Spartan Football End of Year Report Part Two

LeVeon Bell's body took a beating as essentially the only workhorse in 2012.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard. LeVeon Bell's body took a beating as essentially the only workhorse in 2012. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.


There were warning signs that 2012 was not going to be the year that was anticipated.  Why were they missed?  Certainly the job that Mark Dantonio had done the previous five seasons had helped fuel the fan base and their craving to be relevant on the national stage.  Considerably.

While MSU had put together back to back 11 win seasons, there were other things going on that certainly aided it. 

Dantonio builds with relationships; not false or ones based on personal gain.  It is part of his fabric.  Dantonio has been able to land solid recruiting classes since the moment he arrived and those classes have brought with them talented young men.

The expectations voiced by Dantonio and AD Mark Hollis are consistently regurgitated as 1) Winning Big Ten titles and 2) Competing for National titles.  After back to back 11 win campaigns, the Spartan Nation was ready to take the next step.

When asked in the preseason if the expectations on his team were too high since the fan base was talking about a Rose Bowl and possible national championship run, Dantonio said, “No.  That is how we think and I am glad the fan base is thinking the same.”  Although not his intention, to quote John Wayne, Mark Dantonio just ‘Threw kerosene on a burning fire.’

The lifeblood of any college football program is recruiting.  Scouring the nation for the best high school football players who can help your program is more than just an art, it is a science.  The less you “Miss,” the better you are.

Depending on whom you believe, in 2012 MSU was either fifth or sixth in the Big Ten on money spent for recruiting.  It is my understanding they were sixth.  YOU CAN READ ONE SOURCE HERE.  While other schools in the conference can look and see a kid they like and go after him, MSU has to weigh the cost of the recruiting process for each one.  MSU was able to pull Fou Fonoti from California to Michigan because he had ties and connections to MSU.

The Spartans have dipped their foot in Texas just the same. Along with California, those are two very big states that regularly produce great talent.  MSU doesn’t have the money to be players in those states, but they can.  MSU has the base with former players and alumni who live in those areas to make the impact within the rules.  They do not have the dollars.

One such school that regularly produces some of the most and best talent in the world is Mission Viejo High School.  CLICK HERE TO SALIVATE.  The most hard core fans will know the school not only for winning state championships in the major competitive California, but also for competing for national championships.  They regularly produce not good, but great players that stack college football rosters all over the nation.  THE ELITE ROSTERS.

The Johnson family who leads the program was critical in developing and coaching the ELITE 11 and were on the Kirk Cousins train early.  They were in the ear of CMU head coach Dan Enos talking Kirk while Enos was still at MSU.  It was Enos who wanted Kirk and delivered him to MSU.  I had MSU coaches tell me and I know of at least one other media member that Kirk was more of a “Camp arm” and look what he turned into. 

That isn’t a slam on the staff.  Every single college football program has under or over-inflated a player.  It simply shows what deep relationships can do for a school.  MSU never jumps in the water to compete for players at that school.  When MSU was great, California was important to the cause supplying players.

Bret Johnson, son of the head coach and a former MSU QB, loves Michigan State.  He was the personal tutor to Kirk Cousins. It seemed like every time Cousins had a break he went to California to get tutelage from the Johnsons, mainly Bret who is the mentor/tutor to some of the game’s best QBs both in college and the NFL.

I know that the powers that be have reached out to MSU to encourage them to recruit their school aggressively.  Most schools of that prowess don’t.  Every day when it is within the rules, the nation’s best coaches practically live on the campus of Mission Viejo, but not MSU.  Not because MSU doesn’t need great players, but because MSU can’t.  They don’t have the budget to be there and start to build the relationships that are necessary.

Mark Dantonio has to weigh every flight, every expense, every car rental, and hotel room, and he has to be as prudent as possible. 

Remember that he is asked to win Big Ten titles and compete for national titles.  Unlike OSU and UM he doesn’t get the luxury of going after every player he wants.  He has to get guys every year and he can’t waste money or as one person inside Spartan football put it, “Sometimes you can see those prizes (top recruits), but you have to ask if spending the money to go after them is worth the risk or not.  It is a cost benefit analysis that we can’t always justify.  If we spend a lot of money and don’t get a kid that really hurts us.  Some people can take the risk, swing, and miss.  If we swing, we better not miss.”

It doesn’t mean that if a kid falls in their lap or has the resources to come and camp in the summer at MSU they won’t go after him.  They are already a step ahead if the kid has the money to come here on his own.  It is easier to justify the expenditure because the chances of success are higher since the young man has already spent the money to tell MSU, “Look at me.” 

The staff doesn’t have the resources to go to farther places and cultivate and build relationships that are necessary to get kids.  Once you have a pipeline established where your former and current players can by notoriety alone and word of mouth help, it does become easier.  MSU doesn’t have that.

The lazy would blame Mark Dantonio.  The lazy.  The realistic would say he is being prudent with the dollars he has.  His prudence is keeping MSU in the hunt, but if MSU really wants him to win Big Ten titles and compete for national titles, the powers that be that are his bosses must open the purse strings.

How can you win a conference and be spending fifth or sixth best on recruiting, especially since you don’t have the top of mind name recognition that other schools do?  MSU had back to back 11 win campaigns and still brought in impressive young men, but failed to capitalize nationally because they didn’t have the resources to go out and do it.

Fans go crazy when MSU gets in on a nationally lauded stud.  Then they get mad when MSU doesn’t get them.  If you want to swim in that pool, you have to get in.  Dipping a toe doesn’t work.  Credit this staff for what they have done with what they have, but 2012 was a prime example.

Coming off of those two seasons, MSU should have a much deeper depth than they do, from those recruiting cycles.  Make no mistake; the Spartans got some very good players.  Very good, but they don’t have a roster after those two seasons that reflects that success.

Let’s look at Texas.  I know of a school that sent video of several players.  One ended up with major SEC awards as a freshman CB and one who was a redshirt freshman last year listed on the two deep OL (T) for Boise when they came to East Lansing .  Another WR from that school is on his way to Illinois.  I could go on, but the point is Michigan State invited those kids to come here for camp because MSU doesn’t have the dollars to do so much of the early leg work with recruiting in Texas. 

Who knows if MSU would have taken any of them.  What we know is that school produces great talent and wants MSU in there.  We also know that MSU had their tape early,but without camp visits, the Spartans got nowhere.  There have been others and more, from other places.  High school coaches love Dantonio, his reputation and the way he treats their players.  Getting players to come to East Lansing to play for Dantonio does not take a major sales job.  It does cost money to get in front of them.

Having to tell a school that you would love to recruit their kids, but can they come see us first, works when you are established, not when you are hunting.  I love that MSU wants every kid to camp at MSU, but it is reality.  They wouldn’t have picked up Devyn Salmon from this year’s class if that were the case.  He was in Florida, how many kids have they missed further away because of dollars?

Again, I understand that the staff has to work within the parameters of what they are given.  I also understand that it is the University that has to look in the mirror and ask if they are enabling their program to win Big Ten titles and compete for national titles.  Remember that those goals are set by the school, and then those expectations are embraced by the fans.

In Texas there is a saying about folks who are “All hat and no cattle.” This is simply talking about the people that talk it, but don’t live it.  It is great to tell alumni and fans that you want to compete for national titles and win Big Ten titles.  It is another to enable the coach with the dollars to do that.

If you want to compete, then recruiting budgets may not be sexy, but they are critical.  Saying that you want something and doing the ugly behind the scene things that aren’t sexy are two different things.  Bobby Knight said it best, “It is not the will to win that brings success, it is the willingness to prepare to win that brings it.”      

Recruiting budgets do not fire up the fan base.  I love the new scoreboard editions at MSU.  I support those 100% and I think they have a major impact.  I was killed with emails and Twitter requests every day for updates and pictures last summer.  Every time a new bolt was added the fans from around the world wanted to see it.  It was amazing.

Adding dollars to the recruiting budgets don’t produce those same immediate levels of excitement.  In the long run, they do produce a deeper talent pool.  A deeper talent pool allows you to improve your program.  MSU will almost always take the top ten kids they take every year.  A wider pool may make a difference in the bottom half of the class.  As with anything you improve from the base.

Let me give you this analysis on the recruiting budget.  Dantonio and staff every year bring in a top level of talent.  MSU not only gets good players, but also plenty of high character young men and good students. 

The purpose of this is to not say, “Gee MSU is cheap and the players we get stink.”  That wouldn’t be true.  I am saying that MSU gets good players.  Many of them regardless of budget size would be here.  Whether MSU spends the money to compete for better players in CA or TX doesn’t mean that Jon Reschke, the #1 player in the past class, wouldn’t be here because he would.  What it means is that rather than taking some developmental guys you can compete for more Jon Reschkes that aren’t so close, as in distance to the campus.

Maybe rather than taking some offensive lineman that you think can really develop and grow into something, you can get the kid who is farther along the process.  The more players you can add from a bigger pool, the better your team and overall depth.  You still take the same number of players, but the pool of choice is much deeper.

MSU has taken risks on good players who come from smaller programs or programs with poorer coaching and got burned.  I also know they have had success when they have done it.  All schools do, but with more a competitive budget they would have a bigger pool to pick from.  The more choices, the less risk your program takes.

I love a Big Mac.  I know, no shocker, but if you have ever eaten at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse you will know this.  Both serve beef.  Both of them get that beef from a good cow.  They just don’t taste the same.

MSU failed to capitalize nationally on back to back 11 win seasons like they could have with a deeper budget for getting players.  Every close player in proximity to the state of Michigan, the Spartans have to beat OSU, UM, and Notre Dame for.  Add to that, they have lost several to Northwestern who were drawn for football, but also awesome academics.  MSU lives in a deep area of college football. 

UM, OSU, and Notre Dame alone nationally elicit instant respect.  With those three in your backyard, MSU has to enlarge their circumference of influence especially as the population of the Midwest dwindles.

This staff has proven they can spot talent and develop it.  This past year, MSU having a lack of talent (the staff’s evaluation evidently based on playing time) hurt them and helped push LeVeon Bell early to the NFL.  The moment he touched the ball 50 times (44 rushes 6 pass reception) the clock began to tick on the remaining time in Bell’s career in East Lansing.

His body could only take so many hits.  RB’s only have a certain amount in the tank.  Kirk Cousins recently acknowledged that to me.  I asked him about LeVeon’s decision to leave MSU early for the pros.  Cousins supported Bell and he said, “As a running back you only have so many hits in your body.  What more could he do to suddenly elevate his draft stock.  I think he was wise.”

You don’t think LeVeon Bell 2.0 from California or Texas playing at the level LeVeon did as a freshman could have helped this year?  It would have meant significantly less reps and bruises for the young man who took a look at his body and the work he did at MSU and knew he had to do the LeVeon leap to the NFL.

You can develop a player if he has the talent.  If your area of recruitment is so small that there are no LeVeon Bells to find, you are in trouble.  Remember that the staff saw a diamond in Bell, but first there had to be a Bell to spot. 

Coming off back to back 11 win seasons there should have been a RB who could have stepped up and played last year.  Either as a red shirt freshman, a true sophomore, or true freshman, there should have been someone.  There was not based on production.

Because MSU didn’t have the resources to go out and find a deeper pool of players to capitalize off of back to back 11 win seasons cost them this season; not just at RB, but other places.  If you want MSU to compete for national titles and win Big Ten Championships then you have to put them in a spot to compete. 

Don’t ask someone to win the Indy 500 with a Chevy Tahoe.  It is a great truck, but it can’t compete with an Indy Car.  MSU has a great truck. They are much better than a Big Mac, but they aren’t Ruth’s Chris or an Indy Car, and when MSU continues to say that is the goal, then they have to do the behind the scene things that make it possible.

Coach Ken Mannie is the best in the business.  He constantly reminds the Spartan football team that it is on the invisible mornings that the fans don’t see where championships are won.  It is the things rarely seen.  Recruiting budgets don’t get 10,000 donors in a room to say wow.  What they do is bring the depth of players that it takes to have those moments. 

You can’t sustain winning at a high level without players.  How many national titles did Saban win at Toledo or MSU?  We know what Saban did when schools like LSU and Alabama who WERE not spending on recruiting like they chose to do to hire the NICKtator.  Yes he came in and won, but he won with schools who committed to recruiting and one other key issue we will discuss on Monday.

Mark Dantonio can spot and identify talent.  If it is not there or needs more work, it makes an already difficult job harder.  This was a major reason the Spartans had a season of disappointment.  When the chips were down, there were key areas that they didn’t have guys to plug in.  After back to back 11 win seasons they should have.

There is talent on the roster that is developing, but not as far as long in some key spots that were needed last season.  That cost them wins.

On Monday our attention turns to recruiting numbers and staff dollars.  I will tell you how MSU lost AT LEAST one game because of staff dollars.  I assure you that I will explain by pointing out exact proof and the specific game that it hurt them. 

We’ll also point out that with each school in the NCAA only being allowed the same amount of players, why do the winners always get more on signing day?  Players jumping early to the NFL is NOT the biggest reason.

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.


15 Responses to “Spartan Football End of Year Report Part Two” Subscribe

  1. Chris Y February 23, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Hondo – great insights – thank you for sharing what is really going on behind the scenes. Great to hear what coach D has been able to do with his hands tied, disappointed that the university doesn’t recognize the benefit of the program and make an investment. Question for – how we can we impact this most effectively with the administration? hate to just stand by and not doing anything, but unsure how we can affect it…thanks
    Chris

  2. john February 23, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Okay, got it. Need more recruiting dollars. So, talent was the difference between this year and the prior 2. And the recruiting budget was no bigger in the prior years. So, Coach got lucky for a couple years, but this year is the new normal until recruiting dollars increase?????

  3. st8grad February 23, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    John- This year is the new normal if we don’t get more recruiting dollars AND there aren’t Greg Jones, Bell’s, or Kirk Cousins within the MSU footprint. If there is a Charles Rogers in California, they might justify going after him, as his talent is a sure thing and they are willing to risk it. But they can’t take a chance on someone who might be the next Greg Jones if they aren’t in our backyard, or in areas where we are established like Florida or New Jersey, etc. This is something I never knew was an issue at MSU until today basically. I knew the University took money from the department, and didnt give tuition breaks, etc, but not to the extent that they do. This is definitely unacceptable and we will have to form an effort to change it.

  4. Pete February 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I guess I expected an honest assessment of the team, its talent, its chemistry, its coaching, and its direction for the future. What we got was a Dantonio apologetic and a bunch of whining about money. The question isn’t “Does Dantonio have the same resources as Meyer or Hoke?” The question is “Does Dantonio make the most out of what he has?” The answer, in my opinion, is “No!” and that’s why the university refuses to “invest” more money in the program. When it comes to finances, MSU is on a par with Wisconsin and Iowa and is certainly above Northwestern, but we always seem to struggle to beat those teams and we rarely show the kind of team cohesiveness and coaching excellence that they generally display even though we generally have more athletic talent than they have.

    Kids aren’t as gullible and ignorant as you think. They just want to play for coaches who will give them every edge to win and excel. Winners get noticed. Players with skills get drafted and make lots of money. Dantonio’s unwillingness to trust his players cost us the Iowa and Ohio State games and his unwillingness to reconsider his quarterback decision cost us the entire year. He seems to be perfectly happy to be known as a coach that can get certain skill position players drafted but, to win championships, he needs to recruit and field an entire team of good players and he hasn’t done it yet. His coaching staff is a collection of nice guys who say “Yes” too often and have little or no experience coaching players into the NFL. Kids notice things like that more than trophies and tradition.

    Don’t get me started on Dantonio’s decision to stick with the “pro style offense” which will doom MSU to third fiddle behind U of M and Wisconsin (and, possibly, Iowa). Mannie’s wonderful conditioning program was largely responsible for the shoddy performance of the offensive line and the fact that they could not execute a hurry-up offense all year without getting tired and making mistakes or make a play on defense to finish off a game. Special teams were a disaster in 2012 and, with all the young talent MSU is supposed to have, Dantonio stuck with his favorites and they didn’t improve the entire year.

    Dantonio may be a nice guy. He may be honest with players and administrators. He may be a man of faith. But he is not a flexible thinker, he doesn’t get the most out of his coaches and players, and he doesn’t understand how to take the program to the next level. The question is; “Does the administration and fan base want it to go there or is MSU a basketball school?”

    • john February 23, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

      I’m prone to agreeing with many of Pete’s comments… I have a difficult time believing that we got as far as we did in 2010-2012 by sheer luck; a temporary reprieve from mediocrity driven by lack of recruiting budget. I got it that suddenly the recruiting and the MSU Admin vs. MSU Athletics $$$ issue have become important to you, but please step back and give us something more significant about the dynamics of the team, the strength of the coaches, etc. Somehow, the same budgetary shortfalls have yielded a consistent top 10 defense under Narduzzi; apparently money only matters for offensive strength. Also, Izzo is one of the best coaches in the history of hoops. Am I to assume that the funding situation is different for him? Holy shit, he just missed Jabari Parker… MSU was in the running despite empty pockets. Or is it just that Anna K Simon likes basketball but not football? Despite the multi million dollar scoreboards? Or does the recruiting dollar excuse only apply when it’s football?

      Hondo, I think you’ve been an apologist for a team of coaches who excel in defense, but don’t know their asses from a hole in the wall on offense. I’m starting to think that Cousins provided leadership not just to the team, but to the offensive coaches as well. Without him, they’re lost – no offensive unity, no creativity, and afraid to bump Maxwell out when it was clear he was digressing vs. improving. Please tell us otherwise with a reasoned analysis, and spare us with the belief that with more travel dollars we suddenly have an elite offense.

  5. st8grad February 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Basketball is a different animal altogether in recruiting. I think that should be obvious in the difference between an average of three vs 20 guys. Izzo has as much or more cache than Coach K, Williams, and Calipari if Calipari didn’t have large unmarked sacks of cash. MSU has almost the pull of Duke, UNC, UK, and KU as a program. You’re comparing apples to oranges. And yes, the difference in cash between MSU and the top tiers is a lot. Plus, they have bigger reputations on top of it. I call complete bullshit that Hoke gets more out of his players than D. If Mich and OSU didn’t have 7 home games per year, they’d have to sell advertising space on each player they’d be so far in the red. That’s how their model is built. I think it is short sighted for anyone to say that coach D should be able to compete in the backyards of the Mich, OSU, and ND without the resources to do so. That would be a tough task with even funds. We all need to put tremendous pressure on MSU admin to allow athletics to be as independent as possible. At that point, then judge Dantonio.

    The fan evaluation of coaches on here is way off base. Ken Mannie for example is amongst the most highly regarded and accomplished people in the strength and conditioning world. His name would be amongst the top 5 that people in the field would regard as the best. I would like more in-depth from Hondo too, but without cash, nothing else even matters – and that makes absolute sense.

  6. John February 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Yes, basketball is a different animal. But the cache that izzo has was earned, it didn’t just shower down upon him. And we do get stronger defensive recruiting, and even not as good as UM or OSU, narduzzi and crew run an elite defense. So what’s the answer to that?

  7. st8grad February 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Izzo has earned his status. However, our state is typically very rich in basketball talent. So when we have guys in state like Glen Rice, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Magic, Terry Mills, Cleaves, Peterson, Bell, Richardson, etc., Neither UM or MSU had to look far for kids like in Texas, Florida, and California. The Buckeyes have always had their state on lockdown with Cooper, Tressel, and now Meyer.

    I would counter that until this season, the offense had just as many playmakers as defense. Everyone is talking like this was our sixth year in a row of only 6 wins. Coach D is stubborn as hell. Saban admitted when he let go of the only one way to run an offense mentality, his teams improved. I agree with those assessments on strategy. But if our administration, and guys like Joel Ferguson still meddling in the affairs, and not enough money to compete then its awfully hard to beat three of the biggest names in football. Lets help get D or any coach the money they need to compete.

  8. John G February 24, 2013 at 4:33 am #

    +1 from one John to another…….”Hondo, I think you’ve been an apologist for a team of coaches who excel in defense, but don’t know their asses from a hole in the wall on offense. I’m starting to think that Cousins provided leadership not just to the team, but to the offensive coaches as well. Without him, they’re lost – no offensive unity, no creativity, and afraid to bump Maxwell out when it was clear he was digressing vs. improving. Please tell us otherwise with a reasoned analysis, and spare us with the belief that with more travel dollars we suddenly have an elite offense.”

    Yes it hurt losing all those seniors, but I know would’ve called a better “game plan” using my 20 yo high school play book. This offense had enough talent to win 10-11 games again, but had no idea how to use it. Cook should have started seeing meaningful reps against CMU & EMU when they were faltering. And, Caper should have been used more! After reading his post season comments, I’m not buying that he was injured. They just had NO IDEA what to do without Bell.

  9. John February 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Hondo, you’ve received more comments on this topic than any other in a long time. Clearly we are hungry for more than just the recruiting issue… The inside scoop on what’s really going on. Sure we will help amplify a budget message, but surely more is going on than that. New DL coordinator, new Offensive Coodinator, QB controversy… What’s happening inside?

  10. Steve February 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Wanting to fix the problem is only as good as your knowledge on how to fix it. Likewise, knowing how to fix is only useful if you have the power to see your will done.

    That being said, I ask the question. What good does knowing that the MSU Admins need to spend more do us, the fan base, if a solution is not offered? Perhaps a more positive ending to this part of your end-of-the-year analysis would have been to offer a solution that we, the fan base, can do so as to influence those same stingy pocketbooks you so bemoan.

    Because I, for one, agree with your recruiting assessment. You, however, have a much better grasp on this subject than I, the simple ticket-holder, and I find it depressing to know the problem exists without much of a way to change it.

    Am I alone in that feeling?

  11. st8grad February 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Steve- I think there is a way to change it. It’s going to take the will of one person to say enough is enough. Find a few to help in the beginning and then take this message, with compelling, factual, benchmarked evidence to the people who’s voice is actually heard. Those with money. The voices with money can make this heard, but they aren’t going to do the leg work. Unless you find someone with the time and drive. High profile athletes like Magic, Gibby, etc. would help bring exposure and get others to buy in.

    • Steve February 24, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      While I can respect your suggestion, I don’t have Magic on speed dial. Do you? =)

      Is the only real option for me to get my excel documents and pie charts of comparing recruiting spending across the B1G and hang around Dan Gilbert’s mansion hoping he’ll both A) listen to me and B) be swayed enough to whisper into the right ears?

      I still see the money-spent-towards-recruiting a problem that is wasted breath (or kilobytes) to a website dedicated to the normal, middle class fan unless a normal, middle-class solution is given for us to try.

      Not trying to be negative, just trying to see the point, ya know?

  12. Pete February 24, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Gee, if we throw money at our problems and pretend that we have resources that we don’t have, the world will be a better place. How has that worked out for the government? Maybe some day the money will be there and the football program will have proved that it is as important to the fortunes of MSU as the football programs at Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State are to their schools. Actually, the football program had a good chance to make their case in 2012. What happened? They fell on their face and lost every major game on the schedule with the exception of the Wisconsin game which Bielema gift-wrapped for us.

    I’m reminded of a time when I overheard a shorter basketball player say to his friend that he could play as well as the guy he was watching if he were just a little taller. His friend quickly replied “Play with what you got.” So do it, MSU football, “play with what you got” and if you don’t have enough, make yourself better and stop complaining through channels. You will know how seriously Hollis and Dantonio want to win by how they fill the OC job. If it’s handed to one of the position coaches, not much.

  13. Tom February 26, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Pete:
    The football program DID prove that it’s revenue stream can grow and help the university even more. The past two seasons led to record breaking season ticket sales, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Donations increased, both to the athletic department and the university. For the 5th consecutive year, applications have increased, which is an incredible accomplishment in a state where the number of high school graduates is decreasing every year (gee, what changed 5 years ago?). Football success isn’t the only driver in that, but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think it’s a big piece of it. It could be even more, with sustained football success at the highest level.

    Some reference investments such as the new video boards. I agree, those are fantastic, but the BoT would have to have been completely incompetent to not approve them, as they were 100% funded by the athletic department (largely donations) and will easily pay for themselves within a decade (the Huntington Bank contract almost pays for them alone). What is needed are the investments that aren’t hitting the administration right in the face. One good step is the expansion on the north end of the stadium. It will have a recruiting room and new locker rooms which will greatly improve MSU’s ability to sell itself. However, you have to get recruits on campus to see it.

    An example would be Montravious Adams. A very highly touted recruit in the 2013 class (some sites had him #1 overall, and all had him in the top 10), who was from Georgia. MSU’s Keith Mumphery had a family friendship with Adams’ family, and it gave Adams interest in our program. He stated he wanted to visit, and he did. He wanted to visit again, but after it fell through he never rescheduled. Why? Because every coach in the SEC that had a remote prayer of landing the kid were at his high school every single day they were allowed. MSU, on the other hand, who had natural interest from Adams from the start, wasn’t able to get down there to help him reschedule his visit. MSU had a legit shot at getting a premier DT on campus, and simply couldn’t afford to make themselves available enough to lock him up. These are the types of recruiting battles that can change programs when won. How many elite players did Auburn need to win a title? I’d say 2 truly elite talents (Cam Newton and Nick Fairley). We landed our best imitation of Cam Newton in Damion Terry, but we missed on the two elite DT’s that we were in on. Who was the other? JuCo standout Kyle Peko, related to the Peko alums of MSU football, as well as Fou Fonoti. Unfortunately, he lives in California, which was a little too expensive for our staff to visit very often. Then there was Antonio Riles, the DE with an SEC offer list that would make any kid absolutely giddy, who was a verbal to Florida out of his hometown in Georgia. He was sold on the program and badly wanted to visit MSU, but when southern coaches are in your ear daily, and MSU coaches can only visit you a couple times per month (if that), it’s going to be extremely hard not to be swayed.

    These are the realities of the college football world; you have to spend some money to make money. If the investment isn’t made, yeah you can win some games, but you won’t be an annual B1G contender, and you’ll likely never compete for a national title.

    Does our administration truly want to win? If the investment isn’t made, then we have to assume that they don’t. I believe it’s easy to see the value this football program can bring to the university, if the handcuffs were finally taken off.