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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Leach Fired - Pirate afficianado Mike Leach was fired as Texas Tech's head coach today. More about this soon.

Happy Holidays!

No posts/podcasts until after the New Year (sorry I didn't mention it before), but one quick mention of last night's GLI game for the icers. MSU destroyed Michigan Tech 10-1, while U-M lost to RPI 4-3. This sets up for a very winnable MSU/RPI final tonight at the Joe. Student tickets are $10 at the door, so whip out those old ID's!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Big Ten's Statement on 12th Team

The Big Ten has released a statement about the possibility of adding a 12th team to the conference. Jim Delany didn't speak on the topic at 4pm as originally thought, which is sort of disappointing. All the statement really says is that the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors will basically look at the situation, and a recommendation will be given in 12 to 18 months. This is really a joke, considering the news coming out all day was that the Big Ten was all over a 12th member, and it seemed like it was somewhat imminent. An interesting note here is that MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon is actually the head of the council, something I had no idea about.

The Detroit Free Press has an interesting picture collage of suggestions as to a 12th team, all of whom I've heard mentioned before. Here's the official word from the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors on the addition of a 12th team:

Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference in June of 1990 and its addition has been an unqualified success. In 1993, 1998 and 2003, the COP/C, in coordination with the commissioner’s office, reviewed the issue of conference structure and expansion. The COP/C believes that the timing is right for the conference to once again conduct a thorough evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion. As a result, the commissioner was asked to provide recommendations for consideration by the COP/C over the next 12 to 18 months.

The COP/C understands that speculation about the conference is ongoing. The COP/C has asked the conference office to obtain, to the extent possible, information necessary to construct preliminary options and recommendations without engaging in formal discussions with leadership of other institutions. If and when such discussions become necessary the COP/C has instructed Commissioner James E. Delany to inform the Chair of the COP/C, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon, and then to notify the commissioner of the affected conference(s). Only after these notices have occurred will the Big Ten engage in formal expansion discussions with other institutions. This process will allow the Big Ten to evaluate options, while respecting peer conferences and their member institutions. No action by the COP/C is expected in the near term. No interim statements will be made by the Big Ten or the COP/C until after the COP/C receives the commissioner’s recommendations and the COP/C determines next steps, if any, in this area.

Second All-America Honor for Greg Jones

Greg Jones has been named a first-team AP All-American today, a day after he was named an All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). Jones was the only Big Ten player named to the AP first-team, which is probably a reflection on the conference's recent bowl struggles. Pat Angerer, linebacker for Iowa, was the only other Big Ten player on the FWAA team with Jones.

Big Ten - 12th Team?

There may already a Big 12, but the Big Ten is, once again, chomping at the bit to add a 12th team, and this time they may be dead serious. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is expected to make a statement today at 4pm regarding expanding the conference. The move is likely being made to cut football into two, six-team divisions where the winners would play each other in a conference championship. It has been estimated this could add an additional $5 million in annual revenue for the conference, and also help with prestige, and bowl game rust.

I'm all for a 12th team, but I'm really undecided on who it should be, and whether the conference can afford to settle. The Big Ten and Delany would clearly love to hit the homerun with Notre Dame, but the Irish last turned down the offer in the late-90's, and aren't likely to come back to the table. It's really a shame, considering Notre Dame could definitely benefit from joining the Big Ten rather than living in their independent past. After the Irish, there are a bunch of Big East schools, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Syracuse, Louisville, and Rutgers, that could be potential matches. I have my issues with each of them, mainly fan support related, but I'll definitely post again after the news conference later and let you know where I stand on the announcement.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Podcast Monday - 12/14

MSU sports rule the 'cast again this week, as I try to focus on the positive movement of the other programs after talking about the trials and tribulations of the football team. The Pistons and Tigers cause me to go about five minutes over, which results in one comprehensive podcast . . . so click it!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Greg Jones: All-American

I know I'm going crazy with the posts this morning, but Greg Jones was named a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). This is a huge honor, and much deserved for the major bright spot on the defensive side of the ball for MSU this season. Going into the Alamo Bowl, Jones has totaled up an outstanding 140 tackles, and 9 sacks.

Ingram Wins Heisman

Flint's own Mark Ingram, Jr. won the Heisman Trophy last night, becoming the first Alabama Crimson Tide player to win the award. Ingram barely beat out Stanford's Toby Gerhart, in what became the closest 1st-to-2nd finish in Heisman voting history. Ingram, going into this year's National Championship, has 1,542 yards on 6.2 YPC (my favorite stat, and boy is that high!), as well as 18 touchdowns. The ceremony was attended by Ingram's mother and grandparents.


It stinks the Spartans couldn't suck him into East Lansing when we had the chance, but Saban used to be an assistant when Mark Ingram, Sr. played for MSU. Bobby Williams was also said to be instrumental in Ingram's recruitment to Tuscaloosa. On top of his Heisman accolades, Flint Mayor Dayne Walling named yesterday "Mark Ingram, Jr. Day" on behalf of the Flint Southwestern Academy alum.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Series Sweep Against BGSU for Icers

Hockey gets the series sweep this weekend, beating Bowling Green 4-1 Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena. As I mentioned in my hockey update a few days ago, I was hoping to see Corey Tropp put up some points this weekend to get the Spartans back going for the rest of the CCHA season, and he did just that with a hat trick Saturday night. The Falcons aren't exactly a conference giant, but a win is a win no matter how you get it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

MSU Football: Twelve Total Suspended

I noted yesterday that Myles White was number eleven in the suspension total, but he was really number twelve apparently. White was hit with Minor in Possession and Urinating in Public charges, which stemmed from the Small Planet incident, the one all the other suspensions are tied to, on November 22. I know this list has gotten kind of confusing (I know I'm confused), so I'll try to simplify things with this list:

Those kicked off the team from the Nov. 22 Small Planet/Rather Hall incident:

1. Glenn Winston (RB)
2. Roderick Jenrette (S)

Those initially suspended from the Nov. 22 Small Planet/Rather Hall incident:

3. B.J. Cunningham (WR)
4. Mark Dell (WR)
5. Ashton Leggett (RB)
6. Chris L. Rucker (CB)
7. Fred Smith (WR)
8. Brynden Trawick (S)
9. Ishmyl Johnson (DT)
10. Jamiihr Williams (LB)

Those suspended from the Nov. 22 Small Planet/Rather Hall incident following arraignment:

11. Chris D. Rucker (WR)
12. J'Michael Deane (OT)
13. Donald Spencer (WR)

Those suspended for charges only from Small Planet unrelated to the Rather Hall incident:

14. Myles White (WR)

As you see, the total is fourteen, but I'm not counting Winston or Jenrette when I say there are "Twelve Total Suspended" as they've been let go from the roster. You'll also notice that "WR" pops up SIX times total in that list. This means that Blair White, Keyshawn Martin and the tight end corp will be carrying the load for the Spartans in the receiving game against Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl on January 2.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MSU Football Suspensions Up To 11 - I haven't wanted to talk about it, that's why I haven't written anything. Myles White's UIP/MIP means I will later though.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

MSU Hockey Update

I haven't really mentioned the icers since before Thanksgiving, so I figured I'd give a brief update. They lost a couple bad ones to WCHA/Big Ten foes Wisconsin and Minnesota, 7-3 and 2-1 respectively. Since those weren't conference games, I didn't really feel the need to comment. However, they bounced back last weekend with a win and an overtime loss against Northern Michigan up in Marquette.

This coming week the Spartans play a home-and-home against a Bowling Green squad that has struggled to say the least so far this season. The Falcons have only two wins so far, both being in-conference. I'm not saying they're a puff team, but it would be nice to see Corey Tropp put a couple past Bowling Green's Nick Eno to get the scoring going. MSU currently sits second in the CCHA, behind the #1 ranked Miami Redhawks, with 23 points and a CCHA record of 7-3-2.

#24 MSU - 66, #8 Xavier- 53

Well, the women continue to confuse us all, as they upset #8 Xavier tonight 66-53 at the Breslin Center. I really can't get a read on this team, and their leaders in Aitch, DeHaan and Jefferson are just as inconsistent as the rest of the roster. MSU was in control most of the game, as the Spartans had a 9 point halftime lead. It was all DeHaan for the Spartans too, as she poured in 22 with 13 boards. Wins over two top 10 teams is great, but it's also weird they lost their Big Ten home opener to an average Indiana squad.
Sorry guys, but this is a test from my cell to see if twitterfeed will work with my Sparty Sports mobile updates. I'll post something later today.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Brian Kelly hired by Notre Dame according to IrishCentral.com. More on this tomorrow, but I can't imagine he coaches Cincy in the bowl game.

Tigers' Granderson, Jackson Gone

The Detroit Tigers traded the ever-popular Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, and starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks today for a reliever and prospects. Phil Coke would come to the Tigers from the Yanks, as the Tigers desperately need an arm in the bullpen after the recent arbitration turn-down by Brandon Lyon. Detroit also gets a top-rated starting pitching prospect from Arizona in the form of Max Scherzer, and a future replacement in center-field for Granderson in Austin Jackson from New York. The Diamondbacks also get Ian Kennedy from the Yankees.

As for my opinion, this is bound to be a mostly unpopular trade. Curtis was very popular in a Tigers uniform, and participated in many community events. Everyone looked at him as a great guy, and Detroit, believe me, loves to reward loyalty and simply "being a nice guy" with big money contracts. It appears the departure of Granderson, as well as the effective starting pitcher Jackson, were for economic reasons. It wasn't so much the health of the Detroit economy, but more that Mike Illitch, an owner in a smaller market, had spent beyond the means of any mid-market owner by having a top-5 payroll. The roll of the dice that was giving Ordonez his at-bats turned out to be a huge, $18 million to be exact, mistake, which probably tipped the scales. It doesn't look good for the short term, but the long term outlook, especially after dumping huge contracts the next couple of years, will look much rosier with these new prospects and more money to spend.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Podcast Monday - 12/7

Takin' over the game this week with MSU Alamo Bowl talk, BCS/Notre Dame complaints, and some basketball discussion to top it all off. Click above, click below, just click somewhere and listen!

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nevermind. MSU vs. Texas Tech in Alamo on Jan. 2nd. Preview coming soon.
Source tells me to expect MSU to be in the Insight Bowl against Iowa State after the bowl worked a deal with the Alamo. I'll try to post more later.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Izzo Angry About Roy Williams' Shot at Roe

Roy Williams took an indirect shot at MSU power forward Delvon Roe in his book "Hard Work: My Life On and Off the Court," and then a more direct one on Tuesday after the UNC/MSU game. In the book, Williams mentions a recruit that was going to be headed to Chapel Hill to play for his Tar Heels, but then "lied" to him by going to MSU instead. On Tuesday, Williams, speaking about Delvon Roe, stated that Roe "said he was coming, let's be honest."

Suffice it to say, Tom Izzo is not happy about Williams' comments relating to Roe, and about how it makes Izzo and the program look.  Roe didn't say anything in response to what Williams has claimed, which has made Izzo "very proud of how he handled it." Izzo was angry enough about the ordeal that he stated that "[t]he other thing I thought was wrong was the insinuation like, almost, that Michigan State did something wrong to get him. So he picked the wrong kid, he picked the wrong family and he picked the wrong program."

USA Draws England's Group C for World Cup

The draw just came out, and the U.S. will start things off in Group C with a match against England on June 12th. I'll write a column about it later, but I think this is a decent draw. England always seems to be a tad overrated, and hasn't had a ton of recent World Cup success.

Notre Dame Not Going Bowling

To quote Allen Iverson, "[h]ow silly is that?" If the multiple reports are true, like those from AOL Fanhouse and the Chicago Tribune, are true, and the players voted on whether to go to the bowl game, I CANNOT believe that they wouldn't go. You're telling me that the seniors on that Notre Dame team wouldn't want to go out one last time, put on the blue and gold, and end a career-ending four game losing streak? If Charlie Weis really recruited that many student-athletes that didn't have enough pride to play one last game as a member of the Fighting Irish, then he really never should've been hired.

I know that there are reasons program-wise for Notre Dame not to go, many pointed out by Brian Bennett on ESPN.com, but it's still crazy to me to turn this down. I'm sure many Irish fans pulled the "if we have to go to a crap bowl game, we're not gonna go at all" nonsense, but that doesn't fly with me. Play one last game, likely against a decent Central Michigan team, and try to get above .500 on the year. One positive, even if it would be a small one, out of a dismal season should be enough of a reason to head to Detroit or Mobile.

#21 MSU - 72, #4 UNC - 66

The men couldn't get it done against the Tar Heels, but the women sure could. Suzy Merchant's team beat UNC 72-66 at the Breslin Center last night in the MSU women's Big Ten/ACC challenge game. Lauren Aitch led the way with 15 points, and Alyssa DeHaan put in 14, all in the second half, to overcome 29 by UNC's leading scorer Italee Lucas. DeHaan was limited in the first half, playing only two minutes, due to foul troubles. The Spartans also won the battle on the boards, out rebounding the Tar Heels 42-39. This was the first time the North Carolina women ever visited the Breslin Center.

This is a nice win for MSU, as it helps you forget the opening loss to Dayton on the road, and the one-point heartbreaker to Notre Dame. These are the games top-10 preseason teams are supposed to win. Maybe Tom should've had the boys come in to watch this one so they could see what winning a marquee out-of-conference game looked like. In a weird scheduling quirk, MSU plays their first Big Ten game, their next being weeks away, on Sunday against Indiana at home.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lying Led to Suspensions by Dantonio

It was revealed earlier this week that eight more Spartan football players, including starters Mark Dell, B.J. Cunningham, and Chris L. Rucker, were at least present during the Rather Hall fight from November 22. All those involved have been suspended indefinitely, but may not have participated in any violent acts.

MSU Board of Trustees Chairman Joel Ferguson states that the players recently suspended, those that aren't Roderick Jenerette or Glenn Winston, were suspended for lying to Head Coach Mark Dantonio about their whereabouts when the beating occurred. Dantonio has simply stated that there was a "violation of team rules," but has not specifically stated what that violation was. Ferguson has also stated that the claim players were wearing ski was not true.

Either way, I do laud Dantonio for suspending those players for lying, but shouldn't they also be suspended for just standing by while Jenrette and Winston wailed on the victims? Ferguson is going a little too far by stating that "[t]hey told the coach they weren’t there. That’s what they’re suspended for. It’s nothing." It is something, Joel, when players watch their friends beat up someone, don't do anything, and then lie about it. I'm just not sure if keeping them from playing in a bowl game is enough of a punishment.

Any thoughts on this incident? Please comment!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quick Hits - 12/2

MSU/UNC Debacle - That's how I'll describe this thing. Shot 43% from the field compared to the Tar Heels' 58%, that's not gonna get it done. It was certainly kinda nuts that they appeared to hit every shot, whether there was a hand in the face or not. What's really troubling was the ability for Ed Davis to take over in the post. He was dominating in there, and I'm really afraid that Big Ten 4's and 5's, like JaJuan Johnson of Purdue and Michigan's DeShawn Sims, will do the same during conference play. At least the play of Raymar Morgan has been encouraging so far, as he's got his scoring average back up to double digits, and led scorers on Tuesday with 18.

Notre Dame's Coaching Situation - Hard to figure this thing out. A report from IrishCentral.com this morning stated that Brian Kelly is set to become the Irish's next coach. However, a conflicting, albeit far fetched, report came out this afternoon that said Bob Stoops was the main man for the job. Whoever it is, they'll likely lose Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate, and just won't have the talent to make a quick rebound. The new coach better recruit, and quickly, if they want to avoid the short-term temper wrath of the ND fans.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Eight players suspended for football from the dorm incident, including Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham. More later.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Podcast Monday - 11/30

Sorry guys, I'm wayyyyyyyyyyy behind so far this week, but the holiday and catching up with stuff today has got me all off whack. 'Cast is live though, and I hit on the Spartans bowl situation, Charlie Weis, the Wings, and the basketball team playing Jekyll and Hyde so far this season.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

At least it's early in the season: Florida - 77, MSU - 74.
Running close with Florida in the 2nd right now . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Glenn Winston and Roderick Jenrette have been released from the MSU football team according to the State News. Again, more details as I find 'em.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Football Players in Rather Hall Fight?

Quickly posting this as I've gotta get to dinner. The State News is reporting that a fight in Rather Hall that took place at 9:30 Sunday night could've involved MSU football players. The mob, apparently 15 to 20 people in size, stormed in to Rather and hit about 7 people, some of whom were females. Hopefully whoever was involved, athlete or not, will be punished accordingly. Mike Valenti on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit stated today that sources told him swift and severe action was going to be taken by Head Coach Mark Dantonio and the staff. More on this as I find out about it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quick Hits - 11/23

Really quick, some news that just came out this afternoon, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that the Lions have sold out the Thanksgiving game as of today against the Packers. All you Lion haters who were hoping Cousin Dave couldn't put the Lions game on while you eat your early afternoon sandwich have lost this battle.

Podcast Monday - 11/23

Lots of Spartan talk this week, including a quick verbal explanation of the bowl situation, b-ball, and hockey. Touch on the Pistons losing ways as well, but how can you possibly resist when there's Lions victory talk! Click that post title.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

lions win! lions win! 38-37 on the last play of the game!
Kalin Lucas didn't seem to mimd tumbling into the dance team right there. Raymar IS starting BTW.

MSU vs. Valparaiso - @ 12pm, BTN

Not going to be a cakewalk to Tom Izzo's record-tying 340th win as Spartan basketball head coach today when MSU hosts Valpo at the Bres. Valpo may be 1-2, but they look to me like one of those teams, like GVSU from a couple years ago, that could sneak in close due to some hot 3-point shooting. Valpo's only senior, Brandon McPherson, went 4/6 from deep against UNC to keep the Crusaders within 11 at the buzzer. McPherson also went 5/6 behind the arc in Valpo's last game, albeit against Indiana-South Bend, to give the Crusaders their first win of the season. Raymar Morgan will be a gametime decision.

As an aside, Jud Heathcote and Earvin "Magic" Johnson will both be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame later tonight. Izzo will take a plane to Kansas City for the induction immediately after the game ends today. At least that way the team won't have to deal with an unhappy Tom if things don't go to plan.

Quick Bowl Projections

Well, after yesterday, I think all of us Spartan fans should feel even half-lucky to be able to claim a third-straight bowl appearance. That finish was really indicative of a team that doesn't deserve to play in the post-season, but the extra practice, and money coming into the school, are probably worth the trip. CBS Sports was pretty quick to release their bowl projections after yesterday's action, and have MSU going to the Alamo Bowl.

I'm a little confused as to who picks when, as I always figured it went 1) Rose, 2) Capital One, 3) Outback, 4) Alamo, 5) Champs Sports, 6) Insight. However, the CBS bowl projections note that there can be a switch between the 4/5, the Alamo and Champs Sports, and they think that will land the Spartans in San Antonio, while the Wildcats would go to Orlando. That would make sense, since Northwestern played in the Valero Alamo Bowl last year, and MSU was in the Champs Sports bowl only two years ago. The flexible selection between the two bowls is also the only way to explain how a two game difference in the overall standings could be made up.

MSU would also likely finish ahead of Minnesota, who CBS has going to the Insight Bowl. Michigan State is probably a bigger draw for the higher bowl (no offense Gopher fans), and finished 4-4 in conference, while Minnesota ended 3-5. Therefore, despite the head-to-head loss, the Spartans would have the upper hand here.

The real wildcard is whether the Big Ten gets two teams into the BCS. Iowa and Penn State will be competing with the likes of Boise State, Pitt/Cincinnati, and Oklahoma State for an at-large spot. There seems to be a fairly universal split as to who is more likely to go between the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions, but there also seems to be universal agreement that their ability to draw a big crowd for the big money game will put one of those two schools in. You may not like that idea, and it might be unfair, but the Big Ten's ability to put butts in the seats trumps their recent failures when it comes to bowl selection. Finally, if Ohio State is the only team to go to the BCS, then MSU would likely play in the Insight Bowl, and Minnesota in the Little Caesar's Pizza! Pizza! bowl, which would likely love to have a Big Ten team in its first year of sponsorship.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

terrible.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Last Week/This Week

Last Week = W/40-37 over Purdue

Wow! Great win for the Spartans last Saturday against Purdue. According to all the statistics, especially total yards (524 - Purdue, 362 - MSU), the Boilers should've won that game. However, another great performance in the special teams arena by Keyshawn Martin, and some really clutch kicking from, in my mind the best kicker in the country, Brett Swenson, allowed the Spartans to get it done. One of my favorite points from the broadcast was the ESPN crew really pumping up Carson Wiggs' ability to hit from over 60 yards pre-game, and then missing a 49 yarder before the half. Then Swenson came out and nailed two 52 yarders in the third quarter to really put his mark on the game.

Holding Bolden to under 80 yards on 20 carries was huge as far as I'm concerned. However, I would've thought that'd result in some sloppy play by Joey Elliott, which it didn't, as he was brilliant. Going for 373 yards off 39/55 passing is phenomenal, and a QB with those stats doesn't usually lose games. Luckily, again, it was the special teams that stepped up, especially with the blocked FG late, to give MSU the upper hand.

This Week = vs. Penn State, @ 3:30pm – ABC

Two things I was surprised about regarding this game off the bat: 1) It was at 3:30, 2) Not only is it on ABC, it's basically being broadcast nationwide. The other game on at that time is Virginia @ Clemson, and that broadcast isn't even covering all of ACC country. I believe Ohio State @ Michigan is covering the entire country on ABC at Noon, but it's really strange to me that we seemingly get the more prime, late afternoon slot, and are going to have such a large viewing area.

With that in mind, the Spartans may have more TV viewers this week than any other game this season, and they need to step it up for the bowl committees. Last week's gutsy (I love using that word for the PU game) win over the Boilers gave us the needed win, but another W this week could possibly bring the Alamo Bowl to the forefront. I digress though, and I'll get back on the topic of this week's game by saying that the running games between these two teams are drastically different. Evan Royster is averaging 5.7 YPC on the season, and even backup RB Stephfon Green is averaging 4.7, more YPC than either Larry Caper or Edwin Baker. I know I tend to focus on yards per carry as a stat way to often, but I think it's important in terms of making it difficult for an opposing defense to gameplan.

The Nittany Lions didn't play well against the other two Big Ten heavyweights, Ohio State and Iowa, and Daryll Clark threw one and three interceptions in those games respectively. Keeping Clark on his toes with pressure from the front four of MSU is vital, and should happen at least a handful of times as linemen such as Colin Neely have stepped up in recent weeks. The Spartans also hold an advantage in special teams, where Penn State is one of the worst teams in the nation in punt return (107th) and kick return (113th) averages. Kicker Collin Wagner is also only 1/4 from beyond 40 yards so far this season.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spartans - 75, Gonzaga Bulldogs - 71

Close win, but a few perks came along with it. Mainly the second half play of Durrell Summers, and the gutsy comeback by Raymar Morgan after a nasty ankle sprain. 20 turnovers, the far majority taking place in the 1st half, was just silly, and it's a miracle Gonzaga wasn't up by more than 5 at the break.

MLS in Detroit?

Pontiac SilverdomeThe Silverdome may get a new lease on life.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Silverdome may get a new lease on life . . . as host to an MLS franchise. The Toronto-based real estate company that purchased the property for a measly $583k, more on that in a minute, told the real estate firm conducting the auction that they had plans to bring in an MLS team, as well as a women's professional soccer team. Montreal is reported also in the mix for a new franchise, and, I'm assuming, are probably a lot closer to getting a deal done.

I really do question the timing of this move. I don't feel I need to discuss how economically depressed the Detroit market is, on top of the country in general. However, on top of that, is there really a market for professional soccer in Detroit? I know a lot of kids play the sport when they're really young, and we all loved the Neon and Rockers when they were around, but I can't see them drawing incredibly well. It'll also beweird to see them play in an 80,000 seat stadium that they'll never even come close to selling out, let alone filling 1/8th of the way.

Finally, just to comment briefly on the price tag, it's ridiculous. Four years ago, there was a $20 million offer for the Silverdome, and now we're down to 1/40th of that! It's pretty nuts, but, if an MLS team does come in, maybe we'd see some good sports return out of it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Browns/Ravens

About to go to bed, but figured I had to comment on how hilariously bad the Cleveland Browns were in tonight's Monday Night Football game. Brady Quinn was 13-31 for a WHOLE 99 YARDS! WHOA! Simply mind blowing. That offense really does rival the Lions in terms of ineptitude.

Podcast Monday - 11/16

A less sick version of the Sparty Sports podcast comes to light today, as I tough on MSU football, hockey, and men's and women's basketball. The Red Wings and Lions are also discussed, but I try to keep the Lions talk to a minimum, as I'm not in the business of torturing my listeners.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

MSU Hockey Gets the Sweep

In what was a huge night for the Spartan hockey team already this season, the hockey team swept U-M, and claimed first place in the CCHA. Merrifield and Rowe got the goals for MSU, and Corey Tropp and Steve Kampfer appeared to put last year's fiasco at Yost Ice Arena behind them last night with a post-game handshake and chest taps.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ugly win, but without Brett Swenson, there's no way we would've even been in it.

Halftime Thoughts

The defense stinks, the offense can't take advantage of a sub-par Purdue secondary, and Caper and Baker look like they really aren't quick enough to break any big ones. Not great being down 20-17 at the half, but they're still in it. We've got to keep Elliott from picking us apart, but it did look like there were a couple holding "no calls" on that last Purdue TD drive.
14-13 in the 2nd. Good play-fake to Hawken for the TD.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Victory for MSU (Hockey)! 3-2.

Quick Hits - 11/13

Every once-in-a-while, basically when I have time, I'll come on and put together a "quick hits" column that links to some recent sports news. Here's the first entry:

Tate's Troubles - Friday the 13th may be a little overrated as an "unlucky" day, but it may ring true for the Michigan football program today. According to this article on the Bleacher Report, Tate isn't going to be starting tomorrow against Wisconsin, Denard "Shoelace" Robinson is, and he's also considering transferring. Devin Gardner's impending enrollment in January may be a factor.

MSU Football Recruiting - The Detroit Free Press is reporting that New Jersey athlete Sherard Cadogan is likely returning for a second visit to East Lansing for the Spartans game against Penn State. He wasn't able to stay long against Iowa, as he had his own game in N.J. to play. Cadogan could play tight end, linebacker, or defensive end at the college level.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Week/This Week

Last Week = W/49-14 over Western Michigan

WHOOOOOOOOOOOO! Celebrate good times!

Well, not quite. Even though the Spartans actually looked somewhat impressive, especially Captain Kirk and his 353 yards through the air, this was, as I mentioned last week, a Bronco team that was practically running on empty. They had just lost to Kent State the week before, and Tim Hiller’s stats this season, particularly in their loss to Central Michigan, make it clear that team has zero running game. Against the Chips, Hiller fired for 410 yards off 66 attempts! West actually ran for 96 yards with a 4.6 YPC average, but that still puts a crazy load on your QB.

Ashton Leggett (right) was the big story that everyone liked to talk about for the Spartans this weekend, as he went for 110, including a 71 yard TD run early in the game, as the team’s primary runner. Leggett got the playing time coming off the news of Caulton Ray and Andre Anderson’s dismissals from the team for “unspecified reasons.” It’s great that MSU has a lot of depth at the running back position, but it makes it difficult when it’s clear that the freshman, especially Edwin Baker, may be talented, but aren’t quite ready for the spotlight. Baker had a solid 5.2 YPC average against Western, but runs of 37 and 39 yards helped his average drastically in games against Iowa and Western Michigan respectively.

This Week = at Purdue, @ 12pm – ESPN

Can the Spartans go bowling? This week will probably be the key. Bruce Feldman’s bowl projections for ESPN have MSU heading to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl, a game that is affiliating itself for one of the last times with the Big Ten. But, I digress, especially since the Spartans actually have to win to be eligible. MSU’s 5-5 right now, needing 6 wins to become eligible. Even though the Penn State game is at home, and they didn’t look all that great last week against the Buckeyes, most would still agree that the Purdue game is the more winnable of the two.

The key to beating the Boilers is stopping Ralph Bolden. Joey Elliott went buck wild against Michigan last week for 367 yards, but that’s because Bolden opened him up, going for 98 on 16 carries. Against Wisconsin, where Elliott threw for only 5 completions, 59 yards and a pick, Bolden ran for only 37 yards on 10 carries. That’s a 2.4 YPC difference folks, and 3.7 YPC isn’t going to open up the passing lanes quite like 6.1 will. Greg Jones and Co. will have to be on their game to make sure they keep Bolden between the tackles and don’t let him outside, where he can be dangerous for the big gain.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Podcast Monday - 11/9

I'm hopefully going to release a podcast every Monday, and this is the first exclusively Sparty Sports podcast that I've released. It's 20 minutes long, and touches on MSU football, hockey and basketball, as well as the Pistons and Lions.

To access the podcast, since I haven't explained that, click the title of the post, "Podcast Monday - 11/9."

Also, forgot to give a shout-out to the women's field hockey team for their Big Ten Championship win on Sunday, 3-2 over Indiana.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My First Podcast!

This is my first foray into podcasting. This first podcast serves a dual purpose, as I talk about both tech and sports as well. I hit on the Verizon Droid, Windows 7, and MSU Football, so enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Basketball Recruiting: Adreian Payne & Brandan Kearney

Tom Izzo landed his first "blue chip" recruit since Delvon Roe this past week, when Dayton, Ohio's Adreian Payne decided to suit up for the Spartans. He's ranked 23rd in the ESPNU 100 for the class of 2010, and 20th overall in the Rivals 150. He's a 6' 9" multi-dimensional post player, with a ton of (everyone's favorite word) upside.

I've never seen the kid in person, so I can't really give you an opinion on his abilities. However, if you happen to have an ESPN Insider subscription, I would recommend reading Paul Biancardi's writeup on his abilities. They compare his athletic talents to the top-ranked PF in the class, Perry Jones.

And, as I was writing this, an article that started of as an Adreian Payne only blurb has turned into a basketball recruiting joy-fest! Tom has also landed his first recruit for 2011 in SG Brandan Kearney out of Detroit Southeastern. Kearney's resume is impressive, as he was on the USA's FIBA U-16 Team that won the gold medal last summer, and will be coming in the season after current starting SG Chris Allen runs out of eligibility. Rivals.com lists Kearney as a 4-star prospect.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Last (Couple) Week(s)/This Week

Two Weeks Ago = L/15-13 to Iowa

Where to begin with this one. The Spartans appeared to have the stars aligned after the crazy hook-and-lateral taken by Blair White on a late third-down, and then his 30-yard TD reception with 1:37 remaining. However, Stanzi, who hadn't looked all that spectacular all night long, brought the Iowa offense down the field with authority, hitting Marvin McNutt on the quick slant as time expired. My Dad mentioned to me after the game that there was a point on one of the final drives where the start of the clock was delayed at least 7 seconds, but you've gotta make a stop somewhere on that last drive regardless. Chris L. Rucker did the same thing I would've done once McNutt made the catch; kept whacking at his arms for a good 5 seconds, in complete denial of what had just occurred.

The surprising stat to me had to be the lack of turnovers from either side. Kirk Cousins has proven that he's not really turnover prone, so I wasn't really expecting interceptions. However, the inability for some of the young runners for MSU has been obvious, so I was pretty shocked not to see one pop out. As for the Hawkeyes, I also heard after the game that there may have been an Iowa fumble on that last drive that wasn't called, but I can't remember it from being in the crowd. In the end, it was two gutty drives that defined each team. It's just too bad that Iowa's drive was the one resulting in gloom and doom for the Green and White.

Last Week = L/42-34 to Minnesota

The Iowa loss wasn't a "bad" loss, this one was. MSU never really looked in the game, even with the 31-28 brief lead, despite a school record 17 penalties for 157 yards. SEVENTEEN PENALTIES! I mean, a lot of them were warranted, don't get me wrong, but I certainly would've wanted to take off the heads of the refs if I were a Gopher fan in Fifth-Third Bank Stadium on that night. Again, in spite of the penalties, it was really just two huge plays from Keyshawn (the BTN announcers think my last name's Johnson) Martin that even made this thing close. His 93-yard kickoff return to open the second half, followed about 10:00 later by an 84-yard end-around made things somewhat interesting, but Weber grilled the Spartans through the air for 416 and 5 TD's.

This Week = vs. Western Michigan, @ 12pm - Big Ten Network
 
All the glitz and glamour the end of the season could've contained for the Spartans is gone now, and it's dog-fighting for a bowl game time. A 6-6 finish is no longer guaranteed, and a win over the Broncos in Spartan Stadium is an absolute necessity. The positive is probably that Western isn't the MAC powerhouse that some thought they would be pre-season, as the Broncos have dropped conference games to Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, and Kent State just last week. Tim Hiller can still throw the ball, however, and the Michigan State secondary is going to have to have a significantly better day than they did against Adam Weber last week if they want to avoid the upset.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hate the BCS? Root for the Hawkeyes

I'm a huge antagonist when it comes to the Bowl Championship Series, better known as the "BCS," formula of crowning a college football champion. There are far too many years where there's more than two teams worthy of competing for that title by the time the season's over. The really unfortunate thing at this point is that there appears to be no end in sight.


As ESPN.com's Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg noted about a year-and-a-half ago, the Big Ten has likely benefited more than any other conference from the current BCS system. This past bowl season did nothing to detract from that thinking, as yet another pair of Big Ten teams, Penn State and Ohio State, made one of the five bowls. But what if the BCS gave the Big Ten a reason to change their tune about the system as a whole?

It might be difficult to look at from as far down the road as we are right now, but an undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes team that does not make the national title game over a one-loss USC or Texas could be that turning point us BCS haters are looking for. I know, I know, I'm a Spartan fan, we're playing Iowa for the right to be in the Big Ten championship drivers seat this weekend, yet I'm still writing this article. Believe me, I want MSU to beat the 'Hawks, but I really feel this subject needs some serious attention. If Iowa was kept out of the title game, the office of Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney would be loaded with calls and e-mails from not only Iowa fans, but all Big Ten fans clamoring for him to do something about the disparaging outcome.

Would Delaney, or any other Big Ten bigwigs for that matter, be able to actually affect the needed change? It's hard to say, but having such an ardent supporter of the system turn on the BCS would certainly be a first. Cincinnati and Boise State could also go undefeated and potentially have their bids beat out by another one-loss team. It's pretty safe to say that neither the WAC, or even the Big East, however, likely have the same type of pull with those who actually pull the BCS strings.

So, realistically, how likely is this scenario? Well, it's likely enough that I felt the need to write this article. Iowa already beat fellow front-runner Penn State, but does have to go to East Lansing for a night game against the Spartans this weekend, and then have a trip to the Horseshoe to face Ohio State three weeks later. However, other than that, they play Indiana, Northwestern, and Minnesota all at home in Iowa City, all very winnable games. As for the others, assuming Iowa beats out Cincy and Boise State in the BCS polls (it wouldn't hurt if the Bearcats lost one too), things are a bit more muddled. There's a decent chance that the SEC champion may have one-loss, and, I would say almost probably, would be ahead of the Hawkeyes in the polls. If, however, there's an undefeated SEC champion, either Florida or Alabama, we can hope Texas loses one in the regular season, then wins the Big 12, or that USC wins out, and looks strong doing so.

Any way you shake it, I do feel that the recent performance, or lack thereof, from the Big Ten in recent bowl games could keep Iowa from getting the votes. Fans across the country have blamed the Big Ten for some bad bowl games lately, and may have reason to blame the conference for the BCS still being around. Come this off-season, however, those same fans may have reason to thank the Big Ten for getting the powers-that-be to seriously consider some major BCS change.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Last Week/This Week

Last Week = W/24-14 over Northwestern

Beating a solid NU team at home is just what the doctor ordered for the Spartans confidence heading into a big matchup with Iowa. Allowing Michigan to take them to overtime, and beating a clearly awful Illinois team, was probably not doing enough to boost this team's expectations. Beating a Wildcats team whose QB, Mike Kafka, had 291 passing, and had looked good in their last Big Ten game in West Lafayette, certainly did what the two prior wins could not.

In what was clearly a battle of two halves, MSU's passing game is what took center stage in the latter. After going down 7-0 in the first half, two long touchdown passes to Blair White, one of 22 yards, and the other of 47, really got MSU going in the third quarter. MSU's running game also looked a lot better this week, as neither of the team's primary rushers, true freshmen Larry Caper and Edwin Baker, fumbled the ball. Each of those two also averaged 3.9 and 3.8 yards per carry respectively, helping open things up for Kirk Cousins in that decisive second half.

This Week = vs. Iowa, @ 7pm - Big Ten Network

It certainly didn't look like it was a possibility at the beginning of the season, but MSU has now set themselves up with the chance to make a Big Ten title run. That run will hinge on a victory every week, but the huge test as to whether the Spartans are even worthy of that discussion is going to take place this Saturday in East Lansing.

Iowa comes in having some impressive victories, but some mind-boggling struggles as well. Great road wins at Wisconsin and Penn State are slightly marred by home struggles against FCS member Northern Iowa and Sun Belt team Arkansas State. To say the Hawkeyes are tough to figure out is an understatement, but the leadership of quarterback Ricky Stanzi cannot be questioned. His sub-60% completion percentage, and 11-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio isn't perfect, but he doesn't make the killer mistakes that cost his team the game in crunchtime. Adam Robinson has also looked good as a true freshman, getting playing time due to the injuries of a few ahead of him on the depth chart at the beginning of the year.

If MSU is to win this game, it'll have to be in the air. Iowa's defense is more stout than others, but Kirk Cousins has the weapons at wide receiver and tight end to confuse the Hawkeye secondary. Players like Tony Moeaki might give Greg Jones and the MSU defense fits, but Chris L. Rucker's inspired play recently will certainly help on the defensive end of things. The night crowd will probably be pretty pumped as well, so there will definitely be no lack of adrenaline on the Spartan sidelines.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Big win over NU yesterday, setting up what should be a great battle with Iowa next week. I'll have more on the Hawkeyes game during the week.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Twice is Nice!

It's been so long since us Spartans won two-in-a-row over Michigan that many of us weren't even alive to witness the prior phenomenon. Duffy Daugherty was the coach of MSU back in the 60's, when the program last won, not only strings of victories against the Wolverines, but national titles as well. With that in mind, how did Mark Dantonio, in only his third season at the helm, get the Spartans to a point they haven't been to against their in-state rival in 42 years?

  • No Staff Turnover - When Mark Dantonio arrived in East Lansing, he brought a great crop of assistant coaches along with him. For instance, both offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, have been on Dantonio's staff since he arrived from Cincinnati and brought both coaches along with him. Former MSU quarterback Dan Enos has been particularly important in the recruiting realm.
  • Recruiting - Dantonio's recruiting emphasis has been within Michigan and Ohio, and it's paid off in spades. Rivals.com ranked the MSU 2009 recruiting class 17th in the nation, and the 2010 class is 28th as of this posting. In-state kids like William Gholston, who may have practically be conceded to Michigan under the John L. Smith regime, have been coveted since day one by Dantonio and his recruiting staff.
  • Emphasis - When it comes to the U-M game, Dantonio has made it a priority every season. The clock he had put up counting down to  the game didn't seem to make its intended point in 2007, but it's worked these last two years. Having been an MSU assistant under Nick Saban from 1995-1999, and then working as a defensive coordinator at Ohio State during their 2002 national championship season, Dantonio understands Spartan Nation's special disposition towards the Wolverines.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2009 Detroit Tigers - The Season of Missed Chances

Scrappy, frustrating, exhilarating. These are just some of the words used to describe the 2009 Detroit Tigers. But nothing sums up the entire season like the word "almost." The Tigers almost ended it after the top of the 10th. They almost scored a go ahead run in the 9th and 12th. But, when it was all said and done, it was the Minnesota Twins, taking advantage of the Tigers mistakes, ending Detroit's 2009 campaign.

Believe it or not, the Tigers didn't lead the majors in LOB (men left on base), nor were they even close. It's hard to imagine, especially considering Tuesday's one game playoff, but it's probably because they have a difficult enough time even getting guys on to begin with. Inge couldn't come through in the end, Laird couldn't come through, and Cabrera, despite his two run shot early on, is going to take a lot of deserved heat these next few days.

This end's going to make for a long summer, and bring up plenty of questions. Should the Tigers have given Magglio those AB's to kick in his $18 million next year? Where are they going to improve the starting pitching/bullpen when there are hardly any good free agents or money to pick them up with?

Kudos to the Twins and Tigers for putting on a heck of a show, but it's another morning on Wednesday where I've gotta duck SportsCenter for CNN.
Tigers just CAN'T leave that many guys on base and still expect to pull it out.
Tigers seem to have blown it in the 9th . . .

Can the Tigers pull it off?

Hard to believe they're in this situation, but the Tigers brought their one game playoff with the Minnesota Twins upon themselves. Luckily, the Tigers have the starting pitching advantage tonight with Rick Porcello going up against Scott Baker for the Twins. Even though Baker got a win against the Tigers last time he faced them on October 1st, he hasn't done remarkably well against them otherwise. Watch for Curtis Granderson to have a decent day, as he gets to hit a righty.

P.S. - Let's just hope Miguel Cabrera isn't inebriated for this one.
This is a test post, as I am testing the SMS post feature from my phone. I'll be posting a U-M/MSU game article in the next couple of days, so watch for that.

Quick Hits

Since I have devoted no time to this blog over the past few months, I've decided that maybe just some quick updates would be a better route to run in terms of getting things posted. The posts will likely be "Twitter-like" in nature, and kept to a short blurb.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Signing Day '09: An A

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hey, Hey Hockeytown?

My latest, and first on this site, gripe has to do with the sudden national attention that is being given to Detroit being considered "Hockeytown." There was a Sports Illustrated article about a year ago that proclaimed Minneapolis the new Hockeytown, and, now with the All-Star game having been in Montreal, yet another SI article proclaimed Montreal Hockeytown.

The crazy thing about this is that national pundits seem to believe that the "Hockeytown" moniker is something that is easily transferable, and Detroit should just give it up. This outlook couldn't be any sillier. "Hockeytown" is a trademarked name owned by Illitch Holdings, or, in other words, Mike Illitch, the owner of the team. In other words, the City of Detroit does NOT own the rights to the name (someone may want to tell the mayor of Pittsburgh). If another city wants to call themselves "Puckcity" or "Checksville" (bad I know) that's fine, but it's a trademarked name, and Illitch did it first, so he clearly has the rights to it.

Detroit hockey fans haven't been out in full force at the Joe lately, but, really, who can blame them entirely? I know the Wings are the defending Cup champs, I know they're one of the best teams in the league this year, but the people of Metro Detroit don't exactly have the funds to be spending upwards of $50 a seat on pro sports. Michigan State was supposed to have a 2009 regular season game at Ford Field against Western Michigan, but that was moved back to Spartan Stadium due to the economy. It would clearly be easier to sell seats for the game if they were stuffed into season ticket packages of Spartan fans. The Red Wings put a great product out on the ice, but it's not a cheap one.

I'm going to the game on February 25th against San Jose, my first wings game in a long while. I will recognize that I'm in Hockeytown, not entirely because Detroit deserves to be that above any other locale, but because of the TM next to that logo at center ice.

My Sports Blog

I already have a tech-related blog, and decided, with some of the more recent sports topics really getting me going, to move into the realm of sports blogging. Obviously a competitive realm, I hope my blog will add at least a bit of insight, especially throughout Michigan, to the sports culture in general.

As alluded to by the title, my blog will focus mainly on Michigan State University sports, as well as Detroit pro sports teams. I am from the Detroit area, and have spent 7 years living in East Lansing. I encourage visitor posts in response to some of my own, and I look forward to generating some good discussion going forward.