Breaking news: John L. Smith slaps self!

No, really!

Lots more Spartan misery, and calls for Smith’s head, here and here and here. On the MSU boards, they’re beyond demanding that Smith be fired, and are already speculating about who will replace him. (Anyone for Teddy Ruxpin?)

Here, via ESPN, is a clip of the MSU-Illinois flag-planting incident (more on that momentarily) and Smith’s self-slap.

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[UPDATE, 3:11 AM: Larger, longer video clip after the jump.]

The self-slap (animated GIF here) is an obvious — and obviously classless — reference to the ridiculous slap controversy that developed after Saturday’s ND-MSU game, a controversy that was shamelessly stoked by Spartan coach John L. Smith in a transparent attempt to distract attention from his team’s incredible choke job against the Irish.

Even if we give Smith the benefit of the doubt (which I’m not inclined to believe he deserves) and assume that this most recent, post-Illinois-game “slap” was intended entirely as a joke, it’s still unbelievably inappropriate under the circumstances. Take your pick: either Smith is reacting to this week’s devastating loss by clinging bitterly to an irrelevant perceived slight stemming from last week’s devastating loss, or else he’s reacting to this week’s devastating loss by joking about an irrelevant issue leftover from last week’s devastating loss! Either way, if I were a Spartan fan, I would incredibly embarrassed to have this guy as my team’s coach.

Of course, it isn’t just about the slap. The other issue is the whole ridiculous flag-planting thing. As anyone who read my MSU pregame post is well aware, the Spartans planted their flag at Notre Dame Stadium last September after beating the Irish, a controversial action which caused a significant kerfuffle that became a major subplot of this year’s pre-game hype. What I haven’t previously blogged about is last Saturday’s post-game addendum to flag-gate: the absurd decision by Coach Smith to send three Spartans out to the 50 yard line to “defend the S” in the middle of the field after Notre Dame completed its improbable comeback victory at Spartan Stadium.

This has been widely commented upon in the Domersphere, with the main theme being how telling it is that Michigan State apparently assumed Notre Dame’s players would be as classless as the Spartans had been the year before — a false assumption, as no attempt was made to plant an ND flag, nor would it have been, “defenders” or no “defenders.” While I often get annoyed at the holier-than-thou attitude of some Domers vis a vis other football programs, in this particular case it’s completely appropriate. Michigan State’s behavior in “defending the S” was some combination of hilarious and pathetic.

But something else occurred to me as I considered the “defend the S” fiasco: suppose Notre Dame’s players had wanted to plant our flag on the Spartans’ field. Granted, we wouldn’t do that, because we’re classier than that. But what if that weren’t the case? What if we were just as trashy as those MSU players, and we decided to plant our flag? Whatever anyone else might say about our hypothetical classless action, Michigan State’s players and coaches would have no right to be angry about it, let alone “defend the S” from us. They did the same thing to us! Who the hell do they think they are, demanding that we treat their stadium with a respect that they failed to accord ours! It’s totally absurd!

Now, fast forward to today’s Illinois game. After the game, the Illini tried to plant their flag on Michigan State’s field. Was that classless? Yes. Should it be criticized by analysts and pundits and talking heads? Yes. But should the Spartans, themselves, say a freakin’ word about it? NO! Absolutely not! They don’t have the moral standing to do so! They’ve clearly demonstrated that they believe such behavior is acceptable for them, when they win a big road game. Well, guess what guys, don’t dish it out if you can’t take it!

And yet the Spartans didn’t merely complain about the Illini’s flag-planting; they actually started a pushing and shoving match at midfield, trying to physically stop the Illinois players from planting their flag.

Seriously: what the hell were the Spartans thinking, basically going out there and starting a riot to prevent the defacement of their field? It’s not like this was a small, isolated group of players, either. The apparent sentiment — “how dare you plant your flag on our field?” — was evidently widely shared on the team. How hypocritcal! They are demanding a level of respect which they have not earned, nor shown to others.

The Spartans apparently believe that a different set of rules apply to them. Why? Because that’s what their coach has taught them. It was the implicit message of their pathetic “defend the S” stunt the week before, and it came to fruition this week with the shameful display at midfield after the Illinois game. (Remember, although today’s post-Illinois brawl could be seen, if viewed in isolation, as simply a spontaneous emotional response by college kids — making my point about “respect they have not earned” arguably irrelevant — the “defend the S” business was anything but spontaneous; it was a premeditated decision by the coaching staff. Viewed in the context of that ridiculousness, today’s fiasco becomes much harder to defend or dismiss.)

If I were a Spartan fan, I would be demanding the immediate firing of every member of that coaching staff, not just because of the inexcusable choke job against the Irish followed by the inexcusable home loss to lowly Illinois (both of which occured in the context of various other inexcusable collapses in recent years), but also — perhaps even moreso — because of the inexcusably poor example that is being set for those kids by their coaches. By laughing off the original flag-planting rather than taking a stand (as Illinois’ Ron Zook did today) against it, by engaging in that “defend the S” absurdity, by stoking a stupid “slap” controversy as a distraction from his team’s problems, by breezily laughing off today’s incident as “a little pushing and shoving,” etc. etc. etc., Smith & co. are condoning behavior that makes their program look like utter trash.

P.S. In case anyone is wondering, Sports Inferno with Mike Valenti — you know, the Teddy Ruxpin guy — airs at 10am Monday on 1270 AM in Detroit, and you can listen live over the Internet here or here. I’m thinking he might have a few things to say about that Illinois game. Just saying. :)

UPDATE: Here’s a clip from SportsCenter:

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23 Responses to “Breaking news: John L. Smith slaps self!”

  1. BK says:

    Please, please put that on the top of your page until he gets fired.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bloy, you know why he is slapping himself, right? It is a direct barb against Weis. After last week’s scuffle, Weis claimed he was slapped. John L made a big deal of this basically claiming that Weis lied about the slap to the ref and this lie resulted in the personal foul against State. John L devoted much of his Monday presser to “exposing Weis’ alledged lie.” However, Weis said that he got slapped and it might have been his own player. John L even showed the media video of the incident, in which you can only see Weis for a few seconds. John L also sent the video to the Big Ten as evidence that they got the play wrong.

    So basically, John L is an a$$-clown and he will be fired soon.

  3. David K. says:

    I had heard taht the players involved in the flag planting last year were reprimanded for their behavior. Are you now saying that regardless of whether or not what they did was right, they have no right then to defend themselves AS A TEAM against the same thing that was done last year by a few misguided players? Sorry but thats ridiculous.

    Lets say we are neighbors. We both have nice gardens. One day my dog gets out and tramples your garden. I apologize and reprimand the dog. Are you saying that I would have no right to try and prevent YOUR dog from trampling my garden because my dog trampled yours?

    Its not about earning respect or being disrespectful. Their program didn’t disrespect you, a couple of stupid players, very excited about their victory did. They shouldn’t have, but its still no reason to claim carte blanche to do the same in return.

  4. Get a clue! says:

    This one will come as a real shocker, but once yet again YOU ARE WRONG. Get your facts right. Did you see the JohnL interview at halftime of the ND/MSU game. Apparently not. They asked John L. if he was upset that his team was classless and disrespectful when they planted the flag. His response?
    “I wasn’t mad they planted the flag. I was mad that they planted it on the 35 yd line instead of the 50.”
    Yea, really sounds like a great leader/role model and someone that reprimanded his players.
    I guess a better analogy would be if my dog ruined your garden. I scolded my dog because he only trampled your flowers and not your vegetables and then I told/trained him to trample your entire garden next time, not just your flowers. And then after all of that I prepare to fight your dog if he comes near my garden.

  5. Brendan Loy says:

    I’d like to hear more details about those players being “reprimanded” — everything I’ve heard in recent weeks has suggested a rather blase attitude from the coaching staff about the whole thing.

    You’re right, if MSU is repentant and acknowledges that planting the flag last year was a bad idea, then they have the right to ask others not to disrespect them in the same way they disrespect us. However, if they are not repentent — and my impression, from Smith’s on-camera statements in particular, is that they’re not — THEN they have no right to demand that respect. To use your analogy, if your dog trampled my garden, and when I confronted you about it, you said, “well, I don’t know what you’re complaining about, that’s just what dogs do” (or, to analogize with Smith’s comments about the 50 vs. the 35 yard line, “well, the only thing I’m upset about is that my dog didn’t trample a different part of your garden”), THEN you definitely wouldn’t have a right to complain if my dog does the same thing to you… that would be hypocrisy, plain and simple! What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. So I guess what it comes down to is whether MSU really sent a message to its players that such behavior is unacceptable. My impression is they didn’t, that deep down Michigan State is still basically proud of the flag-planting, or at best indifferent to it. If so, then I stand by what I said: they simply have no right to demand a respect that they haven’t shown others.

    REGARDLESS, though, the bigger point, which I think we can agree on, is this: regardless of whether they have a right to be angry or not, they certainly don’t have the right to be so angry and affronted that they would take it upon themselves to physically stop another team from doing the same thing to them that they did to us last year. It’s one thing to complain or be pissed off, it’s another thing to “defend the S” as Smith had the Spartans do, or to push and shove as they did this week. I mean, c’mon, give me a freakin’ break.

  6. David K. says:

    Did you see the JohnL interview at halftime of the ND/MSU game. Apparently not.

    No I didn’t, I only went by what I had heard.

    Regardless I still think the “You did it to me so i get to do it to you” argument is childish and immature.

  7. Brendan Loy says:

    I still think the “You did it to me so i get to do it to you� argument is childish and immature.

    David, that is NOT my argument. Nor is it a reasonable interpretation of my argument. Nor is it possible to take you seriously if you’re going to make such a vast and ridiculous misreading of my argument. Sheesh. I’m not going to waste my time going through and explaining why that’s so self-evidently wrong. Please, read my post again, with an open mind, not trying to jump to the conclusion that I’m saying something childish and immature.

  8. Sergio says:

    That clip of the radio host breaking down has to be the funniest thing I have ever heard.

  9. Brendan Loy says:

    Okay, here. I’ll quote the relevant portions of my post verbatim, but with emphasis added on the parts that make it obvious I’m NOT saying “You did it to me so i get to do it to you”:

    [S]uppose Notre Dame’s players had wanted to plant our flag on the Spartans’ field. Granted, we wouldn’t do that, because we’re classier than that. But what if that weren’t the case? What if we were just as trashy as those MSU players, and we decided to plant our flag? Whatever anyone else might say about our hypothetical classless action, Michigan State’s players and coaches would have no right to be angry about it, let alone “defend the S” from us. They did the same thing to us! Who the hell do they think they are, demanding that we treat their stadium with a respect that they failed to accord ours! It’s totally absurd!

    Now, fast forward to today’s Illinois game. After the game, the Illini tried to plant their flag on Michigan State’s field. Was that classless? Yes. Should it be criticized by analysts and pundits and talking heads? Yes. But should the Spartans, themselves, say a freakin’ word about it? NO! Absolutely not!

    I believe that’s FIVE DIFFERENT TIMES where I made it perfectly clear that us (or Illinois) planting the flag is NOT OKAY. Thus, I’m obviously not saying “you did it to me so i get to do it to you.” What I’m criticizing is MSU’s hypocrisy. That doesn’t translate to defending the thing that they’re being hypocritical about. Especially not when I explicitly said FIVE DIFFERENT TIMES that I’m NOT defending it.

    You don’t have to agree with me, David, but it’s maddening — maddening!! — when you distill my argument into something that it clearly, obviously, manifestly, self-evidently, without any doubt whatsoever absolutely DOES NOT SAY… and then, on the basis of your patently incorrect distillation (distortion, really) of my argument, conclude that I’m being “childish and immature.”

    Since when is calling people out for hypocrisy “childish and immature”? I return to your analogy about the dog. If your dog stomped on my garden, and in response I let my dog loose in your garden just to spite you, would that be childish and immature? Yes, of course. But now suppose we have another neighbor, Bob. If your dog stomped on Bob’s garden, and you were a total jerk about it toward Bob, not apologizing or anything, basically saying “dogs will be dogs” and acting like Bob had nothing to be angry about… and then Bob let his dog loose in your garden, did the equivalent amount of damage, and you threw a kenipshen fit about it, acting like Bob had wronged you horribly… would it be “childish and immature” for me to say: “Look, it was objectively wrong for Bob to do that, but it’s also totally hypocritcal for you to react this way. What Bob did was immature, and society at large should disapprove, but you personally really don’t have any right to be angry with Bob, because you were such a jerk to him before, you basically forefeited that right. You’re a hypocrite now if you get angry over something that you said wasn’t a big deal before”?? That’s exactly what I’m saying here. There is nothing “childish and immature” about it, and it has NOTHING to do with “You did it to me so i get to do it to you.”

  10. Mad Max, Esquire says:

    It’s obvious John L. Smith doesn’t have the intellectual skills or emotional stability necessary to coach a college-level team (most people don’t, but most people don’t coach college football teams, either).

    Turning a loss into a story about HIM getting slapped should be the final nail in this guy’s college career coffin. There should be a high school, somewhere, in need of an unstable, moderately talented coach.

  11. Mike says:

    Brendan, I have to say, I think you’re overreacting. Not because planting a flag isn’t a classless thing to do — I agree that it is — but because you are acting as if the group of players from this year is identical to that of last year. Beyond that, you are holding an entire group responsible for the actions of several of their members, and regardless of just how many members of the group were responsible for the past behavior, it is unreasonable to presume that every single individual was. Statements such as “But should the Spartans, themselves, say a freakin’ word about it? NO! Absolutely not!” paint everyone with the same brush, and don’t allow for individual differences. Do you honestly think it would be unreasonable for, say, a freshman on the team to say that such an act was wrong? Being a member of a group does not mean that you must agree with all actions taken, past and present, by all other members of that group. College sports are no more monolithic than are political parties, and as you quite reasonably defend dissent within the latter, you should recognize the possibility of legitimate dissent within the former.

  12. Brendan says:

    Overreacting? I never overreact!! How dare you suggest such a thing?!?


    In all seriousness, you’re right, it isn’t individually hypocritical for team members who personally disapproved of, and/or weren’t involved in, last year’s flag-planting, to be personally offended by the hypothetical prospect of an ND flag-planting or the reality of an Illinois flag-planting. So to the extent that my rhetoric may have suggested to the contrary, I was indeed overreacting.

    However, both the “defend the S” stunt and the massive pushing-and-shoving match at midfield weren’t examples of individuals taking offense, they were examples of collective action by the team as a unit, taking offense as a unit. I say this because 1) the “defend the S” stunt was a premeditated action, ordered by the coach; and 2) from the looks of things on video, pretty much the entire freakin’ team came out to midfield to protest the Illini flag-planting. And I continue to maintain that it’s hypocritical for the Spartans as a team, collectively, to take such grave offense at a flag-planting on their field. It’s hypocritical because their actions and statements with regard to last year’s incident certainly didn’t convey any sort of remorse, and as such, they’ve clearly sent a message — again, collectively, not implying that every individual on the team personally agrees with this message — that they don’t think there’s anything terribly wrong with flag-planting when they do it. Thus, they can’t believe it’s wrong when someone else does it to them, without earning the title of hypocrites.

    Mind you, I’m not saying they can’t be pissed off and use it as motivation next year, just like Notre Dame did with the Spartan flag-planting. Of course they can. Using such things as emotional motivation is perfectly natural and fine. But to take offense to the point of basically saying “how dare they?” — let alone trying to enforce this sentiment by physically stopping them from planting the flag, and/or starting a fight when they do — is hypocritical in the extreme. Being emotionally angry is fine; taking self-righteous umbrage is hypocritical.

    But getting back to the difference between individual and collective offense: you say “college sports are no more monolithic than are political parties, and as you quite reasonably defend dissent within the latter, you should recognize the possibility of legitimate dissent within the former.” And you’re right. But to make the analogy work, let’s consider the following two hypothetical scenarios:

    1) The Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives releases an official statement in 2006 condemning the House Republican leadership for failing to take action sooner against the creepy page-chaser from Florida. Five years later, in 2011, a nearly identical scandal erupts, except this time, the Democrats are the ones implicated. The Democratic caucus issues a statement condemning the GOP for scapegoating them, and refusing to admit any blame. Are they being hypocritical? Yes, obviously.

    2) Same facts as above, but this time we’re concerned with the individual actions of one congressman, Rep. Dane Lindberg (D-Va). Rep. Lindberg is elected in 2008, and thus had no role in the drafting of the 2006 statement condemning the Republicans. In fact, in his heart of hearts, Rep. Lindberg (then private citizen Lindberg) thought the Dems were overreacting, and the leadership really isn’t to blame. Anyway, Lindberg is elected in 2008, and three years later, the above-mentioned nearly identical scandal erupts. Lindberg signs onto the 2011 statement condemning the GOP for scapegoating the Dem leadership. Is Lindberg being hypocritical? No, of course not.

    But here’s the question: does the participation of the non-hypocritical Lindberg in the drafting of the otherwise hypocritical 2011 statement render the whole thing non-hypocritical? Does it make it wrong for a commentator to say, “The Democrats are being hypocritical here”? I would say absolutely not. The fact remains that the Democrats, as a whole, as a unit, as a collective body, are being hypocritical, regardless of whether individual members are themselves being personally hypocritical. So I think you can condemn the collective hypocrisy without being contradicted by the possibility that some individuals might not personally share in it.

  13. David K. says:

    Brendan, your argument falls apart because it wasn’t the TEAM that did the flag planting in South Bend last year, it was a few individuals.

    And yes you’re right, above i was wrong in saying that “they did it so we can do it” was what you were arguing. But I still think its ridiculous to say they don’t ahve a right to defend their turf unless it was a pre-meditated effort by the team and coaches.

  14. Brendan Loy says:

    David, it isn’t particularly sporting to say that my argument “falls apart” for a reason that I’ve already rebutted, without at least addressing and attempting to refute my rebuttal.

    My rebuttal (again) is that MSU’s coaches have clearly conveyed an impression that they are at best indifferent toward, and at worst condone, what happened last year. Therefore, to claim “it was a few individuals” is about as accurate as claiming that it’s wrong to hold the entire Senate GOP responsible for an outrageous statement by, say, five prominent Senate Republicans, when the leaders and other members of the party conspicuously fail to condemn and seem to implicitly condone the statement. At some point, when “a few individuals” do something wrong, and the organization of which they are members seems not to care, it becomes perfectly reasonable to blame the organization. I think we’ve reached that point with Michigan State. You apparently don’t, but you’re not providing any evidence to back that up, you’re just dismissing my argument out of hand without explaining why.

    Also, what do you mean “unless it was a pre-meditated effort by the team and coaches”? It WAS a pre-meditated effort by the team and coaches!! Against Notre Dame it was, anyway — the “Defend the S” business was orchestrated by John L. Smith!!! — and the fight with Illinois was hardly started by a few isolated individuals. It appears on video that pretty much the whole team went over there. Was it “pre-meditated”? Maybe not, but in light of the “Defend the S” crap the week before, it seems pretty clear that the concept, at least, of “defending” the 50-yard line is indeed pre-meditated and widely accepted by the Spartans organization, from top to bottom. If you think I’m wrong about that, fine, so cite some evidence or make an argument, don’t just assert that I’m being “ridiculous.”

    Look, you can “think it’s ridiculous” for me to hold a position that I’ve defended and explained rather thoroughly here, but I think most people will reasonably conclude that you’re the one being ridiculous, if you can’t at least provide some sort of argument to back up your position. Right or wrong, my position is hardly “ridiculous.” It seems to me that you’re just ignoring key parts of my argument because you’re too stubborn to give any serious consideration to an alternative viewpoint.

  15. David K. says:

    “unless it was a pre-meditated effort by the team and coachesâ€?

    I’mt alking about the initial flag planting. Again, it was a few individuals on the team who took that action.

    It is ridiculous to hold the entire team and school responsible and therefore argue that their defending themselves is ridiculous when the larger group was not involved in the original incident.

  16. Brendan Loy says:

    You’re still not responding to my rebuttal. At all. You’re not even attempting to.

    I give up.

  17. isuquinndog says:

    Illinois sucks. Not that has anything to do wtih this..just sayin’ :)

  18. Brett says:

    I’m with Sergio. That radio clip was absolutely hilarious. I thought the guy was going to kill himself or someone else during the rant.

  19. Brian Foster says:


    First, obviously I’ve continued to keep my mouth shut, and for good reason. :)

    Second, I remind you and any others who care that I immediately expressed my general disapproval of the 2005 flag plant, although I was willing to concede the confluence of circumstances that led to its occurrence. Those comments are still on the blog, I’m sure. I also admit that I qualified my disapproval upon hearing about a) the absence of the Megaphone (a side topic not worth getting into now, in my view) and b) the rumor, which I have never seen confirmed, that your “classy” ND players actually were the original flag planters back in 2002 or 2004 when they won in East Lansing.

    With those out of the way . . .

    You have said several times in this post that “Defend the S” after the ND game was premeditated and orchestrated by John L and/or the coaching staff generally.

    I have searched the internets in vain for *any* confirmation of this *whatsoever.* Do you have a source for this?

    If you’re basing it just on the interview about the 35/50 thing, clearly that’s insufficient. As for that interview — it astounds me that classy intelligent respectful ND fans all over the Domer Nation remember the bit about the 35/50 thing, but conveniently forget the rest of the context of his comments — which were to the effect of, “if you’re going to be stupid enough to plant your flag in somebody else’s field, at least find the 50 so you don’t look like total idiots.”

    In other words — he was being self-deprecating while acknowledging that it was a STUPID and CLASSLESS thing to do.

    What more do you want?

    I am, of course, quite frustrated with the way things are going at my school. But unlike many of the hysterically shrieking psuedo-fans on the message boards, I recognize that whatever the problem is at MSU, it’s bigger than, and in a very real sense, ENTIRELY UNRELATED to John L.

    I’ve followed this team year in and year out since my freshman year in 1991, when MSU was coming off a Big 10 championship. They went 3-8 that year. Lost to Central Michigan. I won’t recount every other mediocre and disappointing season between then and now, but basically, every single one of them has sucked, with one exception — 1999, Nick Saban’s final year, when they went 9-2. But even then, the two losses were inexplicable double-digit back to back blowout losses to Wisconsin and Purdue.

    Since that 1990 championship season which was the last year of a decent streak through the mid and late 1980s (high point: a 17-16 victory over USC in the 1988 Rose Bowl), MSU has four coaches (five if you count Morris Watts who finished out the 2002 season after Bobby Williams was fired). NOTHING HAS CHANGED. To me, this suggests not that the coach is the problem, but that something else is.

    I honestly don’t know what. But I do know that in the college game where recruiting and stability and continuity are at least as important as wins and losses, you don’t get anywhere by throwing coaches overboard every three or four years. Hell, that only works in the pros every once in a while, where year-to-year stability almost doesn’t matter at all.

    All of which is a long-winded and rather depressing way of saying, I am, I remain, I (sadly) have no choice but to remain a Spartan fan.

    And I am NOT embarrassed by John L. In truth, I feel bad for him. The Spartan Curse has taken him in.

    Anyway, on to the Slap.

    First off, the “shameless[] stok[ing] . . . in a transparent attempt to distract attention from [the] incredible choke” is a laughably biased and inaccurate characterization of what happened. You clearly have no idea of what it’s like for a coach to be on the “hot seat” (and how could you? Carroll’s seat is about as cold as it gets, and Ty was arguably blindslided before it was ever getting warm). No way any coach is going to “distract” anybody from anything when their every move is being scrutinized and second-guessed.

    But more to the point: after a week of talk about flags and guarantees and whatnot, and a scuffle breaks out, and the opposing coach is clearly telling the officials he was slapped (which you obviously would not say to the officials unless you thought it was the opposing team doing the slapping), WHY ON EARTH would not the coach want to, nay, be expected to, defend his players against the baseless accusation? You’re telling me that if Weis complains to the refs that USC players are taking swings at him, you don’t expect Carroll to stick up for his players afterward? I don’t buy it.

    As for the post-Illinois Slap Redux, I agree the timing was poor, given the horribly played game and the whole stupid S-guarding thing, but otherwise, there’s absolutely nothing objectionable about it — and it’s certainly not “obviously classless.” I don’t see what’s so difficult about giving him “the benefit of the doubt” and assuming it was “intended entirely as a joke” — given that he is an irreverent joker, and has been all along. That’s just his thing (and I for one find it refreshing).

    As long as he’s getting the job done, it’s highly entertaining. To the extent that he’s not getting the job done, it has NOTHING to do with being an irreverent joker. And I wouldn’t expect him, or anyone, to fundamentally change his personality in response to some jackasses foaming at the mouth online who think he’s not good enough at his job. (To be clear, I mean the Spartan Nation — not you.)

    I don’t know. An unorganized bunch of late night rambling borne of frustration, this is. But I think you’re categorically wrong when you say “The Spartans apparently believe that a different set of rules apply to them. Why? Because that’s what their coach has taught them. ” I see a coach, a staff and players who realized immediately after last year that the flag thing was wrong, and said so. I see a coach who defends his kids in public, while taking care of business behind closed doors. (I haven’t yet mentioned the SERIOUS off-the-field mess John L inherited, and has by all accounts cleaned up remarkably well.) I see a program struggling for answers, for a turnaround, for a change, which I believe is once again on the cusp of happening, just as it was in 1999, when a coaching change frittered it away. I see an embattled group of kids fighting against the weight of 3, 5, 10, 15, 40 years of frustration and disappointment among the fan base. I see a program that is, at most, #4 in its region behind UM, OSU and ND, with “fans” and “supporters” who don’t seem to grasp that it cannot just automatically become #1 because they want it to be, or because Mooch is currently between jobs. I see a bigger problem than any single coach or AD can be blamed for, and short of mothballing the whole program for 5 or 10 years and starting fresh, I don’t know how to truly cleanse the slate.

    As the Marshal of MSU’s Homecoming Parade often says, “It isn’t easy being green.”

    –Brian E. Foster
    Michigan State University, B.A., 1995

  20. Brian Foster says:

    And by the way:

    “I’m disappointed by the way some of our players conducted themselves after last Saturday’s game against Illinois. I apologize for the inappropriate behavior, and I again congratulate Illinois on its hard-fought victory.

    “It’s important that our student-athletes conduct themselves with class before, during and after competition. It’s vital that our team promotes positive sportslike conduct at all times. That clear message has been delivered to our football team.”

    –Statement of John L. Smith

  21. […] at hand.  Of course, it doesn’t help with the empathy angle when you see the people slapping themselves in the face. The Michigan State Coaching Job is […]