Monday Morning QB …
Well the “Game of the Century” lived up to the hype. There were a lot more points scored than I think most anyone around figured, but that only made it all the more enticing to watch. The only unfortunate event tied to the game was the loss of Michigan great Bo Schembechler. Bo personified this rivalry and really, Big Ten football. He won the right way and only that way and will be missed by everyone who loves this game. Rest in Peace, Bo.
Back to the games. Like I said, Michigan – Ohio State lived up to its billing. It was hard fought, well played and close to the bitter end. USC is in the catbird seat now as far as the National Championship hunt goes, but we could very well see M vs. OSU II. The only comment I have on that is, who is the champ if the Wolverines win the rematch???
One team no one in the nation is giving any props is Wisconsin. What did they do to deserve the attention that they haven’t gotten? Try winning more games in the regular season than the Badgers ever have (11). The only loss on this season’s slate for Wisconsin was to Michigan. Granted, the Badgers never played the Buckeyes, but it still is very much a possibility that the superior traveling Badgers might give the Big Ten three, count ‘em, THREE BCS teams.
Elsewhere, kudos to Minnesota for swiping back the world’s most coveted swine - Floyd of Rosedale. That caps a three game win streak that puts the Gophers back into a bowl game for the seventh time in eight seasons. He won’t get mention for it, but my vote would go to Glen Mason for Coach of the Year in the Big Ten. Purdue held onto the Old Oaken Bucket and kept rival Indiana from gaining bowl eligibility. Northwestern avoided a tie for last place and won the Battle for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk with a nice “W” over Illinois. Michigan State battled in what might have been its best defensive effort in a few years but came up on the short end of yet another close game and stayed winless in State College dating back to 1965.
Team of the Week…
It could be Minnesota but really it has to be BOTH Ohio State and Michigan. The two played a game for the ages just like it should have been played and Michigan had to do it with the added weight of the loss of Bo. Hat’s off to both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines for showing off to the nation why the Big Ten is indeed the best conference in the land.
Player of the Week…
No one stepped up as big this past weekend as Troy Smith. The senior signal caller shredded the Michigan secondary and likely sewed up a Heisman Trophy in the process. All that’s left is to lead the nation’s best team to a second National Title in five seasons.
Get Gamm (with one to go)… Only Buckeye Nation and yours truly went a perfect 6-0 for the week. We both have Purdue losing this week at Hawaii and if that holds true, Gamm wins the last week by virtue of “closer on the final margin” of the OSU – M classic. Also, if that holds true, BN is in the driver’s seat with only the bowl games to go. If Purdue wins, it will be a three way tie at the top with several still with a shot at the season title.
1 – Buckeye Nation: 71-17 (.807), 3 GG Wins – Has Purdue losing
T2 – mayo170: 70-18 (.795), 1 GG Win – Has Purdue winning
T2 – Dan Meyer: 70-18 (.795), 2 GG Wins – Has Purdue losing
T2 – phatsdawg: 70-18 (.795) – Has Purdue winning
T5 – Gamm: 69-19 (.784), 1 GG Win – Has Purdue losing
T5 – flakcat: 69-19 (.784), 1 GG Win – Has Purdue losing
T5 – andrew1313: 69-19 (.784), 1 GG Win – Has Purdue winning
8 – BigTenSportsFan: 57-19 (.750), 1 GG Win - DNP
9 – PUFan: 48-18 (.727), 1 GG Win – Has Purdue winning
Get Gamm Basketball Style… It is almost that time of year again. As you recall, we usually start picking by analyzing the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and then cover all 88 Big Ten basketball games. Same goes for this year and since the Challenge is next week, it is time to pick away…
Monday 11/27 – Michigan at NC StateTuesday 11/28 – Maryland at Illinois
Tuesday 11/28 – Florida State at Wisconsin
Tuesday 11/28 – Indiana at Duke
Tuesday 11/28 – Penn State at Georgia Tech
Tuesday 11/28 – Miami-FLA at Northwestern
Wednesday 11/29 – Michigan State at Boston College
Wednesday 11/29 – Virginia at Purdue
Wednesday 11/29 – Iowa at Virginia Tech
Wednesday 11/29 – Ohio State at North Carolina (TIEBREAKER)
Wednesday 11/29 – Clemson at Minnesota
Team by Team report card…
Time for a quick report on how the Big Ten did compared to my preseason thoughts along with an overall grade for the season and what to expect going forward. Check in later this week for a breakdown of each team…
Purdue at Hawaii (Nov. 25)
One day, Big Ten teams will learn that this game is nothing but trouble. Just ask the Spartans. They so deplored the way their game was called and how they were treated that they bagged a trip in 2008. Purdue has nothing to gain in this game and Hawaii is actually pretty good. The Warriors will get some home town calls and pass to a win. Hawaii 35 – Purdue 28.
Mayo170 says … Oh wait! We have one last game to visit on the agenda. This year Purdue gets to go to Honolulu and take on the Rainbow Warriors in paradise. Well, I have no idea what this Hawaii team is all about, and after looking at their site, they are quite a bit better this year than I had expected. Purdue seems to be playing a totally different brand of football than Tiller brought to West Lafayette 10 years ago and perhaps that’s why it’s so tough to watch for me this year. Although bowl eligible, I don’t know that I have a whole lot of confidence in them holding up against Hawaii. I’m just going to believe long enough that Purdue is going to do the Big Ten proud and take care of business out there. Purdue 31 at Hawaii 23
MSU Coaching Search…
Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon is on the ball. This is what she sent regarding the coaching search. I still think the candidates are Grantham, Shurmur, Pelini, Kelly and Strong, with Dantonio and Tom Izzo, yes that Tom Izzo as darkhorses.
TO THE SPARTAN FAMILY:
I thank you for the support of Spartan football, this year and over many years. Your loyalty is to be commended. I know we share goals for a football program that is:
(1) competitive on the field with student-athletes who will be competitive in their chosen fields when they leave MSU;
(2) above politics and above reproach;
(3) a magnet drawing students, alumni, faculty, staff and our stakeholders closer to the University;
(4) consistent on the field, but also consistent in values, success and traditions across the inevitable transition of presidents, athletic directors, and coaches; and
(5) helping to enhance the international reputation of the university.
In our process of selecting a new football coach, the Board of Trustees and I affirm our shared values and goals. We have done extensive analysis of other BCS-eligible football programs; talked with and listened to a wide range of people inside college and professional football, and looked in depth at what we need to do as Team MSU to shape a culture that enhances the probability of success within the context of our goals, values, and traditions. One only has to look at our MSU basketball programs or at the coaches who will compete for the Big Ten Championship on Saturday to know that there is not one formula for success in terms of prior experience and prior institutional affiliation.
What is clear is that a successful football coach must have key characteristics beyond the knowledge of the game, particularly for a program that must establish itself consistently among the top 25 programs in the country and at or near the top of the Big Ten. Almost to a person, the individuals with whom we have talked recognize that we need to break the yo-yo pattern of success and significant rebuilding. All recognize that we need to be held in high regard even in defeat.
Unlike the recruitment of a star faculty member, candidates who reach an acceptable level are generally known through traditional media and the extensive chat rooms that dominate the landscape of college athletics, going into high gear when a high-visibility program is searching for a coach. We have observed a rise and fall of candidates in the public forum and read reports of what we allegedly have or have not done. Many folks seem to know what we should seek in a coach. We know the key characteristics we do seek. Obviously, we choose from a pool of candidates who meet basic considerations and who would be viewed as credible head coaches at peer programs. However, there are other key considerations that form the basis for evaluation of who should be our next coach.
1. The person must want to be at MSU and have a plan to build on our assets and our traditions. This has been occurring at Rutgers and Oklahoma with coaches without strong prior ties and at Notre Dame and West Virginia with coaches having strong prior ties.
2. For a program that is rebuilding, great recruiting and great teaching are essential. The person must be able to recruit in Michigan and the Midwest, but also have the ability to reach out to other national recruiting hotbeds. A great teacher who brings consistency and levels of peak and sustained performance is needed in a rebuilding process.
3. The person must establish a climate of personal, team and institutional accountability and discipline that build the necessary foundation for sustainable excellence and pride.
4. The person must demonstrate the capability to build and lead a strong and diverse coaching staff.
5. The person would be someone with whom you would entrust your son to help him be a successful person and with whom your son would want to stay in contact throughout his life.
6. The person must be an effective communicator and committed to community outreach.
7. The person must "fit" with the culture of a world's top-100 university and be a part of Team MSU.
What does Team MSU need to do in return to help the next football coach be successful? Obviously, we must offer competitive compensation for the coach and assistants, a top-flight strength and conditioning program, state-of-the-art facilities, one of the best academic support programs and a strong partnership with the Office of Admissions. These are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for success.
We are a University that is committed to celebrarting the glories of the past, and we were reminded this fall of those glories when so many great Spartans returned to campus on the weekend of the Notre Dame game, when we commemorated the historic 10-10 tie. But we also must be committed to using our values, assets, and traditions to reinvent ourselves to meet the challenges of a twenty-first century football program. The University community must work to be a place where a great football coach- like a terrific faculty member - wants to stay because he can find success, feel that we are committed to him, and because he feels an integral part of the University community.
My role and responsibility as President is to be clear about criteria and how these criteria fit within the best interests of Michigan State University; to seek broad input so that no special interest group is viewed as "running the MSU football program;" to assure a process faithful to the criteria of the Black Coaches Association and to our own values of inclusiveness; and to implement a process that has checks and balances that bring into equilibrium both short-term expectations and long-term success of the coach and of the University.
To achieve these expectations, an internal assessment group, led by Ron Mason, was created. Mark Hollis has served as the focal point for the assessment of successes at other BCS programs and the analysis and synthesis of the advice and support of those involved in various key roles in many searches. Tom Izzo has been directly involved in the process and has talked with candidates and references. Lt. Alan Haller of the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety, a 1992 graduate, former Spartan football player, and a former player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is also directly involved in the internal think tank and in the interviews. I wanted a second external group to assure the fairness and integrity of the process, as well as offer an assessment of needed executive leadership and communication skills. Therefore, we sought the counsel of three alumni: Ben Maibach, a successful Southeast Michigan businessman; Gene Washington, a former Spartan star and NFL player and 3M human resources executive; and Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court. These people have been our chief process protectors and consultants to assure that we build for the future.
In addition, we have engaged Chuck Neinas, former Commissioner of the Big Eight Conference and former Executive Director of College Football Association to act as an intermediary for us with various candidates and sought a review of the criteria and other advice from former Spartan Athletic Director Joe Kearney and Gil Brandt, former Dallas Cowboys executive and one of the most knowledgeable people in the NFL. One of our first steps was consultation with the NCAA Minorities and Opportunities Committee. We have consulted with Nick Saban and Steve Mariucci and other current and former NFL coaches. I have appreciated the advice and time of Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. We have talked with many other current and former athletes and have reviewed every piece of communication received from the Spartan family, including the MSU Black Alumni, the MSU Football Players Association, MSU faculty, students, and staff and many, many others.
Throughout, the Board of Trustees has been engaged in the structure of the process and development of overall criteria. I have frequently kept them informed of the status of the search. Our mutual goal has been to be on the same page. I appreciate the support they have provided and the confidence they have shown in me to bring forth a candidate who meets our criteria and has the best potential to help us reach our goals.
We are now actively evaluating individuals. We are fully aware of timelines and mandates associated with recruiting, building a coaching staff, and for dealing with current head coaches.
As I have said over the past two weeks, we announced our decision to seek new leadership for the football program when we did because the decision was foregone. We wanted to be clear and fair to all concerned that we were searching for a coach. The need for integrity and clarity that guided us from the start continues to guide us. We will keep you informed as we proceed with the process.
President Lou Anna K. Simon