy the building spite as much if he wound up in the hospital again. I'm expecting a good halloween costume for him this year...

Dennis said...

Oh, and I'll go all geeky and say that Michigan State seems more Saruman and we more Sauron. If you think about it, we corrupted MSU with a coach from our ranks.

Of course, what does this make Notre Dame? Gollum? Trying to get its percious back since 1989.

DrCatie said...

Dennis....the fact that they won with zero penalties means that they didn't get caught! You seriously can't think that they didn't pull a few when the ref wasn't looking? Gholston just didn't know how to hide it, with him gone the rest of the team knew how to hide it. I would bet money that Dantonio didn't tell them to stop it, just conceal it better.

VictoryForMSU said...

I never actually knew what LOL was like until now. Bahahahaaaaaa!

kristy said...

I found it very interesting that only a week after playing basically "street" ball against us, they came out and played like a team is supposed to play a game...little to no penalties and still played a tough game...to me, that comes back to the coaching and what players are told to do. To me, they made themselves look like jerks..."we can play good football or we can play dirty,depending on WHO we're playing" They probably have the whole little brother comment crap running on a loop before they play us...

surrounded in columbus said...

you're giving Sparty way too much credit.

sticking w/ your meme, he's Saruman- pale imitation of the true dark lord; not the real dark lord himself.

Dennis said...

Wow. SiC and I agreed on something. Something football related, even. Angels are weeping tears of joy.

{bookmarks page for future reference}

Crock said...

My husband is a Spartan fan and if our games aren't on at the same time - we watch both teams play - every week.
I feel like I watch more MSU football & basketball than a lot of Sparty fan.

Over the years, I always supported MSU when they weren't playing my Michigan. That changed last week. Dantonio is always so smug, he very rarely seems to be enjoying the game. Unlike a guy like Tom Izzo, who I genuinely like and respect. I can't imagine any recruit listening to Dantonio and thinking, "yeah, this is the the kinda guy I want to play for"

The game against Wisconsin is the cleanest game I've ever seen Sparty play. Maybe the the National media calling your program dirty makes a difference?

I like to blame my dislike for Dantonio on his Ohio/Tressel loving roots. Wouldn't be surprised if he ended up back in C-bus.

Bigasshammm said...

At least M's loss to them looks better now. Always better to lose to a good team than to a bad one. I don't see how Wisconsin lost that game though. I totally expected a route. Oh well.

surrounded in columbus said...

neither of us should be comfortable w/ this happening.

Tom C said...

Aww Dammit! someone help me get this crap off of SIC.
Dennis you're on your own.

Ramona said...

Love this post.. and all the distinguished commentary by everyone. YES I felt the same way after this latest win by Steroidy oops I mean, Sparty...

surrounded in columbus said...

thanks. someone hand me a towel ;)