Los Angeles, California 12/30/2013
This morning the media events featured Michigan State head Coach Mark Dantonio and Stanford Head Coach David Shaw. Coach Shaw did show up fashionably late but eventually showed up and the press, pressed on. Over the coarse of the conference each of the coaches fielded questions from various media outlets, and each one had his own type of story to tell.
Coach D took the podium and the first question he had to field was in regards to the suspension of Captain Max Bullough. “Right now Darien Harris and Kyler Elsworth are the two guys that will play that position. We’ll probably go with Kyler initially, but they’re both going to play” So while the position still sounds unsettled, it is clear that the team is not dwelling on the absence of the man referred to as the “Computer”. Coach D went on to say that the Middle Linebacker position will still function the same as far as making checks at the line “It’s our system. It’s not one individual, It’s our system”
One reporter attempted to draw out the coach by asking him about the Mike Hart comments regarding MSU’s status as the “little brother” in the state of Michigan. Dantonio promptly fired back with a slight grin “No, that really has nothing to do with this today. Next question, please”
When asked about the Big Ten’s lack of bowl game success and the pressures that come with representing the conference in the Granddaddy of them all, Coach went on to say “Our guys have handled this week very, very well…You need to step out there and dream big. Our dreams didn’t end with a championship and coming to the Rose Bowl. We wanted to win it, and that’s our intentions” He then added further that pressure is something you put on yourself, and this team is not focusing on the pressure, they are focused on winning the game for Michigan State and no one else.
Once Coach Shaw finally decided to bless the media with his presence, he was asked about his defensive coordinator Derek Mason and what makes him the coach that he is “I think the sign of any good football coach…is the ability to have a philosophy…and be able to fit that scheme around the players that you have” Coach Mason spoke passionately earlier this week talking about how he finds a way for players to contribute.
Even Shaw was asked questions about the suspension of the Spartan Linebacker, he appeared to share a very similar philosophy to his counterpart “I applaud Coach Dantonio for that because it doesn’t happen everywhere, and there are a lot of places where you get a slap on the wrist and they bench you for a practice then let you play in the game…It’s a sign of who Coach Dantonio is”
Now that all the formalities are done, I am interested to see where the Coaches both go from here. All week long it is a constant drone of “we respect the other team, they are very talented…” Blah. Blah. Blah. While both teams are keeping it professional in the meantime, these are two teams who will smack you in the mouth and ask you if you would like another. The Spartans and Cardinal are at the epicenter of class in college football, but anyone who has played this game knows that when you strap on those pads and walk in between those lines, it is war. Now that the politics are all but over, I cannot wait to see how these two teams go about trying to beat each other.
At the beginning of the week I had MSU winning by 7, after the team pressers I had the Cardinal winning by 10, now that it is all said and done I believe that the Spartans tenacity and hunger will be the thing that gets them the win in Pasadena. Prediction for the game: Spartan Dogs win a close one, 21-17.