Backing up my letter to MSU fans...
I pointed out a few times this week that MSU can be counted on for three things every year:
1) A blown lead in a game that could turn the season (against a good team)
2) An excruciating loss to a team that State has no business losing to
3) A heroic, upset win over someone given the above, they should have no business beating
Well, I did a little research, and low and behold, I was right...
2006 - Blown Lead = Notre Dame, Bad Loss = Illinois, Big Win = ???
2005 - Blown Lead = Ohio State, Bad Loss = Purdue, Big Win = Notre Dame
2004 - Blown Lead = Michigan & OSU, Bad Loss = Rutgers, Big Win = Wisconsin
2003 - Blown Lead = Louisiana Tech (not that good but a good example), Bad Loss = LA Tech, Big Win = Iowa
2002 - Blown Lead = ND/Purdue, Bad Loss = Northwestern, Big Win = NONE
2001 - Blown Lead = Northwestern, Bad Loss = Indiana, Big Win = Michigan
2000 - Blown Lead = Wisconsin, Bad Loss = Iowa, Big Win = Purdue
1999 - The only season since 1990 where things went pretty much how they should have
1998 - Blown Lead = Purdue & Minnesota, Bad Loss = Minnesota, Big Win = Notre Dame & Ohio State
1997 - Blown Lead = Purdue, Bad Loss = Northwestern, Big Win = Penn State
I repeat, Michigan State is very predictable...
Open Letter to MSU Fans:
You know me, optimist number one and head coach apologist extraordinaire... only I've even become jaded. I left the ND game convinced that I never wanted to go to a game again.
It subsided a bit over a day or so, and actually I had to miss the Illinois game - only my sixth home game missed since 1991 and first since 2002 - but I was glad not to be there. I saw the first 3 and a half quarters on TV then we left with the score 20-10 and I put it on the radio. I actually turned the game off on the Stanton fumble which they eventually overruled and where he got hurt. I only turned it back on because my grandpa convinced me to and that was just in time to hear Illinois drive on us to kick the game winner.
The thing is, it has been this way since the latter half of Perles' tenure. We win a game we have no business winning, we lose a game that is really embarassing to a team we shouldn't and we blow a big lead in a game that could change the season. I have no doubt that even if we win against ND 37-33, we would have blown Illinois out and the hype for the game this week would be unreal. We're good enough to beat anyone, but first and foremost, we're good enough to beat ourselves. I blame Smith but yet I don't. Hell, he's just inherited the overall poor attitude that has been there since the end of the Perles days. It is like a curse. If we dump him, we start over - again. Then in four years, we do the same thing and we're right back where we started - again.
I know sports today is about win now, but I'd honestly like to see Smith with a team solely built of his players and if that means we go 6-6 this year and make the Motor City Bowl, so be it. We need to be built before we can reload. We never get to reload because we've never been built. The closest we came was year five with Saban. We struggled and then the light came on and the class we salvaged was great, only to be driven to the dirt by Williams. Smith is slowly building that up by recruiting the heck out of FLA and we have a great start on next year in Michigan which is full of studs.
We gave Izzo some time (and the program was not in the bad shape it was when Smith came on board), same needs to be done here. What JLS said the other day was sheer honesty. I give him credit for that and so what if he is quirky. Better than being lifeless and dead. He's not sugar coating anything. If we ever want to get ahead, we need to fully build a program, have some success and then start demanding 8+ win seasons. Until then, it will be status quo for years to come.
Is JLS the right man? I'm still on the fence. But until MSU fans, alums, writers, top brass, etc. realize that WE DON'T HAVE A PROGRAM RIGHT NOW AND HAVEN'T SINCE 1987-1990, we will go nowhere. We will fire this coach, start over and in four years do it again.
Look at the talent and the fact that we finally have some decent depth again. Kids are going to class. Kids are in a lot less trouble than before. There is more to building a program than quick wins despite tough losses and blown leads.
Do what you want with Smith, but don't make me say I told you so if we fire him and in four years we are still pinning for a program.
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