November 3, 2007

East Lansing, MI

Spartan Stadium

Heartbroken is the only word that can describe my feelings about today.  The Spartan Nation tonight will lay its head down, but won’t sleep very well.  We will ponder and think about what could have been, as we all try to get the putrid taste of another loss to our bitter rival out of our mouth.

This loss hurts; it stings.  Sure we have now lost the last six, but this one meant something more.  Sure it would have made us bowl eligible.  Sure it would have helped erase the pain of the last four years of the Cowboy. This one would have signaled something new, a rebirth, rejuvination and a sign of thing to come.  All signs point to this being the last year for Lloyd Carr’s career. I have never been the most proficient person with words, but I have always written with a love for the Spartan Nation and for the first time in my life I am struggling to find words.

I am not an apologist.  In fact, I have been very critical when it is necessary.  Anyone remember that I was the first member of the media to say that a change was necessary.  There is room to criticize play calling here, but there is more.

“How long will you bow to the University of Michigan,” was the battle cry of Mark Dantonio to his team all week.  It is a great moniker and it is one that we will have to ask for another year.  You can point out poor play by our kids and there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I will.  You can point to offensive play calling that makes no sense (3rd down plays that don’t go beyond a first down marker) and I will.

There is a lot more here.  Tonight I will ask the Spartan Nation to allow me to write my usual game critique article on Sunday and just let me pour my heart out.  I end the news every night with the number of days until the next game.  I realize that more than anything else (other than the health and well being of my family) I hunger and yearn to see the MSU football program return to what my father experienced.

I love this school and it’s athletic teams.  I am sick of hearing about the “Glory Years,” and I am hungry to experience it.  It is similar to when a child doesn’t eat all their dinner and a parent opines that there are starving children in Africa.  I once told my Mother (although empty plates were not a common occurrence) that she could send them what I didn’t eat.  I am sick of hearing about what we used to be.  I am ready to become the Spartans who dominate.

I am a supporter of Mark Dantonio.  I am a supporter of his staff.   Unlike many of you, I have had the privledge of knowing him away from football for many years and I respect him as a person and a coach.  I understand that he has to get players that fit his plan and his style.  He was given a chance tonight to throw the kids he inherited under the bus when a media member asked him if it really boils down to getting his own players.  He blew of the question like a momma bear separated from her cub.  He talked about them being his kids.  He spoke like a father protecting his own. The question directed Mark’s way was spot on, and Mark has too much class to state to obvious and deflect the blame.   It is not his style; it does not breed accountability.

He has to get his own guys.  Sure some of the kids he inherited fit his system, but many do not.  MSU has not been blown out this year.  They haven’t quit.  He is playing with kids that he didn’t recruit and to their credit they haven’t quit on him either. 

Nick Foles is a stud at QB and he wasn’t ready to play when the season started.  He has been red-shirted.  Sure Mark could selfishly throw away a complete season of eligibility and play him for four games, but that wouldn’t be fair to Nick and Mark won’t use kids for personal benefit or selfish accolades.

His staff will take some lumps for coaching decisions and their choices and they should.  His players will take lumps for plays that they made or didn’t make and they should.  I will deal with those tomorrow.

Tonight I simply say what no one wants to hear, but is so overwhelmingly true, we are rebuilding.  This is the staff to do it.  It really hurts to lose another , but one thing you can say is that no one is quitting.  I promise that my article tomorow will name names and point out things with a lot of detail.  Tonight I just have to accept what many of you already feel.  I am heartbroken and changing a culture and a program are not done overnight.

I just need to go home and play with my kids and try to mend my heart.  Tomorow I come out guns blazin’, but for now I want to go be a good dad for the night.  When they go to bed I will watch the film and write my thoughts with more clarity.

I hurt with you all tonight.  The entire Spartan Nation hurts tonight.  This one is going to hurt for a long time and it should.

Take you lumps Spartans.  We all had fun with UM when they lost to App State.  Now we will get our due from the UM fans.  Rightfully so.  Take it with class.  It hurts, but that is the way to do it.  I will have my game story on Sunday.  For now, it just hurts.

About Hondo S. Carpenter Sr.

View all posts by Hondo S. Carpenter Sr.
Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. is the founder and publisher of SpartanNation.com and all of the family of services. The idea was birthed when overseas he ran into a Spartan not native to the United States who was wearing his Green and White proudly. He is dedicated to bringing you the latest and greatest information about Michigan State and Detroit Sports News every day. He resides in the Mid Michigan area. Follow Hondo on twitter here: @hondocarpenter.

6 Responses to “Heartbroken!” Subscribe

  1. Mark November 4, 2007 at 1:21 am #

    Hey Hondo, love your stuff. But I have to disagree about your opinion on the play calling on 3rd/4th downs. I have no problem throwing underneath the first down marker so long as the receiver is not “posting up” and stopped when he gets the ball. If the receiver is moving on his route, what is wrong with letting your play makers make plays? The coaches run those plays on first and second down, why not on third or fourth down? If the coaches/qb do not have confidence that the receiver can break a tackle or make a move and get the first down, then the team is doomed to begin with. Running backs always have to get by somebody to get a first down, so I have no problem with trying to let a wide receiver do the same. Anyway, keep up the good work Hondo. Hopefully better times are coming.

  2. Josh November 4, 2007 at 2:19 am #

    Just curious as to what you think about Foles possibly starting next year? Hoyer is only a junior, but do you think Dantonio has seen enough of him to think about Foles for next season barring any major setbacks for Foles or major improvements from Hoyer?

  3. Brent in NH November 4, 2007 at 9:17 am #

    This team hasn’t gotten it done this year. Against woeful, pathetic competition they’ve looked formidable. But they find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory consistently against the better ones.

    And that really hurts. Hondo, you and I are hurting. At least my wife benefited by my distraught nerves last night when I cleaned the kitchen and mopped the bathroom floors to work out my demons.

    Please answer me this. Why has Roland Martin been so ineffective this year? Notwithstanding his NFL size (hell, the kid’s bigger than most) and high ranking coming out of Chicago, why has he been playing when other players seem to be able to step up and get it done?

    The game changed when they took him out and had Shane and the G-man manning the guard positions. It was a big improvement.

    Then they put Martin back in and we our stumbling O-line play reasserted itself.

    So sad, this loss. It was the signal game as you wrote about to show the fans that times were a-changin’. Alas, it’s not to be. Wonderful entry, Hondo.

    The answer is better linemen, a new quarterback, and players who make football THE priority in their lives. I don’t care how many stars are attached to their names by the scouting agencies, I want smart, committed football players. If they have size, speed, and strength, all the better.

    But to see the mental lapses weekly, yearly, over the decade makes me wonder why I am a Sparty fan. And that’s the last thing the MSU administration should want.

    I have my doubts about Dantonio this year or any year…there have been just too many mistakes.

    But I will give him two more years. His stellar character and great football knowledge may be enough to put us over the hump. But what I’ve seen so far is disappointing. Losing against teams we should beat–Iowa, Northwestern–is just a continuation of the laughing stock this program has unfortunately become.

    I guess my expectations were too high–I thought it was going to happen this year.

  4. Chris S November 4, 2007 at 12:56 pm #

    Throw out everything the biggest mistake I have is calling a pitch on 3rd and 2 to your power running back. That play ran for a loss earlier and never had a chance. When you marched down the field the 2nd half, not once was that play called. Treadwell blew that one.

  5. htown300 November 4, 2007 at 2:42 pm #

    This is my first time on this, found it through ESPN.COM while checking MSU’s new recruits. I like your article, very well put. I also agree that these are going to be the tough times, but these painful times will be the building of our foundation as a football team, had we won all these close games with a little luck then we would be #1 in the nation! We are closer than we think! Not only are the players learning but so is are the fans and not to mention the coaches. I really am hurting but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I hope that Spartan Nation continues to keep their heads up. Our goal this season was not to win the National Championship right? It was clearly stated that we wanted to prove that we can play with the best of them and to go to a bowl game and to win one as well. So lets keep cheering our football players on, they are already down no need to keep kicking them. I wrote a long comment about the direction MSU football is going right now (statenews.com) Basically it is what you said in this article with some details here and there.
    Here it is:
    Well, obviously we are all dissapointed with the result of the game. The blame can be go all around to everyone, but also everyone had made good plays from Ringer, Hoyer, Caulcrick, o-line, d-line, secondary, recievers, Bates, coaches,and fans. Everyone played good but also made critical mistakes, we need to put a whole whole game together to win, thats what it will take, we do not have the luxury, we do not intimidate anyone with our history! This is remeniscent of the last 4 or 5 years, but I still sense there is a big change. We did not lose to a horrible team. Sure we should have closed the game, but to make a big change from the losing (inferior mentality) to winners, it will not happen just like that.

    Before the season began Dantonio did say that there are going to be some bad and painful moments before we see MSU at the top, this is after he evaluated the current team and this is what he was talking about. I still like this team, with these EXACT players, they may not be winning these games but they are still fighting hard. After seeing all the errors that MSU made, I still think they can be corrected, there was also injuries and inexperience (especially in secondary).
    I know that there were several official and unofficial high school recruits visiting at that game. I know that winning is important to these valuable recruits, but there are also other factors that help them choose which school to attend. The MSU fans were great, which made for a great atmosphere, the recruits see how each team handled adveristy on the side lines, MSU played hard even though they were down early and saw a great leader in Jehuu Caulcrick and he cheered everyone up, you didn’t see that in on UM side line! It was Carr just thinking to himself ‘what would happen if we lose this game!?’ The team that played their hearts out was MSU not UM. They (UM) started out playing good while MSU was flaged on every play. They had a hot start and that was it!!! (well coupled with a desperate passing game late in the game)

    I don’t know why you MSU ‘fans’ can’t understand that change takes a little more time!! If we were to win all these close games then we would be #1 team in the nation! Considering our situation and recent history on and off the field that is unrealistic. These are painful and trying times, the team must learn from them, this is the painful time to realize what you are made of. Before you win you must lose.

    When IZZO first took over our basketball program, they were not at the top either, Tom knew that it would be tough at first, but he built a foundation with what he was given, and then built it up and MSU fans supported him (well some fans did, not everyone believed), when we all look back it started with guys like Smith, defense and rebounding were the key focus, and then he was able to get big time basketball players out of Mich especially Mr. Basketball recruits! I believe in IZZO, he helped hand pick our football coach, I may not know alot about Dantonio but I have a feeling that he will take us where we need to be!!

    Our football foundation is being built right NOW, I know it ain’t pretty or fun, but are you going to help build it or be one of those non believers who keep talking trash about OUR team!?! I am sure thats another thing recruits see: how the fans and classmates treat their players feel after gut wrenching losses like this these. Trust me at my place of employment 90% of my co-workers were talking alot of trash about how UM,Hart,Henne,Manningham were going to destroy MSU. It did quite go that way, but it won’t be the same next season!

    Our goal this year was to show we can play with the big boys and to go to a bowl game as well as win one. So please, state fans, players, and coaches keep your heads up high we got two more games left and we need one to be bowl eligible. If we win one more, voters will see how we played all season, every game was really close, thats what they want for their bowls exciting close games not blow outs, and not to mention a big fan base who is yearning for a bowl berth! I haven’t seen State in a big bowl game since I was a U of M fan :(!!!

    There is no reason to break someone down while they are down, time for state fans to change too, time to pick those state players up and get them ready for a pass happy team (yikes!) in Purdue!!!!!

    GO STATE GO!!!!!!!
    Go Green! Go White!

  6. Troy November 4, 2007 at 2:53 pm #

    There is plenty of blame to go around with these losses. This group of players is having trouble finishing. When they are able to complete that task they become a very formidable team. Until then we have what we have. A bunch of good kids that appear to be committed to this program, Coaches and Institution. With persistence and intelligence victories are bound to come our way. Its just not happening fast enough.
    I think the fans bare some of that blame also. My seats were in the opposite corner of the student section and on more than a dozen plays the cheers were loud enough for the Wolverines that I thought our defense did something special, only to find out that we (the fans) were being out cheered in our own house.